More dog health issues than you can imagine are linked to immune deficiencies. In previous articles I point out some of those, such as allergies and systemic yeast. In this article I’m going to explain HOW to boost your dog’s immune system (IS).
It helps to point out that 90% of the dog’s IS is in the gut (in human’s it’s closer to 70%), so a lot of what I will be talking about will be related to the digestive tract. While humans have at least 26 feet of digestive tract, the dog’s tract is only as long as the distance between the base of it’s neck to the base of its tale, usually a foot or two. That means the dog only has a couple of feet to develop virtually all of it’s immunity.
First of all, do NOT ever feed CORN or WHEAT to your dog! Those grains are nutrient sponges, sucking up all the good stuff and throwing it out of the gut with the fecal matter. Foods rich in dietary fiber, and low on the glycemic index will always help boost the immune system.
The dog’s stomach PH is extremely acidic. It can get as low as 2.4, which is equivalent to a 4% hydrochloric acid solution! What effect does that have in the immune system? Any bacteria, good or bad, won’t be able to live in that harsh of an environment. Most probiotics available over the counter at chain pet stores are very weak - too weak, in fact, to make it to the gut. It’s important to offer your dog a probiotic with at least 10 BILLION (yes with a B) CFU’s (colony forming units of bacteria per gram). Having a good half-a-dozen strains also helps. Probiotics are the good bacteria that we find in our digestive tract, and dogs need it even more that we do. Feed it to them every day for best results.
Prebiotic fiber is food to probiotics, so feeding a prebiotic supplement, or a probiotic with added prebiotics, will ensure that the bacteria will proliferate at a faster rate.
With the stomach PH as low as it is, the dog’s gut tends to become too low as well, making it a hostile environment for good bacteria. To control the PH in the tract, Oxy drops are essential. There are only two that I recommend, knowing that there are a lot of flakes in the market. FirstChoiceNaturals.com and PawMedX.com are the best manufacturers from the dozens I have tested.
I have a feeling sometimes that there are more supplements on the market than stars in the sky. It can be truly overwhelming to decide which vitamins to give, from which laboratory, and even how much it too much! Not all vitamins and minerals will be good for all dogs. That’s when it becomes important to consult with your clinical nutritionist. One immune support that is pretty much safe for any case is K9 Immunity by First Choice Naturals. It is a combination of natural plants and mushrooms which are known to have the ability to modulate the immune system.
Another super supplement, which is actually designed for humans, but we’ve had extreme success with, is Eniva’s Vibe (www.EnivaPet.com). I have actually talked to that specific lab, and have requested they make a solution more palatable for dogs, such as liver flavored. Such supplement will be available late 2013.
Raw feeding can be a blessing or a curse. If done properly, it will insure that your four-legged pal will be healthy and strong, but when not properly balanced, it can actually suppress the immune system and create more problems.
Look for my next article soon on raw feeding on LoveMyDogBlog, “Raw Feeding, the Good, the Bad, and the Stinky”.