A healthy immune system means a better chance of fighting off infection and disease with as few adverse long-term effects on the body as possible. Having a healthy immune system isn’t all luck of the draw. There are things people can do to boost the function of their immune system. And the same thing applies to dogs. Pet owners can take some steps to help their dog develop and maintain a strong immune system.
Provide Top Quality Nutrition
The body’s fuel, or diet, plays an essential part in building and maintaining an excellent functioning immune system. If your dog isn’t getting quality food, his immune system will suffer.
Your dog needs food made with high-quality ingredients that’s right for his life stage (puppy, adult, or senior), lifestyle (super active or mostly sedentary), and any medical conditions he has.
Your veterinarian can help you determine the right diet for your dog.
Encourage Play and Exercise
As discussed in the above section on stress, play and exercise are super important for a dog to keep stress low. It serves as mental enrichment and a physical way to blow off steam.
As much as possible, play with your dog routinely. Fetch, hide and seek, and training sessions are all great ways for your dog to get exercise.
Maintain a Good Weight for Your Dog
Avoiding obesity will improve your dog’s overall quality of life and boost his immune function. You can do this by determining how many calories he needs daily to maintain a good weight (as determined by your vet) and dividing that into two or three meals.
Additionally, remember that any treats you give your dog throughout the day will add to the number of calories he’s getting, so you should subtract that from his regular food allotment.
Another trick is to use his regular kibble, removed from his daily distribution, as treats. You can also use a food puzzle to keep him busy getting his treats without having too many.
Decrease Your Dog’s Stress
Stress is a powerful immune system enemy, for humans and dogs. As much as you can decrease your dog’s stress, do so. That will have positive effects on his immune system.
Lowering a dog’s stress can include many techniques, but here are some general ones for use in most situations:
- Regular one-on-one playtime and attention. This can be brushing sessions, playing fetch, engaging in agility training, or practicing command training. Whatever it is, it should involve positive attention from you to your dog.
- Daily exercise. Make sure your dog gets walks and other exercise every day. It packs the one-two punch of relieving mental stress and improving physical health, which also boosts the immune system.
- Consider using Adaptil, especially if your dog has more than the usual amount of anxiety. Learn more: “How to Cope with Canine Anxiety and Fear by Using Adaptil.”
- Keep your household as calm as possible. Dogs pick up on stress from their humans too, so as much as possible, use coping skills of your own to lower stress. Check out Destress.com for ideas.
- Play classical music. Calm music can decrease stress and have a peace-making effect in your home. Many dogs relax and show less stress when music is playing.
Keep Bedding Clean and Bathe and Brush Your Dog Regularly
Allergens, bacteria, viruses, and fungi can all live on your dog and his bedding. Keeping them both clean can reduce what he’s exposed to and prevent overloading his immune system and making it overall less able to respond to real threats.
- Routinely bathe your dog, brush him daily, and clean his bedding at least weekly.
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