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Immune Health in Dogs and Cats - Why Is It So Important?

Immune Health in Dogs and Cats - Why Is It So Important?

Herbal nutrition for dogs and cats to help balance immunity and to help prevent immune system imbalance.

                                                                                                                                         

Balanced immunity is the gatekeeper against disease and may very well be the "silver bullet" for disease prevention in your pets. The immune system is a complex army of cells that form to provide a fortified defense against unwanted invaders. It is an intricate system that protects against allergens, viruses, bacteria, microbes, parasites, toxins, foreign fells and cellular mutations (healthy cells which have mutated into irregular cells). The immune system is tasked with protecting EVERY cell in the animal body. With so many pet parents wondering how to best support immunity in their dogs and cats, this article will highlight its role and help provide practical suggestions.

A healthy immune system is balanced and is not intended to be suppressed or stimulated. When immune system cells under-produce, your pet may experience allergies, urinary tract infections, stones and digestive upset. When your pet's immune system cells over-produce, auto-immune diseases such as arthritis, cancer and tumors can develop. Since immunity primarily resides in the gut, a nutritious, premium food is your pet's first line of defense.

But even an animal with a highly developed immune system can experience dysfunction or failure through insufficient diet, unknown illness or exposure to toxicity. In cases of dysfunction or failure, your pet requires whole body, systemic support as well as a corrective addition to help balance immunity because when your pet's immune system is weakened, every bodily system is at risk for disease.

An animal's skin is an obvious physical barrier and natural defense against germs and toxins. Your pet naturally secretes antibacterial substances that hinder the growth of excess bacteria on the skin. An animal’s eyes, nose and mouth are all susceptible to invading germs, but your pet’s tears, nasal discharge and saliva also contain powerful enzymes that prevent invading germs from compromising immunity.  

The mucous membrane linings of the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and genitourinary tracts are other areas that provide a first line of defense against invasion by microbes or parasites. Your pet's internal immune defense mechanisms include the lymphatic system, the thymus gland, bone marrow, spleen, white blood cells and antibodies. All of these operations are reliant on a balanced immune system in order to keep your pet healthy and disease-free.

When your pet's immune system is triggered, and if it is not in balance, it sends an alarm throughout the body when exposed to fleas, pollen, toxicity, poor nutrition, chemicals or other inorganic materials. When immunity is not balanced, it becomes overactive or suppressed and your pet's body can no long distinguish between its own body and a foreign invader. As a result, the animal body basically attacks its own immune system, opening the door to inflammation, infection and autoimmune disease.

Allergies are an example of an autoimmune disease and a body lacking balanced immunity. Many animals suffer from allergies that are provoked by a hypersensitive reaction to environmental allergens. When these antigens enter the animal’s body, and immunity is not in balance, the immune system tends to over-react, triggering antibodies which create histamine and mast cell response, which directly result in allergic reaction.

A dog or cat with a healthy, balanced immune system will likely be able to resist inflammation and an allergic response, but once an allergy presents, you have evidence that your pet's immunity needs additional layers of support. And if you do not add in a corrective, repairative product, your pet may begin to experience the vicious itch/scratch cycle common in allergic reactions and related inflammation. For immune balance to be restored, the allergy trigger must be disengaged, inflammation must be soothed and a nutritional, repairative support should be added to your pet's diet. 

Practical suggestions to help maintain balanced immunity:

Feed your pet high quality, holistic food or a natural diet without preservatives, additives or colorants. It is recommended to avoid corn, wheat and soy where possible, particularly if your dog or cat has allergies. And remember immunity primarily resides in the gut so what you feed your pet is vitally linked to the state of their immune health.

Provide fresh, clean, filtered water daily and encourage your pet to drink. Your pet's body is not designed to manage fluorides and other chemicals often found in tap water. 

Strengthen your pet’s immune system with immune-building supplements. The reality is that our pets are over burdened with toxicity and despite feeding high quality holistic food, they likely need a natural, immune boosting supplement.

Limit chemical exposure to inorganic fragrances and chemicals-both inside and outside the house. (Think dryer sheets, room deodorizes, lawn fertilizers, etc.)

Exercise your dog and cat daily. It helps tone the lymphatic system, purifies the blood and encourages natural detoxification and proper waste elimination.

Maintain a hygienic environment by regularly disinfecting your pet’s food and water bowls, sleep area as well as litter box.

Visit your holistic vet regularly for routine check ups to ensure overall health and well being.

Allergic reactions can include itchiness, lesions, breathing problems, blocked sinus, asthma, eczema, hot spots and contact dermatitis. When immune system cells over-produce and are out of balance, auto immune diseases such as arthritis, tumors and cancer can also develop.

Organic Nutrition - (listed in order of relevance and recommendation by holistic vets - human grade meets highest safety criteria for pets)

Herbal remedies are used as nutritive supports to help promote a balanced immune system, to help limit inflammation and infection and disease without the drawbacks of antibiotic and steroid therapy and to help bolster immunity when it has been compromised; to help cleanse, detoxify and purify the body through elimination of excess waste and toxins; to help soothe and relax smooth muscle function and to help cool the animal body, especially important when allergic reaction occurs; for its natural plant chemicals which act as anti-inflammatory, analgesic (pain reliever), anti-fungal, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, immunologic, blood cleansing and body purifying supports, to nutritionally and bio-chemically help address histamine triggers that are often responsible for allergic reactions; to help correct and eliminate improper histamine response and to help assist recovery from illness or infection. 

I Feel Good –  (learn more) as a natural adaptogen, it helps to nutritionally tone the animal body and helps to reduce system-wise metabolic stress; helps promoteshealthy immune response, reduces all types of inflammation, provides dermal support and growth of healthy cells and tissues in the body’s defense mechanism, reduces the histamine trigger for contact allergies, seasonal and chronic allergens, pathogens, skin rashes, infections, hot spots, inflammation, swelling, hair loss, itching and geriatria (dull coat, lethargy); for all types of arthritis, including Degenerative Joint Disease, Osteoarthritis, Osteoporosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) and symptoms associated with rheumatism, including pain, strains, injuries, muscle pain, swelling and lack of mobilityreduces all types of inflammation, particularly from the heart to brain; plus contains prebiotics and probiotics useful in balancing digestive health and function plus much more. Recognized as one of the most important medicinal plants in the world, particularly related to supporting balanced immunity and limiting inflammation and inflammatory conditions.

Bionic Body – (learn more) is used holistically for its immune boosting and anti-inflammatory support; as an antioxidant and for its free radical scavenging (disease preventing) actions; for its nutritive content which may help to nourish the body and strengthen and revitalize bones, eye, teeth, skin and coat; works to stimulate collagen production, a primary building material of bones; may  help prevent dental disease; for its plant actions to help strengthen bones, cartilage, joints, muscles, connective tissues & blood vessels & helps to reduce joint inflammation, while activating a cartilage-protective biochemical, potentially helping to preserve healthy cartilage in aging joint; for its prebiotic and probiotic content to help support native gut flora and healthy digestion; may help to fight off allergies and infections.

Yelp for Kelp - (learn more) provides critical vitamins, amino and fatty acides and trace macro and micronutrient support for the endocrine system, to energize the body, for building and toning enzymes, tissues, hormones and bones, for enhancing natural cleansing and detoxification, to help nutritionally support a balanced immune system; as an osteoporosis preventative, to promote immunity and for metabolic disorders, including the thyroid gland and other glands and tissues that affect the thyroid, for thyroid disorders, to cleanse the lymphatic system, to maintain healthy levels of TSH, T3 and T4, and for metabolic disorders.

I Want Liquid Immunity -  (learn more) contains water-soluble plant bioflavonoids that function as potent antioxidants which are important in disease prevention; used adjunctively for growth abnormalities such as tumors, cysts and lipomas (often related to poor diet, excessive medication, environmental toxicity as well as aberrant cellular mutations); provides antioxidant protection against free radicals; helps promote cellular health and to reduce catabolic waste; may help address symptoms related to Lyme disease; provides nutritional, biochemical and plant botanical support of healthy immune cells; promotes optimal immune protection and systematic health and strength; supports bone, teeth and muscle health and integrity and for animals that need extra joint, immune, circulatory and vascular support. Strongly anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-microbial and anti-mutagenic.

Conventional Remedies:

Antibiotics and steroid medications may be recommended for dogs and cats with challenged immune systems. Antibiotics, glucosteroids and corticosteroids can seriously compromise immune health, have serious side effects and are unable to address the underlying cause for immune disorders and failure, nor do they enable the animal body to heal from the inside out. Once a steroid therapy is stopped, all symptoms of disease or disorder will return. If long term steroid therapy is stopped abruptly, adrenal failure can occur in dogs and cats and can be fatal.

It is possible that the more your pet is given synthetic drugs, the more depressed their immune system will become, opening up susceptibility to future disease and reoccurring infection. A vicious cycle of drug use may begin, which further compromises immunity. The end result typically prevents in chronic conditions such as allergies, and if left unchecked, over time, compromised immune systems can develop into serious and sometimes fatal diseases and conditions.  

Omega 3 fish oils and marine extracts may be recommended, as part of a  balanced, holistic diet and exercise. Immunity primarily resides in the gut, so if your pet is prescribed antibiotics, please add probiotics to help support gut flora to keep your dog and cat's belly healthy and happy. Pet supplementation is encouraged for balanced immunity.

 

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