If ever anybody needed an immune system booster, it’s the dog!
Think about it … dogs are close to the ground. That means they get more than their fair share of pesticides, chemicals and toxins on their feet and body.
They also have to endure more vaccines than any other species. And vaccines stress your dog’s immune system.
These toxins build up in the body and stress her immune system. While their harmful effects aren’t seen right away, sooner or later they’ll show up as common health problems including:
- Organ disease (liver, kidney, heart, etc)
- Digestive issues
- Immune diseases
It’s a challenge for dogs living in the modern world!
Fortunately, there are natural dog immune system boosters that are inexpensive and easy to use. And they don’t carry the same dangerous side effects that expensive drugs do.
So let’s look at some of the best researched dog immune system boosters, including how to give them to your dog.
[RELATED: Why this vet says NEVER use Apoquel]
Echinacea (purple coneflower) was “discovered” in the late 1800’s by a traveling salesman named Joseph Meyer. He learned about it from the Plains Indians while traveling out west.
He and researchers since have found that it provides excellent immune system support.
It can activate macrophages which are immune cells that seek out and destroy foreign invaders. It also boosts T-cell production and chemokines, which help immune cells migrate to areas of infection.
The key is that you need to give it to your dog before he is sick to set his immune system up for success.
Its immune-boosting abilities come from the components echinacoside and echinacein. They support his immune system further with:
- Natural antibiotic and anti-fungal properties that can kill a broad range. Making it a helpful addition to wound healing.
- Anti-viral properties. Offering support against diseases like dog flu, kennel cough, and parvovirus.
- Preventing the growth of cancer cells an extending lifespan.
When To Give Your Dog Echinacea
- Befor he meets new dogs
- Ahead of stressful events
- Befor and during boarding at kennels or daycares
How To Give Your Dog Echinacea
First, you should buy a liquid extract. This is absorbed quicker.
Next, it’s best to use echinacea for three weeks on and one week off.
And finally, remember the seeds and roots are most effective.
The recommended dose for dogs is 1/2 ml for every 15 lbs of body weight. Give just before feeding, up to 3 times daily.
The reviews on echinacea may be mixed … but that’s certainly not the case with mushrooms!
There are a variety of medicinal mushrooms with immune-boosting properties. And combinations of several medicinal mushrooms seem to work best.
The major medicinal mushrooms include:
Reishi has anti-cancer and immune-enhancing effects. This is due to its mucopolysaccharides. These are complex sugars that the body incorporates into its cell membranes. This “coating” makes cells resistant to viruses and harmful bacteria.
Reishi mushrooms also contain triterpenes. These stimulate the production of a special protein called tumor necrosis factor (TNF). TFN regulates immune cells and kills cancer cells.
They are also rich in polysaccharides. They activate the macrophages that “eat” viruses, bacteria, and other foreign invaders.
Maitake mushrooms have a very high concentration of a unique polysaccharide compound called beta-1,6-glucan. Researchers consider this beta-glucan to be one of the most powerful immune stimulants known.
[RELATED: Why Your Dog Needs Beta-Glucans]
Studies found maitake produced a 64 percent inhibition of breast cancer and tumor activity in mice. And a 75 percent inhibition of skin cancer and tumor activity.
The US National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the Japanese National Institute of Health ran more studies. These showed that maitake extract killed the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and enhanced the activity of helper T-cells.
Researchers reported that the maitake extract was as powerful as AZT. A commonly prescribed AIDS drug … but without the toxic side effects.
Overall, maitake protects healthy cells from becoming cancerous. This helps prevent the spread of cancer (metastasis) and slows or stops the growth of tumors.
#3 Turkey Tail
This medicinal mushroom was approved by the FDA for a trial in cancer patients.
Turkey tail mushroom is rich in beta-glucans and also in Polysaccharide K (PSK). This active compound is approved to treat cancer in Japan and few side effects have been reported.
A Penn State study reviewed turkey tail use in dogs with hemangiosarcoma. Dogs treated with PSK from turkey tail mushrooms had the longest survival times ever reported for dogs with this common cancer.
And there are other immune-boosting mushrooms. These include:
Ideally, you’ll want to give your dog a blend of several of them.
When To Give Your Dog Mushrooms
- As he ages to provide anti-oxidant and anti-cancer support
- when he is battling cancer
- When he is battling a virus or infection
How To Give Your Dog Mushrooms
The recommended dose of mushrooms is 200mg of each mushroom for a medium-sized dog. You can give them once a day for prevention or twice daily for dogs with immune challenges.
But be sure your dog’s mushrooms are double extracted and are really mushrooms … not mycelium!
Colostrum and Lactoferrin
Colostrum is the clear, yellowish, pre-milk fluid produced from mother’s milk the first 72 hours after birth. It provides both immune and growth factors.
And these are essential for the health and development of the newborn.
Researchers have found that bovine colostrum (from cows) is virtually identical. Except that the immune factors are actually several times more concentrated.
These immune factors help the body fight against viruses, bacteria, yeast, and fungi. Plus, colostrum contains antibodies for harmful bacteria. Including E coli, Salmonella, Rotavirus, Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, H pylori, and Cryptosporidia. It can also fight Candida.
Colostrum contains a substance called proline-rich-polypeptide. It is an immunomodulator. Meaning it boosts an underactive immune system and balances an overactive one.
Another key component of colostrum are transfer factors. These are small molecules that transfer immunity information from one animal to another. In effect, they transfer immunity “memory”. Which gives your dog instant resistance to a number of diseases.
Colostrum is a potent source of lactoferrin, a globular protein produced in the body. Lactoferrin is found anywhere that’s especially vulnerable to attack. Such as in the gut, eyes, ears, nose, throat, and urinary tract.
Lactoferrin can stop viruses from growing. It also limits tumor growth and metastasis and kills both bacteria and yeast (including Candida).
Supplementing your dog with lactoferrin can significantly boost his immune system. Meaning he will recover faster from viruses. This is critical for dogs taking antibiotics or with gut imbalances …
… since the intestinal flora produces lactoferrin.
You’ll want colostrum from grass-fed dairy cows with 40% immunoglobulins (or antibodies).
When To Give Your Dog Colostrum
- If he is not maintaining weight easily
- When he is suffering from allergy symptoms
- If he is prone to viruses and infections
How To Give Your Dog Colostrum
Colostrum is best fed on an empty stomach … but you can feed it with a small amount of yogurt or broth. Gloria Dodd DVM recommends giving it for one month, then as needed.
If you’re giving a powder, give 1/8 teaspoon per 25 lbs of body weight, twice daily,
Some colostrum will come in capsule form for dogs. Follow the instructions on the label for dosing recommendations. If you find a human product you can give small dogs 1 capsule twice a day. And Medium to large dogs can have 2 caps twice daily.
About 80% of your dog’s immune system comes from his gut. It’s no surprise probiotics made this list!
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria such as bifidobacteria and L. acidophilus. These good bugs act as a front line of defense by sticking to the intestinal mucosa.
They compete for space and crowd out the pathogenic bacteria that enter the gut. Some probiotics also produce a protective mucose layer.
And this mucose layer is what keeps bacteria from entering the lining of the intestines. When bacteria is able to enter the lining it creates inflammation which can lead to a leaky-gut.
Probiotics produce the short-chain fatty acids lactic acid and acetic acid. Which discourage the growth of pathogenic bacteria. This means less chronic inflammation in the body.
Reducing chronic inflammation is a big step in disease prevention. And it reduces your dog’s cancer risk significantly.
And bacteria, like Lactobacillus, can decrease the production of Salmonella and E. coli … at least, in vitro
They are able to regulate the growth of pathogenic bacteria and viruses. By destroying these foreign invaders they prevent disease.
When To Give Your Dog Probiotics
- If he has loose or soft stools
- When he is struggling with allergies
- If he is prone to illness
How To Give Your Dog Probiotics
You will want to give your dog probiotics at least a few times each week as prevention. And daily if they are currently unwell.
By feeding probiotics on a regular basis you’ll have fewer diarrhea episodes to worry about. And you’ll be boosting his immune system too.
[RELATED: Probiotics For Dogs: A Vet’s Perspective]
Echinacea, Medicinal mushrooms, Colostrum and Probiotics are the top 4 ways you can boost your dog’s immune system. So start rotating through these options to help him thrive.
But there are few others I have to share with you…
BONUS: 4 Not So Common But Equally Important Immune Boosters
Astragalus has been a foundational herb in Traditional Chinese Medicine for hundreds of years.
It is one of the important “Qi tonifying” adaptogenic herbs. Current research on astragalus focuses on the immune-stimulating capacity of its polysaccharides and saponins.
It’s great at supporting your dog trough cancer. And can boost his stamina when fighting infections.
Pau d’arco is a tree found in the rain forests of Brazil and other areas of South America. The medicinal part is found in the inner bark of the tree.
Like Echinacea, pau d’arco both stimulates the body’s defense system. And actively attacks foreign invaders.
The primary active biochemicals in Pau d’arco are the naphthoquinones: lapachol and beta-lapachone. Their health benefits include:
- prevent cancer cells from becoming tumors
- antifungal activity.
Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant. It works to support the liver for optimal immune function.
It plays a major protective role. Fighting the damaging effects of the whole range of pathogens and carcinogens.
Alternatives include the glutathione precursors L-cysteine and L-glutamate and specially formulated whey products.
Mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana) is a tropical evergreen tree whose contains a unique group of antioxidants called xanthones.
Xanthones, particularly beta and gamma mangostin, work to maintain the immune system by:
- Supporting cardiovascular health
- Optimizing joint flexibility
- Providing antibiotic, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory support
- Killing cancerous cells
Natural foods and supplements are safe and effective dog immune system boosters. Why not try one or more on your dog today?