Inflammation is an important part of your dog’s healthy immune response. Your dog’s immune system triggers it as a first response to tissue damage, infection or exposure to a toxin.
It’s designed to help the body …
- Kill infections
- Repair wounds
- Clean up any leftover damaged tissue or toxins
But when inflammation becomes chronic, it’s a problem for your dog.
Before I get into that, I want to explain how healthy inflammation works.
Healthy Inflammation And Your Dog
The first phase of a healthy inflammatory response is short vasoconstriction. This limits blood flow into the affected area and minimizes blood loss.
This is quickly followed by vasodilation, which lets extra blood flow into the affected tissues. The walls of the blood vessels become permeable (leaky). This allows fluid and cells from the bloodstream to move into the area.
Many immune cells from the bloodstream actively migrate into the area. These are mostly white blood cells, which help attack any disease … and heal the body.
Different types of white blood cells will engulf any bacteria or virus. This will trigger the production of antibodies.
The antibodies release a whole range of chemicals that help the healing process. More white blood cells come to help, or clean up any toxins and debris from damaged or dead tissue.
At this stage there will be heat, reddening, swelling and pain in the affected area. This is the acute phase.
After the acute phase, the swelling and pain will settle down. The body will send in different sorts of cells called fibroblasts to repair the damage. The end result increases connective tissue.
If it’s a localized injury, a scar will then form.
If it’s an infection with a disease, then the response will start in the tissues … where the bacteria or virus first enters the body. It may become more generalized if the disease spreads throughout the body.
When inflammation becomes chronic, it keeps ongoing. Let’s talk about how that happens.
Chronic Inflammation In Dogs
Chronic inflammation can happen in two ways. One is when there’s a long-term low-grade inflammatory process in localized areas or organs of the body.
An example of this is arthritis inflammation in the joints. It’s like the off switch for a healthy inflammatory response gets broken.
But your dog’s chronic inflammation can also be more generalized, affecting many areas or organs. The immune response gets confused and starts reacting to things when it shouldn’t. I call this immune system dysregulation.
This means the immune system is on when it should be resting, and it tends to start attacking the body. Autoimmune disease is a classic example of chronic inflammation. This may cause:
- Tissue damage
- Redness, swelling, itchiness
- Organ dysfunction or damage
- Or a whole range of symptoms or diseases
Diseases linked to chronic inflammation include:
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- Kidney failure
- Cardiac disease
- Autoimmune disease
In fact, chronic inflammation causes pretty much every chronic health problem in dogs.
What Causes Chronic Inflammation In Dogs?
Possible triggers that can set off chronic inflammation can be:
Infection With A Disease
Infection with any disease can cause your dog’s system to tip into chronic inflammation.
This is more likely with diseases such as Lyme … which are intracellular parasites. These parasites can trigger inflammatory cascades in the body. This helps them hide from the immune system.
Vaccines are a very common cause of severe immune system dysregulation.
You’re injecting multiple diseases into the body all at once … and in an unnatural way. The body is naturally adapted to meet only one disease at a time. And that disease comes through the mouth, nose, or eyes … not a needle.
Any type of chemical flea and tick preventives can produce chronic inflammation in dogs.
Treatment with prescription drugs can destroy gut flora. This can cause a toxic insult that can set off chronic inflammation.
Processed foods (kibbles) are extremely inflammatory.
This is for two reasons: the ”protein” sources are processed at very high temperatures … and they contain very high levels of carbohydrates (that dogs don’t need).
Pesticides and herbicides such as glyphosate (Roundup), petrochemical pollution, chemicals and artificial fragrances … they’re inflammatory and disruptive to the functioning of the immune system.
Mobile phones, network towers, wi-fi routers and other devices all emit radiation that can cause low-grade inflammation.
Too Much Time Indoors
A lack of exposure to unfiltered sunlight can lead to inflammation.
Stress And Anxiety
Stress and anxiety … these emotions can aggravate chronic issues. Your dog is sensitive to your stress levels too.
Fighting Chronic Inflammation
Here are some things you can do to help control your dog’s inflammation.
The first step to managing your dog’s chronic inflammation is a healthy diet. This should include fresh raw whole foods (organic if possible) packed full of antioxidants.
Avoid inflammatory vegetables like nightshades (potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant and peppers). Minimize carbohydrates, preferably feeding no grains at all. Allow only small amounts of starchy veggies like pumpkin and sweet potato.
Antioxidant foods that are great to add to your dog’s diet include:
- Blueberries (and any other berries)
- Green tea (steeped overnight in cold water so as not to extract the caffeine)
- Leafy greens
- Green-lipped mussels
A healthy gut is super important. A healthy diet is a great first step … but prebiotics and probiotics can help dogs who have gut inflammation issues. Fasting and bone broths can also be a great support in healing the gut over time. I fast my dogs one day a week.
In some cases of severe gut inflammation, a fecal transplant can be of great value. I’ve also seen dogs with severe IBD respond beautifully to CBD (more about CBD in a moment).
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Good essential fatty acids, vitamins C, E and A can help reduce or heal chronic inflammation in dogs.
Try to use naturally sourced vitamins. Avoid synthetic products that aren’t well absorbed by the body, and can be harmful long term.
If you have a dog with a severely dysregulated immune system … you may have to do more than just a healthy diet and supplements.
CBD for dogs is one of the best medicines that we have to help fight your dog’s chronic inflammation.
Palmitoylethanolamide (PEA) is another natural extract that has potent anti-inflammatory properties. It can work with CBD. It has no known drug interactions or side effects. It’s available at most health stores.
In severe cases, you’ll need to get your dog to a skilled holistic veterinarian. You may need to explore a range of herbal or homeopathic solutions. Acupuncture or acupressure can be effective in treating chronic inflammation, too.
Something that shouldn’t be neglected is plenty of time out in nature … away from technology and with lots of unfiltered sunlight.
Another way you can help is to clean out all toxic chemicals from your home. Get rid of chemical cleaning supplies and anything with artificial fragrances.
And don’t forget to take care of yourself too so you don’t get stressed out and impact your dog.
No matter where you live, your dog will be getting marinated in low levels of all sorts of toxic chemicals. Make sure to give your dog a super-healthy diet and plenty of antioxidants.
Minimize vaccinations. If you have to give legally mandated vaccinations … use supportive treatment with homeopathy and supplements before and afterwards.
This can help reduce any harm.