Naturally strengthening the dog’s immune system
We all know how important the immune system is for our health and staying healthy. When it is strong the immune system protects us from diseases, when it is weak, we are susceptible to various illnesses and infections. Our dogs also have an immune system and the task of the dog’s immune system is the same for humans. To better understand how the immune system works, it is worth taking a closer look at the various threats to the body and the body’s defence mechanisms to those threats. How to understand how infections develop, how to avoid them and how to naturally strengthen the dog’s immune system to help fight infections.
A short digression: What threatens the dog's body - which pathogens are there?
Pathogens can cause diseases in the organism and are therefore harmful to the health of the dog. These include:
- Endoparasites and ectoparasites
Bacteria plays an important role in the body, e.g. good bacteria supporting the intestinal flora or the flora on the skin. Some bacteria are pathogenic and can be the reason for lethal wound infections, for organ inflammation or even blood poisoning.
Furthermore, some bacteria and fungi secrete substances that prevent other microorganisms (microscopic organisms) from multiplying and can even kill them. This is where the origin of today’s antibiotics lies. Antibiotics are said to attack structures that occur in the cells of bacteria and not in animal or human cells. Unfortunately, they are not selective within the different types of bacteria, as all bacteria that are like the bacterium causing the damage are destroyed by the antibiotic.
Using a broad-spectrum antibiotic is dangerous because it is designed to attack the broadest possible spectrum of bacteria. In many cases, bacteria that do not damage the body or even contribute to its well-being can also be affected. For diseases that do not represent a life-threatening condition, it is useful to determine with an antibiogram which antibiotic is generally suitable and which specifically targets the causative agent.
Viruses rely on host cells and their metabolism in order to be able to reproduce. They do not have their own metabolism; they have the ability to spread to other cells and then multiply in suitable host cells.
Furthermore, antibiotics cannot be used against a virus.
The way to combat viruses is by ensuring that the virus cannot enter the host cell, by influencing cell metabolism in such a way that it is detrimental to virus replication, or by preventing the virus from spreading after proliferation cells emerges to infect other cells.
Endoparasites and Ectoparasites
Parasites are living beings that live on a host. They get their resources to live from other living beings. Parasites often feed on the host’s body fluids as this is their source of food. Some parasites carry other pathogens and transmit them to their host.
Parasites that live ON a host include:
Parasites that live INSIDE a host include:
The dog´s defence mechanism
Barrier 1: Dog's skin and mucous membranes as a non-specific defence against infections
Skin and mucous membranes (e.g. in the digestive, respiratory and genital tracts) not only serve as a demarcation between “outside” and “inside”, but also represent a barrier that makes it difficult for bacteria and viruses in a healthy state to penetrate the body.
Even the smallest injuries to the skin and mucous membranes can serve as an “entry point” for pathogens.
This barrier function not only protects the body, it also protects the skin. The mucous membranes also have chemical weapons against germs. The sebaceous glands ensure an acidic pH on the skin, which makes it difficult for pathogens to colonize. Many different microorganisms also live here, which also displace foreign pathogens.
The skin’s natural flora functions as an effective barrier and is the reason why you should not wash your dog constantly. Regular interventions in this system, which works very well in a healthy state, can destroy the skin´s flora making it much easier for pathogens to penetrate the body.
The cells of the mucous membranes secrete slimy secretions that can clean surfaces and trap germs. Food that is eaten contain germs, is mixed with saliva and then swallowed. Once in the stomach, the stomach acid attacks the germs. The pH of the various secretions serves as a germ reducer and the bactericidal proteins contained will also attack foreign microorganisms.
Barrier 2: White blood cells, antimicrobial proteins and inflammation as an unspecific defence against dog infections
If microorganisms succeed in overcoming the first barrier and thus entering the body, the next defense mechanism of the body (white blood cells) is waiting for them. These are constantly circulating through the body, some of the white blood cells in the blood are able to recognize and destroy pathogens (so-called phagocytotic blood cells). These cells can, for example, be lured by chemical signals, leave the blood and migrate into infected tissue, where they destroy the germs.
Another defence mechanism that is also part of the second response to infections is the inflammatory response. Within the area of injuries, the blood supply is increased, and the blood vessels become more permeable – this leads to redness, warming and swelling. Chemical signals initiate the inflammatory response. Some come from the invading organism itself, others, such as histamine, are released by the body’s cells in response to tissue damage. The increased blood flow also ensures that the phagocytotic cells increasingly reach the injured region and can do their work there. Chemokines attract additional phagocytes to the region and are also important in the inflammatory process.
So far, we have been talking about local inflammatory processes that are limited to one region, but the body’s response to infection can be much more extensive. The body’s leukocyte count can increase many times within a very short time, and as a result the body temperature is set to a higher point. In addition, pathogens can release toxins that trigger fever. High fever is dangerous and can have devastating consequences for the organism – but a slight rise in temperature is quite helpful in the defence against some microorganisms and in accelerating metabolic and leukocyte function.
There are a large number of antimicrobial proteins that either directly attack microorganisms or limit their multiplication. The interferons are one of those. They are released by cells that are virus-infected and are supposed to induce other cells to protect themselves against the virus or to fight it. Interferons are secreted as an early non-specific immune response by the protein cells before the immune system can form specific antibodies. They are not virus-specific and therefore very helpful for fast-moving infections such as colds or flu.
So far, we have been talking about non-specific defence mechanisms that do not work against specific pathogens like a certain strain of bacteria for example. They are present from birth and are not capable of adapting.
Barrier 3: The immune system - antibodies and lymphocytes as a specific defence against dog infections
There are two main types of lymphocytes that circulate in the body, they are called the B cells and T cells. They flow in the blood and lymph, concentrating in the spleen and lymph nodes, as well as in other lymphatic tissues. They can recognize certain foreign molecules and microorganisms and react to them. Antigen is a substance that triggers their reaction. There is a huge pool of lymphocytes that can be activated by very different antigens. Only suitable cells are activated from this huge pool. The activation initiates their cell division. This cell division clones the growth of thousands of cells, all of which are designed to destroy the one antigen. One way in which an antigen can trigger an immune response is to activate a B cell, which then begins to produce special proteins, i.e. antibodies (so-called immunoglobulins). Possible antigens include viruses, fungi, bacteria, unicellular organisms and parasitic worms, but also pollen or insecticides.
It takes about 10-17 days from the first contact with the antigen to the maximum production of antibodies – this process is called the primary immune response. During this time, the body may show symptoms of the disease that go away once the body has eliminated the antigen. If the body is confronted with the antigen again months later, the reaction to the antigen takes place much faster, within 2-7 days. This is known as the secondary immune response. The immune system is therefore able to recognize known antigens and react to them faster and more effectively, this ability is known as immunological memory.
The dog's immune system and the intestines
The approximate ratio of body length to bowel length in dogs is 1:6.5. In a large dog, 6m (and more) of intestine can easily hide in the abdomen. In addition, the multiple expansion of the mucous membranes leads to an immense increase in the surface area of the digestive tract. So, to say that the skin is the largest organ in the body is wrong. If you were to spread and unfold the bowels, it would easily win this title. The digestive tract of the organism is a much more vulnerable surface than the skin. It is no wonder that many of the body’s defence mechanisms have settled in this area. At the centre of each intestinal-villi are a network of blood capillaries and a central lymphatic vessel – this is connected to the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is divided into lymphatic organs such as the thymus, spleen and lymph nodes and the lymphatic vascular system. It is important for the fluid transport in the body, but also an important part of its immune system. Lymphatic vessels not only collect water from the space between the cells, the fluid is also filtered through the lymph nodes. They also serve to spread the lymphocytes mentioned above (part of the white blood cells such as B cells, T cells). So, a variety of lymphatic vessels are found along the entire intestinal mucosa. Lymph follicles and the so-called Peyer plaques are also found in the entire small intestine. These are collections of many lymph follicles, which in turn consist of colonies of B lymphocytes that differentiate and multiply.
The further you look down the digestive tract, the more pronounced is the intestinal flora, consisting of an extremely high number of different types of bacteria, which naturally belong there. Studies even indicate that the number of bacteria living in the colon can exceed the number of the host’s entire body cells by a factor of 10. Rejected intestinal bacteria make up 25% of the dog’s faeces. The body’s intestinal flora represents an important defence mechanism against infections and is also very important for the nutrient supply of the organism.
The competition for nutrients and the elimination of metabolic products that inhibit the growth of other bacteria makes it very difficult for foreign germs to colonize. In addition, mucous membrane receptors are active and therefore cannot be occupied by foreign germs. The immune system is also always trained and maintained by the intestinal flora.
How it affects our dog:
The food eaten by our dogs makes up the largest part of the “outside world”, which in turn affects its digestive tract.
Synthetic additives in dog food can burden and damage a healthy organism
Artificial additives are used to extend the shelf lives of products, to stabilize the pH or its consistency, to enhance colour or to make it more edible. Many of these substances are being investigated for their acute toxicity or the triggering of cancer. However, the influence that they can have on the digestive tract, the intestinal mucosa or the intestinal cells and the intestinal bacteria is only slowly coming into focus. If a preservative is intended to prevent the spoilage of a product from mould or bacteria, what can this mean for the intestinal flora? If an emulsifier ensures that two immiscible substances mix better (e.g. oil and water), what does that mean for the intestinal walls, whose functionality is also based on allowing certain substances to pass through, but not others.
Frequently one type of food is fed several times a day for days or months – what then, are the consequences for the organism when it is constantly confronted with preservatives, synthetic vitamins and other synthetic additives or inferior by-products such as feather meal, claws, peelings or stalks?
Feeding is so easy these days, that it is easy to forget how complicated the processes are, that run as soon as the food is swallowed and what the organism performs every day. Regardless of feeding, the organism is also exposed to various external influences every day that can burden it. Whether it is exposure to germs, medication residues in the water, exhaust gases in the air or simply the stresses of everyday life – the organism must run at optimum speed.
What we feed our dogs every day should nourish and ease the body and contribute to its well-being. Under no circumstances should it be another item on the long list of external influences that strain or harm the body.
The basis for a naturally strong immune system for a dog is a natural dog food that basically does not contain any substances that are questionable in terms of their efficiency for the organism, especially in its digestive tract. A natural food enables your dog to build a healthy and stable digestive system and thus a strong immune system. The right nutrients are vital for a dog’s health. Real, natural ingredients and the vitamins and minerals they contain offer the best availability for the body. They have made its development, its strong defence system and its performance possible over the past millennia – that’s why only natural vitamins and minerals are contained in a species-appropriate dog food and without synthetic additives.
In times of increased demand, it is possible to support the organism with the targeted addition of natural substances to promote and strengthen its immune system. Because a strong immune system will always provide the best protection against bacteria, fungi, viruses and other disease-causing factors. It is worth noting that a virus cannot be treated with an antibiotic, therefore it is particularly important to promote a strong immune system. Nature offers many opportunities to support and promote the immune system in various ways:
- Intestinal flora – development and promotion
- Metabolism – detoxification and elimination
- Nutrients – optimisation for special needs
- Fluid balance – promotion of basic biochemical processes in the body
- Lifestyle – balanced mind, appropriate housing conditions
- Protection & Care – With the power of nature for external health
Strengthening the dog's immune system with natural products from Naturavetal
Intestinal flora - development and promotion
Metabolism - detoxification and elimination
Nutrients – most effective for special needs
Fluid balance – supports the basic biochemical processes in the body
Lifestyle - balanced mind, suitable housing conditions
Protection & Care products - with the power of nature for external health benefits
Avoiding unnecessary additives to promote a dog’s health
You can build up healthy and natural feeding by using additives, antibiotics, deworming only if it is absolutely necessary.
- For example there are vaccines that offer a 3-year protection and yet they are still vaccinated annually. So please ask your veterinarian how long the vaccine provides protection.
- Worm treatments are administered regularly without checking whether the dog has worms. Since a worming regime does not offer preventive protection, you can submit a faecal sample, wait for the laboratory result and then action if required. Nature also offers various options to support the body in repelling these parasites.
- Antibiotics are administered prophylactically (a preventative measure), even if the animal is able to fight the infection itself or a broad-spectrum antibiotic is used to avoid an antibiogram. The use of antibiotics can also be at the expense of good bacteria, which would actually have been beneficial for the organism and, if necessary, would have supported it in the defence against pathogenic germs.
Naturally strengthening the puppy's immune system
Every dog has the ability to build a healthy immune system. A young dog’s intestine only develops its intestinal flora, with its multitude of good bacteria, at birth. During a natural birth, the puppy gets its first gut bacteria. Puppies who see the light of day through a caesarean section lack this possibility. For them, an active intestinal build-up is highly recommended. The natural bacteria lay a valuable foundation stone, which is then followed by breast milk. The germs in the environment and the first feed intakes shape the intestinal flora and the immune system. It is very important to let this process run as undisturbed as possible and to feed it naturally, so that the dog can build and maintain a healthy and stable digestive system and thus a strong immune system. That is why it is so important not to interrupt the building of the stable digestive system. Chemical agents will damage this process so do not use them if there is no reason to.
Should you have any questions on this topic, we will be happy to provide you with comprehensive advice. You can reach us Monday to Friday from 10am to 4 pm on 0208 – 531 7804 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org