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Strengthening the dog's immune system naturally

We’ve all heard of the immune system and know how important it is for our health and wellbeing. The immune system protects us from disease when it is strong, however, if it is weakened, we are susceptible to various diseases and infections. Our dogs also have an immune system and the task of the immune system in dogs is the same as the task of the immune system in humans. To better understand the connections and to get an idea of the immune system, it is worth taking a closer look at the various threats to the body, their coping mechanisms and the body’s defense mechanisms. In this way we can understand how infections develop, how to avoid them and how to strengthen the dog’s immune system naturally and, to support it in the fight against infections.

What is a threat to the dog's body – what pathogens are there?

Pathogens are infectious agents that causes diseases in the organism and are therefore harmful to the health of the dog.
These include:

  • Bacteria
  • Viruses
  • Endo and Ectoparasites


They play an important role in the body, e.g. they form the intestinal flora in the intestine or the skin flora on the skin. Some bacteria can be healthy and some are pathogenic. Bacteria can be the reason for purulent (pussy) wound inflammation, organ inflammation or blood poisoning.

Incidentally – some bacteria and fungi secrete substances that prevent other microorganisms from multiplying and can even kill them. This is the origin of today’s antibiotics. Antibiotics are designed to attack structures or mechanisms found only in the cells of bacteria and not in animal or human cells. Unfortunately, they are not selective within the different types of bacteria (healthy or pathogenic), as all bacteria that is similar to the bacterium causing the damage is destroyed by the antibiotic.

  • Lyme disease is caused by bacteria of the genus Borrelia.
  • Gastritis can be caused by bacteria of the genus Helicobacter.
  • Diarrhea or vomiting can be caused by bacteria of the genus Escherichia.


Naturavetal tip - Check the effectiveness of an antibiotic.

Using a broad-spectrum of antibiotics or a broad-spectrum antibiotic is dangerous because it is designed to attack the widest possible spectrum of bacteria. In many cases, bacteria can also be destroyed that do not harm the body or even contribute to its well-being. Therefore, in the case of diseases that do not represent a life-threatening condition, it makes sense to determine with the help of an antibiogram which antibiotic is the most suitable, that specifically attacks the pathogen causing the infection.


Viruses depend on host cells or their metabolism in order to multiply. They do not have their own metabolism but have the ability to spread by transfer to other cells in order to multiply in suitable host cells.

Incidentally – Antibiotics cannot be used against a virus.

Viruses can only be tackled either by ensuring that the virus cannot penetrate the host cell, by influencing cell metabolism making it detrimental to virus replication, or by preventing the virus from leaving the cells after multiplication in order to infect other cells.

  • Rabies is caused by the rabies virus.
  • Parvovirus is caused by parvovirus.
  • Distemper is caused by the canine distemper virus in dogs.

Endo and Ectoparasites

Parasites are living beings that live on a host. In order to survive they get their resources at the expense of the living host. The body fluids of the host often serve as food for the parasite. Some parasites can be carriers of other pathogens and transmit them to their host.

Parasites that live on the host include:

  • Ticks
  • Fleas
  • Mites

Parasites that live in the host include:

  • Tapeworms
  • Nematodes – roundworms
  • Giardia
  • Coccidia

Defence mechanisms in the dog’s body

Shepherd dog in nature

Below are three barriers/obstacles that protect the dog’s body from various pathogens. They represent the natural defence mechanisms within the dog from birth.

Barrier 1- 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 they 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, the skin and mucous membranes also have chemical weapons against pathogens. The sebaceous glands provide an acidic pH value on the skin, which makes it difficult for pathogens to colonise. Many different microorganisms also live here, which additionally displace foreign pathogens.
The natural skin flora with its barrier function is the reason why you should not wash your dog constantly. Regular washing, which functions very well in a healthy state, if it is too frequent the skin flora can be destroyed. Then it becomes much easier for pathogens to penetrate the body.

The cells of the mucous membranes secrete mucous that can clean surfaces and trap germs. An example is food containing germs, it is consumed, salivated and swallowed. Once in the stomach, the stomach acid attacks the germs. The various secretions serve as a germ reducer, but it also contains bactericidal proteins which attack foreign microorganisms

Barrier 2 - White blood cells, antimicrobial proteins and inflammatory response as a non-specific defence of the dog against infections

Should the microorganisms manage to overcome the first barrier and penetrate the body, the next defence mechanism is already waiting for them, which constantly circulates through the body. This is because some of the white blood cells are able to recognise and destroy pathogens (so-called phagocytotic blood cells). These cells can, for example, lured by chemical signals, leave the blood and migrate into infected tissue, where they destroy the germs.

Another defense mechanism, which is also part of the second response to infection, is familiar to all of us – the inflammatory response. Within the vicinity of injuries, the blood supply is increased and the blood vessels become more permeable with redness, warming and swelling occurring. Chemical signals initiate the inflammatory response, some come from the invading organism itself, and 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 (A type of immune cell that can surround and kill microorganisms, ingest foreign material, and remove dead cells) increasingly reach the injured region and can do their work there. Chemokines attract other phagocytes to the region and are also important in the further inflammatory process.

So far, we are talking about inflammatory processes limited to one region of the body, but the body’s response to infection can be much more extensive. Within a very short time, the leukocyte (part of the immune system that helps fight infection and disease) count of the body can increase many times, as a result of an increase in body temperature higher than the normal. In addition, pathogens can release toxins that trigger fever. High fever is dangerous and can have devastating consequences for the organism – however, a slight increase in temperature can be quite helpful in the defence against some microorganisms and in the acceleration of the metabolic and the leukocyte function.

There are a variety of antimicrobial proteins that either attack microorganisms directly or limit their multiplication. They also include interferons. They are released by cells that are infected with the virus and are designed to cause other cells to protect themselves against or fight the virus. Interferons are secreted as an early non-specific immune response of the cells before the immune system can produce specific antibodies, they are not virus-specific and therefore very helpful in fast-moving infections such as colds or flu.

So far, we are talking about non-specific defense mechanisms that are not directed against specific pathogens such as a specific bacterial strain. They are present from birth and are not adaptable.

Barrier 3: The immune system - antibodies and lymphocytes as the dog's specific defence against infections

There are 2 main types of lymphocytes in the body which circulate the B cells and T cells. They flow in the blood and lymph, are concentrated in the spleen and lymph nodes, as well as in other lymphatic tissues. They recognise and react to certain foreign molecules and microorganisms. A substance that triggers their reaction is called an antigen. There is a huge pool of lymphocytes that can be activated by a variety of different antigens. From this huge pool, however, only suitable cells are activated. Activation initiates their cell division. This results in clones with thousands of cells, all 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 disease that disappear once the body has eliminated the antigen. If the body is confronted with the antigen again months later, the reaction to the antigen is much faster, within 2-7 days. This is called a secondary immune response. The immune system is therefore able to recognise known antigens and react to them faster and more effectively. This ability is called immunological memory.

The Dog's Immune System and the Gut

The dog’s ratio of body length to intestinal length is about 1: 6.5. In a large dog, 6.00m (and more) of intestines can easily hidden in the abdomen. In addition, unfolding of the mucous membranes leads to an immense increase of the surface area in the digestive tract. So if you say that the skin is the largest organ of the body, that’s actually wrong. The digestive tract offers a much larger surface area than the skin does. It is no wonder that a large number of the body’s defence mechanisms have settled in this area. Within the center of each intestinal villus 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 lymphatic vessels. It critically transports fluid around the body but is also an important part of the defence system. Lymphatic vessels not only collect water from the intercellular space, but they also filter the fluid via the lymph nodes. In addition, they serve to spread the lymphocytes (part of white blood cells such as B cells, T cells). So we find that there is a variety of lymphatic vessels along the entire intestinal mucosa. Lymph follicles and the so-called Peyer plaques are also found throughout the small intestine. These are accumulations of a large number of lymph follicles, which in turn consist of colonies of B lymphocytes, which differentiate and multiply.

The further “down” the digestive tract, the more pronounced is the intestinal flora, consisting of an extremely high number of different native bacterial species. Studies even suggest that the number of bacteria living in the intestine may exceed the number of the host’s total body cells by a factor of 10. Gut bacteria that are excreted make up 25% of the dog’s faeces. This endogenous intestinal flora represents another important defense mechanism against infections and is also very important for the nutrient supply of the organism. The competition for nutrients and the excretion of metabolic products that inhibit the growth of other bacteria or even kill them, makes it is very difficult for foreign germs to settle. Mucosal receptors which are occupied cannot be occupied by foreign germs – the immune system is also always trained and maintained by its own intestinal flora.

What this means to your dog:
The digestive tract is affected by food, which makes up most of the “outside world”.

Synthetic additives in dog food can burden a healthy organism.

Two golden retrievers lying in nature

Artificial additives are used, among other things, to make a product last longer, to stabilise its pH value, improve consistency, to enhance its color or to make it more edible. Many of these substances are being investigated with regard to their acute toxicity or the triggering of cancer – but the influence they can have on the digestive tract, the intestinal mucosa and cells and the intestinal bacteria is only slowly coming into focus. If a preservative is intended to prevent spoilage of a product by mould or bacteria for a long period of time, what are its effects on the intestinal flora? And if an emulsifier ensures that two actually immiscible substances, such as oil and water, can be better mixed with each other – what does this mean for the intestinal walls, whose functionality is also based on allowing certain substances to pass through, but not others. In many cases, this type of food is fed several times a day for several days to months – what are the effects for the organism that is constantly confronted with preservatives, synthetic vitamins, synthetic additives or low-quality by-products such as feather meal, claws, shells or straw? Feeding today is so easy and convenient, that it is easy to forget that there are many special processes that take place as soon as the food has been swallowed and the daily energy needed to perform these processes. Regardless of what is being fed, the organism is exposed daily to external influences that can burden it. Whether it is germs, drug residues in the water, exhaust gases in the air or simply the stress of everyday life – the organism must still be able to run at full speed.

What we feed our dogs daily should nourish, relieve the body and contribute to its well-being. It should not be an additional stress to the long list of external influences that burden or even harm the dog’s body.

The basis for a dog’s strong immune system is a natural dog food, which basically does not contain any substances that are questionable in terms of their efficiency for the organism and in particular its digestive tract. This is so that your dog can build and maintain a healthy and stable digestive system and thus a strong immune system. The right nutrients are vital for the health of your dog. Real, original ingredients and the vitamins and minerals they contain provide the best availability for the body. These natural ingredients have made its development, its strong immune system and its performance over the last millennia possible. Which is why a species-appropriate dog food contains only natural vitamins and minerals and no synthetic additives.

Strengthen your dog's immune system naturally with Naturavetal

Various herbs, vegetables and berries

In times of increased demand, you can support the organism through the targeted feeding of various natural substances to promote and strengthen its immune system. A strong immune system will always provide the best protection against bacteria, fungi, viruses and other disease-causing factors. Especially since viruses cannot be treated with antibiotics, it is particularly important to promote a strong immune system. Nature offers lots of opportunities to support and promote the immune system in several ways.

  • Intestinal flora – development and promotion
  • Metabolism – detoxification and drainage
  • Nutrients – optimisation for special needs
  • Fluid balance – promoting basic biochemical processes in the body
  • Lifestyle – balanced disposition, species-appropriate husbandry conditions
  • Protection & Care – With the power of nature for external health

Strengthening the Intestinal Flora of the Dog

Development and Promotion

Canis Extra Petflora

To support a stable intestinal flora and promote a strong immune system (especially recommended after antibiotics or chemical worming cures).

Canis Extra Granulated Carrot

Quick nutritional support for soft faeces and over a short period of time provides valuable food for good intestinal bacteria.

Canis Extra Healthy Bowel

Supports the cleansing of the digestive tract, such as in case of flatulence or after eating rubbish.

Canis Extra Mineralmoor

To support the regeneration of the entire gastrointestinal function and mucous membranes.

Canis Extra Organic Coconut Oil

Can promote the defence against pathogens such as fungi, viruses and bacteria through lauric and capric acid.

Canis Extra Cod Liver Oil

An excellent source of vitamin A and D, and omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for a strong skeletal system, a healthy immune system, a stable cardiovascular system, for healthy skin and a shiny coat.

Canis Extra Organic Hemp Oil

Contains linoleic acid which supports the skin and promotes cell structure, joints and the immune system.

Canis Extra Organic Egyptian Black Cumin Oil

Supports the immune system in general immune deficiency and can promote the defence against pathogens such as yeasts and fungi in the intestine, such as Candida albicans or bacteria by thymoquinone.

Promoting the Dog's Metabolism

Detoxification and Drainage

Canis Extra Chlorella

Naturally supports the detoxification of the body and can cleanse and purify the tissues.

Canis Extra Spirulina

Provides the body with metabolism-supporting ingredients and can thus contribute positively to the cleansing and mineralisation of the cells.

Canis Extra Aktiv

Activates the metabolism, for a faster excretion of toxins as well as to support in the recovery phases.

Natural Nutrients for the Dog

Optimisation for Special Needs

Canis Extra Berry Power

A powerful blend of valuable, colored berries that provide flavonoids, vitamins, antioxidants, minerals and other healthy ingredients to support the immune system.

Canis Extra Tausendgrün Organic Herbs for BARF

This concentrate of organic herbs are true powerhouses and provide the organism with valuable vitamins, minerals and secondary plant substances.

Canis Extra Fish and Hemp Oil

A mixture of 7 types of fish oils with hemp oil. This combines the advantages of different oils in one product. In addition to the important omega-3-, -6 and -9 fatty acids, Canis Extra Fish and Hemp oil provides energy, which is particularly useful for sporty dogs, dogs in breeding and dogs prone to weight loss.

Canis Extra Krill Oil

Oxidative stress can be an enormous burden on the organism and is an important cause of degeneration and signs of aging of the cells. Krill oil can make a valuable contribution to maintaining the health of the organism and preventing the associated signs of aging.

Canis Extra Organic Rose Hip Powder

The high content of vitamin C, carotenoids and antioxidants contributes to the protection against free radicals, in addition, the entire immune system benefits from the positive properties and blood formation can also be stimulated.

Canis Extra Goats Milk Powder

Promotes the vital intestine, strengthens the immune system, gives strength, increases resistance.

Optimizing the Dog's Fluid Balance

Promoting the basic biochemical processes in the body

Canis Extra Mineralmoor

Can encourage the dog's drinking behavior by adding it to drinking water.

Canis Extra Organic Egyptian Black Cumin Oil

A few drops, mixed into the drinking water, can contribute to the purity of the drinking water and make it difficult for germs to multiply in it.

Canis Extra Salmon Oil

Can encourage the dog's drinking behavior by adding it to drinking water.

Canis Plus® Complete Meal, Pure Meat pots and Rolls, vegetable/fruit flakes and Natural Calcium Sources

The moisture content of the food can aid the hydration for dogs who otherwise do not drink much liquid during the day.

Balanced Lifestyle

Balanced disposition, species-appropriate food with good husbandry conditions

Canis Plus® Chewy Snacks

Dogs that suffer from stress tend to have behavioral problems. Through loving and consistent education you can make an enormous contribution to the health and wellbeing of your dog. However, the dog should also be given the opportunity to reduce their stress independently – a chewing snack that can be gnawed upon for long periods of time will require their chewing instinct and can thus also help to reduce stress. Canis Plus® deer antlers, horse tendon, cattle scalp or the various fur strips are particularly suitable here.

Canis Extra Tranquil Pet

Supports the normal functioning of the nervous system. Calm and balance can be promoted, which can help the dog to cope more easily with stressful situations such as veterinarian visits, outings, separations or the change of ownership.

Natural products for Protection & Care

Using the power of nature for external health

Canis Extra Vermcurat®

Can support the cleansing of the intestines, in which parasites can be excreted in the faeces and help to avoid diet-related, increased worm infestation.

Canis Extra Vermprevet®

Can stabilise a resilient intestinal environment and thus support the animal to remain worm-free.

Canis Extra Defence Complex

Natural protection for prevention and treatment of ticks and fleas. Especially suitable for dogs that like to swim.

Canis Extra Parasite Complex

Natural grooming product, a direct spray treatment for flea and mite infestation.

Canis Extra Mineral Spray

Natural grooming product, especially suitable for eczema and dry, itchy skin.

Canis Extra Care Shampoo

For general grooming as well as for the prevention and treatment of coat problems such as dandruff, matting and vermin.

Canis Extra Dental Care

Pleasant-smelling oil mixture that helps to soften and remove plaque. The antibacterial essential oils inhibit germs, promotes a healthy oral mucosa with fresh breath, ensures the flora is stabilised in the long term and the prevention of tartar with regular use.

Canis Extra Eye Care

Preventive, cleansing and gently nourishing effect, also applicable for mild inflammation.

Canis Extra Ear Care

A simple drop for a thorough cleaning of the ears, can also be used for mild irritation of the ear and ear mite infestation.

Canis Extra Paw and Skin Balm

Care products to strengthen and protect the paws as well as skin irritations.

The absence of unnecessary additives promotes the health of the dog

Beagle in nature

You can improve healthy and natural feeding by only resorting to additives, antibiotics, worm cures and the like, only when it is really necessary.

  • For example, there are vaccines that provide 3-years of protection but are still vaccinated annually, so feel free to check with your veterinarian how long the vaccine provides protection.
  • Worm cures are administered regularly without checking whether the dog has worms. However, worm cures do not offer preventive protection, you can submit a faecal sample and wait for the laboratory result to decide whether to administer a worming cure. Again, nature offers various ways to help the body defend against these parasites.
  • Antibiotics are administered prophylactically, even if the animal would have been able to fight the infection itself or a broad-spectrum antibiotic is used rather than an antibiogram. However, this can also be at the expense of bacteria that would actually have been good for the organism and might have supported it in defending itself against pathogenic germs.

Naturally Strengthening a Puppy's Immune System

Small dog on a meadow

Every dog has the ability to build a healthy immune system. A Puppy’s intestine develops its intestinal flora, with its multitude of good bacteria, only at birth. During a natural birth, the puppy receives its first intestinal bacteria. Puppies who see the light of day through a caesarean section lack this possibility. For them, an active intestinal structure is highly recommended. The natural bacteria provide a valuable foundation stone, which is then followed by breast milk, the germs of the environment and the first food intakes, which shape the intestinal flora and the immune system. It is very important to let this learning process run as undisturbed as possible and to feed it, in its natural state so that the dog can build and maintain a healthy and stable digestive system and thus a strong immune system. Therefore, to maintain a strong immune system, it is so important not to add unnecessary processes or bring the puppy into contact with things that are hostile to its intestinal flora, as they are mainly found in chemical agents, especially if there is no reason to administer it.

Naturavetal Info - Intestinal Cleansing for a Strong Immune System

Intestinal cleansing can strengthen the dog’s immune system and promote its health. If you would like to know how to promote intestinal cleansing and in which situations it is particularly recommended, you are welcome to visit our guide article “The benefits of intestinal cleansing”.

Should you have any questions on this topic, we are happy to assist you with comprehensive advice. You can reach us Monday to Friday from 10am. to 4.00pm. on 020 8531 7804 or by e-mail on

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