Maintaining Your Dog's Immune System
To keep your dog happy and healthy, it is important to nurture his immune system so he can fight off illness and disease. For the most part, maintaining your dog's immune system is simple: give him love, good food, lots to do and spend a lot of time with him.
The Importance of Proper Nutrition
You already know that you shouldn't give people food to your dog. But the quality of your dog's food is also important. Deficiencies and excesses of nutrients in your dog's diet can have a large impact on his immune system. Giving your dog vitamin E supplements can boost his immune system. But too much vitamin A, zinc and iron can suppress his immune system. A diet rich in these nutrients can support your dog's immune system:
- Folic acid
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin C
Protein is particularly important to immune system function. Protein should make up at least 20 to 25 percent of an adult dog's diet. Inadequate protein leaves your dog susceptible to bacterial and viral infections, and makes it harder for him to recover from injury. Giving your dog antioxidants and Echinacea may also improve his immune system. When buying food, try to avoid chemical preservatives and by-products, just like you would in your own food. And be careful not to over feed your dog: obesity compromises the immune system and can negatively affect your dog's health in other ways.
The Influence of Stress on the Immune System of Dogs
To a certain extent, stress is good for your dog. It activates the production of hormones and his natural defense mechanisms. But too much stress can cause allergies, heart and stomach troubles, and psychological problems. Training programs have been developed to help dogs handle stress and can be started soon after birth. Exposing dogs to gentle stress in a controlled environment can improve cardiovascular function and resistance to disease. It can also increase your dog's level of confidence in new situations. But be careful, all dogs are different; the right amount of stress for one dog can be too much for another.
Stress and the Use of Signals
Dogs use signals to calm each other and themselves, such as:
- Walking slowly
- Licking the nose
- Turning the head
- Wagging the tail
By observing the calming signals your dog uses, you can also use those signals to calm your dog in a difficult situation and reduce his stress. This will also secure the bond between you and your dog.
The Importance of Activity and Exercise
Just like humans, dogs need exercise and entertainment to stay healthy. Every dog is different, so you will need to figure out the right balance of exercise and activity for your dog. The stimulation will keep your dog happy and decrease his risk for obesity.
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