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As a pet parent, you always want the best for your pet. Like humans, pets can contract illness such as cold and flu. If your pet tends to fall ill frequently, you may consider extending your love and care into supporting their immune system!
Winter is here and with it comes colder weather. Unfortunately, no matter the weather, if your pet is trained to “do business outdoors”, they will be braving the temperatures. Evidence suggests that cold weather can suppress the immune system, making it more likely to become ill (1). Sending your pets outdoors with a warm sweater will help to regulate their body temperature. Helping them to dry off as soon as they come in – as well as warming them up with some well-deserved love, will help support their immune responses and keep them from being overworked!
Feed Them Right
According to Dr. Susan Wynn, an ACVN diplomat, the gut contains about 70% of the immune system. For this reason, it is important to support your pets gut health by feeding them a proper, balanced, and nutrient-dense diet.
While dietary requirements can vary greatly based on the size and energy expenditure of your pet, what is consistent across species, breed, and age is the need for quality, protein and fat sources. But before putting just any old bag of pet food high in these nutrients in your cart, be sure to read the ingredients! According to Dr. Karen Becker, an integrative wellness veterinarian, ingredient quality is crucial and ideal pet food should include the following:
-High-quality protein as a top ingredient (turkey, lamb, chicken, fish, beef)
-Moderate levels of animal fat
-Vitamins E and C as preservatives (often called tocopherols)
-High moisture content
-A few fresh cut veggies and a bit of fruit
-No/very limited grains
-No/limited fillers such as potatoes or other starches to offset meat content
We all know that daily activity is important for both humans and pets alike, but did you know that staying active also can promote a healthy immune response? According to Dr. Ken Tudor, a holistic veterinarian, storing excess fat in the body weakens the immune system, as it can cause an uptick in the release of inflammation-causing hormones. Exercise, a known “fat burner”, therefore helps reduce inflammation and the increased susceptibility and occurrence of illness and disease (5).
Herbs and Herbal Supplements
When looking for ways to provide your pets with an added “boost”, herbs and herbal supplements can be an excellent option to meet both yours and their needs.
This culinary staple is not only safe for your pet, but is high in iron, vitamin B6, calcium, and antioxidants! Hide a bit of rosemary in your pets wet food to provide them with all of these immune-boosting benefits (3).
Echinacea Purpurea Herb
Echinacea is well known for its excellent benefits for immune functioning and for its antifungal, antiviral and antibacterial properties. Used as a natural antibiotic, immune stimulant, and anti-allergy agent, Echinacea is also effective as a tonic for the lymphatic system. Regular use can help to keep your pet healthy and support their resistance to a range of illnesses. Echinacea can be found as a single ingredient supplement or in multi-ingredient formulations such as that of Native Remedies Immunity and Liver Support™.
Used commonly within Native Remedies formulations, such as C-Caps™ and Thyro-Pet™, recent research on Astragulus has highlighted the ability of this remedy to support the functioning of the immune system. Astragalus also has been shown to support vitality, a healthy appetite, and maintain regular water metabolism.
Caring for a Pet with a Cold
If in spite of your best efforts your pet does come down with a cold, not to worry! Many of the symptoms of the common cold can be treated similarly within your pet as you would a human. Be sure to keep your pet warm, within reach of plenty of fluids and nutrient dense foods, and allow them to get plenty of rest!
If your pet is particularly young or old, you may consider taking them to your local holistic veterinarian to ensure there are no further complications – as animals at each end of the age spectrum have weaker immune systems than that of a middle-aged pet (6).
1. Publishing, Harvard Health. “Out in the cold.” Harvard Health, Jan. 2010, http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/out-in-the-cold.
2. “What Pet Food Makers DON’T Want You to Know…” Mercola.com, Oct. 21ADAD, 2010, healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2010/10/21/selecting-the-best-cat-pet-and-dog-pet-food.aspx.
3. Finlay, Katie. “12 Things To Sneak Into Your Dog’s Food To Boost Their Health.” IHeartDogs.com, iheartdogs.com/12-things-you-can-sneak-into-your-dogs-food-to-boost-their-health/4/.
4. King, Hannah. “Does My Dog Have a Cold?: How to Know and What to Do.” Rover.com, 6 Oct. 2017, http://www.rover.com/blog/does-my-dog-have-cold-in/.
5. Fitzsimmons, Paula. “PetMD.” PetMD, http://www.petmd.com/dog/general-health/natural-ways-improve-your-dogs-immune-system.
6. “Your Dog and the Cold Germ.” PetMD, http://www.petmd.com/dog/seasonal/evr_dg_cold_germs_and_your_dog