Every pet parent wants healthy active dogs and tries to give the best care to them. This can be achieved by ensuring a healthy and properly functioning immune system. Here’s more on the immune system in dogs. What’s immunity: Immunity is the ability of body to resist against invading pathogens/organisms (bacteria, virus, fungus or parasites) and eliminating toxins/foreign substances from the body. Immunity plays a vital role in overall health of pets. Pets need a healthy and properly functioning immune system for leading a healthy life.
Types of immunity: The immune system is composed of two major sub divisions; the innate immune system (immediate response) and the adaptive immune system (specific response). Cells of the innate immune system include neutrophils, macrophages, natural killer cells (N K Cells) and eosinophils. Cells that make up adaptive immune system include the B and T-lymphocytes.
Adaptive immunity is again classified into two forms, humoral immunity derived from B-lymphocytes which produces antibodies against various antigens like IgG, IgM, IgA, etc and cell mediated immunity derived from T-lymphocytes that involve organs like thymus. The proper balance between these two systems is very important for normal immune response in healthy dogs.
Role of immune system in dog: Dog’s immune system is a protective shield that protects them from infections/illness. Poor immune system makes dog susceptible to frequent attacks of diseases. A dog can build his immunity either when he gets exposed to antigens because of the presence of infections/vaccinations or through passive transfer of antibodies from mother to foetus via colostrum or during gestation.
Puppies acquire immunity via absorbing antibodies using their mother’s milk. These passive antibodies are reported to be capable of protecting the puppies till six weeks of age after that their concentration starts decreasing and immunity reduces gradually. Vaccination is advised to the puppies at this age to maintain the immunity of the puppies.
In adult dogs, adaptive immunity keeps developing as they grow. Poorly developed immunity leads to frequent attacks of diseases in adult dogs.
Boosting the immune system
Feeding an adequate diet is the most important thing for boosting the immune system of pet. Diet should be balanced with all nutritional components like essential vitamins and minerals as per the breed, age and sex of dogs.
Regular exercise is a must; it helps in relieving the stress and thus improves the immunity.
Immunomodulators can be added in the diets that are of natural origin, containing herbs that have been known to have the ability of strengthening the immune system. Immunol, a natural immunomodulator, contains Tinospora cordifolia (Guduchi), Withania somnifera (Aswagandha) and other potent herbs known to have immunomodulating properties.
(Dr Ritesh Sood is Product Manager at The Himalaya Drug Company, Bengaluru; www.himalayahealthcare.com)