Our pet’s immune system is the foundation of health. It wards off infections, parasites, bacteria, and viruses and supports overall well-being.
If our dogs and cats don’t have a robust immune system, they are more vulnerable to illness, allergies, arthritis, and even chronic inflammatory issues.
Fortunately, there are readily available supplements you can add to your pets’ diets that act as immune system boosters.
Here are our four favorite supplements to strengthen your pet’s immune system and improve all-around health.
1. Medicinal Mushrooms
Mushrooms are nature’s medicine cabinet. While not all mushrooms are medicinal, most edible ones have medicinal properties. To regulate the immune system, we recommend mushroom supplements containing turkey tail, chaga, reishi, and maitake.
Turkey tail mushrooms have high concentrations of essential sugars (beta-glucan polysaccharides) that help the body activate the immune system. Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine even found that a compound from turkey tail lengthened the survival time of dogs with cancer.
Chaga mushrooms can both boost and slow down the immune system. This means they have properties that can help reduce inflammation but also help regulate overactive immune responses to arthritis.
Reishi mushrooms are reported to have anti-tumor, anti-inflammatory, and immune-stimulating effects. This mushroom is high in antioxidants that can help nourish, detoxify, and protect the liver. This critical organ detects, captures, and clears bacteria and viruses.
Maitake mushrooms have been shown to have compounds that may enhance the immune system and provide anti-inflammatory properties, including tumor-fighting abilities against specific types of tumors.
2. Pre- and Probiotics
We have always been staunch advocates for including pre- and probiotics in your pet’s diet! Nearly 80 percent of the immune system resides in the gut, so keeping a healthy microbiome is essential for whole-body health.
We strongly encourage you to add pre-and probiotic foods to your animal’s bowl at every feeding. Or better yet, find a supplement that provides both. Make sure to rotate through the supplements for optimal benefit. For example, use Adored Beast Love Bugs for a month, switch to Fido’s Flora the next, and then to Gut Soothe.
You can also support your pet’s gut microbiome with bowl toppers like raw goat milk and kefir.
3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Fat is an important component of your pet’s diet. Omega-3 is an “essential” fat that your dog’s body can’t produce on its own. That means she needs to consume them through food or additional supplements.
Omega-3 fatty acids strengthen cell walls, including the membranes of the body’s immune cells. One of these cells includes the white blood cell (macrophage), a critical immune system “enforcer” that seeks out and destroys pathogens in the body.
It’s important to choose a quality omega-3 supplement. We recommend Nordic Naturals. Alternatively, you can add a healthy source of omega-3 fats to your pet’s diet with toppers like Primal Sardine Butcher’s Blend or Market Mix.
Thousands of substances act as antioxidants, including the commonly known ones like vitamin C, manganese, selenium, vitamin E, and beta-carotene. Generally speaking, antioxidants can help slow the aging process and boost the immune system by minimizing free radical damage. Free radicals are damaged cells created by your pet’s metabolic process. If a damaged cell is missing a molecule, it will try and repair itself by taking that molecule from another cell. This action can damage the cell’s DNA and will make the host (your dog or cat) more susceptible to disease.
Antioxidants act as a natural “off switch” for free radicals and stop the chain reaction of cells cannibalizing each other for spare parts.
Our go-to antioxidant supplement is Phyto Synergy. This liquid is made from 100% pure marine phytoplankton that is high in antioxidants and easily absorbed in the gut. Antioxidants are also abundant in fresh or frozen berries, which are easy to incorporate into your pet’s meals.
Supplements are just that – they enhance your pet’s diet but will never replace a well-balanced nutrition program. Stop by the store if you would like to discuss your current feeding regimen or explore a new one – including whether supplements may be appropriate for your pet. We’d love to help you improve your pet’s health through better nutrition.