Winter Stress On The Immune System

This time of year, with limited sunshine every day, cold feet, snow, cold rains, with the heating systems blowing day in and day out, the winter in and of itself can play havoc with our dogs and their health.

The immune system is the body’s defense against infectious organisms and other invaders. Through a series of steps called the immune response,the immune system attacks organisms and substances that invade our systems and cause disease.

The immune system is made up of a network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to protect the body.

Antibiotics are given to fight infection and kill the bacteria taking over the system, but they don’t affect whatever weakened the immune system in the first place. We need to focus a little less on the things that cause diseases and a lot more on those that affect the body’s natural defenses.

When the immune system is functioning properly or as this natural, built in energy is flowing freely, our pets and ourselves have an awesome ability to resist disease. But when the immune system’s energy is blocked or unbalanced due to such things as poor nutrition, stress or injuries, our pets become vulnerable to illness.Once they get sick, the energy becomes even more unbalanced, making it much harder for them to recover.

Everything dogs, cats and horses experience, from the quality of afternoon sunlight to an upsetting afternoon, can actually affect their immune balance. In particular, things such as diet, stress and exercise, play the biggest roles in determining whether pets get sick or stay healthy even when exposed to a dis-ease.

At this stage of the winter, it would be a good idea to give your pets an immune system boost. Save your dog (and/or cat) from the agony of a runny nose or the canine flu and save your time and money by not having to take your pet to the vet.

Remember the immune system is the ONLY system that heals the body. A strong immune system is a must if you want your pet (and yourself) to enjoy a “illness-free” winter.

Our older dogs especially need extra care in the winter as their immune systems may have slowed down over the years. Dogs are considered old after 8 to 12 years of age but, please, don’t let them hear you say “old”. lol   Dogs do not keep time the way we do and never really know they are getting older.

The more mature dog’s immune system also becomes less responsive, and they are less able to ward off infection. The incidence and malignancy of tumors increases with age. The signs of age are more evident when the pet is in a poor nutritional state or when the level of stress is increased.  If you are still feeding Kibble,  now may be a good time to consider switching to a home made diet and at the very least,  if you are not already doing so, adding probiotics and digestive enzymes.

There are some predictable changes that accompany our dogs maturing. Thier metabolic rate decreases and caloric needs decrease by 30 to 40 percent in the last one third of the life span. Body fat increases and lean body tissues decrease. Respiratory capacity and oxygen availability also decrease. All of these things tend to limit the physical activity level of older pets. They become less able to regulate thier body temperature and older animals will often seek warm places to rest. Be sure to provide a warm environment. Cold floors are particularly hard on the older pet with stiff and arthritic joints. Cold drafts may compromise the senior pet with the weaker immune system, making them more susceptible to illness.

I know it can be difficult in the winter months, but, do make sure your dogs get regular exercise and escpecially your more mature dogs. You see, any changes in routine and lack of exercise interfere with mobility and regularity. In our older pets, this could start a chain reaction of health problems.

Fresh air and of course fresh water, help our companion’s sensitive system function properly. Avoid the chemicals and sediment of tap water by offering filtered or distilled water and don’t forget, if you use a humidifer, to keep it clean and even think about adding some grapefruit seed extract or some Lemon *essential oil  to help kill mold and bacteria.  Our pets are more sensitive to air pollutants,mold and house hold chemicals then we are, especially when they are now trapped indoors in the cooler months.While out walking, don’t forget to protect or rinse your dog’s paws afterwards. Salt and chemicals used for clearing roads and walkways can be caustic and even toxic if ingested. Take note too of early lawn gardeners with fertilizers and chemicals.Every year, pet owners are warned of the dangers of antifreeze but, still, every year pets die due to their ingestion of this sweet but toxic product. Please, if you have not already done so, switch to an environmentally safer antifreeze this year.This is a good time to re-evaluate your dog’s diet and nutritional supplements. If you do not feed raw, meaty bones to your dogs, your older dogs may require higher fiber in their diets to help protect thier sensitive digestive systems and metabolisms. If you are not feeding a fresh, home prepared diet, you need to review the ingredients in your pet’s food. Again, this is the perfect time to consider boosting the diet with healthy, natural foods, fresh foods and supplements to help create a natural defense line – a healthy immune system.Watch for dry skin and coat texture. With the use of artifical heat and lower humidity, supplementing with essential fatty acids and brushing regularly will help stimulate and keep the skin healthy and the pores open.There are several very good and effective immune boosting and enhancing products that Whole Dog can highly recommend to help your dog’s stay healthy this winter! Here are a couple you may want to look into:

Only Natural Pet Immune Balance

New Life Colostrum Plus

Boosting your pet’s immune system, and keeping it in tip-top shape, is one of the best gifts you can give your precious pet!

*The only essential oils we use and recommend are Young Living Essential oils due their organic quality and theraputic grade.

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