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Support your dog's immune system written by Lilo the Holistic Vet nurse

Support your dog's immune system written by Lilo the Holistic Vet nurse

As with most things in your dog’s body, a healthy diet is key to a strong immune system. In addition to providing your immune system the energy it needs during the colder, longer months, a healthy diet can help ensure you're getting sufficient amounts of the micronutrients. The cells of the immune system have a particularly important job to do and so they too need to be fuelled properly. Adding just 20% of fresh food into the kibble bowl can decrease the chance of metabolic disease such as cancer by 70-90%. The more variety of fresh foods you can add to the bowl, the better.

Whether you already feed fresh, or simply want to add to the bowl, you can include these foods in your dog’s diet.


This bright yellow spice has been used for years as an anti-inflammatory, but it is also known as an immunomodulator. The inclusion of turmeric has been seen to increase antibodies to particular antigens and overall, it is seen to improve both innate and adaptive immune function.


Not only are mushrooms a great source of B vitamins, but they contain the less talked about mineral selenium. Lightly cook mushrooms before offering them to you dog and check out the range of species that have additional health benefits too!


Red bell peppers contain almost three times the amount of Vitamin C that an orange. Vitamin C contributes to immune defence by supporting various cellular functions of both the innate and adaptive immune system


Broccoli is packed full of vitamins and minerals. You will find vitamins A, C and E, fibre and antioxidants in these little green trees! Broccoli also contains a phytochemical called Indole-3-Carbinol. This compound is formed from a substance called glucobrassicin found in broccoli and other brasscia vegetables such as brussels sprouts, cabbage, collards, cauliflower, kale, mustard greens and turnips. Indole-3-carbinol is formed when these vegetables are cut, chewed or lightly cooked


Kale is a supercharged leafy vegetable that contains an abundant amount of vitamins, including A, E, and C and is rich in folate (B9). B vitamins are required to convert food into energy and the demands placed upon the body during sickness can mean more of a demand on this process. Kale is a good source of antioxidants and helps the liver detoxify the body. It also has anti-inflammatory properties. Avoid in pets with certain types of bladder stones or kidney disease.


Rich in Vitamin C, it is also packed full of antioxidants like beta carotene. Beta carotene is converted to Vitamin A in the body but beta carotene, like all carotenoids is an antioxidant, which protects the body from free radicals. Best to lightly cook spinach before you offer it to your dog.


Many types of shellfish are packed full of zinc and this is a particular powerhouse when it comes to immune function. It has antioxidant effects protecting against reactive oxygen species, it helps modulate cytokine release and also helps maintain skin and mucosal membrane integrity (that first line of defence). Cooked mussels are a great addition to your dog’s bowl and are easily picked up in the supermarket.


Red meat is a great source of iron which plays an important role in immune function. It is involved in the regulation of cytokine production and action, it helps destroy bacteria by neutrophils and it is important in the differentiation and proliferation of T cells.


There’s a reason why you were always told to eat chicken soup if you felt under the weather! Poultry like chicken and turkey is high in vitamin B6. In the innate immune system, vitamin B6 helps regulate inflammation and has roles in cytokine production and natural killer cell activity.


Whether you opt for cooked or raw, liver is a good source of vitamin D. Vitamin D stimulates immune cell proliferation and cytokine production and it helps protect against infection caused by pathogens


When offering vegetables, lightly cook or blitz them first, just to support digestion and utilisation, and if there are pre-existing health issues, double check with a qualified practitioner if changes to the diet are suitable.

practitioner if changes to the diet are suitable.


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