How do we build up our dog's immune system?

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How do we build up our dog's immune system?

This is a discussion on How do we build up our dog's immune system? within the Dog Health forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; We just took our ten-ish-year-old Sheltie to the vet--yet again--and the diagnosis: Mixed superficial pyoderma bacterial and yeast and KCS or keratoconjuctovitis sicca. None of ...

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Old 05-18-2016, 04:25 PM
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How do we build up our dog's immune system?

We just took our ten-ish-year-old Sheltie to the vet--yet again--and the diagnosis: Mixed superficial pyoderma bacterial and yeast and KCS or keratoconjuctovitis sicca. None of which means anything to me, but he had suddenly developed a huge bald place and his back seemed very tender. Also had a goopy eye, which the second part was about. The vet has prescribed an antibiotic, a shampoo, a compounded eye drop...

All well and good, I guess. And I will definitely look up these conditions. But I have a question for you guys: what's the best thing to do to build up our dogs immune systems? I know some things, fish oil, coconut oil, etc. . . and I also know some of the things we do for our human family that seem to help, but what works for humans doesn't always work the same for dogs.

We have started them on a raw diet, which they love. Our vet--a rather conservative sort--thinks this is good, but that we should be giving them vitamins or kibble to add in what they "aren't getting." Also thinks we should consult a nutritionist. Either that, or buy a pre-packaged raw diet.

Now, I think this is BS. From everything I have read, PM feeding gives them what they need. Wolves don't take vitamins, do they? Well, maybe they do these days, but still...

I'm pretty much ready to discount the feeding stuff, but would love to have suggestions for the immune thing. Of course, the PM feeding may well take care of a lot of that.

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Old 05-20-2016, 12:04 AM
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There are few if any things you can do to 'build up' any animal's immunity over what is 'normal'. Normal is about as good as things get, which is pretty darn good when you think about what dogs consume often, what loads of bacterial onslaughts they get from bad dental disease, skin infections, garbage they eat off the ground, and what the social ones contact each day, and still the vast majority seem to be healthy most of the time. There are lots of things that can wear on immune system (age, infectious diseases, parasite loads, stress, poor diets etc.).

Your dog has a bacterial and yeast skin infection (very commonly the result of allergic skin disease) and secondary self trauma (hence the big bald spot). The KCS (aka 'dry eye') can also be allergy related (as least originally) and results in painful, dry eyes that tend to produce a lot of thick, ropey, ocular discharge daily in an abnormal attempt to protect themselves. Skin infections/allergies can often be battled and won, or can be seasonal battles (if environmental allergies (aka atopy)) or all year round (if food allergies). KCS is usually a life long battle since once dogs lose the normal tear production needed to protect their eyes, it is usually lost forever, requiring ophthalmic medications forever (usually Cyclosporine and another ophthalmic product called Tacroliimus used to stimulate what little glandular secretions are left, by the eyelids and other glands, so they can still produce some material to keep the eyes moist).

Allergies are NOT the result of a 'weak' immune system... if anything, they are the result of an over active or abnormally functioning one... that is why giving products like steroids, Cyclosporin and Apoquel are so effective for allergies (all are immunosuppressive drugs). Stimulating the immune system, if it could be done easily, might only result in a worsening of an allergic problem.
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Old 05-20-2016, 08:58 AM
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I do agree with our resident veterinarian, that the immune system can't be boosted, it just is. However, there is such a thing as a dysregulated immune system, which means that it is less effective in dealing with everyday pathogens which a fully-functioning, healthy immune system has no problem with dealing with "all in a day's work".

Unfortunately, the current orthodox medical way of dealing with a dysregulated immune system is to suppress it with drugs like Apoquel which will exact a toll on your dog at some point, a very eminent physician I know told me once that all medicine is poison.You really want to try and address the underlying cause of the immune dysregulation which immune suppressants clearly do not do.

What I would do if I had a dog with the issues yours have is definitely feed raw. However, it is likely not to be enough because once a dog is dealing with immune dysregulation it is really difficult to reverse. If I could find a competent homeopathic vet I would consult them (or do a phone consult). I would definitely give him the supplement 4life Transfer Factor. But most importantly, I would stop the pharmaceutical assault on his immune system by stopping all vaccinations from this point on, you can get a "waiver" if you need it for boarding, training, groomers etc. Antibiotics really don't help immune function either, because they mess up the gut, and as 80% of the immune system resides in the gut, you really don't want to decimate the microbiome with antibiotics, so I would be giving my dog probiotics to help his microbiome recover, again, a very difficult thing to achieve once it is out of whack. You could try putting Manuka honey on the affected areas of his skin. Vitamin C* is also very effective in the healing of skin infections and has been shown in research to cure MRSA infections. You can give it internally, on add it to a carrier cream and apply directly to the skin. I would also try coconut oil both externally and internally.

Good luck to you in healing your dog.

* Sodium ascorbate is the form to use or liposomal vitamin C which is even better because it is a highly bioavailable form.
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