7 SuperFoods to Support Your Dog’s Immune System

Support Your Dog's Immune System
We ALL want to have as many days like this as possible with our best friends.

You want your dog to live a long, happy, and healthy life. Feeding a 100% kibble diet, even the good stuff, doesn’t necessarily support that. Supplementing that diet with super foods that support your dog’s immune system goes a long way!

The problem with a 100% kibble diet, (even the good stuff) is that the ingredients are heated to the point that many of the beneficial nutritents are completely killed off. There is little support for your dog’s microbiome in that bag of kibble.

Additionally, marketing tactics for kibble often show off super foods and nutrients in the bag. In actuality, if those “superfoods” are listed near the end of the ingredient list, they make up a tiny percentage of the kibble. Finally, kibble fed dogs tend to eat the same thing for every meal because the diet is “working”. But is it really?

A Dog’s Fragile Immune System 

There are multiple toxins our dogs are exposed to each day, from household chemicals, to lawn care products, and even outdoor air. Heck, even our wi-fi and cell phones (EMF exposure) have been proven to be harmful to our dogs’ small bodies. 

In the day to day, small exposures aren’t so bad. We humans can tolerate them for quite awhile. Years and years. Our pets tolerate them too. However, not as long because their bodies are so much smaller than ours. Eventually, all of these exposures to chemicals in our water, homes, and environments will tax your best friend’s immune system. 

A dog’s health defense system is composed of two main factors; their skin and their actual immune system. 

A Dog’s Skin as Protection for Their Health

Your dog’s skin protects them; think of it as a barrier to the outside. This part of your dog’s defense system is designed to keep invaders out and is her first line of defense. In addition to the skin, mucus, saliva, and cilia in the respiratory tract use enzymes to break down pathogens when your dog is exposed. This part of your dog’s immune system is non-adaptive, meaning it does its job just fine; blocking out or killing invaders, without having to adapt or change. 

Your dog also has an adaptive immune system. This part of her immune system defends against specific foreign invaders, learning and adapting so it can fight off the invader at a future time if needed. These parts of the immune system adapt and change to “learn” about new invaders and remember them for the next time. 

These two systems work incredibly well together. The skin, or first line of defense keeps invaders out. IF the invaders do get in, the second defense system goes to work destroying the invaders and remembering them for a more swift response the next time they get in. If one part of this defense system is not working properly, invaders can get in and take over, leading to illness or death. 

Often with illness or invaders, inflammation occurs, bringing on white blood cells. The white blood cells may cause a fever with more serious infections. A fever means your dog’s immune response is to make the environment too hot for the invaders to survive. In the case of fever, your dog has a serious infection and needs veterinary care. 

Proper Nutrition Plays a Critical Role in Keeping Your Dog’s Immune System Functioning

When I eat a lot of processed foods, sugar, or junk I start to feel bad. I am sluggish, ornery, don’t sleep that well, am more stressed, (or maybe eating junk is a response to stress) and am more prone to getting sick. 

If your dog eats kibble, she is living on a 100% processed diet. Even if you’re feeding her premium, expensive kibble. The reason for this is that the techniques used to cook kibble employ such high cooking temperatures that all of the nutrients and living microorganisms in the food are killed off.

Have you ever wondered why most kibble dog foods have  shelf life of FOREVER? I don’t want to eat foods that have a forever shelf life!  A 100% processed diet is NOT beneficial for anyone’s immune system. 

I AM NOT telling you to stop feeding your dog kibble. It’s a good idea if you have the time, knowledge, resources, or budget to provide your dog with a fresh, species appropriate diet instead of kibble. Most of us are seriously lacking in at least one of those resources, which are needed to make your dog’s food regularly. 

You CAN, however, ADD fresh foods to the kibble and drastically improve your best friend’s immune system, health, and even her life span! 

Please consult your veterinarian if your dog has health issues before trying these foods.

7 Superfoods to Support Your Dog’s Immune System

1. Sardines

Oily, fatty fish like sardines, mackerel, anchovies, and smelt are low in mercury and a fantastic source of omega fatty acids. These fish are low in mercury because of their small size and short life span-they don’t live long enough to get loaded up with chemicals like larger fish who are higher on the food chain. Omega fatty acids improve your best friend’s skin and coat health. Only use sardines in water, and start small; 1 can of sardines is ¼ serving for a 40 pound dog, so that can last through 4 feedings. Add ¼ of the can, and remove ¼ cup of kibble. 

2. Eggs

Eggs are an important source of protein, vitamin B-12, iron, vitamin A, and Biotin which supports coat and skin health. Eggs can be fed raw or cooked. Notably, the protien is more bioavailable in cooked eggs than raw. Your dog can even eat the shell! Only feed the shell if you buy the eggs from a local farmer or they’re from your own chickens, as store bought eggs are sprayed with chemicals. An average sized dog (40-60#) can eat eggs 1-3 times each week. 3.

3. Blueberries 

I love these little power packs!

I love these little nutrient powerhouses! Blueberries are high in antioxidants, nutrients and a good source of fiber. They can be rotated with other healthy foods throughout the week. Again, start with small amounts to prevent any digestive upset. A 40# dog can enjoy 10-15 blueberries every few days. 

4. Mussels 

Fresh mussels have manganese, vitamin D, iodine, and healthy fats. Most stores have fresh, frozen mussels. Mussels are a natural anti-inflammatory food, support joint health and protect cartilage, and help prevent arthritis in your best friend. An average sized, 40# dog benefits from only 1-2 mussels a day! These, like the other foods can be rotated throughout the week. 

5. Greens 

Greens like kale, spinach, broccoli, squash, green beans, and even dandelion greens are an important source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Natural foods with added fiber help bulk up the stool and support dogs with anal gland issues. Veggies are best steamed, pureed, or fermented so your dog can easily absorb all of the nutrients.

I use a blender to puree the veggies first, then I add them at the end of a batch of fresh, homemade dog food to lightly cook them. Fresh veggies can be rotated into your dog’s food throughout the week. Start small; add a couple of tablespoons depending on your dog’s size.

6. Kefir, Goat’s Milk, Yogurt 

Greek yogurt, kefir, or goat’s milk is also good for your dog! Raw goat’s milk does not have lactose, like cow’s milk, which often leads to stomach upset in our dogs. Raw goat’s milk has probiotics, which are enhanced once it’s fermented and turned into kefir.

Probiotics improve gut health and have been shown in studies to naturally suppress allergies. Pouring kefir on your dog’s dry food also moistens it, preventing the dehydration that dry kibble causes in our dogs. Unlike regular yougurt, Greek yogurt has less lactose. If your dog is lactose intolerant, supplement her diet with other superfoods.

7. Fermented Foods

We’re learning the benefits of fermented foods in our own diets; turns out they benefit our dogs too! They benefit digestion, and are full of nutrients that promote good health. Fermented foods contain both pre and probiotics in whole-food form, not some powder or capsule. Fermented foods you can add to your dog’s dish include fish sauce, kombucha, many root vegetables, and kefir.

Benefits of Supplementing with Fresh Foods 

Less Food; More Nutrients!

A benefit of supplementing with fresh foods is that your dog will require less food, as fresh foods have more nutrients.

 Better Poops!

Your dog will also have better poops. I know it’s kind of gross to talk about, but most caring dog owners pay attention to their dog’s poop!

On crummy kibble diets, your dog may be pooping multiple stinky soft-serves each day! Ick! On a fresh food diet, many dogs respond with firmer, less frequent poops that dry up and are easier to clean out of the lawn after a few days. 

Weight Control

On a fresh food supplemented diet, your dog may also lose weight. If you’re not feeding her too much, those pesky carbs that kibble is FULL of are cut way down.

There are often carbs from whole foods in a fresh diet, but not the nasty processed carbs that act as a binder in kibbles. Your dog doesn’t actually have a carbohydrate requirement, so cutting down on the carbs she consumes is likely to give her a better insulin response and may help your dog lose weight. 

The oldest living dogs and cats on the planet all have one thing in common; they ALL have a variety of nutrition in their diets. Variety is the spice of life! WE enjoy variety. WE don’t eat the same thing every day. Our best friends shouldn’t either! For the health and longevity of your best friend, start supplementing that kibble dish with some fresh, real, nutrient-dense foods!

As with any new food additions, start small and go slowly over a period of time. If you’re unsure, talk to your vet about adding superfoods to support your dog’s immune system.

4 thoughts on “7 SuperFoods to Support Your Dog’s Immune System”

  1. Thx? BFK❤️…Am living my best life in forever home. Your helpful, healthful hints are influencing my mom. The vinegar/tea tree floor is shiny clean & gentle on my delicate paw pads. Plus am loving variety of healthy add ons to daily kibble (Looking forward to less of that)
    Wallyburgers…sign me up. ❤️?~Oreo

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