Recurring or Chronic Infections
Tips for Supporting Your Pet's Immune System
by DR. JOHN M. SIMON
If your dog or cat is prone to recurring or chronic infections, the question you must ask is–why is this happening? Is there a genetic weakness in your pet’s immune system? Is there a nutritional deficiency that weakens the immune response. Is the environment your pet lives stressful and suppressing the immune system? Does your pet’s living area harbor hidden sources of infectious or parasitic dangers? Is there a thyroid deficiency which suppresses the immune response? Is your pet’s diet inadequate in some way such that the raw materials needed for a healthy immune are missing? Does your pet have allergies or an auto immune disease that predisposes the animal to secondary bacterial infections? Does your pet have intestinal or external parasites?
Not all animals are born with genetically strong immune systems. These genetically challenged pets may show a tendency to develop recurrent skin, ear, bladder, kidney and lung infections, to name just a few. We can’t eliminate the animal’s genetic weakness but we can support the immune system in several ways.
A superior commercial, or better yet, homemade diet will contain all of the necessary nutrients your pet's body needs to manufacture essential immune system molecules. Adding nutritional supplements to an already good diet can help to either plug nutritional holes or raise the level of specific vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, enzymes and antioxidants; which are instrumental in establishing a strong immune system.
Homemade, meat based, low grain diets that are prepared by following a professionally developed recipe is what I recommend for those caregivers who have the time. To protect immune-compromised pets from the danger of bacteria contaminated meat I recommend searing the meat before grinding it, then adding the seared ground meat to the rest of the homemade diet.
Caregivers of pets with immune weakness should be particularly concerned with their pet’s hygiene; including the skin, coat, ears and teeth. Routine grooming to remove mats, dirt, fleas, ticks, lice and foreign materials such as burrs will go a long way in taking stress off the immune system. Weekly ear-cleanings will remove dirt and wax in the ear canal, which if left will predispose to infection.
Regular home and professional dental care is next only to good nutrition in helping to support the immune system. Tartar formation, gum disease, and periodontal disease are serious threats to a healthy immune system. By reducing the bacterial population of your pet’s mouth with good conscientious home and professional dental care, you greatly lower the chance that oral bacteria can get into your pets blood stream and cause heart or kidney disease.
If your pet has skin or respiratory allergies, or is suffering from and an auto-immune disease such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), then infectious diseases are very likely to follow. Allergies result in inflammation of the skin and mucus membranes of the gastro-intestinal and respiratory tract. When healthy, the skin and mucus membranes of the body are natural barriers that block the invasion of bacteria into the deeper tissues; however, when allergies or autoimmune disease injure these natural barriers they can no longer act as a formidable defense and secondary yeast and bacterial infections appear.
A pet that is constantly anxious and under stress is much more likely to develop infections than a pet that lives in a quiet, peaceful, loving environment. If you have a pet that has not been properly trained and and needs to be constantly reprimanded for soiling the house, chewing on furniture, barking excessively or biting people, then you have a home environment that is unhealthy and stressful for both you and your pet. A pet that is not a good citizen and is disrupting the household is hard to love and welcome as a positive contribution to the family. Proper obedience training early in the life of the pet will pay back dividends in both the physical and psychological health of your pet and entire family.
If you have a pet who has a history of chronic infections requiring long term or frequent antibiotic therapy but the condition never really clears up, considerthe advice above. However, if nothing seems to prevent recurrence of infection then consider using the following natural remedies in place of long term antibiotics: Olive leaf extract, Echinacea, Goldenseal, colloidal silver, Iodine, thyroid supplementation, zinc, vitamin C, astragalus, mushroom therapy, systemic enzymes, and monolaurin.
Please understand that chronic or recurrent infections are serious, so find an experienced holistic veterinarian who will be best able to assess you pet’s condition and advise you on how to create an effective natural antibacterial regiment.
Dr. John M. Simon is the owner of the Woodside Animal Clinic in Royal Oak MI, where for over 30 years he has been healing dogs, cats, birds, rabbits and rodents with both alternative and traditional medicine. He is the author of 4 pet care booklets, a past president of the Oakland County Veterinary Association and the first veterinarian in Michigan to perform “In Clinic Pet Adult Stem Cell Therapy.” For more information, visit Doc4Pets.com or call Dr. Simon at 248-545-6630. Woodside Animal Clinic is located at 27452 Woodward Avenue, Royal Oak, MI.