There is a strong link between gut health and your pet’s immune system. The gastrointestinal tract plays a role in about 70-80 percent of our furry friend’s immune system. Although they might not get the same stubborn cold we do every winter, our animals really depend on having strong immune systems. Doing your part to help them maintain a healthy gut can give them the power to fight off illness.

The Role of Your Pet’s Immune System

Animals are exposed to a host of bacteria, viruses, parasites, and even allergens daily. Just like in humans, their immune systems are networks of cells, tissues, and organs that fight off these illness-causing fiends. Poor immune health can cause anything from illness to lethargy. It can also negatively affect your pet’s affect, skin, and coat. Your lifestyle choices as a pet owner can either help or hinder your pet’s immunity.

What’s the Gut Got to Do with It?

The “gut,” or the gastrointestinal tract, houses the body’s biggest array of micro-organisms and good bacteria that serve as your pet’s first line of defense against invaders like viruses. In order to have a strong immune system, an animal must have a gut full of a wide and balanced array of bacteria. Luckily, with a little bit of effort, you can help your pet achieve and maintain this good balance and a healthy, thriving immune system.

If too many “bad” bacteria are able to grow within the intestinal tract, it can send confusing information to the immune system. This makes it more difficult to ward off potential health threats that a healthy immune system can do easily. 

Focusing on Your Pet’s Gut Health

Everything from food to daily activities can affect the gut and your pet’s immune system. Talk to your veterinarian about the best kind of food for your pet. You want to find high-quality food options with the right combination of nutrients. To maintain a healthy gut, you should also:

  • Only give your pet medications per your vet’s instructions. Using too many antibiotics can mess up the balance of good gut bacteria.
  • Help your pet maintain a healthy weight. Physical fitness can help improve your pet’s agility and cardiovascular system, which can both help maintain a healthy gut.
  • Talk to your vet about supplements. Some external supplements like probiotics, prebiotics, antioxidants, and Omega-3 fatty acids can help your pet get a healthy gut.

Maintaining a Wellness Schedule

Regular wellness visits are an important piece of optimal pet health. Working closely with your veterinarian to set up a health baseline for your pets makes it easy to spot when something is amiss. If you know what your pet looks like healthy, you can quickly tell if he starts acting differently. You and your veterinarian can also keep an eye on your pet’s diet and lifestyle to make sure they are supporting a healthy gut and immune system.

The caring team at Union Lake Veterinary Hospital wants to partner with you to keep your pets healthy. From youth to the golden years, we provide top tier veterinary care to maintain good health and wellness. To learn more about our veterinary services or to schedule an appointment, please call (248) 363-1508.