A stressed or overworked immune system can result in a number of preventable health issues. To keep your patients in good health, immune support supplements in addition to a balanced, wholefoods diet may be the answer.
Immune system health is as important for our animal patients as it is for us. Nowadays, as the number of cheap, low-quality pet foods continue to line shelves and make their way into the homes of pet parents, it’s more important than ever to develop a toolkit of immune support supplements to keep on hand. In addition to educating your clients on the importance of feeding dogs and cats a high-quality, wholefoods diet, recommending a few dietary additions is a great way to improve the immune health – and overall well-being – of your patients.
Immune support supplements – a natural toolkit
When it comes to the immune system, the most important nutrients should come from a healthy, balanced fresh food diet. Ideally, diets should be biologically appropriate – similar to what animals would eat in the wild – and should already include a number of immune-boosting ingredients such as those containing vitamin C, E and zinc. For patients with autoimmune disorders or other health concerns, the addition of immune support supplements may be beneficial.
“When the immune system becomes stressed or overworked, there are several useful herbs to consider as supplements,” says integrative veterinarian Dr. Barbara Royal, DVM, CVA. “We use ashwaganda (an adaptogen that can be used for both overactive immune issues and deficient immune function), medicinal mushrooms (which have many helpful immune system support functions), turmeric root (helps decrease inflammation and inflammatory responses), as well as other important organ and immune support supplements like milk thistle or licorice root.”
When to recommend immune support
When an animal has immune system issues, it typically stems from either an underactive or overactive immune system. According to Dr. Royal, signs and symptoms may include allergies (an overactive response to an antigen), chronic infections that never seem to fully resolve, and even cancer (poor immune recognition of and response to cancer cells).
“Several simple blood tests can be helpful to determine proper white cell counts, normal organ function, evidence of infection or certain cancers,” says Dr. Royal. “A proper immune support plan must focus on the proper function of the immune system, not just stimulating the immune system. This means we are trying to improve its ability to recognize and respond appropriately to any antigen or disease process.”
An ounce of prevention
As the old adage goes – an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It can’t hurt to start patients on a nutritional regimen that improves the general health and functionality of their immune system as early as possible. Appropriate supplementation gives healthy animals a better chance of staying healthy, and may even help to extend their longevity.
“NOW® Pets Immune Support is designed to help support a pet’s immune system and innate resistance to pathogens, as well as help to enhance liver and kidney function,” says Dr. Royal. “The supplements are ecologically and thoughtfully sourced and combined in a recipe that I’ve used with clinically significant results for patients with immune diseases.” This immune support supplement provides many of the important immune support nutrients from natural food-based sources that make it easy for the body to absorb (see sidebar for more information). It’s gentle enough to be taken as a daily supplement to support good health, and powerful enough to be used as part of a larger treatment plan for animals with compromised or stressed immune systems.
It’s important to remember that not all clients are equipped with even a basic knowledge of what constitutes “good” nutrition. To best support your patients’ immune systems, educate on the importance of a healthy, balanced diet, and equip yourself with a smorgasbord of immune support supplements you can trust.