Most people think the sole job of the gastrointestinal system is to break down food and absorb nutrients, but did you know that the GI tract is also home to over 65% of the body’s immune cells? It shouldn’t come as a big surprise then that optimal nutrition and a well-functioning immune system go hand in hand.
Here’s how the situation is described in a 2011 article published in Topics in Companion Animal Medicine:
Lowered immune status because of life stage or naturally occurring stress is characterized by reduced capacity to process and present foreign antigens to immune cells, resulting in a less efficient or altered immune response that leads to increased susceptibility to infections and an increase in autoimmunity and cancers. Beyond providing essential nutrients, diet can actively influence the immune system…
Receptors present on the immune cells in the gut are the primary targets for immunomodulation via diet. Diet interacts with the immune system at multiple levels, starting with providing basic nutrients, then moving on to providing higher levels of key nutrients such as protein, vitamins, and minerals, and leading to a more focused modulation of the immune system.
Owners can make use of this important information by making sure that a dog or cat’s diet provides these "higher levels of key nutrients."
Proteins and Amino Acids in Pet Food
Supplemental arginine (an amino acid) has been linked to increased T-cell immune function. T-cells direct and regulate the body’s immune responses and/or directly attack infections and cancers. Because arginine levels do not have to be disclosed on a pet food’s label, it is hard to determine exactly how much of the amino acid a particular diet contains. (Thankfully, canine supplements like HardyPet Complete contain the right amount of arginine necessary to improve immune function.)
Fatty Acids in Pet Food
Arachadonic acid (AA) is considered a “pro-inflammatory” fatty acid. By competing with AA, optimal dietary levels of the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) can down-regulate the production of prostaglandins, leukotrienes, thromboxanes, and prostacyclins, thereby reducing inflammation in the body. Persistent, low-grade inflammation is known to play an adverse role in almost every type of chronic disease, including arthritis, cancer, and diabetes. (HardyPet has been developing a canine specific fish oil formula which contains 6 different forms of Omega 3 fatty acids, the proper balance of Omega 6, and uses molecular distillation to remove all impurities. This premium fish oil is scheduled to be released in early December.)
Many vitamins and minerals are known to be potent antioxidants that can protect the body against the damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are a natural end-product of metabolism, so a pet’s diet should always contain an adequate amount of antioxidants. These nutrients become especially important when a pet is sick, however, because free-radical production can increase dramatically when the body is under stress. This same stress can be caused by a change in temperature during the winter months. HardyPet Complete includes almost a dozen antioxidants which have been shown to reduce free radicals and promote optimal immune system health.
The medical evidence is clear and overwhelming, protecting your dog's immune system starts with a quality dog food and a canine supplement program. Dropping temperatures put additional stress on proper immune system function and cause a variety preventable canine conditions. Protect your dog this winter with:
HardyPet Complete - The most complete canine vitamin supplement with 42 premium grade ingredients which work together to optimize your dog's health. Core vitamins, fatty acids, natural anti-inflammatory, joint health, heart health, and immune support are all part of the Complete formula.
HardyPet PRO6 - The world's only canine specific probiotic formula with 6 naturally occurring strains of live "good bacteria". Proper immune health starts with GI tract health and HardyPet PRO6 is the product designed just for your dog.
HardyPet Premium Fish Oil - Also designed specifically for dogs, our fish oil is domestically harvested in a sustainable, environmentally responsible, manner and contains the right balance of EPA/DHA/DPA and Omega 6 fatty acids to provide the healthiest option for your dog's health. (Available Early December 2014)