How does one expect their companion’s immune system to be properly maintained? Not only do you put faith in what your companion’s immune system can naturally do but you also help support it being your companion’s care giver.
While we should not allow our companions to live life in a bubble, one thing that really improves disease control is certainly sanitation. Clean litter boxes, food and water bowls and generally a maintained living environment can really prevent a lot of illness and disease.
HOUSEHOLD CLEANING PRODUCTS, SOAPS AND AIR FRESHENERS
Along with sanitation comes products used to keep your home fresh and clean. Many cleaning produces, soaps and air fresheners contain various harmful toxins like bleach and ammonia which can be ingested, absorbed, or breathed in by your companion, easily harming your sensitive cat.
Many will treat their yard for weeds and pests that are also full of chemicals, hard metals and other toxins. They can be tracked in on your shoes or if your companion is supervised outside, they can be ingested, absorbed, or breathed in by your companion as well.
Cleaning and treating your home inside and out with natural plant-based products are the best way to avoid harmful chemicals and other toxins coming in contact with your companion animal that could affect how their body functions including the immune system. (1, 2, 3)
Be aware of other toxins your companions could encounter such as those found in chemical flea, tick, parasite and worm products and home/yard treatments. Our companions are much smaller and much closer to the ground than we are and unlike humans they lick themselves ingesting many of these products directly from their coat and paws.
In addition to ingestion, these products like flea and tick medications are absorbed into your animal putting stress on the immune system and detoxification organs like the kidney and liver. Deworming and parasite products often harm the gastrointestinal tract. There are many natural products that can be used to prevent, treat and control fleas, ticks, worms and parasites. (3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
This also applies to pharmaceutical medications like antibiotics, steroids, antihistamines and more. While these may be required in extreme situations, overuse or use when it isn’t necessary can cause damage to your companion, resulting in more serious health concerns. The best thins you can do is continue to support a healthy immune system, use proactive health care, attempt to determine the root of the problem and treat with natural methods first before resorting to pharmaceutical drugs. (8, 9, 10, 11, 12)
As discussed in all our vaccine related blog posts and articles. Vaccines are a huge stressor on the body including the immune system. They are associated with various side effects including chronic disease, cancer, kidney disease, and death. They contain harmful chemicals, adjuvants and other ingredients that contribute to various illness and disease and do not support the immune system as they are intended. To learn more please view the various blog posts we have made on the topic which includes a plethora of scientific resources and studies.
SPECIES APPROPRIATE DIET
This is one of the easiest things you can do for your companion. Not only are commercial kibble and canned foods highly processed they contain toxins, chemical preservatives, dyes, texturizers, ingredients like carbohydrates and grains that not only impair the immune system but are just not appropriate for an obligate carnivore. Just like humans a raw whole food diet is the best way to maintain a strong immune system.
Diet is one of the most important components of a healthy immune system because the gastrointestinal tract is the prime location for immunity. The nutrients your companion ingests not only helps your companion thrive but also, they beneficial bacteria and enzymes that aid the immune system.
For more information on a raw species appropriate diets which include a plethora of scientific resources and studies, please visit www.TheNutritionCode.info
Stress ultimately hampers the immune system. This can include territorial issues among animals, unsettling noise, pregnancy, nursing, veterinary trips, illness, disease, surgery, moving, the birth of a new baby and much more. By reducing stress or keeping it at a minimum your companions’ body can focus on other things versus trying to cope with things that may not be in their control or otherwise are compromising their immune system. (13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18)
EXERCISE AND WEIGHT CONTROL
Not only does exercise reduce stress it strengthens our immune system and keeps our weight at a controlled level. It is a well-known fact that being overweight greatly increases an animal’s chances of disease and infection as well as stress on the body and its immune system. Cats can be walked on leashes, they can run on cat wheels, climbing shelves are great fun, catnip toys, ball tracks and feather toys are all great options for getting that blood pumping. (19, 20, 21, 22)
Antioxidants are responsible for dealing with oxidative damage and destroying free radicals. They boost the immune system and have been found to prevent infection, cancer and much more. Many whole foods contain antioxidants. Antioxidants include Vitamins A, C and E that can easily be supplied with a raw species appropriate diet. For more information on a raw species appropriate diet which includes a plethora of scientific resources and studies, please visit www.TheNutritionCode.info (23, 24)
HERBS AND NUTRACEUTICALS
There are SO many herbs and natural foods that have wonderful medicinal benefits. The following is simply a fraction of herbs and nutraceuticals that can benefit our companions to maintain a healthy immune system.
Curcumin – derived from the turmeric root. Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer. (25, 26, 27, 28)
Colostrum – derived from the milk that mothers first produce for their young. Immune boosting, aid in fatty acid metabolism, aid in acute, chronic and autoimmune disease. (29, 30, 31, 32)
Full Extract Cannabis Oil- Derived from various THC, THCA and CBD strains. Blood cleanser, anti-inflammatory, stress reducer, anti-cancer, managing autoimmune disease etc. (33. 34. 35, 36, 37)
Silymarin- derived from Milk Thistle. Aids the liver helping the mast cells of the immune system, anti-inflammatory, destroy free radicals etc. (38, 39)
Krill and Fish oil - derived from krill or fish. Anti-inflammatory, support immune function, antioxidants. (40, 41, 42)
Glandulars- derived from secretory glands and animal tissues. Helps with gland and organ function (including those of the immune system). (43)
There are many more we could add to this list but this small list is just to give a general idea of all the awesome natural medicinals we can give to our companions to help their body function the way nature intended.
Minimal exposure to chemicals and toxins and providing an environment that is relatively free of stress is the most important for keeping your companion healthy and their immune system high. If these targeted areas are not a focus, no number of supplements is going to help the immune system and frankly will not make them very effective.
Don’t wait until you cat is sick to be more natural, to eliminate toxins, unnecessary pharmaceutical drugs or change their diet. Be proactive in your companion’s care and they will reward you with a long, happy and very healthy life.
Mahdi, Ali, and Deon Van der Merwe. “Dog and cat exposures to hazardous substances reported to the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory: 2009-2012.” Journal of medical toxicology : official journal of the American College of Medical Toxicology vol. 9,2 (2013): 207-11. doi:10.1007/s13181-013-0289-8
“Chemical Exposures and Pets' Health.” EWG, 17 Apr. 2008, www.ewg.org/research/polluted-pets/chemical-exposures-and-pets-health.
“Polluted Pets.” EWG, 17 Apr. 2008, www.ewg.org/research/polluted-pets.
Bravecto Nexgard Comfortis Simparica Trifexis & others Do They Kill Dogs? “Various Flea and Tick Product Inserts.” Facebook, 7 Oct. 2008, www.facebook.com/groups/138187053551225/files/.
Rotkin-Ellman, Miriam, et al. “Toxic Chemicals in Flea and Tick Collars.” NRDC, Aug. 2009, www.nrdc.org/sites/default/files/poisonsonpets.pdf.
“EPA Evaluation of Pet Spot-on Products: Analysis and Plans for Reducing Harmful Effects.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 13 Apr. 2018, www.epa.gov/pets/epa-evaluation-pet-spot-products-analysis-and-plans-reducing-harmful-effects
“Review of Enhanced Reporting of 2008 Pet Spot-On Incidents.” Regulations.gov, 18 Mar. 2010, www.regulations.gov/document?D=EPA-HQ-OPP-2010-0229-0023.
Lindmeier, Christian. “Stop Using Antibiotics in Healthy Animals to Preserve Their Effectiveness.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, 7 Nov. 2017, www.who.int/news-room/detail/07-11-2017-stop-using-antibiotics-in-healthy-animals-to-prevent-the-spread-of-antibiotic-resistance.
Dall, Chris. “Antibiotic Resistance in Pets an Increasing Problem.” CIDRAP, 29 Aug. 2016, www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2016/08/antibiotic-resistance-pets-increasing-problem.
Lowe, Andrew. “Glucocorticoid Use in Cats.” DVM360, 1 Feb. 2010, veterinarymedicine.dvm360.com/glucocorticoid-use-cats.
American Heart Association. "Long-term anabolic steroid use may weaken heart more than previously thought." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 April 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100427171802.htm>.
Bhattacherjee P, Paterson CA, Spellman JM, Graff G, Yanni JM. Pharmacological Validation of a Feline Model of Steroid-Induced Ocular Hypertension. Arch Ophthalmol. 1999;117(3):361–364. doi:10.1001/archopht.117.3.361
Finka, Lauren R et al. “A critically appraised topic (CAT) to compare the effects of single and multi-cat housing on physiological and behavioural measures of stress in domestic cats in confined environments.” BMC veterinary researchvol. 10 73. 22 Mar. 2014, doi:10.1186/1746-6148-10-73
Moberg, G.P.; Mench, J.A. The Biology of Animal Stress: Basic Principles and Implications for Animal Welfare; Cabi Publishing: Oxon, UK, 2000.
Tynes, V.V. The Physiologic Effects of Fear. 2014. Available online: http://veterinarymedicine.dvm360.com/physiologic-effects-fear (accessed on 21 December 2016).
Morey, Jennifer N et al. “Current Directions in Stress and Human Immune Function.” Current opinion in psychology vol. 5 (2015): 13-17. doi:10.1016/j.copsyc.2015.03.007
Stella, Judi et al. “Effects of stressors on the behavior and physiology of domestic cats.” Applied animal behaviour science vol. 143,2-4 (2013): 157-163. doi:10.1016/j.applanim.2012.10.014
Loftus, John P, and Joseph J Wakshlag. “Canine and feline obesity: a review of pathophysiology, epidemiology, and clinical management.” Veterinary medicine (Auckland, N.Z.) vol. 6 49-60. 30 Dec. 2014, doi:10.2147/VMRR.S40868
Alexander J. German, The Growing Problem of Obesity in Dogs and Cats, The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 136, Issue 7, July 2006, Pages 1940S–1946S, https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/136.7.1940S
Öhlund, Malin et al. “Overweight in adult cats: a cross-sectional study.” Acta veterinaria Scandinavica vol. 60,1 5. 19 Jan. 2018, doi:10.1186/s13028-018-0359-7
Hajhashemi, V., Vaseghi, G., Pourfarzam, M., & Abdollahi, A. (2010). Are antioxidants helpful for disease prevention?. Research in pharmaceutical sciences, 5(1), 1–8.
Lestari ML, Indrayanto G Profiles Drug Subst Excip Relat Methodol. 2014; 39():113-204.
Curcumin and liver disease. Vera-Ramirez L, Pérez-Lopez P, Varela-Lopez A, Ramirez-Tortosa M, Battino M, Quiles JL Biofactors. 2013 Jan-Feb; 39(1):88-100.
Bioactivity of turmeric-derived curcuminoids and related metabolites in breast cancer. Wright LE, Frye JB, Gorti B, Timmermann BN, Funk JL Curr Pharm Des. 2013; 19(34):6218-25.
Ulfman, Laurien H, et al. “Effects of Bovine Immunoglobulins on Immune Function, Allergy, and Infection.” Frontiers in Nutrition, Frontiers Media S.A., 22 June 2018, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29988421/?i=2&from=bovine%2Bcolostrum%2Bgastro.
Eslamian, Ghazaleh, et al. “Effects of Early Enteral Bovine Colostrum Supplementation on Intestinal Permeability in Critically Ill Patients: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study.” Nutrition (Burbank, Los Angeles County, Calif.), U.S. National Library of Medicine, Apr. 2019, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30551120/?i=18&from=bovine%2Bcolostrum.
Larcombe, Sarah, et al. “Hyperimmune Bovine Colostrum Reduces Gastrointestinal Carriage of Uropathogenic Escherichia Coli.” Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics, Taylor & Francis, 31 Oct. 2018, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30277834.
Filipescu, Iulia Elena, et al. “Preventive Effects of Bovine Colostrum Supplementation in TNBS-Induced Colitis in Mice.” PloS One, Public Library of Science, 23 Aug. 2018, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30138385/?i=44&from=bovine%2Bcolostrum.
Non-hallucinogenic cannabinoids are effective anti-cancer drugs. Anticancer Research, 2013. http://www.sgul.ac.uk/news/news/study-shows-non-hallucinogenic-cannabinoids-are-effective-anticancer-drugs .
Cannabidiol as potential anticancer drug. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2013. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22506672%20
Cannabis, cannabinoids and cancer – the evidence so far. Cancer Research UK, 2014. http://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/2012/07/25/cannabis-cannabinoids-and-cancer-theevidence-so-far/
Nagarkatti, Prakash et al. “Cannabinoids as novel anti-inflammatory drugs.” Future medicinal chemistry vol. 1,7 (2009): 1333-49. doi:10.4155/fmc.09.93
Vargas-Mendoza, Nancy et al. “Hepatoprotective effect of silymarin.” World journal of hepatology vol. 6,3 (2014): 144-9. doi:10.4254/wjh.v6.i3.144
Calder, PC. “n-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids, Inflammation, and Inflammatory Diseases.”PubMed.gov, Am J Clin Nutr., June 2006,
Costanzo, M, et al. “Krill Oil Reduces Intestinal Inflammation by Improving Epithelial Integrity and Impairing Adherent-Invasive Escherichia Coli Pathogenicity.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Jan. 2016,
Cintia de Lourdes Nahhas Rodacki, André Luiz Felix Rodacki, Isabela Coelho, Daniele Pequito, Maressa Krause, Sandro Bonatto, Katya Naliwaiko and Luiz Cláudio Fernandes. Influence of fish oil supplementation and strength training on some functional aspects of immune cells in healthy elderly women. British Journal of Nutrition, available on CJO2015. doi:10.1017/S0007114515001555.
Cameron, Tom. “Glandular Therapy.” IVC Journal, 10 Aug. 2017, ivcjournal.com/glandular-therapy/.