dog immune system booster

Things To Sneak Into Your Dog’s Food To Boost Their Immune System

Most dog owners now appreciate how important the diet is to their four-legged friend’s overall health and well-being. This is especially true for the immune system which can suffer greatly when a dog has a poor diet that lacks essential nutrients and micro-nutrients. High-quality dog foods are now widely available and supply your pooch with everything that they need. It important to stress that supplements can never make up for a poor diet.

Having said that, there are certain times in a dog’s life when they need a helping hand. This could be after an illness or an injury or during pregnancy or when they are nursing pups. It could be when they are experiencing stress because you have introduced a new pet into the home or it could be after a house move. It is important that you find the Best Supplements for Pregnant Dogs rather than using a generic supplement because pregnancy puts specific demands on a dog’s body.

Whilst we may be happy to pop a pill if we are feeling run down, it is highly likely that your pooch will simply spit it out. If you feel that you would like to find out how to boost dog’s immune system, here are a few things that you can sneak into their food and they won’t even know that they are eating them!

rott in a grass


Calcium is a micro-nutrient that dog’s bodies need in small quantities. It is usually a mineral that we associate with bone strength but it also plays an essential role in fighting disease. It is thought that it is essential for triggering the initial response when the body is under attack by pathogens. It is also important for repairing tissue that has been damaged by disease.

If you suspect that your dog has a calcium deficiency, it is best to discuss the Best Calcium Supplements for your dog with your vet. They will be able to advise you on what would suit them best.

Related Post: Best Calcium Supplements for Dogs


These are one of the most important dog immune system supplements. The immune system is dependent on a good range of friendly bacteria living in the gut. They help to keep harmful pathogens at bay and if the gut immune system is working well the whole immune system benefits.

It is important to be aware that the friendly gut flora in a dog’s intestine is not the same as a human’s so you cannot use human supplements for your dog. There is also no point in giving them some natural yogurt. You need a supplement that will deliver colonies of bacteria that naturally live in your dog’s stomach so get a dog probiotic supplement that you can slip into their food. It is also important that the cultures are live so always buy them from a reputable supplier. Your vet will be able to advise you further.

Fish Oil

Fish oil is a well-known remedy for maintaining joint health and is a key ingredient of the Best Dog Joint Supplements but it is also very important for the immune system. The key constituent is omega-3 fatty acids which are crucial for fighting inflammation. In addition, some recent research has shown that these fatty acids are instrumental in the formation of some types of white blood cell and in producing antibodies. Antibodies are tiny proteins that can latch onto pathogens when they invade the body. They can also help to ward off similar diseases in the future. This potentially makes it an excellent immune booster for dogs of all ages.

It is not always easy to get sufficient omega-3 fatty acids in the diet so popping a fish oil supplement into the diet is a good option.

retriever eating immune system booster food

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is essential for the immune system to function properly. However, dogs are able to make their own Vitamin C using glucose and other elements in their diet. This may make you think that there is no point in adding a Vitamin C supplement to their diet but some dogs are deficient. In particular, dogs with liver disease can experience low levels of this vitamin and may benefit from a supplement in their food.

Not all vets agree with this supplementation so always speak to your vet first about what is best for your dog.


Echinacea is a popular supplement and many humans take it regularly because they think that it helps with preventing some infectious diseases including the common cold. There is some limited evidence to suggest that it can play a positive role in managing chronic respiratory disease in dogs. With your vet’s guidance, it could be something that you could try out as one of the dog immune system supplements in their food.

Coconut Oil

This is a very useful supplement that has several health-giving properties and promotes general well-being. It is an entirely natural product and is found in many premium dog foods. It can play a role in controlling diabetes, it helps the digestive system to function properly and is great for the skin.

It also has some anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties so it can help out the immune system when it is fighting an attack on the body.

Related Post: Best Coconut Oil for Dogs


This is a very popular herb in the human diet and it tastes great. It is also a very common constituent in commercial dog food because it contains important nutrients and it makes the food very palatable for your pooch.

Rosemary has a high iron content and is also packed with vitamin B6 and calcium. All of these micro-nutrients are important for the proper functioning of the immune system. Rosemary contains antioxidants which are important for tackling the free-radicals that cause many diseases.

Related Post: Best Calcium Supplements

Vitamin E

This is another vitamin that plays a crucial role in the functioning of the immune system in a dog. There are plenty of foods that contain high levels of vitamin E and these include wheat germ so you may spot this in the ingredients list of your dog’s kibble. You may also want to pop a supplement into your dog’s food once you have checked with your vet.

Vitamin E plays an essential role in helping your dog’s body to fight diseases and to cope with free-radicals that can cause chronic diseases such as cancer. When it comes to immunity dog metabolisms need help to fight off both acute and chronic diseases.


Curcumin is found in the Indian spice Turmeric and there has been a lot of interest in its medicinal properties for humans as well as animals. It is a relative of the ginger plant which has also been used for centuries in natural remedies.

Curcumin is thought to possess anti-inflammatory properties so it has a role to play in helping the body to recover and repair when it has been damaged by disease. It is likely that further research will tell us more about how it benefits the body in the coming years.

Small breeds, in particular, are prone to disease such as cancer because they have a longer life expectancy. Commercial dog foods that are aimed at small breeds often contain substances that have anti-inflammatory properties to help to ward off these diseases.

Related Post: Best Dog Food for Small Breeds

small jack russell in the grass

General Advice on Animal Food Supplements

It is important to talk to your vet before introducing any supplementation into your dog’s diet. It is possible to over-supplement your dog and that can do more harm than good. Also, substances that are good for the human body could have the opposite effect on a dog because their biochemistry and their metabolism is very different. Something that helps you out when you have a bad cold may not be a dog immune system booster in the same way.

The great thing about supplements is that you can sneak them into your dog’s food and they will never know! However, you should always buy your supplements from established and reputable companies. They will be using high-quality ingredients and their products will have undergone rigorous tests for purity.

There is an organization called the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC) whose aim is to “protect and enhance the integrity of the animal health product industry”. They work closely with the Food and Drug Administration, Center for Veterinary Medicine (FDA/CVM) and many State Regulators. They have a logo that can be placed on products that have been manufactured to certain standards and which are therefore approved by them. Look out for this on the supplement label to make sure that the supplement that you are buying is genuine.

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  1. Sarah Winkler, 10 Fruits and Veggies that Aid in Dogs’ Nutrition, HowStuffWorks
  2. Paula Fitzsimmons, Natural Ways to Improve Your Dog’s Immune System, PetMD
Sharon Parry

Sharon is a Ph.D. scientist and experienced pet content writer. As a life-long animal lover, she now shares her family home with three rabbits, a Syrian hamster, and a Cockapoo puppy. She has a passion for researching accurate and credible information about pets and turning it into easy-to-understand articles that offer practical tips. When it comes to our furry friends, she knows that there is always something new to learn!

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Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.