Further reading - Kitten immunity

3/10/2561

How is your puppy's immunity different from an adult dog's?

We love our dogs; we wish nothing could never hurt them and one of the best ally for this mission is already in their body: it’s their immune system.

Brown Labrador dog mom and her puppy

Immunity is a defence system, always ready to fight against pathogens. Acting like a shield, this network of organs, white blood cells, proteins (antibodies) and chemicals is constantly assessing threats and targeting them to protect your dog’s health against bacteria, viruses, fungus, toxins and even parasites. But this defensive barrier is stronger in dogs than in puppies.

Born with a very immature (weak) immune system, puppies need the assistance of a highly specific type of milk from their mum to survive and strengthen their natural defences. Called colostrum, this unique milk is produced after the puppy’s birth and is packed with their mum’s antibodies, helping support the entire litter’s immune system as they slowly start interacting with our world. In situations where puppies can’t be fed by their mum, replacement milk with a formula very close to that of a bitch’s milk exist.

Why is it so important to assist puppies’ immune system development?

Simply because the protection provided in their mum’s milk doesn’t last forever. Day after day, until 12 weeks, the level of antibodies coming from the milk decreases while at the same time, exploration and discovery are getting more and more frequent, putting new germs and microorganisms on the path of your still fragile puppy.

It’s a delicate stage where the mother’s milk isn’t protecting them enough anymore and their own immune system is not yet fully mature to take over - leaving them more vulnerable than ever to risk of infection. Actually, this unique period is so critical that it even has a name —it’s called the immunity gap and it usually occurs between 4 and 12 weeks of age.

During that time, the puppy’s immature and unsupported immune system needs a little boost to help defend the puppy against different antigens including germs and to help support their vaccination protocols.

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How can nutrition help?

The right diet, carefully crafted with specific antioxidants and prebiotics (food for the good gut bacteria) can help reinforce their natural defences. Their food should also contain specific vitamins for puppy’s immune system development. We understand that it’s a lot to take in, but we also know that you’ve got this! Remember, this period only happens once, and you won’t get another shot at protecting your puppy by supporting their immune system development – their one and only natural defence system for life!

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