Viral or bacterial infections become commonplace in animals with a weakened immune system. Instead of having the immune system fight off the infections, the pet responds to these irritations by excessive scratching or licking, which further prevents healing and often exacerbates the problem.
Read on to learn more about how specific vitamins, minerals and herbs help to support the immune system and heal skin problems and infections in dogs and cats:
Vitamin A is vital for healthy skin and good eyesight. It plays an important part in the growth and repair of body tissues and protects epithelial tissues, such as the thin skin of the mouth, nose, throat, and lungs, thereby reducing susceptibility to infection.
Vitamin C is essential to over-all health. This antioxidant aids in resisting viral and bacterial infections, and reduces the effects of some allergy-producing substances. It helps heal wounds, scar tissue and fractures, and gives strength to the blood vessels, thus preventing hemorrhaging. Its primary function is to maintain collagen, a protein necessary for the formation of skin, ligaments and bones. Vitamin C also plays an important role in the absorption of iron.
Vitamin E prevents the fats and fat-soluble vitamin A stored in the body from breaking down and combining with other substances that may become harmful to the body. It is especially important to the health of the cardiovascular system, and has been found helpful in the healing of burns, bruises and wounds, and as preventative in the treatment of cancer and aging.
Reishi mushrooms work as an anti-inflammatory and antihistamine to relieve respiratory ailments and allergy symptoms. They have been found to enhance immune modulators, which are important for fighting viral and bacterial infections and they also inhibit the growth of cancer cells.
- Echinacea is an immune stimulant that helps the body defend
itself against viral infection. It works in two ways: 1) It contains three
compounds with specific antiviral activity—caffeic acid, chicoric acid and
echinacin and 2) the root extracts of echinacea act like interferon, the body’s
own antiviral compound. Echinacea has been used by Native Americans to heal
wounds and skin problems, and reduce inflammation.
- Astragulus root has been used for thousands of years in
traditional Chinese medicine to strengthen Chi, the building block of physical
and spiritual energy. More recently, it has been used to restore immune function
in cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy.
- Thymus - The thymus is responsible for many immune system functions, including the production of T lymphocytes, which are extremely important to protecting animals from bacteria, fungi, parasites, viruses, cancer, allergies, dermatitis and immune disorders.