The Canine Immune System
The canine immune system is a fabulous, whole-body network of defenses against infections; whether viral, bacterial, parasitic or fungal. Parasitic infections include such conditions as mange; while bacterial and viral infections are usually indicative of an infectious disease that is generally contagious between animals. Fungal infections are by far the most difficult to treat, this includes cancer. A canine’s immune system also protects against pollen and other environmental allergens.
The canine immune system is, like a human’s, divided into “general immune response” & “innate immunity,” or a specific immune response. The innate spectrum is exactly what it sounds like: the animal is born with it. The acquired immunity, specifically, is the dog’s system learning to defend against specific attacks by an outside organism. For instance, the presence of a particular pollen may trigger autoimmune response and the release of histamines into the blood in order to combat the attack. A good example of an acquired response, is the rabies vaccine: the dead and weakened rabies virus is introduced into the bloodstream and develops the immune system according to a specific antibody for an adequate offense.
The canine immune system has many components. There are several mechanical or
physical barriers that are their first line of defense. These include the fur, skin, nasal passages, stomach, saliva, tears, and the eyelids. If these defenses are breached, the body will use the circulatory system aid in response. When a foreign substance enters the blood stream, it is called an antigen. The blood stream contains T and B cells which recognize the foreigner and binds themselves to it. The T-cell will also send out a signal so other T-cells similar to it, will come and bind themselves as well. Additionally, the signals will cause the body to manufacture even more of the proper type of T and B cells. Some of these will be for short term control of the immediate infection and the latter will be longer lived, preparing the body against further attack from the particular antigen.
If a canine’s immune system is repressed or lowered because of a disease/disorder of the system, red mites may get out of control; causing the dog to develop generalized mange. Mange is never pleasant, either for the animal or its caregiver but in this case, it is a signal of a deeper problem which must be addressed. Due to a lowered immune-response, the animal will also be more susceptible to other diseases. Clearly, maintaining your pet’s immune respond through proper diet and nutrition, timely vaccinations, proper exercise, and good grooming, is the correct disposition. Like most things in life, maintaining their health is much cheaper and easier than trying to repair it. With a little planning and care, most diseases and problems can be avoided or at least their impact may be lessened. Thus, protect your dog now and not later, the difference will affect their health as well as your wallet.