The immune system is quite sophisticated and works hard to protect us from bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites, as well as foreign substances such as dust, dirt, debris, pollens, toxins and the like, all of which could potentially cause ill health or disease. This protective, policing role is carried out largely by the white blood cells, which are produced in the bone marrow and which circulate in the blood. However, they are not actually the first line of defence, as the body has some formidable barriers to cross first. These are:
- The skin, which is a waterproof protective barrier against invading organisms, dirt and debris.
- The stomach, which contains acid to kill off bacteria and viruses. The natural peristaltic motion of the gut, as well as bile and digestive enzymes, also play a role in the protection of the gut from organisms. The stomach acid of dogs and cats is far stronger than our own, which is why they can eat food that would upset our digestive systems and make us quite ill.
- The lining of the respiratory tract, which produces mucus to trap and remove organisms and particulate debris, by coughing or sneezing.
- The lining of the gut, which has a very active protection system, as well as a protective mucus layer.
- Saliva and tears, which contain antibacterial enzymes.
- The liver, which can filter out material that has gained access to the blood stream and which can also remove toxins and poisons.
If an organism or foreign material gets past these hurdles, then the immune system springs into action!
Inflammation can be useful, but can also be a huge problem. Invasion by a virus (such as the flu virus in cats) can initiate an immune response that may result in a fever and signs of illness. However the immune response should ultimately eliminate the virus quickly, after which the body recovers. However unwanted chronic inflammation of a joint, as in many cases of arthritis, can be very painful and may cause chronic lameness. Overreaction of the immune system can result in symptoms ranging from an irritating skin allergy to serious, life threatening autoimmune conditions.
Hepatic and intestinal hygiene
The intestine plays an important role in immune system. Rebalancing the intestinal flora with probiotics so will prove wise to help your pet to resist all infections that it is often battered by winter antibiotic therapy or inactivity.
At Phyto Companion we have developed a number of natural supplements to help restore and strengthen your pets immune system
Phyto Defence: A complex of plants especially designed to strengthen the immune system of your animal; it can be taken in addition to a drug treatment. Thanks to its components, it can also prevent infections.
Phyto Detox: This complex of plants is intended to detox the various emunctories (liver, kidneys...) of your animal. It is especially useful and efficient after a lengthy treatment or anaesthesia.