Supplementation for Dog Immune System Health

We know as humans that having healthy immune systems can help us fight off colds, flu and other illnesses.  More than ever, we all want to strive to stay as healthy as possible. But what about our dogs?  Is it really that important to keep their immune system healthy?  Dogs can’t get the common cold or flu, right?

Well yes, actually they can.  Dogs can get their own form of a cold.  More importantly, they can be susceptible to a multitude of diseases and disorders unless they have a strong, healthy immune system to act as the protective force field to defend their body against bacteria, viruses, toxins and any foreign material that is trying to invade.

The Immune System’s Role

Components of the immune system like lymph nodes, bone marrow, white blood cells and antibodies are located throughout a dog’s body. 

This system has two big jobs:

  • Recognize foreign substances, and
  • Protect against invaders like chemical substances or microorganisms that cause infectious diseases.

If a dog’s immune system is compromised, it has less ability to fight off those invaders. Illnesses that can result from weakened systems include viruses, bacterial infections, allergies, diabetes and osteoarthritis. The is where supplementation for dog immune systems can help.

How to Support It

The gut contains about 70% of the dog’s immune system, so the best way to help strengthen it is through diet and supplementation.  When The Missing Link® supplements were developed, extensive clinical studies were reviewed to best understand how we could support a healthy immune system based on the most effective ingredients available.

Dog Immune System

Flaxseed

Flaxseed, which is in all of The Missing Link formulas, is a health and nutritional superfood powerhouse, offering these benefits:

  •  It contains abundant arginine and glutamine which are very important in supporting the immune system as well as supporting heart health.
  • Flaxseed also contains bioactive peptides which have strong immunosuppressive activities.  
  • The most powerful benefit of the freshly ground flaxseed in The Missing Link products is the healthy balance of Omega Fatty Acids it provides.  Many studies reveal the benefits of fatty acids, including reducing inflammation related to digestive issues and disease.  Fatty acids are also known to accelerate recovery from surgery.

Antioxidants

Research indicates that a healthy functioning immune system depends on the intake of micronutrients which can act as antioxidants.

  • Antioxidants have an ability to destroy free radicals, which in turn protects the structural integrity of cells and tissues. 
  • These key micronutrients, vitamins and antioxidants are also in plentiful supply in The Missing Link® Pet Kelp® formulas which combine the natural nutritional power of kelp with the proven benefits of flaxseed.

Vitamin C

If all that great support via one simple spoonful of powder a day isn’t enough, there’s even more good news in easy supplementation for great immune health.

The Missing Link® Smartmouth® Dental Chews not only include flaxseed, but also have Stay-C ™*, a bioavailable patented form of Vitamin C. Although it is mainly included for oral care support, it also supports the immune system. Published evidence has indicated that Vitamin C plays an important role in gum health AND supports immune function, which is important for protecting against implications of dental disease.

Taking important yet easy steps towards supporting a strong, healthy immune system is a valuable part of our role as pet parents. Activity, nutrition, and the addition of necessary vitamins and minerals all combine to make the right formula to live happier and healthier lives together.


*Stay-C™ is a trademark of DSM

References:

National Center for Biotechnology Information: “Flax and Flaxseed oil: an ancient medicine & modern functional food”

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: “Importance of n-3 fatty acids in health and disease.” 

DSM:  “Special Vitamin C for Pet Oral Care”

PetPlace: “Structure and Function of the Immune System in Dogs”

PetMD: “Natural Ways to Improve Your Dog’s Immune System”

This article is for informational purposes only. Please see a vet if your pet shows any symptoms of illness or discomfort.

Preserving Gifts from the Sea

Mother Nature has given us a powerful superfood in the form of kelp, an underwater plant that is rich in vitamins, minerals and enzymes (aka seaweed).  This green gift from the sea is a phenomenal ingredient that when added to a dog’s daily diet, can support strong bones and increase energy, promote healthy skin and a glossy coat, help build a strong immune system and support a healthy digestive system.

The even better news is that this amazingly nutritional plant not only keeps our dogs healthy, it is sustainably grown and harvested so we can help keep Earth healthy too.

The kelp (Ascophyllum) used in The Missing Link Pet Kelp® Formulas is wild-grown along the rocky coast of Nova Scotia, Canada in icy cold waters that are among the most pristine in the world. Unlike land plants, kelp does not have roots to absorb nutrients, so the minerals from the surrounding environment go directly into the plant tissue.  This particular kelp contains over 70 vitamins and minerals and grows rapidly, averaging 7 inches of new growth per year, plus additional branches. Because of that growth, 40% of each plant can be sustainably re-harvested every year.

The harvesting process is earth-friendly as well.  Following strict government guidelines, a hand-cutting tool is used to cleanly trim just a portion of the plant, and is harvested only from June to March each year.  Using certified organic methods, the plants are then sun-dried for two weeks until they reach the perfect texture to be made into Pet Kelp.

Healthy and sustainable harvesting of this plant aligns perfectly with The Missing Link’s belief in preserving our natural environment and earth’s inhabitants.  Ascophyllum plays an important role in the Bay of Fundy ecosystem as it provides a natural habitat, and at least 22 species of fish are known to be associated with the kelp during parts of their life cycle. The goal in sustainable practices is to make no significant changes in the habitat structure.

Honoring Mother Earth and taking care in harvesting her gifts is the least we can do in appreciation for the natural goodness she provides for us and our pets.

The Latest COVID-19 CDC Update For Pets

Caring for pets is always our highest priority at The Missing Link®. You can be assured that although these times may be uncertain, we will always continue to provide your pets the supplies and support they need to stay safe and healthy.

We will be actively sharing the most up-to-date information from the CDC with our TML community. For more questions about how COVID-19 may impact your pet or other animals, we recommend that you visit the CDC for the latest updates and other valuable tips.

Update from the CDC on April 28, 2020

  • Walk dogs on a leash, maintaining at least 6 feet (2 meters) from other people and animals, do not gather in groups, and stay out of crowded places and avoid mass gatherings.
  • Do not go to dog parks or public places where many people and dogs gather. To help maintain social distancing, do not let other people pet your dog when you are out for a walk.
  • Currently, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. Based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is low.  
  • A small number of pets have been reported to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, mostly after contact with people with COVID-19.

Visit the FAQ page on the CDC website more information on how to keep yourself and pets safe and healthy.

Update from the CDC on April 22, 2020

  • The CDC confirmed 2 cases of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) in two pet cats in New York. These are the first pets in the United States to test positive for SARS-CoV-2.
  • The cats live in two separate areas of New York state. Both had mild respiratory illness and are expected to make a full recovery. SARS-CoV-2 infections have been reported in very few animals worldwide, mostly in those that had close contact with a person with COVID-19.
  • At this time, routine testing of pets and animals in not recommended. The USDA will continue to post all confirmed cases of SARAS-CoV-2 in pets or animals within the United States.

For more information please read statement from the CDC here.

As of now we know

  • There is no evidence that companion animals, including pets, can spread the virus that causes COVID-19 to people or that they might be a source of infection in the United States.
  • You should treat pets as you would other human family members – do not let pets interact with people or animals outside the household. If a person inside the household becomes sick, isolate that person from everyone else, including pets.
  • This is a rapidly evolving situation and information will be updated as it becomes available.
  • The CDC is working with human and animal health partners to monitor this situation and will continue to provide updates as information becomes available. 

How to continue to care for your pets

Until we learn more about how this virus affects animals, treat pets as you would other human family members to protect them from a potential infection.

  • Do not let pets interact with people or other animals outside the household.
  • Keep cats indoors when possible to prevent them from interacting with other animals or people.
  • Walk dogs on a leash, maintaining at least 6 feet (2 meters) from other people and animals.
  • Avoid dog parks or public places where a large number of people and dogs gather.

There is a very small number of animals around the world reported to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 after having contact with a person with COVID-19. Talk to your veterinarian if your pet gets sick or if you have any concerns about your pet’s health.

If you are not feeling well

If you are sick with COVID-19 (either suspected or confirmed by a test), you should restrict contact with your pets and other animals, just like you would around other people.

  • When possible, have another member of your household care for your pets while you are sick.
  • Avoid contact with your pet including, petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food or bedding.
  • If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wear a cloth face covering and wash your hands before and after you interact with them.

For more information on how to keep yourself and pets healthy, please visit the CDC website

Updated on April 28, 2020

Beyond Basic: Why a Heart Healthy Dog Dental Chew Matters

Most of us consider our dogs to be important members of their family and we prioritize their health and wellbeing. Sound like you? Paramount to their welfare is caring for their oral health, and research shows that failing to do so can lead to a variety of medical problems, ranging from minor to very serious. That being said, the statistics surrounding canine oral health are somewhat alarming. Over 80% of all dogs suffer from some form of dental disease by age 3, and even the most dedicated dog owners don’t brush their dog’s teeth regularly, if at all.

To support your dog’s oral health, dental chews should be an important part of his daily nutrition routine. While the number of options available to choose from can be overwhelming, your dog’s chew should be working well beyond providing a temporary burst of fresh breath. Your goal should be to serve a chew that is as multi-functional as possible in order to maximize the health benefits. It will also include things like glucosamine to increase mobility and support joint and hip health, and balanced omegas for healthy skin and a shiny coat.  Furthermore, look for natural non-GMO ingredients, and avoid artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. 

Smartmouth Dental chews

While finding a chew that meets these standards is a step in the right direction, we also worry about bigger issues such as how to ward off serious diseases that could impact our dogs. One prevalent topic is DCM (dilated cardiomyopathy) and the suspected link between serving a grain-free diet and heart disease. Concerns surrounding this frightening illness have generated an understandable amount of worry. While we can’t control everything that happens to our dogs, the subject of DCM has left many of us asking what we can do to try and keep their hearts as healthy as possible. Currently, Smartmouth™ from The Missing Link is the only dental chew on the market created to help optimize both your dog’s oral with added heart health ingredients by providing incredible benefits packed into one daily serving. That’s why it’s being recognized as the “beyond basic” chew. Not only is it the first dental chew to give your dog a daily supply of a vitamin supplement, it also contains three key heart healthy ingredients: flaxseed, nutritional yeast, and taurine. Below, we outline how these three ingredients can help keep your dog’s heart strong.

Flaxseed – When it comes topacking a nutritional punch, flaxseed is recognized as a standout in the superfood arena and has long been known to help with heart health. Flaxseed contains Omega 3 Fatty Acids (in the form of Alpha-linolenic Acid, or ALA), natural antioxidants in the form of lignans, and is full of naturally occurring trace vitamins and minerals.)Omega 3 fatty acids, commonly referred to as one of the good fats, are known for their antioxidating and anti-inflammatory properties and research has shown that adding them to a dog’s diet can positively affect their overall immune system. Flaxseed also contains lignans, which can support cardiovascular health.

Nutritional Yeast – Known as a food rich in antioxidants, it can help reduce stress levels, decrease toxins and support overall health. It’s also a great source of folate (B9) which has been known to help lower cholesterol. Additionally, vitamins B1-B6 are all necessary for detoxification, and vitamin B6 is especially important because it helps with red blood cell and nervous system function, hormone regulation, and more.

Taurine – Taurine is an amino acid known as being instrumental in overall vascular health and is needed to keep the heart strong and pumping optimally. It’s important to maintain adequate taurine levels in your dog’s body and including it in her chew can help. Despite many dogs being able to synthesize taurine through specific amino acids, they can still be susceptible to a deficiency. Genetics, breed, diet, or other causes may mean you need to be more on the lookout for a potential problem, so always talk with your vet to discuss concerns surrounding DCM.

Smartmouth Dental chews for dog dental month

The long-term benefits of a heart healthy chew are clear by now, but let’s not forget about the best short-term win of all for we fur parents: fresher breath and truly cleaner teeth! Smartmouth™ leads the pack in helping to make that dreaded dragon breath a thing of the past. At the same time, it deep cleans your pup’s teeth with unique bristle ridges and Stay-C™ (a patented form of Vitamin C) while helping to fight plaque and tartar build up. Did we mention it tastes great too?

Here’s to a happy and healthy life!

This article is for informational purposes only. Please always discuss any health concerns with your vet.

Resources:

https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/dental-disease-in-dogs

https://www.petmd.com/dog/nutrition/healthy-foods-checklist-flaxseed-dogs

https://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/cardiovascular/c_dg_taurine_deficiency

https://www.spunkytails.com/nutritional-yeast-for-dogs/

https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/nutrition/vitamins-dogs-need-healthy-lifestyle/

4 Ways Dental Care Impacts Your Dog’s Overall Health

If you are celebrating Pet Dental Month by taking care of your dog’s teeth on a regular basis, CONGRATULATIONS!  That extra effort you take will help keep those chompers pearly white, strong for eating, and — best of all – free of stinky dog breath for those up-close cuddles.

But did you know that by brushing your dog’s teeth regularly and giving healthy dental chew products, you are doing far more than just making their smile bright?  You are actually helping their overall health and well-being.

Periodontal disease is an ugly and dangerous condition that happens five times more often in dogs than in people. It can lead not only to bleeding gums, bad breath and tooth loss – but also issues like diabetes and heart disease.  It is important to take preventative steps to avoid problems before they start.  Here’s what that dental TLC can do for your dog: 

  1. Reduce plaque to reduce infection.  Plaque is made up of bacteria, which signals the dog’s immune system to fight back with white blood cells. The white blood cells release enzymes that break down tissue — which can let bacteria enter the bloodstream and travel throughout the body causing infections elsewhere, including the kidneys, liver and lungs. 
  2. Support Cardiovascular Health.  A dog’s heart and liver are especially susceptible to developing inflammation from dental disease. The bacteria that develops from periodontal disease is the same that can infect heart valves, causing an inflammation of the lining of the heart. Giving dental chews like The Missing Link® Smartmouth™ that contain heart healthy ingredients such as flaxseed, taurine and nutritional yeast aid in supporting cardiovascular health.
  3. Stop the vicious cycle.  Diabetic dogs tend to have higher levels of periodontal disease; in turn, the more severe the dental issues, the more serious the diabetes gets.  Once the dental issues are addressed, the diabetes is much easier to stabilize.
  4. Reduce weakness and pain.  A dog can, and will, still eat with a painful tooth and may not exhibit other tell-tale signs like excessive drooling or bleeding. They continue to live with the pain.  In smaller breeds, infections in the dog’s mouth can weaken their jaws making them susceptible to fracture because the bone has become unhealthy. Don’t be fooled by “normal” behavior. Problems may be lurking.

Our pups can’t tell us how they are feeling, or if they are in pain. But with good oral hygiene including regular Vet exams, tooth brushing, and treating with nutritional dental chews, you can be a Dental Hero and help keep your dog – from Maltese to Mastiff — pain free and healthy. And get fresh-breath kisses and tail wags as a thank you.

For the month of February, The Missing Link® is giving away four Happy Mouth Kits!  Check it out on Instagram to participate. 

Sources:

The Perils of Gum Disease in Dogs, by Wendy Fries, WebMD Archives https://pets.webmd.com/dogs/features/perlis-gum-disease-dogs#1

5 Scary Consequences of Neglecting Your Dog’s Teeth by Dr. Hanie Elfendbein, DVM, PhD, Pet MD Archives  https://www.petmd.com/dog/general-health/5-scary-consequences-neglecting-your-dogs-teeth