How To Help Your Dog Avoid 7 Common Immune Stressors

Marie Gagne

Your dog’s health depends on his immune system. Which means you need to do what you can to keep it in top shape.

But every day he’s exposed to toxins and other immune system stressors. And this means his body isn’t at its best.

So today, I will talk about some of the things that attack your dog’s immune system … and easy steps you can take to reduce their effect.

How To Boost Your Dog’s Immune System

Did you know that each day the US produces 74 billion pounds of chemicals?

That’s a lot of toxins for you and your dog to deal with.

Not to mention … dogs get more vaccines than any other animal.

Combine this with emotional stress and food additives … and you can bet your dog’s immune system will take a hit.

1. Diet

Kibble is easy and convenient … but there are a lot of problems with these diets.

First of all, kibbles are full of starches and fillers. Dogs don’t need any starch in their diets … and most kibbles are around 50% starchy carbohydrates.

Starchy foods lead to chronic problems like digestive issues, itchy skin or allergies. And because starch converts to sugar, and sugar feeds cancer cells … starchy foods can make your dog more susceptible to cancer.

And then there’s the heat that kills off nutrients. When manufacturers make kibble, the ingredients must bake … at extremely high temperatures. But most vitamins, minerals and other nutrients can’t survive the intense heat.

So … they get added back in after the fact.

To keep costs low, manufacturers use synthetic vitamins and minerals. The problem is that synthetic nutrients aren’t as good for your dog as natural ones.

And that’s because they are only part of the real vitamin.

Let’s take vitamin C for example. Natural vitamin C contains:

  • Ascorbic acid
  • Bioflavonoids
  • Factor K
  • Factor P
  • Tyrosinase
  • Ascorbigen

These all work together to keep your dog healthy.

But synthetic vitamin C is only ascorbic acid. That means your dog doesn’t get all the nutrients he needs to keep his system healthy.

And studies have shown that synthetic vitamins can actually harm your dog.

Guinea pigs are susceptible to vitamin C deficiency. When given real vitamin C they were better protected from pneumococcal infection.

When rabbits are deficient in vitamin B they develop cirrhosis of the liver. Natural sources of vitamin B prevented the disorder. Synthetic didn’t.

Offspring of rats deficient in vitamin D develop rickets. When females had synthetic vitamin D their offspring had skeletal malformations. When given the real vitamin the offspring were normal.

That means his immune system is at even greater risk.

And vitamins are only part of the problem.

Kibble can also contain ingredients that weaken the immune system.

  • Aflatoxins – a mold that contaminates foods like corn, wheat, nuts and legumes.
  • Heterocyclic amines – cancer-causing substances that develop when you cook fish and meat at high temperatures.
  • Acrylamides – a probable carcinogen in vegetable foods cooked at high temperatures.
  • Glyphosate – a herbicide used on crops to kill weeds. It can cause gut problems, brain disorders and cancer.
  • Polybrominated diphenyl ethers – a chemical used in flame retardants. It’s linked to cancer, endocrine disorders and reproductive issues.

To keep your dog’s immune system healthy make sure he gets the nutrients he needs … without the chemicals. Feed fresh, raw whole foods whenever you can.

2. Water

If you give your dog untreated tap water, you introduce toxins to his system.

Many municipalities add chemicals like fluoride to their water. And too much fluoride can cause …

  • Skeletal fluorosis
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Bone cancer
  • Kidney disease
  • Osteosarcoma
  • Hormone disruption

Holistic vets also recommend that you avoid water with chlorine and heavy metals.

To help reduce your dog’s exposure to toxins in water, use spring or filtered water.

3. Cleaners and Chemical Sprays

To help reduce your dog’s (and your!) exposure to cleaners and chemical sprays, start at home.

Look for non-toxic green cleaners. Avoid artificial scents and chemicals like …


Found in hardwood wax as well as oven, window, and stainless steel cleaners.

Irritates your dog’s respiratory system which leads to breathing issues.


Found in scouring powders, mildew removers, toilet cleaners, all purpose cleaners and detergents.

Can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and even seizures and shocks in large amounts.


Found in deodorizers, all-purpose cleaners and many dog toys.

Can cause cancer.

Glycol Ethers

Found in glass, carpets and all-purpose cleaners, liquid soap, and spot removers.

Can damage the liver, nerves, lungs, kidneys and digestive system as well as causing anemia.


Found in hand soap, pet shampoo, plug-in air fresheners and household cleaners. New carpets and furniture are also treated with formaldehyde.

Irritates the skin and eyes and can affect nerve response rate.

1,4 Dioxin

Found in detergents, dryer sheets, cosmetics, paints and varnishes.

Can affect the kidneys and liver, as well as cause cancer.

And remember, your dog lives mostly on the floor so he’s much closer to these toxins than you are! Use natural cleaners in your home. A little baking soda and vinegar go a long way!

When you’re out and about it can be a bit more difficult to avoid chemicals. You have no control over what other people use.

When you can, don’t let your dog lie or walk on surfaces or use items if you don’t know what products are on them. 

Another big problem outside is lawn chemicals and pesticides. These chemicals can cause:

  • Birth defects
  • Nerve damage
  • Cancer

To limit your dog’s exposure to these chemicals …

  • Don’t use them at home in your own yard
  • Don’t let him walk on your neighbor’s grass if it looks perfect! 
  • Avoid parks that use pesticides
  • Don’t let your dog eat grass or play in it unless you know it’s pesticide-free

4. Plastics

Not all plastics are dangerous, but many contain chemicals like phthalates and bisphenol-A.


Phthalates aren't just in cleaners. They're also in packaging and many dog toys. They can easily leach into food and liquids and cause ...

  • Reproductive toxicity
  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Malformation

Bisphenol A (BPA)

BPA can also cause many issues …

  • Brain problems
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Asthma
  • Reproductive disorders

These chemicals are in packaging, food storage bins and food and water bowls.

When you shop, look for products that say BPA Free and use eco-friendly packaging. Better yet, switch to glass and natural fibers when possible.

5. Vaccines

When you vaccinate your dog, it can cause lifelong chronic illness. 

That’s because vaccines force your dog’s body to respond to the virus in the vaccine so he can develop antibodies. This can create a shock to the system … one that it isn’t ready for.

Especially because most vets give vaccines with several viruses all at once. Your dog’s body is built to handle one virus at a time, not 5, 6 or 7. And that overstimulates your dog’s immune system and can set him up for chronic illness.

Many vaccines also contain chemicals like …

  • Mercury
  • Formaldehyde
  • Aluminum

They’re designed to make your dog’s immune response more sensitive to the small amount of virus. It sends your dog’s system into overdrive, so he is more likely to respond to the virus and beat it.

This may sound like a good thing … but it throws everything out of balance and your dog’s immune system gets overwhelmed.

If you want to keep your dog’s immune system strong …

  • Don’t over-vaccinate your dog.
  • Limit the number of viruses he gets in one vaccine.
  • Never vaccinate him when he’s not 100% healthy. Even if he has an upset tummy or a hot spot, that means he’s not healthy!

6. Flea & Tick Products

Commercial flea and tick preventatives are also full of dangerous chemicals.

5 common chemicals are …


In low doses over long periods of time, Fipronil can cause … 

  • Kidney damage
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Liver toxicity
  • Loss of appetite
  • Itching
  • And more


These natural compounds can cause…

  • Insecticide poisoning
  • Life-threatening allergic responses
  • Anemia and tumors


A synthetic version of pyrethrin. It’s linked to at least 1,600 deaths from spot on treatments in 5 years.


Imidacloprid is a neonicotinoid. It’s linked to …

  • Thyroid lesions
  • Liver toxicity
  • Increased cholesterol
  • Organ damage


Amitraz is a potential carcinogen. It can be deadly to dogs if consumed.

To avoid these toxins, use natural flea and tick sprays or make your own at home.

RELATED: There's No Fleas On My Dogs ...

7. Emotional Stress

Like humans, dogs can get stressed. And when your dog stresses, he uses more resources to feed his stress hormones. Things like …

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin B5
  • Zinc

This can leave the immune system without the nutrients it needs. And that means it may not respond the way it should.

Things that may cause your dog stress are when:

  • You move to a new home
  • He meets new people
  • You go for a drive
  • Loud noises such as storms or fireworks
  • He goes to the vet or groomer
  • He is at home alone for a long time  

If your dog is stressing, he may show symptoms like …

  • Destructive behavior
  • Barking or crying
  • Restlessness
  • Excessive licking
  • Aggression
  • Loss of appetite
  • Trembling
  • Excessive panting

If your dog shows any signs of stress, try to find the reason and remove it from his day-to-day.

If that isn’t possible, give him a massage or try flower essences and essential oils to keep him relaxed and his immune system healthy.

Take the time to remove the immune stressors in your dog’s environment. This will keep his immune system strong.

And that means he’ll stay healthier and keep sickness and disease at bay.

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© 2024, Four Leaf Rover - The content on this website is not meant to replace veterinary advice. Please support the hard working holistic vets who make this information possible. To find a holistic or homeopathic vet near you or to find one who will do phone consultations, visit The Academy Of Veterinary Homeopathy.