Inflammation & Immunity


The gut contains about 70% of the immune system, so it’s important. Inflammation is the immune system responding to something it does not like. Inflammation can often lead to redness and swelling that you can see but there are also immune reactions you can’t see that can cause damage. Many conditions that are common in dogs are often related to intestinal inflammation.

Calprotectin is a sensitive marker of inflammation of the gut lining. Elevated levels can be responsive to an anti-inflammatory diet, anti-inflammatory supplements, or other treatments. If calprotectin stays high, it can identify more serious conditions. Levels can also be used to monitor treatments. Conditions such as obesity or diabetes can also be associated with higher levels.

  • Normal: <100 mcg/mg No inflammation was noted.
  • Borderline: 100-300 mcg/mg may benefit from testing again in 3-6 months.
  • High: >300 mcg/mg Inflammation has been noted.


Inflammation Marker

Continue with current diet and lifestyle.

  • Possible causes of increased inflammation include poor levels of healthy gut bacteria, toxin exposure, and reactions to diet or lifestyle. In very high levels it may be advisable to contact your veterinary care provider.
  • Consider an anti-inflammatory or prescription dog food. Some research has noted that changing the type of protein in a dog’s diet, for example switching from chicken to salmon, or trying a dog food with hydrolyzed protein may help to reduce inflammation.
  • Consider anti-inflammatory snacks (blueberries, alfalfa, apples (no seeds), carrots, pumpkin, red pepper), or anti-inflammatory targeted supplements such as fish oil.
  • Consider probiotics to support healthy gut bacteria. Look for probiotics with a variety of healthy gut bacteria, referred to as multi-strain.
  • Retest in 3  months to see if your dog has responded to changes.

Secretory IgA

Secretory IgA is the first line of immune defense at the gut lining. It is a marker of intestinal maturity in young dogs and an indicator of intestinal immune protection. Elevated levels may show an immune reaction to inflammation, parasites, or food sensitivities. Low levels of IgA may identify an inability to have an immune response and high levels show that your dog is reacting to something. High levels will return to normal if what they are responding to goes away. Low levels of IgA have been associated with autoimmunity, allergies, and skin conditions.

  • Normal: 90-250 mcg/mg. No excess or impaired immune response.
  • Low: <90 mcg/mg. May have an impaired response, treat and retest in 3-6 months.
  • Bordeline: 250-300 mcg/mg.
  • High: >300 mcg/mg. Identifies a response to something, treat and retest in 3-6 months.


Immune Response

Continue with current diet and lifestyle.

  • Consider a grain-free or hypoallergenic dog food.
  • Consider a probiotic or prebiotic supplement to build good gut bacteria and support IgA response.
  • Consider immune-supporting supplements such as FeraPet Fera Mushroom Immune Support, Thorne Myco-Immune or Standard Process Canine Immune System Support.
  • Minimize anxiety and stress and encourage activity.
  • Consider a grain-free or hypoallergenic dog food.
  • Support with probiotics.
  • Consider testing for parasites, gluten sensitivity, and Leaky Gut Syndrome with our Leaky Gut test.


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