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 chronic conditions that are common in dogs and cats 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: <10 ug/g – No intestinal inflammation was noted.
- Borderline: 10-30 – ug/g may benefit from testing again in 3-6 months.
- High: >30 ug/g – Inflammation has been noted. If associated with symptoms, seek veterinary evaluation. Retest in 3 months
- Normal: <90 ug/g – No inflammation was noted.
- Borderline: 90-125 ug/g – May benefit from testing again in 3-6 months.
- High: >125 ug/g – Inflammation has been noted. If associated with symptoms, seek veterinary evaluation. Retest in 3 months
Continue with current diet and lifestyle, retest in one year
- 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 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
- Reduce stress, evaluate circadian rhythms of eating, sleeping and exercise
- Set and maintain a regular schedule
- Avoid toxins such as pollutants, pesticides sprays in the house or on lawns
- Consult a veterinarian professional if associated with significant symptoms
- Retest in 3 months to see if your dog has responded to changes
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 secretory 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 ug/g – No excess or impaired immune response
- Low: <90 ug/g – May have an impaired response, treat and retest in 3-6 months
- Borderline: 251-300 ug/g – Continue to monitor, consider treatment options and retest in 3-6 months
- High: >300 ug/g – Identifies a significant reaction. Support, treat and retest in 3-6 months
- Normal: 10-350 ug/g – No excess or impaired immune response
- Low: <10 ug/g – May have an impaired response, treat and retest in 3-6 months
- Borderline: 350- 450 ug/g – Continue to monitor, consider treatment options and retest in 3-6 months
- High: >450 ug/g – Identifies a significant reaction. Support, treat and retest in 3-6 months
Continue with current diet and lifestyle
- Consider a grain-free or hypoallergenic food
- Consider a probiotic or prebiotic supplement to build good gut bacteria which is related to secretory IgA levels. Look for probiotics with a variety of healthy gut bacteria, referred to as multi-strain (ex. Visbiome Pet), spore-forming probiotics or Saccharomyces boulardii
- Consider immune-supporting supplements such as FeraPet Fera Mushroom Immune Support, Thorne Myco-Immune or Standard Process Canine Immune System Support
- Provide overall support of a healthy lifestyle including exercise, reducing stress and treatment of gut inflammation. Some research suggests adding time in nature and with other pets to lower overall stress levels
- Consider a grain-free or hypoallergenic dog food
- Support with probiotics
- Consider testing for parasites, gluten sensitivity and leaky gut
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