There are several autoimmune diseases that dogs, cats or horses may suffer from, including Autoimmune Hemolytic Anema, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Hypothyroidism, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, Pemphigus, Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca, Degenerative Myelopathy, and Immune-Mediated Thrombocytopenia. Depending on the condition and species, you may be able to use herbs, natural dietary support, and lifestyle changes to help manage the autoimmune disease.
Common Natural Treatments of Autoimmune Diseases in Pets
Diet & Digestion: Natural, well-balanced diet that is easy for your pet to digest will reduce stress on their immune system. Avoid processed foods, salt, sugar and saturated fat, and maintain a healthy weight.
Omega-6 and Omega-3 (EPA and DHA) Fatty Acids: Krill, Oily fish (such as sockeye salmon, sardines, trout or anchovies), and Seaweed are all good sources of Omega-3. Omega-6:Omega-3 ratio is often (arguably) recommended at 5:1, based on Atopic Dermatitis studies.
Amino Acids: L-Arginine, L-Ornithine, L-Cysteine, L-Methionine, and L-Lysine have all been identified as helpful in the natural treatment of autoimmune diseases in pets.
Antioxidants: Glutathione, Vitamins A, C, E, along with minerals zinc, manganese and selenium. Foods high in antioxidants include cherries, berries, green tea, seaweed, carrots, spinach & other dark, leafy greens.
Other Nutrients: Quercetin, Bromelain, and Taurine.
Herbs & Neutraceuticals: Yellow Dock, Ginkgo biloba, Astragalus, Wisteria, Bilberry, Cordyceps/Maitake/Reishi/Shiitake Mushrooms, Seaweed, Spirulina, Chlorophyll and Alfalfa have been recommended by experts and holistic veterinarians for treating dogs with autoimmune diseases. We purchase many of our fresh, dried herbs from Starwest Botanicals. Manufactured immunity-boosting supplements are also available for pets, like those found at Entirely Pets.
Essential Oils for Pet Immunity: You can make your own highly diluted essential oil blend and massage a bit into dogs or horses (not for cats). Some oils recommended for boosting immunity include Laurus nobilis, Eucalyptus radiata, Ravensare aromatica, Coriandrum sativum, Cymbopogon martini, and Thymus vulgaris. High quality essential oils are also available at Starwest Botanicals.
Lifestyle: Plenty of rest and regular, moderate exercise (cut back if you have a working animal). Avoid stress, pollutants, chemicals and exposure to viruses or parasites. Stay indoors during extreme weather.
Notes of Caution: Not all of the above recommendations are suitable for all species. All supplements should be cleared with your veterinarian first as they may interact with medications or cause a dangerous immune response (for example, Echinacea should not be taken by pets with an autoimmune disorder).
Have you ever had a pet with an autoimmune disease? Do you have any tips for their natural care? Please share your experience in the comments below.
Angles, J.M. New tools in the fight against autoimmune disease in the dog: the major histocompatibility complex. Research in Veterinary Science. 2002.
Cooksley, Valerie Gennari. Seaweed: Nature’s Secret to Balancing Your Metabolism, Fighting Disease, and Revitalizing Body and Soul. 2007.
Kellon, Eleanor M. V.M.D. Horse Journal Guide to Equine Supplements and Nutraceuticals. 2008.
Tilford, Gregory. Wulff, Mary. Herbs for Pets: The Natural Way to Enhance Your Pet’s Life. 2009.
Bell, Kristen Leigh. Holistic Aromatherapy for Animals: A Comprehensive Guide to the Use of Essential Oils & Hydrosols with Animals. 2002.
Dr. Andrew Jones, DVM. Veterinary Secrets Revealed.
Messonnier, Shawn DVM. Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats: Your A-Z Guide to Over 200 Conditions, Herbs, Vitamins, and Supplements. 2001.
Balch, Phyllis. Prescription for Nutritional Healing. 2010.
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