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. Following are some natural options that you can discuss with your veterinarian.

Natural Treatment of Autoimmune Diseases in Pets
Canine Cutaneous Lupus Erythematosus {Photo: Dr. Alfred Brehm}

Natural Treatment of Autoimmune Diseases in Pets

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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, diluted 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 heavily-diluted essential oil blend and massage a bit into dogs or horses (not for cats). Some oils recommended for boosting immunity include Laurus nobilis, Ravensare aromatica, Coriandrum sativum, and Cymbopogon martini.

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.
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.

You may also be interested in reading:

Pet Arthritis: Holistic Prevention and Natural Treatment


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11 thoughts on “Natural Treatment and Support of Autoimmune Diseases in Pets

  1. Autoimmune diseases can be an uphill battle. It’s hard because they can build up a tolerance for meds and natural remedies. I find it works best if I alternate or at least take them off something for a month every six months or so. It can be done though so don’t lose hope!

  2. We changed it up in January 2011 and never looked back. We’re all so much healthier and rarely have even a cold.

  3. It’s so sad that pets suffer with what may be preventable diseases. Somebody needs to get to the bottom of this epidemic. Thanks for steering people towards the natural pet care approach because I believe western medicine has failed us all and we need to go back to how things were.

  4. A very useful post, thanks. We all need to work together to share information about autoimmune diseases so our pets can have a better quality of life.

  5. I did not realize there were so many different autoimmune diseases that could affect our pets. Thanks for giving the great tips on products to treat our pets with naturally that we can research and discuss with our vets. Our pets are already exposed to many chemicals from many different sources (pet food, vaccinations, environmental, medications, etc.) that it would make sense to try to treat these diseases with products that are as natural as possible.

  6. It’s so sad when the body becomes its own worst enemy. Thanks for these helpful suggestions. My pup is in the early stages of RA.

  7. Another fantastic post, thanks. There’s something wrong somewhere because animals never used to get sick like they do today. Diet, chemicals, I don’t know but something is wrong.

  8. Thank you so much for sharing this infomation with those of us dealing with hypothyroidism or other immune diseases. It’s a constant battle and I need all the weapons you can give me!

  9. I didn’t realize there was so many diseases related to immunity. I think it’s related to vaccinations myself. It’s a tough decision.

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