Monday, September 21, 2009

The Immune System

Tell me about my dog's Immune System

Inside your dog's body there are mechanisms designed to defend your dog from millions of bacteria, microbes, viruses, toxins and parasites.

Components of the Immune System
The most obvious part of the immune system is what we can see. For example, your dogs skin and coat is an important part of his immune system. It acts as a primary boundary between germs and your dog's body.  A dog's skin is tough and generally impermeable to bacteria and viruses.  The skin also secretes antibacterial substances - most bacteria and spores that land on the skin die quickly.
Your dog's nose, mouth and eyes are also obvious entry points for germs. Tears and mucus contain an enzyme (lysozyme) that breaks down the cell wall of many bacteria. Saliva is also anti-bacterial. Since the nasal passage and lungs are coated in mucus, many germs not killed immediately are trapped in the mucus and soon swallowed.  Any bacteria or virus that wants to gain entry to the body must first make it past these defenses.
Once inside the body, a germ deals with the immune system at a different level. The major components of the immune system are:
  • Thymus
  • Spleen
  • Lymph system
  • Bone marrow
  • White blood cells
  • Antibodies
  • Complement system
  • Hormones
We will look at these systems in upcoming newsletters