How does the dog’s immune system work? – my animals

Did you know that animals also have an internal defense mechanism? It fights against pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, protozoa and parasites. So what is this fighting? Of course the dog’s immune system! It works in a similar way to the human immune system.

When their bodies are attacked, the immune system fights against it so that the pathogen does not progress further in the body.

dog's immune system

When dogs are born, they get their first antibodies from special milk produced by their mothers, called colostrums. These antibodies serve to protect the immune system during the first weeks of its life.

What Causes a Dog’s Immune System?

The immune system consists of organs, tissues, cells and small molecules. When all of these work in harmony, they can effectively fight infectious agents.

Lymph Nodes and Lymph Fluid

Lymph is a fluid similar to blood plasma. It transports excess fluid (fluid between all cells in the body), proteins, fats, and white blood cells. Lymph travels through the lymph vessels in the body. Lymph nodes have the task of cleaning lymph fluid and returning it to the circulation.


The spleen is an organ that directly affects the dog’s immune system. Its task is to filter the blood, destroy old blood cells and produce new cells.

Immune Cells

There are various immune cells that help the body’s defense mechanisms. They are all produced in the same place on the body, but they all have a different task. When all these cells work together, the body has the ability to defend itself against diseases.

  • Lymphocytes: These cells produce antibodies, which are small proteins that attach to viruses, infectious agents that enter the body.
  • Macrophages: These cells swallow or absorb the invading microorganism. After doing this, it has the ability to destroy it. They also produce substances that activate other immune system cells to attack the infection.
  • Dendritic Cells: These are similar to macrophages. By swallowing microorganisms and showing a small part on their surface, they help other immune system cells to recognize and destroy it.
  • Neutrophils: These white blood cells are the first to appear at the time of infection, and they are huge.
  • Basophil and Eosinophil: These cells are effective in inflammatory processes, allergic reactions and parasites that enter the body and attack. There are not many of them in the body.

How Does a Dog’s Immune System Work During an Attack?

Like other mammals, the dog’s immune system develops when exposed to pathogens. When the pathogen tries to enter the body, there are barriers that appear to prevent their entry and reproduction. These:

  • Primary Barriers: Skin and mucus secretions.
  • Secondary Barriers: The cells that make up the immune system. It prevents the pathogen from spreading throughout the body after the primary barrier has passed.

Puppies have an innate immunity in the first months of their lives. This is a type of immune system that immediately responds to the invasion of pathogens. However, he does not learn the diseases he encounters and does not remember later.

Cells that form early immunity recognize a number of pathogens and generally respond to any threat to the body. As the dog grows, it is exposed to new microbes and gradually acquired immunity. The immune system registers diseases and microbes that enter the body and becomes more effective when the same pathogen tries to invade the body next time.

dog with vaccine

How is the vaccine for the immune system?

The vaccination is also made on the same principle as mentioned above. The main idea of ​​the vaccine is to “teach” the immune system to fight certain diseases. So how? The vaccine introduces an attenuated version of a specific pathogen to immune cells. This helps the body know how to fight it the next time it meets it.

Getting vaccinated is a very safe way to immunize your dog against serious illnesses such as parvovirus, hepatitis, youth disease and leishmaniasis. It is always a good idea to have your dog when it is a puppy. Getting your dog through a complete vaccination process and getting all the doses of the vaccine strengthens his immune system.

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