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Inflammation in Cats and Dogs

6 minute read

Companion animals are not just our pets. They are members of our family, and it’s important as pet parents to ensure their happiness, health, activity and well-being.

Inflammation in cats and dogs is a common factor affecting their well-being, and they are often recognized as sick, unhealthy or unhappy. An appropriate and robust inflammatory response is necessary for fighting off bacteria and pathogens and repairing damaged tissue. Chronic inflammation, however, can have a cascade of negative effects.

What Risks and Costs Are Associated with Chronic Inflammation in Cats and Dogs?

When our dog or cat gets sick, its food intake may decrease while the immune system redirects nutrients normally utilized for growth, reproduction or activity to maintain the inflammatory response. When the inflammatory response persists and becomes chronic, nutrients are diverted away from functions that are needed for skin integrity, maintenance of a shiny, healthy coat, paw pad integrity and to maintain the animal’s energy.

There are also financial costs to managing chronic inflammation in cats and dogs, including veterinary costs, purchasing medicine and shampoos, and buying specialty foods that may help relieve an allergic reaction that may be causing the inflammatory response.

Poor Gut Integrity as a Potential Cause of Chronic Inflammation in Cats and Dogs

When a dog or a cat is suffering from itchiness or irritation of the skin, many pet parents will go in search of products to provide relief from the itching and irritation/redness, but few realize the problem may be rooted in poor gut integrity.

Epithelial tissues lining the gastrointestinal (GI) tract serve as an important barrier to prevent bacteria, pathogens and toxins from passing through the intestinal lining and into the bloodstream. When a breakdown in this epithelial barrier occurs, we see a condition called leaky gut.

Digestive upsets or mild-to-moderate food allergies may also lead to leaky gut, resulting in a loose or runny stool, reflecting damage within the GI tract and causing the immune system to focus there, which then draws immune cells away from their focus on keeping the skin healthy.

Poor gut integrity can also be attributed to psychological stress, like not feeding your dog on their regular schedule or not being home on your regular schedule. Stressful events, both physical and psychological, can cause increases in cortisol (a stress hormone) which signals a reduction in blood flow to the gut reducing motility and immune protection thus increasing the potential for a leaky gut.

As these problems cascade, we may start to see breaks in the skin epithelial tissue resulting in increased shedding, a rough or dull hair coat, development of a bad smell, in addition to chronic or irritating itchiness.

Canine Atopic Dermatitis

Canine Atopic Dermatitis (atopy), an allergenic skin disease, is the second-most common problem in pets, second only to fleas. Unfortunately, atopy can make life uncomfortable for your pet and you, and, in its worst case, can affect your pet’s attitude and overall well-being.

Atopy can be caused by exposure to environmental allergens, like grass, weeds, mold spores, other animals, sawdust, house dust mites, bedding, soaps and shampoos and other environmental irritants similar to humans. However, an allergic response may also result from an internal allergen, like food or medication.

Joint and Skeleton

Inflammation in cats and dogs can also affect the skeletal system. Inflammation can result in damage to bones and joints, dysplasia or nutritional imbalances and may lead to osteochondrosis in dogs and cats, primarily in large-breed dogs and over-weight cats. Another common inflammatory disorder in dogs and cats is hip and elbow dysplasia.

Pain, often associated with bone and joint inflammation, can also lead to lameness, which then causes locomotion problems and reduced mobility. Lameness will also reduce the desire for our pets to get out, walk and maintain personal health.

Paw Pad Integrity

Paw pad integrity is also an issue in companion animals. Chronic inflammation in cats and dogs, even in a joint, can cause release of cytokines that may affect the keratinization process, thus potentially having negative effects on the skin and especially affecting heavily keratinized tissues like the nose, tongue and paw pads. Pet parents will tend to see breaks in the paw pads, causing their pets to lick the wound or crack, which may then become infected. This type of injury often requires veterinary treatment and care, in addition to isolating the root cause of the insult.

Respiratory Infections

Respiratory infections can damage or destroy epithelial lining of the upper respiratory system, allowing pathogens to access the circulatory system and result in systemic infection. When this occurs, it can result in a prolonged inflammatory response requiring significant energy expenditure to activate immune cells (white blood cells) and may result in weight loss, increased sickness, depression, loss of thriftiness and poor animal well-being.

Vaccinations and Medications

Chronic inflammation in cats and dogs can depress immune function and lead to reduced or poor vaccination responses. Pet parents need to make sure their pet’s immune system is as strong as possible through good nutrition and stress management, so they can respond to foreign organisms and routine vaccinations while remaining in optimal health.

The Role of Performance Trace Minerals

Zinpro Performance Minerals® can help manage the effects of chronic inflammation in cats and dogs by ensuring a robust and balanced immune response. They help build healthy first-responder cells, as well as ensuring the pro-inflammatory proteins (cytokines) are in balance with the anti-inflammatory proteins.

Research has shown that ZINPRO® zinc methionine supplementation can be considered an adjunctive treatment for dogs with atopy or skin allergy issues. Dogs that were supplemented with ZINPRO saw a 44% reduction in Canine Atopic Dermatitis Lesion Index (CALDI) score while dogs supplemented with a placebo saw no change. Additionally, 69% of dogs on ciclosporin and 55% on glucocorticoids were able to decrease their medication dose to control atopy by half without incurring an allergy flare. Visual observations of dogs receiving the Zinpro zinc supplement revealed an improvement in skin and coat quality.

Including Zinpro Performance Minerals in your companion animals’ nutritional program can help manage the well-being challenges associated with chronic inflammation in cats and dogs and help your family members remain healthy and happy. 

To learn more about inflammation or about feeding Zinpro Performance Minerals to help manage inflammation contact a Zinpro representative today.