For more from Dr. Ernie Ward, find him on Facebook or at www.drernieward.com.
Full disclosure: I’m a believer in using nutrition as a healing tool. I take several nutritional supplements, give them to my family, and recommend them to my patients. Because there aren’t as many scientific studies conducted on nutritional supplements, especially in veterinary medicine, I take a lot of flak from my colleagues whenever I espouse trying a different diet, food, or supplement. A new study on cats demonstrates that a popular supplement used to enhance the immune system works.
Massey University’s Institute of Food, Nutrition and Human Health performed the study. If you’re not familiar with Massey University, that’s probably because you’re not from New Zealand. Before you debunk this as coming from an insignificant island south of nowhere, keep in mind the Kiwis gave us the eggbeater, the referee whistle, and the world’s safest no-springs trampoline. And they play a mean game of rugby. You’d better respect the Maori!
Researchers wanted to evaluate the effects of certain dietary supplements on the feline immune system. Because the immune system helps keep our kitties clear of disease and infection, this is kind of a big deal. The study assessed the function of a very important immune cell, the T lymphocytes, when cats were fed diets with or without l-arginine added. Arginine is known to aid in wound healing, kidney function, and maintaining strong immune and hormonal systems. It may also help with heart function and improve blood flow. Arginine is naturally found in red meats, fish, poultry, grains, nuts and seeds. Would adding arginine to a cat’s diet improve its health?
Forty-three cats were studied during a five-week period. One group was fed a plain low-protein (22.7% dry matter (DM) basis); another with the same diet plus yeast-derived nucleotides, salmon oil, or l-arginine, and a final group was fed a commercial high protein diet (53% DM basis) without any additives. The results were surprising only to those thatchose not to believe in the healing power of foods.
The plain diets showed no boost in T lymphocytic function. Cats fed the supplemented diets demonstrated a significant increase in immune function. Cats receiving additional arginine fared best followed by the nucleotide and salmon oil groups. The scientists concluded that “a number of dietary ingredients have the ability to modulate the immune system of healthy cats possibly resulting in a greater ability to fight infection and disease.”
What’s really exciting about studies like this one is the fact that more researchers are seriously, and critically, looking into natural solutions for disease and illness. I readily admit that this study could’ve been conducted more rigorously. It’s extremely easy to dismiss this sort of research, even when published in respected peer-reviewed journals such as Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology. Studies of natural remedies are often poorly funded and typically taken on by a passionate and curious investigator. Kudos to the Kiwis!
If you’re a natural-healing type, I encourage you to discuss arginine supplementation for your cat, especially if it suffers from chronic infections or immunosuppression.1 Dosing is made on a cat-by-cat basis so collaboration with your veterinarian is critical to ensure both safety and efficacy. There are other beneficial supplements that may help your ailing pet in addition to arginine. Keep an open mind, have candid conversations with your vet, and be thankful for New Zealand, even though they’re responsible for the Zorb – that crazy big plastic ball you climb in and roll down a hill in.
1. As always, we advocate discussing all medical advice provided on Our Site with your veterinarian. He or she is the best resource when it comes to decisions about your pet's health.
Pet Wellness Life Stress Scan
Glacier Peak Holistics has been committed to animal health and wellness for over two decades. We create natural remedies for dogs, cats and horses to give your pet a better quality of life without compromise. Our natural herbal formulas are made with 100% organic herbs, always in small batches in our warehouse to ensure quality. We offer only the best for your animals and work with many holistic veterinarians around the US. Give us a call or send us an email to speak with one of our knowledgeable consultants about how we may be able to help your pet feel their very best.
Glacier Peak Holistics offers our Comfort Care System that includes Inflapotion and HerbAprin. Both contain herbs that have been used throughout history for pain, swelling and stiffness. This System also includes our triple antibiotic Mountain Salve for external skin issues, minor wound care and scar reduction. We have run over 40,000 Life Stress Scans and repeatedly show amazing results for dogs and cats with allergy type symptoms. Unlike traditional scientific allergy tests, we use Biofeedback to scan for stressors that cause allergy type symptoms. Some folks have just changed the food, but most have followed up with suggestions for herbal formulations that can help get your pet back into balance. Daily Defense helps keep them healthy with herbs that are known for having the nutritional values that your animal needs everyday. We also add herbs for gentle daily detoxification and immune modulation.
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Study Shows Supplement Improves Feline Immune Function - pets
Immunity & Liver Support oral spray contains a combination of specially selected herbs known for their ability to cleanse and purify the system and improve immune functioning and liver health.
Used as a general tonic to protect against disease, Immunity & Liver Support oral spray is also very effective during convalescence. This natural remedy promotes and speeds up healing to improve recovery after an illness. Immunity & Liver Support will help to keep your pet in peak health and is very effective as a companion remedy along with a range of our other natural remedies.
Specifically, Immunity & Liver Support is an excellent companion to herbal supplement Energy Tonic™, as it supports healthy energy levels and vitality in dogs and cats that appear tired and lethargic. Used together, Immunity & Liver Support and Energy Tonic can help strengthen the immune system and improve liver functioning to detoxify the system, plus put vigor back into your pet’s step naturally!
The formula remains true to the full spectrum method of herbal extraction, ensuring the bioavailability and balance of all the active ingredients contained in the remedy. This manufacturing method also significantly reduces the likelihood of side effects and ensures that all active ingredients are in perfect balance.
All PetAlive products are manufactured in FDA-registered, cGMP-certified facilities under the supervision of an expert team of herbalists, naturopaths, homeopaths and responsible pharmacists.
Why is liver functioning so important for my pet?
The liver is the second largest organ in the body and is often seen as the most important organ. In traditional Chinese medicine, a healthy liver is seen as the most critical element in the body's natural ability to fight disease and function optimally.
Amongst other important functions, the liver is responsible for eliminating and detoxifying the poisons that enter the bloodstream. It also produces bile, which is essential in the breakdown of fats, and is the organ which stores Vitamin A, D, E and K. Liver functioning is also vital to the health of the immune system, which ensures that your pet stays healthy.
Environmental pollution, processed and unhealthy foods, prescription drugs, frequent vaccinations and sedentary lifestyles all contribute to sluggish and diseased livers. The result? Pets with depressed immune systems, constant fatigue, obesity, sluggish livers and digestive systems, allergies, respiratory ailments, unhealthy skin and many other health problems.
A sluggish or diseased liver can seriously compromise your pet's health and increase the chances of systemic illness
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Allen, K. Psychosomatic Medicine, September/October 2002.
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Qureshi, A. Journal of Vascular and Interventional Neurology, January 2009.
University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine: "Hand & Paw."
University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health: "Infants Exposed to Dogs Less Likely to Develop Allergic Diseases."
Reviewed by Amy Flowers, DVM on December 17, 2020
This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE VETERINARY ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional veterinary advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your pet’s health. Never ignore professional veterinary advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think your pet may have a veterinary emergency, immediately call your veterinarian.
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