Understanding Chronic Inflammation In Dogs

Unpleasant as it might be, inflammation is a critical part of the body’s immune process.

You get a paper cut, and within minutes you experience pain, redness, and swelling. Not very pleasant. However, you can thank your immune system for mounting the proper response to keep your body safe from harmful bacteria.

Unpleasant as it might be, this physiological response is a critical part of the body’s immune process.

Underneath that red, sore skin is a complex biological reaction keeping you safe and harmful pathogens out of your body.

Understanding Chronic Inflammation In Dogs

Inflammation in dogs

When it comes to inflammation, our pet’s bodies are not much different from our own. Our furry companions experience the same telltale signs of inflammation.

Is your pet’s body sending out an S.O.S?

When the body detects harmful pathogens, the damaged or injured cells in the immediate area send out distress signals that set the inflammatory response into action.

Nearby cells release a series of biochemical signals, known as cytokines. These signals radiate from the site of inflammation and form an important roadmap to allow immune cells (such as macrophages) to locate the site of injury.

Once on the scene, these white blood cells go to work engulfing and destroying the harmful pathogens and eliminating the associated threats.

Acute versus chronic inflammation

Do you know the difference between acute and chronic inflammation?

In acute inflammation—such as our paper cut—the immune system sends out white blood cells to destroy any harmful microbes.

Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is the result of an immune system that has run amok. It continues to send out distress signals even in the absence of any pathogens.

Chronic inflammation is a sign your pet’s immune system is out of control

In chronic inflammation, there is a faulty distress signal causing the body to continue to release cytokines and the immune system to send out white blood cells unnecessarily.

In the absence of any actual pathogens, the white blood cells will start to attack healthy tissue, which then prompts the release of more cytokines. And the cycle continues, wreaking havoc on healthy cells and causing widespread damage to tissue.

Triggers of chronic inflammation

Excess fat and environmental pollution may trigger chronic inflammation

An important potential trigger for chronic inflammation is excess weight.  In the past, scientists regarded fat as an inert tissue that didn’t have any specific biological significance other than to provide insulation and quick energy.

New research suggests that fat plays a larger role than once believed.

In fact, scientists discovered that fat is an active part of the endocrine system and has a direct influence over the release and regulation of hormones.

Environmental pollutants are another potential common cause of chronic inflammation, constantly bombarding the body with harmful substances that may send the immune system into overdrive.

The silent disease

Chronic inflammation: the silent disease that might be hurting your pet from the inside out.

With acute inflammation, it is easy to spot: redness, swelling, heat, and pain. Those are the telltale signs that an acute inflammatory response is underway.

Identifying chronic inflammation, however, can be trickier as there are often no specific symptoms present.

In some cases, chronic inflammation can cause specific diseases, such as arthritis and allergies; however, in many cases, the symptoms of chronic inflammation can be too subtle to detect.

Often, the only way to detect chronic inflammation are in vitro methods to detect the presence of certain proteins.

But while chronic inflammation might not be outwardly apparent, on a cellular level the damage can be severe.

Fighting chronic inflammation

Fighting the invisible killer by strengthening your pet’s immune system.

Since chronic inflammation causes very few outward signs at first, how can we fight it?

The key, it seems, may lie in altering the balance of the immune system. That might include helping regulate the inflammatory response to prevent it from spiraling out of control.

Related articles:
Weather and Dog Arthritis: Effects of Weather on Arthritis and Other Inflammatory Conditions in Dogs

Further reading:
Chronic Inflammation

Categories: Inflammation

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Jana Rade

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience.

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