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Top 5 Health Benefits Of Colostrum For Dogs

Bovine colostrum for dogs
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Many dog owners are giving their dogs colostrum to support the immune system and help with allergies and other heath problems. Here are some of the reasons it’s so popular. 

What Is Colostrum?

When mammals are born, their mothers produce a special milk that contains colostrum. Colostrum jumpstarts the newborn’s immune system and provides vital nutrients …and this is why people are finding colostrum to be so valuable for their dogs. Researchers are finding that these immune-boosting properties are some of the greatest benefits of colostrum for your dog.

Colostrum Research

There are well over1,000 clinical studies on the benefits of colostrum. Studies show it’s safe and effective in treating many common disorders. In fact, bovine (or cow) colostrum was commonly used to treat infections and other issues before the discovery of sulfa drugs and antibiotics. And today it can still be a safe and effective antibiotic and probiotic.

But more recent research has focused on two of the more important components of colostrum – growth factors and immune-modulators … and how they can help fight common diseases.

The growth factors in colostrum from cows contribute to health by improving fat burning and building lean muscle mass. It supports renewal of skin, muscle and organs. It also repairs the digestive tract and other organs, and supports the immune system when dealing with allergies, chronic illness, autoimmune conditions and injury.

What Are The Benefits Of Colostrum For Dogs?

The benefits of colostrum are hard to ignore. In humans, it’s shown to help prevent infectious diarrhea, upper airway infection and respiratory tract infection. And those benefits of colostrum apply to dogs too. Here are more ways bovine colostrum can help your dog.

1. Colostrum for Allergies In Dogs

Colostrum contains a hormone called Proline-Rich-Polypeptide (PRP) that influences immune function in dogs. This hormone can either stimulate an under-active immune system or, in the case of allergies, down-regulate an overactive immune system.

This down-regulation is important in autoimmune diseases, including arthritis and allergies. That’s because the overly active immune system can mistake its own cells for foreign molecules. And this means it can start attacking its own tissues (autoimmunity) or show an exaggerated response to a normally harmless molecule.

In 1983, a Polish study found PRP can regulate immune function in the same way that hormones produced by the thymus gland do. The research showed that PRP’s ability to reduce allergic symptoms comes from its ability to inhibit lymphocyte (white blood cell) and T-cell overproduction. These are the cells that overreact in an allergic response.

It’s also thought that PRP can help create special cells (helper T-cells and suppressor T-cells) that can suppress and switch off the immune responses that trigger allergies. Other studies have shown that PRP is highly anti-inflammatory, which helps not just with allergies, but other inflammatory conditions such as arthritis.

Allergies give rise to many issues so it’s been found that colostrum for skin conditions is of great benefit. Colostrum can also be effective in helping with one of the primary causes of allergy symptoms, leaky gut.

2. Colostrum For Leaky Gut

Gastrointestinal disorders (GI) have become too common in dogs … often due to a weakened immune system that can result in allergy-like symptoms, chronic diarrhea and other issues. Most of your dog’s immune system function happens in the gastrointestinal tract.

One of the major benefits of colostrum is its ability to control the health of the GI tract. It can help seal the lining so undigested food can’t pass through and cause inflammation and allergy symptoms.

Several studies show colostrum can help reduce intestinal permeability and reverse gut irritation and the chronic health issues it can cause. That’s because colostrum kills Candida albicans or yeast. And because colostrum contains probiotics and has antibiotic activity, it can help restore a healthy gut flora, which is key to healing leaky gut.

RELATED: Is leaky gut the reason for your dog’s allergies?

3. Colostrum For Cancer

In 1985, Quiet Strides in the War on Cancer was published by Steven Rosenberg. It popularized the use of cytokines to treat cancer and this therapy is still successfully used today. In fact, researchers are looking at the cytokines contained in colostrum (interleukins, interferon, and lymphokines) and their role in treating cancer.

Interferons and Interleukins can enhance the body’s response to cancer by activating special white blood cells that can find and destroy cancer cells. They’re also thought to inhibit the growth of cancer cells and even kill them (apoptosis). In fact, drug manufacturers are trying to genetically engineer and sell the interferon from colostrum at a much higher price.

Colostrum also contains a special protein called actalbumin. Researchers report that colostrum lactalbumin can cause apoptosis (death) of cancer cells while leaving the healthy cells to thrive.

And finally, many cancers are initiated or spread by viruses and colostrum can support the immune system and help fight viruses and infections.

Colostrum contains a large amount of immunoglobin A, D, E, G and M. There are also called IgA, IgD, IgE, IgG and IgM. IgG fights against bacteria and toxin buildup, while IgM destroys bacteria and IgE and IgD fight viruses.

Colostrum also contains lactoferrin. Bovine lactoferrin has antimicrobial factors that fight bacterial and viral infection, is anti-inflammatory and has also been researched for its role in treating and preventing cancer. And the antioxidant phytic acid that’s found in colostrum prevents iron from reaching and feeding cancer cells.

So colostrum can be an important supplement to prevent and treat cancer and the viruses that can cause it. Which leads to the next point.

4. Colostrum For Canine Flu

A 2007 study showed that colostrum was three times more effective than the flu vaccine in preventing the flu. The same immune-boosting properties that help prevent and treat cancer and allergies can also protect your dog from infection diseases. 

Colostrum is passed from the mother to her newborn to protect against viruses so the RPRs found in colostrum can ramp up the immune system and help fight viruses better than regular breast milk.

5. Colostrum For Wound Healing

Colostrum contains growth factors, which help the newborn grow and develop. These same growth factors can stimulate wound healing.

Studies show that when applied externally, colostrum can speed wound healing, skin growth, and cellular repair. And colostrum also contains antibacterial properties, which will prevent and heal infections.

Topically, colostrum uses include:

  • Dermatitis and skin infections
  • Gingivitis and oral infections
  • Ear infections
  • Abscesses
  • Cysts
  • Insect bites
  • Surgical wounds

It’s easy to use colostrum for dogs topically. Mix it with distilled water until it forms a paste. Then you can apply it directly to the infected area.

Bonus Benefit Of Colostrum For Dogs

Colostrum For Lyme Disease

Researchers at the University of New Haven have found another benefit of colostrum. Lactoferrin is a milk protein in colostrum that can help treat Lyme disease. In fact, the study found it was 5% more effective than the antibiotic doxycycline, the conventional way to treat Lyme disease.

Previous studies have shown that B burgdorferi, the bacterium that causes Lyme disease, often appears in biofilm form. Biofilms are structured bacteria communities that can increase B. burgdorferi antibiotic resistance up to 1000 times. That’s why Lyme disease can be so difficult to treat. 

The new UNH study shows that lactoferrin reduced B burdorferi biofilm by 15%. The researchers believe lactoferrin works by absorbing minerals like iron and manganese. B Burgdorferi uses manganese in biofilm for biological processes, so they lose their essential nutrients. 

If your dog has Lyme disease symptoms, colostrum is a safe, low cost supplement to help fight this persistent bacterial infection. 

Bovine Colostrum Supplements For Dogs: What You Need to Know

You can buy bovine colostrum supplements in capsule or as bovine colostrum powder. It’s best to feed it on an empty stomach. Most pets don’t mind the taste of colostrum … but you can give it with a small amount of yogurt or broth if your dog is fussy.

If you buy it pre-made as a dietary supplement, follow the colostrum dosage on the label. If you’re buying a human product you can use this as general colostrum dosing for dogs.

How Much Colostrum Should I Give My Dog?

Daily dose of powdered colostrum for dogs:

  • Dogs up to 10lbs – 1/16th tsp per day
  • 11lbs to 25 lbs – 1/8th tsp per day 
  • 26 lbs to 99 lbs – 1/4 tsp per day
  • 100 lbs and up- 1/2 tsp per day

Daily dose of colostrum capsules for dogs:

  • Small dogs less than 25lbs –1 capsule morning and night
  • 25- 100 lb dogs- 2 capsules morning and night
  • 100 lbs + – 3 capsules morning and night

It’s often recommended to give colostrum for at least one full month. Then give colostrum as needed depending on your dog’s needs.

Colostrum Benefits For Dogs- Dosing Chart

So now you know some of the many benefits of colostrum for dogs … and that research supports its ability to prevent and treat problems from heart disease to leaky gut.

As a bonus, it’s a safe and inexpensive supplement to have on hand. So keep it around to boost your dog’s immune system or to help treat any existing health issues.

References

Krystyna Starościk et al. Immunologically active nonapeptide fragment of a proline-rich polypeptide from ovine colostrum: Amino acid sequence and immunoregulatory properties,
Molecular Immunology, Volume 20, Issue 12,1983

Deo SS, Mistry KJ, Kakade AM, Niphadkar PV. Role played by Th2 type cytokines in IgE mediated allergy and asthmaLung India. 2010;27(2):66-71.

White MV. The role of histamine in allergic diseases. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1990 Oct;86(4 Pt 2):599-605.

Jonasch E, Haluska FG. Interferon in oncological practice: review of interferon biology, clinical applications, and toxicities. Oncologist. 2001;6(1):34-55.

Sutlu T, Alici E. Natural killer cell-based immunotherapy in cancer: current insights and future prospects. J Intern Med. 2009 Aug;266(2):154-81.

John Ellis, DVM, PhD, dip ACVP, dip ACVM. Colostrum – it offers more than passive immunity.  June 8, 2015

Boldogh I, Liebenthal D, Hughes TK, Juelich TL, Georgiades JA, Kruzel ML, Stanton GJ. Modulation of 4HNE-mediated signaling by proline-rich peptides from ovine colostrum. J Mol Neurosci. 2003 Apr;20(2):125-34.

A Håkanssonet al. Apoptosis induced by a human milk protein. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Aug 1995, 92 (17) 8064-8068; 

Ulfman LH, Leusen JHW, Savelkoul HFJ, Warner JO, van Neerven RJJ. Effects of Bovine Immunoglobulins on Immune Function, Allergy, and Infection. Front Nutr. 2018 Jun 22;5:52.

Nakajima A et al. IgA regulates the composition and metabolic function of gut microbiota by promoting symbiosis between bacteria. Journal of Experimental Medicine. 2018;215(8):2019-34.

Martelli A, De Chiara A, Corvo M, Restani P, Fiocchi A. Beef allergy in children with cow’s milk allergy; cow’s milk allergy in children with beef allergy. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2002 Dec;89(6 Suppl 1):38-43.

Dylan Haenel, Eva Sapi PhD. Antimicrobial effects of lactoferrin and cannabidiol on Borrelia burgdorferi. Department of Biology and Environmental Science/ Biotechnology, University of New Haven.

Römling U, Balsalobre C. Biofilm infections, their resilience to therapy and innovative treatment strategies. J Intern Med. 2012 Dec;272(6):541-61.

Di Domenico EG, et al. The Emerging Role of Microbial Biofilm in Lyme Neuroborreliosis. Front Neurol. 2018 Dec 3;9:1048. 

Cesarone MR et al.. Prevention of influenza episodes with colostrum compared with vaccination in healthy and high-risk cardiovascular subjects: the epidemiologic study in San Valentino. Clin Appl Thromb Hemost. 2007 Apr;13(2):130-6.

Kshirsagar AY, Vekariya MA, Gupta V, et al. A comparative study of colostrum dressing versus conventional dressing in deep wounds. J Clin Diagn Res. 2015;9(4):PC01-PC4. doi:10.7860/JCDR/2015/12004.5739

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