In a world full of different supplements, all of which can do a variety of different things when it comes to your pet’s health, it can be incredibly difficult to choose something that offers exactly what your pet needs. Colostrum for dogs is no different. It is one in a sea of many.
Well, that’s a way to start…
But – it is definitely one that should be on your supplement list. Whether your dog is young or old, healthy or dealing with a chronic health condition, colostrum is a highly nutritious, effective treatment for a myriad of conditions. There are many, many reasons to start (or continue) using it.
So, what exactly is colostrum for dogs, where does it come from, and how can it help your pet?
What is Colostrum?
Colostrum is mother’s first milk. It’s produced in the first few days after birth and it provides newborn mammals with all the nutrition they need to thrive in those first few days. In fact, all mammals get it from their mother’s breast milk – including puppies!
Colostrum contains many things that have been proven to be beneficial. In fact, it contains more than 250 beneficial substances, from simple nutritional elements like protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals, to more complex materials like proline-rich polypeptides, methylsulfonymethane (MSM), and growth factors. There are many elements that make up colostrum’s healing properties, but some of the best are immunoglobulins, also known as antibodies.
The antibodies in colostrum include IgG, IgM and IgA.
- IgG – These are critical for the growth and strengthening of the immune system. IgG antibodies can neutralize viruses by fighting bacteria.
- IgM – These are the first antibodies newborns make. The really cool thing about IgM antibodies is that they can bind to almost every bacteria – even those with surfaces that some proteins can’t penetrate and attack.
- IgA – IgA antibodies form a lining in the digestive tract. And since we know that the majority of the immune system lives in the gut, that’s important. IgA antibodies stop bacteria and viruses in the digestive tract before they can enter the body. Your dog makes these on her own, but if she doesn’t have enough, it will be much harder for her body to fight off those foreign pathogens.
In a nutshell, colostrum for dogs provides your animal with so many different bacteria fighting agents it’s like it’s own army recruitment centre!
Are Baby Calves Missing Out?
Now, most supplements out there aren’t from the mammals they’re made for. For example, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a canine-colostrum. Most supplements are made from bovine colostrum. This is because bovine colostrum isn’t species specific, so it’s actually good for dogs, cats, even people.
But because so much of the colostrum we find for our animals comes from cows, a lot of people are concerned that giving a bovine colostrum supplement means that calves are missing out on all this valuable nutrition. That, if we take the colostrum from the mom to give to our dogs, there won’t be enough for those baby moos. And that’s a fair consideration. In order to grow as they should, those newborns need the colostrum, especially in the first few days after birth.
The good news is, momma cows produce way more than enough to feed their newborns and for farmers to collect to use for a supplement.
That said, if you’re concerned, ask. Find out when the colostrum is harvested. Ethical treatment should be a #1 priority for the supplier, and that means allowing the calves to take as much as they need before any is used for supplements.
The Benefits of Colostrum for Dogs
So, why should you be adding colostrum for dogs to your animal’s daily diet?
There are many, many reasons…
Did you know that allergies top the list for vet visits these days? It’s true. So many pups suffer from allergies – whether they’re related to food, environment, a compromised immune system, or a myriad of other causes. The itching and scratching, the sores and hair loss, or the digestive issues caused by allergies, are all painful and frustrating for both dogs and their owners.
Remember those proline-rich polypeptides we mentioned earlier? Well, these hormones help to balance the immune system. If your pet’s immune system is under-active, colostrum encourages it to get back into high gear. And, in the case of allergies, if it’s over-active, it will tell the immune system to chill out. Research shows this helps to decrease hypersensitivity brought on by several different allergens. Thanks to those proline-rich polypeptides, colostrum can significantly reduce and relieve allergy symptoms! Thats one of the reasons it’s becoming such a popular supplement for dogs.
If your pup suffers from joint pain, whether as a result of a condition like hip dysplasia or arthritis or because of an injury, colostrum is good for this too.
The growth factors in colostrum help encourage cell regeneration, which is crucial for healing. It even helps the body better use joint-specific supplements like chondroitin and glucosamine. It can also help reduce the swelling and inflammation caused by soft tissues injuries, which speeds up the healing process and gets your pup back on the road (or trail), faster.
Thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, colostrum for dogs can help improve mobility, strength, and even flexibility. It contains a rich mixture of components that modulate the immune system and repair and regenerate the body’s cells, including the muscles, tendons and ligaments.
Since colostrum is a newborn’s first kickstart for the immune system, and since most of the immune system lives in the gut, it only makes sense that colostrum is a great firmed of the gut. It’s the gut’s first introduction to friendly, bacteria fighting elements, and therefore makes a great addition to the supplement regimen of any dog, healthy or not, to boost the immune system and improve gut health.
It is useful for those pets with leaky gut, as research shows it can restore a leaky gut lining to normal permeability levels, and reduce the movement of toxins and gut microbes into the bloodstream. This can help prevent and manage all types of conditions – from allergies to joint pain to gastrointestinal disorders.
And, research shows it may even help if your pet has recently been on non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which are often prescribed for pain. These drugs can do major damage to the gut, but “Bovine colostrum could provide a novel, inexpensive approach for the prevention and treatment of the injurious effects of NSAIDs on the gut.”
Finally, since oligosaccharides with prebiotic effect are naturally present in colostrum, it can improve the growth of probiotic microorganisms such as lactobacilli and bifidobacteria, in the gut, which increase the health go the gut overall.
Not only is colostrum for dogs a boon when it comes to internal use, it can also be incredibly valuable as a topical.
To start, colostrum has some pretty impressive antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, both of which are essential for preventing infection. Additionally, the growth factors in colostrum, particularly IGF-1 and 2, stimulate the increased production of protein building blocks that start the process of tissue repair and healing. Studies show us that colostrum can help repair the skin, stimulate cell growth, and increase healing, making it ideal for wounds and to treat and prevent skin infections in dogs.
To use it topically, mix it with water, enough to form a thick paste, then apply it to the affected area. It’s good to use on wounds, rashes, skin infections, even ear infections!
When it comes to your pet’s health, there are many things you can add to the routine to help keep things running smoothly. Colostrum for dogs is one such supplement that offers a variety of benefits for dogs of all ages.
The Veterinarious team is made up of pet owners, pet lovers, and pet experts from around the globe! We’ve banded together to create a community of like-minded pet people to give you the latest research and health advice for your beloved beast!