When mammals are born, their mothers produce a special milk that contains colostrum. The main role of colostrum is to jump start the newborn’s immune system and provide vital nutrients …
… but researchers are finding that these immune boosting properties can benefit adult dogs too.
There are well over 1,000 clinical studies on the benefits of colostrum and its been shown to be safe and effective in treating many common disorders. In fact, bovine (or cow) colostrum was commonly used to treat infections and other issues before sulfa drugs and antibiotics were discovered. And it can still be used today as 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 results of this research have been very encouraging, so here’s a handy list of the top 5 reasons to give your dog colostrum.
1. Colostrum And Canine Allergies
Colostrum contains a hormone called Proline-Rich-Polypeptide (PRP). 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, because the overly active immune system can either fail to recognize its own cells from foreign molecules and start attacking its own tissues (autoimmunity) … or will show an exaggerate response to a normally harmless molecule.
According to Staroscik et al, 1983 (Molecular Immunology, Vol. 20, No. 12, pp. 1277-1282), PRP has the same ability to regulate the activity of the immune system as do hormones produced by the thymus gland.
PRP’s ability to reduce allergic symptoms is thought to be partly due to inhibition of the lymphocyte (white blood cell) and T-cell overproduction that’s normally associated with allergies. PRP is also thought to help create special cells (helper T-cells and suppressor T-cells) that can suppress and switch off the immune response. Other studies have shown that PRP is highly anti-inflammatory, which helps not just with allergies, but other inflammatory conditions such as arthritis.
Colostrum can also be effective in helping with one of the primary causes of allergy symptoms, leaky gut.
2. Colostrum And Leaky Gut
Most of the immune system function happens in the gastrointestinal (or GI) tract.
One of the major benefits of colostrum is its ability to control the health of the GI tract and seal the lining so undigested food can’t pass through and cause inflammation and allergy symptoms.
There are several recent studies that show colostrum can help reverse gut irritation and the chronic health issues it can cause including Candida albicans or yeast.
And because colostrum contains probiotics and has anti-biotic activity, it can help restore a healthy gut flora, which is key to healing leaky gut.
3. Colostrum And 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 Lyymphokines) 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 Lactalbumin. 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 (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, which is another substance that fights viruses and bacteria, 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 us to the next point …
4. Colostrum And 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 viruses such as bordetella (kennel cough), parvovirus, Leptospirosis, Lyme disease and more.
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.
5. Colostrum And 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 can be used for:
- Dermatitis and skin infections
- Gingivitis and oral infections
- Ear infections
- Insect bites
- Surgical wounds
To use colostrum topically, mix the powder with distilled or sterile water until it forms a paste and just apply it directly to the infected area.
How Much Colostrum To Feed
You can buy colostrum in either capsules or powders. It’s best to feed it on an empty stomach but you can give it with a small amount of yoghurt or broth (most pets don’t mind the taste of colostrum).
If you buy a pre-made colostrum, follow the instructions on the label for feeding amounts.
Gloria Dodd DVM recommends the following amounts:
- 1/3 teaspoon powdered form/25 lbs body weight twice daily or:
- Small dogs and cats –1 cap twice daily
- Medium to large dogs- 2 caps twice daily
This recommended dosage is for one month minimum, then give colostrum as needed.
Colostrum carries a wide range of health benefits and researchers are looking at its ability to prevent and treat everything from heart disease to leaky gut.
It’s a safe and inexpensive supplement to have on hand to boost your dog’s immune system or even help treat existing health issues.
Researchers are just catching on to the benefits of colostrum, but it’s been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years and it’s a staple for many holistic veterinarians.
I’ll leave you with a couple of quotes from two holistic veterinarians … hopefully colostrum can also help your dog become his healthiest best!
“Today the orthodoxy is in a losing battle with the infective organisms that have the capability of mutating, producing antibiotic resistant strains, and growing at faster numbers than the drugs can kill. It will always be so – this is the genetic code imprinted in the organisms that assure their survival. This is the beauty of Colostrum – the organisms have no time to reproduce. Colostrum’s healing affects are multifaceted. I have become a believer and recommend it in all ill animals and people no matter what the cause, in arthritic, allergic and autoimmune conditions. I have found it has reduced my allergy expressions of migraines and psoriasis since I have been taking 2 capsules 3 xs daily.” ~ Gloria Dodd DVM
“My experience thus far, has shown that a pet’s need for any particular supplement they are on can be reduced or eliminated, once they have been on colostrum. This is probably due to the increase in efficiency in the absorption of substances from the gut, better efficiency of tissue repair from the growth factors, and a healthier immune system from the immunoglobulin and other immune factors provided by the colostrum.” ~ Stephen Blake DVM
Dana Scott is Editor In Chief for Dogs Naturally Magazine. She also breeds Labrador Retrievers under the Fallriver prefix and has been a raw feeding, natural rearing breeder since the 90's. She is an advocate for natural health care for dogs and people and works tirelessly to educate pet owners so they can influence veterinary medicine and change current vaccine, food and preventive health practices. Visit Dana's Labradors at Fallriver Labs