Colostrum For Your Canine

What is Colostrum?  If you are a Mother, you are aware that colostrum is the first milk that a mammal produces after giving birth. It is the first food for mammals and all mammals produce it for their offspring.  It is an absolutely amazing food. I remember reading “The Grapes of Wrath” in high school, ( my least favorite book and author, but I digress) at the end, Rose has lost her newborn baby. The story takes place in the 30’s during the dust bowl so people are desperate.  There was a man who was very ill and weak and she convinced him to drink the colostrum she had produced. It is a weird and unsettling ending to the book, but my point is that the colostrum saved the man’s life, at least that is the impression John Steinbeck leaves us with.

But, how is this first milk or pre-milk, especially bovine, good for your dog? Because colostrum is a newborn’s first meal, it is a powerful food, full of nutrients and beneficial factors. After approx: 8 hours in the bovine cow, it is no longer colostrum but is now milk with a new set of nutrients. Bovine colostrum is not species specific and works with dogs and all mammals.  Most of what is in colostrum has yet to be identified. We do know that colostrum’s job is to set up the immune system of the newborn and seal the intestinal wall and are its primary jobs.  It is about 50% protein and contains immunoglobulins. These are antibodies such as IgG, IgM, and IgA. These Components help to fight viruses and regulate the immune system. There are growth factors, such as IGF-1, IGF-2 and Transforming Growth Factors. There is also Lactoferrin, Proline-rich-peptides, (PRP), and Methysulfonylmethane (MSM). For this article, I am focusing on Lactoferrin, PRP and MSM.

Lactoferrin is a protein that is a power house for your dog. It is anti-viral, antimicrobial, anti-fungal, anti-parasitic and anti-tumor. It also helps fight inflammation, which we know is at the root of most chronic and degenerative diseases. These include auto-immune, diabetes, arthritis and cancer. It is also showing to be effective against Lyme Disease. Lactoferrin regulates iron as it is needed by the tissues of the body. Lactoferrin also feeds beneficial bacteria in the gut and helps fight obesity. Leaky gut is a big problem for many dogs today. With a leaky gut, particles of food are able to pass through the gut wall and enter the blood stream causing, autoimmune disease, allergies and arthritis among many other things. Lactoferrin acts as an anti-inflammatory and a prebiotic to feed beneficial bacteria. Another benefit of lactoferrin is it’s ability to fight yeast infections. These are problematic and difficult to treat infections. We see a lot of yeasty ears in dogs today.

“Many dogs suffer with red eye staining, itching, skin/ear odor, and discomfort from yeast.  This yeast can result from far too many dietary-based carbohydrates in the dog’s system.  Fillers such as sweet potato, white potato, rice, legumes (green beans, lentils, garbanzo beans or chickpeas, peas, pea protein), tomato pumice or other fillers used to over-inflate foods with non-meat-based protein sources can cause systemic inflammation in dogs, manifesting as these yeast plumes.  Lactoferrin and its peptides have strong antifungal activity.  Lactoferrin plus bovine colostrum’s immune-boosting properties can help fight your dog’s chronic yeast infection.” [1]

B lymphocytes are the cells of the immune system that make antibodies to invade pathogens like viruses. They form memory cells that remember the same pathogen for faster antibody production in future infections. Image from Wikipedia. 

Proline Rich Polypeptides, PRP’s for short also known as Clostrinin, is another component of colostrum. These are hormones or hormone-like substances that appear to help regulate some functions of the thymus gland. It is a powerful immune and inflammatory regulator. This means that it can upregulate a sluggish immune system or bring an overactive or hyper stimulated immune system, such as we see in auto- immune diseases, back into balance. Immune balance is the key to your dog’s health. But how does regulating the thymus gland help your dog’s immune system? Just as in humans, dogs are born with a large thymus, but as they age it becomes smaller and smaller until there is barely a sliver left by the time they reach their older years. The thymus regulates the immune system and making sure it does not turn against itself as in the case of autoimmune disease.  Lymphocytes, known as T-cells, mature in the thymus and are released into the bloodstream. Three of them are Killer T-cells, Helper T-cells and Memory T-cells. Killer cells destroy invading organisms, Helpers regulate the immune system and then there are Memory T-cells. There has been a lot of chatter lately about “antibodies” and how they fight off a disease that your dog (or you) has been exposed to, and/or recovered from, for the lifetime of your dog. The body will have a memory for that virus and produce antibodies if it encounters it again. Memory cells are what remembers the virus and sends in the troops ie: antibodies. The PRP’s in Colostrum are known to be able to restore the thymus to its youthful potential. 

Colostrum is one of the most potent sources of Methysulfonylmethane or MSM. which relieves pain, aids in healing of scar tissue, deters parasites, supports liver detoxification and helps elimination of mercury, among its many functions. MSM, or organic sulfur, is considered the number 3 mineral in the body. A while back I injured the cartilage in my knee. It was very painful, and the doctor had me taking MSM. It is the worst tasting stuff I have ever had to choke down. As soon as I could I started taking colostrum. They said my knee would take 2 years to completely heal. It took less than 18 months. MSM is also one of the ingredients in joint support formulas. Older dogs and dogs with arthritis and other joint problems can benefit greatly from the MSM in colostrum. And trust me, it tastes a lot better than any MSM supplement powder.

I have been giving my dogs colostrum for a quite a while now and most people remark on how young they look even though they are both senior dogs. I hope you consider supplementing your dog with this amazing super food. We all want our beloved dogs to be here as long as possible. I believe colostrum is one arrow in our quiver of resources to make that happen.

A good article on the benefits of colostrum for your dog.

The Benefits of Bovine Colostrum for your Dog – Feed Right Pet Food



Memory B cell – Wikipedia

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Joy Eriksen CSAN

Certified Small Animal Naturopath

My name is Joy Eriksen and I am a Certified Small Animal Naturopath. My passion is helping people with their companion animals. Keeping them healthy and vibrant for a long and happy life.

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