What does a cow’s first milk have to do with improving the health of dogs?
Bovine Colostrum For Dogs?
YES!! According to scientific evidence, colostrum boosts and balances the immune system.
Colostrum is the protein-rich yellowish-fluid produced in lactation by mammals the first 24 hours or so after birth, it is God’s gift and one of nature’s super-foods. Not only is it nutritious, but it contains immune and growth factors, enzymes, proteins, and many other beneficial substances.
The exciting thing about Bovine Colostrum is that research has shown that newborns aren’t the only ones that are helped by colostrum. Bovine colostrum is not species specific, so dogs (and other mammals including humans) can greatly benefit from it. Claims abound for bovine colostrum’s ability to treat allergies, bacterial, or viral infections; autoimmune diseases; digestive problems; and even cancer. But is it all hype?
While it is not a cure all or a magic bullet, it’ is a great, natural, holistic modality to keep in your medicine chest to help animals when they get into trouble and boost the immune system. Many of us have seen dramatic changes for the better in ill animals once given colostrum.
Benefits of Colostrum
Bovine colostrum has a long history as a nutritional supplement, particularly with the Indian Ayurvedic tradition. Interest in colostrum as a nutritional supplement or taken for medical conditions has increased over the last few decades, particularly as technology has improved the ability to process and preserve it.
What has been found is that the cow only supplies colostrum to its young at birth, and there is little placental transfer of antibodies. In contrast, most other newborn mammals get 60% of their antibody protection via the placenta and 40% from the mother’s milk during the first two days after birth, as do many other species. Interestingly enough, bovine colostrum is much richer in antibodies and other immune system enhancers to protect the newborn calf.
Bovine colostrum contains more than 250 beneficial substances, from simple nutritional elements such as protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals, to more complex material such as lactoferrin, transfer factors, growth factors, and immunoglobulins or antibodies.
Bovine colostrum’s intrinsic value is that the ingredients are all together in a nice package. Colostrum is the first product that many animal naturopaths and true holistic veterinarians will reach for when a dog presents with gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea. With a diet change and the addition of colostrum (instead of antibiotics), it has been found that most diarrhea will resolve using colostrum. In addition to resolving the immediate problem, colostrum is believed to actually help heal the intestinal tract and keep it healthy.
Colostrum has been found to be very useful for balancing the immune system to aid immune problems, whether they are caused by an under-active immune system leaving a dog open to infection, or a hyperactive immune system causing autoimmune diseases. The proline-rich polypeptides help balance the thymus gland. The thymus gland is chiefly responsible for directing the activity of the entire immune system, a balanced thymus gland can translate to a balanced immune system.
Colostrum naturally enhances and helps in tissue repair. Problems with joints and connective tissue, such as hip dysplasia, degenerative arthritis, or cruciate ligament issues, have also improved with colostrum supplementation. It appears that joint-related problems, that originally were helped with glucosamine and then declined, improved when they were given colostrum. From research, it appears that IgF, is essential for the utilization of the glucosamine, and without adequate amounts of it, the continued use of glucosamine does not respond. You see, without growth factors, all the chondroitin in the world won’t help, if the body can’t replicate cells, then it can’t heal. The growth factors in colostrum can facilitate the body’s own regenerative processes and even better utilize supplements such as chondroitin and glucosamine.
Bovine colostrum may strengthen the gut and fight infections in the digestive tract.
Both animal and human studies show that bovine colostrum may stimulate the growth of intestinal cells, strengthen the gut wall, and prevent intestinal permeability, a condition that causes particles from your gut to leak to the rest of your body.
Colostrum also really performs very well when applied topically. It can be applied as a paste to virtually any skin problem such as abscesses, hot spots, wounds, or surgical incisions.
It has been found that an animal’s need for any particular supplement they are on can be reduced or eliminated, once they have been on colostrum for several weeks. This is most likely 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.
It is important to give colostrum ample time to work. While some people might see nearly immediate improvement in their dogs (or themselves), this isn’t always the case, particularly with chronic illness. As with any nutritional supplement or natural healing modality, they always work more effeciently when used in a whole health approach –
- Raw, species appropriate diet
- Elimination of toxins
- Putting the laws of health into the animal’s lifestyle
It is recommended when colostrum is given to a pet that is chroniclly ill that you give it regularlly and allow at least one month for every year the dog has been ill to really see an improvement.
Please be aware that all colostrum is not created equal and should be evaluated before use. Research has shown that in order to have the best effect, it should be from a dairy, where there is no use of hormones, antibiotics, nuclear contamination, or pesticides. It should be prepared without freezing and excessive heat. It should be water soluble, and in a powder form.
Pasture-fed herds are the preferred source of colostrum. These herds produce colostrum that contains more beneficial enzymes, which assist in the assimilation of the colostrum, and is a more diversified immune source.
The Whole Dog is proud to carry two of the best and purest Bovine Colostrum currently available.
“Bovine colostrum is biologically transferable to all mammals, including humans.”
–Zoltan Rona, M.D., The American Journal of Natural Medicine, March 1998
Journal of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association – July 1999, Volume 18, Number 2, pp 38-39
Institue of Colostrum Research (ICR)