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Canine Superfuel: 10 Benefits of Colostrum Supplement for Dogs

In this article Alison Frost, Canine Nutritionist at ProDog Raw, shares why she loves colostrum as a nutritional supplement for dogs; including the benefits of colostrum, what colostrum is, how it works, and how to find a quality colostrum supplement for your dog.

Alison Frost

Author: Alison Frost

Edited By: Anna Bain

Canine Superfuel: 10 Benefits of Colostrum Supplement for Dogs

As a Canine Nutritionist, it’s my job to advise customers on what’s best for their dogs’ diets. I advocate feeding raw, meat-based diets to most dogs; it’s their natural way of eating, and I’ve seen it change dogs’ lives for the better time and again.

However, there are times when dogs need additional nutrient support, for which I recommend various nutritional supplements. Colostrum is one of my favourites; it offers support for ALL Dogs, some with various health concerns, and has fantastic healing properties. Read on to find out why I recommend colostrum supplements to so many of our customers.

Understanding colostrum

If you’re wondering what colostrum is and how your dog will benefit from it, allow me to explain. Colostrum is the “first milk” that mother mammals produce upon birthing their babies. It’s designed (very cleverly) by nature to contain key nutrients in highly concentrated amounts, which supports and helps build a healthy immune system in their first days of life.

Colostrum supplement for dogs is generally sourced from cows, as bovine colostrum has been found to contain multiple health properties that benefit canine health. The benefits of colostrum include stronger immunity, lower allergies, balanced gut health, healthier muscles and joints, better dental health, and many others. It’s a helpful addition to the diets of growing puppies, senior dogs, dogs on prescription medication, and dogs in general!

A nutrient powerhouse

Bovine colostrum contains immune factors, including the immunoglobulins, or better known as antibodies, IgG, IgM and IgA. It boasts more than 70 growth factors, which support cells and tissues within the body. On top of these, colostrum also contains bioactive proteins, proline-rich peptides (PRP), and prebiotics, which all contribute to the health and wellbeing of dogs in various ways.

Colostrum also contains naturally-occurring methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), which is a micronutrient that heals wounds, relieves pain, strengthens cartilage, and has even been found to reduce the size of tumours. As you can see, this nutrient powerhouse is full of good things!

bovine colostrum supplement for dogs

Top 10 benefits of colostrum for dogs

1. Boosting immunity

Colostrum begins it’s work in the gut, which is where the majority of dogs’ immunity resides. When the canine gut microbiome is out of balance, it can cause their immune systems to behave erratically, reacting defensively to things that they normally wouldn’t.

Thanks to its health-promoting properties, colostrum helps reduce inflammation, calms the immune response, and allows dogs’ immune systems to begin functioning normally. Also, when given at an early age, colostrum helps to build strong, balanced immune systems in puppies, setting them up for a healthy adult life.

2. Digestive health

As all health begins in the gut, it’s important that the digestive system functions optimally. An imbalanced gut microbiome can result in all sorts of discomfort for dogs, including leaky gut, allergies, malabsorption, and more. Much of this can be avoided through a whole food, species-appropriate diet, but some dogs do require additional help in the form of nutritional supplements.

Colostrum contains IgA antibodies, which form a protective lining in the digestive tract, so that bad bacteria and viruses don’t enter the bloodstream. It also acts as a food source for healthy gut bacteria, allowing the “good guys” to outweigh the bacteria that promote the potential for gut health issues. It also helps to soothe irritated gut linings, aiding in their ability to regenerate and restore, thus supporting the natural healing process.

3. Growth and development

Puppies grow at a rapid rate, and require optimal nutritional support throughout their various developmental stages. Receiving the essential nutrients they need to grow and thrive is made possible through balanced gut health, as a healthy gut allows them to absorb and assimilate nutrients more effectively.

By contrast, an imbalanced gut microbiome may prevent puppies from absorbing these much-needed nutrients, resulting in less than ideal growth and development, along with other potential issues down the road.

Colostrum gives puppies their best chance at healthy growth and development by starting them out on the right path nutritionally. Their immune systems, digestive health, and ability to absorb/assimilate nutrients are all strengthened through the use of colostrum in their early lives, boosting their health in numerous ways from the very beginning. This strong start follows them as they grow, resulting in healthier, happier adult dogs.

Discover more about supporting your puppy’s growth and development with a fresh natural diet in our puppy raw feeding guide, and read tips for welcoming your pup home from our canine behaviourist, Caroline Spencer, in our Puppy-Prep guide.

4. Joint and muscle support

Dogs can experience joint and muscle issues for a variety of reasons, with age, malnutrition, and poor exercise recovery being among them. However, inflammation is more often the cause of these issues, which stems from an imbalanced gut and ripples out into dogs’ various systems. Calming this inflammation is possible by infusing the proper nutrients into dogs’ diets, with colostrum being one of the most helpful.

The multiple growth factors, MSM, and other health-promoting properties in colostrum work together to repair cellular and tissue damage, preserve muscle mass and bone density in older dogs, reduce pain and inflammation, and support muscles and joints to return to their optimal state.

5. Anti-inflammatory properties

As I’ve mentioned, colostrum plays a crucial role in calming inflammation throughout dogs’ systems. Since inflammation is responsible for a wide array of health issues including joint and muscle problems, allergy symptoms, skin health concerns and poor gut health, the anti-inflammatory properties of colostrum are particularly helpful. Through calming, balancing, and restoring the gut, inflammatory responses can be corrected, allowing dogs relief from various inflammation-related health issues.

The naturally occurring Lactoferrin in colostrum is largely responsible here: it takes care of any inflammation-causing pathogens including viruses, parasites, and fungi.

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6. Cognitive enhancement

The gut/brain connection is becoming more widely known by the day, with published studies recognising this relationship as an especially important one [1]. Not only do dogs feel better in general when their gut health is balanced, but their cognitive functioning can be boosted as well. Research underscores the impact gut health has on mood, the central nervous system, and mental well being; all previously thought to have been strictly brain-related.

In fact, the gut/brain connection operates in both directions, with the brain and gut effectively sending messages to each other. This helps us to make sense of the cognitive benefits of colostrum, as its properties work to heal and restore the gut lining, decrease inflammation, regulate the immune response, and aid in nutrient absorption. Therefore, the gut can send the correct messages to the brain, allowing it to function optimally as well. This is especially important for our older dogs, where they may start to experience cognitive decline.

7. Allergies/skin issues

Growing numbers of dogs are exhibiting allergy symptoms, resulting from the immune systems response to certain triggers. These triggers can be environmental, food related, or simply a product of an overactive immune system in dogs. Research indicates that allergies can also stem from leaky gut. This occurs when the mucosal lining of the gut is compromised, allowing proteins to pass through and enter the bloodstream [2].

Allergies can manifest in a variety of ways, including digestive upsets, skin health issues, and even behavioural changes. Colostrums’s ability to support the gut’s natural healing process can help to reverse the effects of leaky gut syndrome, stopping proteins from entering the bloodstream and keeping them within the digestive tract where they belong. This allows the immune system to respond more appropriately rather than remaining in a constant, overactive state.

If your dog is experiencing unwanted allergy type symptoms such as excessive itch, my article about How to Help an Itchy Dog may help.

how to help an itchy dog

8. Yeast imbalance

While it’s normal for dogs to carry some yeast within their digestive tracts, overgrowth/imbalance of this microorganism can become a very uncomfortable problem. Yeast thrives on sugar, moisture, and warmth, and multiplies at a rapid rate when it finds its desired living conditions, leaving dogs itchy and miserable. Poor gut health can contribute to yeast imbalance, as can a diet rich in starches, which ultimately break down into sugars.

Thanks to its anti-fungal and gut health-promoting properties, colostrum can be especially helpful in restoring yeast to optimal levels in the body. It not only works internally, but can also be utilised as a topical remedy for relieving the relentless itch that often comes with yeast overgrowth.

Read my article on How to Help Yeast Imbalance for my step-by-step guide on eliminating yeast overgrowth naturally.

9. Stress reduction

Just as cognitive function is closely linked to gut health, the same can be said for stress levels. As the gut/brain connection is responsible for sending/receiving messages back and forth, a healthy gut is much more likely to send calming signals to the brain than an imbalanced one. A clear correlation has been identified between digestive problems and anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders — one of many reasons that balanced gut health is so important [3].

Colostrum’s many healthful properties help to balance good/bad bacteria in the gut, which leads to more balanced brain chemistry. As too many bad bacteria can be responsible for mood issues and their resulting behavioural concerns, promoting good bacteria in the gut can help dogs better regulate their stress, alleviate their anxiety, and allow them to feel happier overall.

10. Dental health

As many dogs suffer from periodontal disease, keeping their dental health in check is paramount. Dental treatments for dogs can be expensive and often require anaesthesia, so prevention and natural treatments are ideal. As unhealthy gut bacteria have the potential for creating this condition in dogs, it makes sense to start at the root when aiming to promote their dental health.

Colostrum’s ability to balance the bacterial load in dogs’ digestive systems is helpful in preventing periodontal disease, as the bad bacteria have less opportunity to cause damage to their gums and teeth. Also, the growth factors in colostrum are helpful in cell and tissue repair, aiding the recovery of dogs’ gums from any damage that may have already been done.

How to find a quality colostrum supplement

Whilst colostrum is a fantastic supplement that I highly recommend, not all products are created equally. Here are some of the criteria I suggest looking for in a quality colostrum nutritional supplement:

Ethically sourced bovine colostrum- the calves come first
Produced from cattle raised naturally; without antibiotics, steroids, or hormones
High concentration of immunoglobulins (I suggest at least 30%, as in ProDog’s Colostrum Supplement) – many other brands have lower amounts
Pure colostrum with no additional ingredients

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Colostrum FAQ's

What does colostrum do for dogs?

Colostrum promotes canine health in a variety of ways, starting at the root of all health: the gut. Immune system health, joint and muscle health, dental health, and gut health are just a few of the benefits of colostrum for dogs.

How much colostrum do I give my dog?

This depends on the strength of the colostrum, as well as your dog’s weight and age. ProDog’s Colostrum Supplement contains 30% IgG, which means your dog’s dosage will be lower.

How long does colostrum last?

Depending on your dog’s dosage, colostrum can last quite a long time. It’s a concentrated supplement that doesn’t require large doses to do its job. That being said, the larger your dog, the faster you’ll run out.



Is too much colostrum bad for dogs?

Colostrum is a very safe supplement, though as with anything, it’s advised to stick to the guidelines. Too much may cause minor digestive issues, but nothing dangerous.

How do I feed my dog colostrum?

Though it can be given with food, colostrum does its best work on an empty stomach. Therefore, we advise giving it at least 30 minutes before a meal.

How much colostrum supplement does a dog need?

This largely depends on the source and quality of the colostrum, as well as the immunoglobulin concentration. ProDog’s Colostrum Supplement is a higher concentration colostrum, meaning you’ll need to use less. Simply adhere to the nutritional guidelines on the container.

Colostrum for dogs: The natural health booster

We all want what’s best for our dogs, and this starts with what we feed them. As a Canine Nutritionist, I’ve seen first hand how the many benefits of colostrum can help dogs become healthier, which is why I recommend it to so many of our customers, and regularly give it to my own dogs.

Many of the issues that affect our dogs are preventable — or at least —correctable with a species-appropriate, whole food diet. For those that need an extra nutritional boost to care for common canine ailments such as allergies, gut health issues, yeast imbalance, and the others reflected in this article, colostrum is my favourite natural option, and benefits almost all dogs.

References

1. Carabotti, M., Scirocco, A., Maselli, M., Severi, C. Apr 2015. The gut/brain axis: interactions between enteric microbiota, central and enteric nervous systems. Annals of Gastroenterology;, 28(2):203-209. PMCID: PMC4367209

2. Julia Henriques, Dogs Naturally Magazine. Dog Allergies: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment. Accessed Dec 2023.

3. Peirce, J., Alvina, K. May 2019. The role of inflammation and the gut microbiome in depression and anxiety. Journal of Neuroscience Research;, 97(10):1223-1241. Doi: 10.1002/jnr.24476

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