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What is Colostrum used for in Dogs and Cats?

Colostrum has been used throughout history for its many beneficial properties. As with many natural medicines it was pushed aside with the advent of western medicine’s emphasis on pharmaceutical medications. However, Colostrum is a natural, whole food “remedy” for your dogs and cats. It is Mother Nature’s perfect pet food being rich in anti-aging, immune, metabolic and other essential nutrients that work synergistically together and are in an easily recognized and utilizable form for your animal’s body to utilize efficiently. Colostrum is a natural super-food and its use makes for your dog or cat makes a very stark contrast when compared with drugs and synthesized vitamins and minerals.

Colostrum has some of the largest amount of documentation of any natural supplement. There are volumes of medical research with more than 25,000 scientific papers to back up its claims. It has documented effectiveness for numerous imbalances and conditions that your pets may experience from diabetes to heart disease to cognitive disorder. Some examples of what Colostrum can be used for in dogs and cats are found below.

Anti Aging

There are 87 anti-aging growth factors in Colostrum that help protect the body against he oxidative stress and degeneration that go along with aging. This is a primary reason why I believe all dogs and cats regardless of age should have their diets supplemented with Colostrum. Of course, pets suffering due to a debilitating condition and our seniors should be the primary rece]ipients of the wonderful healing powers of Colostrum

The components in Colostrum of primary importance in the role of anti-aging benefits include insulin-like growth factors (IGF-l and ll). These help activate cell reproduction, regeneration and repair; improve nutrient uptake, increase bone mass, restore skin elasticity, increase lean muscle and more. In addition, growth hormone, whose production diminishes as our dogs and cats age, helps to regenerate organs and tissue. All of the components described above, and many more not listed, are essential to maintaining a vibrant, youthful animal for as long as possible.

Impaired Immune Function

Colostrum offers powerful immune support to help protect the body against invading pathogens such as bacteria, viruses and fungi. It also helps to maintain efficient white blood cell activity to help ensure cancer cells are efficiently eliminated. A large part of this activity is due to Colostrum’s effect upon the thymus gland which is chiefly responsible for directing the activity of the entire immune system. A balanced thymus gland can translate to a balanced immune system. The substances in Colostrum responsible for this action are:

Immunoglobulins – Antibodies that neutralize pathogens in the lymphatic and circulatory systems.

Lactoferrin – A glycoprotein with antibacterial, antiviral, antiparasitic, catalytic, anti-cancer, anti-allergic and radioprotecting functions and properties.

Proline-Rich Polypeptides (PRP) – Act to establish homeostasis (balance) in the thymus gland (master immune gland) by regulating it when under active.

This action helps to improve immune response when needed by increasing production of T-cells, lymphocytes and other immune cells.

Thymosin – Stimulates activation, development and maintenance of the immune system.

Autoimmune Disease

Autoimmune disease is an inappropriate reaction by the immune system to what would normally be considered harmless substances (antigens) or a dog’s own cells and tissue. Examples of conditions that occur in dogs and cats, in which the immune system is overactive, that may benefit from the use of Colostrum include allergies, asthma, Addison’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

The substances in Colostrum largely responsible for regulating an over-active immune system are the proline-rich polypeptides. As mentioned above PRPs help to restore balance to the thymus gland. Because of this they have the wonderful distinction of being able to reduce the over-production of T-cells, lymphocytes and other immune factors in the same way that they increase them when immune response is impaired. Colostrum also contains substances that act to inhibit allergic reactions. Since many substances released by the body in response to a perceived threat are inflammatory, they are responsible for the allergic responses with which we are familiar. As an added benefit the IGF-1 growth factors found in Colostrum aid in the growth of your pet’s cells thereby helping to repair and regenerate damaged tissue.


Bovine Colostrum can help reduce inflammation due to osteoarthritis, gastrointestinal imbalances and other debilitating conditions related to injury or overuse.

Constituents in Colostrum that play a major role in reducing inflammation include the proline-rich polypepetides that can help regulate the immune system and reduce the over-production of inflammatory substances in the blood stream. Colostrum is also a rich source of MSM, which is a sulfur compound, and a well-established analgesic and anti-inflammatory. Lastly, Colostrum’s rich supply of IGF-1 growth factor helps to support the growth of new tissue as well as repair that which has been damaged. In combing all of these wonderful substances found in Colostrum,  the pet parent has, for their dogs and cats, a wonderful alternative to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). We have seen in many dogs, and even myself personally, the effect of Colostrum in combination with Glucosamine Sulfate. In instances were glucosamine hasn’t worked or its effectiveness has declined, the addition of Colostrum has made a huge difference. From our research it appears that IGF growth factor is important for the utilization of glucosamine and older and debilitated animals secrete less of this important substance. Which makes sense as to why we see Colostrum benefiting dogs and cats greatly as they age.

Intestinal Permeability Caused by NSAIDs

An unfortunate side effect of the use of NSAIDs, to control inflammation and pain in dogs with arthritis or other inflammatory conditions, is gastric ulceration. This is a very good reason why they should only be used for a short time with younger dogs, generally less than ten days, or as a last resort in older pets. This is readily available knowledge but confirmed in the June, 2001 edition of Clinical Science that reported that the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) causes gastrointestinal injury. Research has demonstrated that when NSAIDs are provided along with colostrum the usual gastrointestinal damage is avoided. This benefit is usually attributed to the growth factors found in colostrum that promote the reproduction, regeneration and repair of the cells lining an animal’s digestive tract.

Oral Health

Many Holistic practitioners are now recommending Colostrum instead of, or in addition to, other measures typical of the veterinary industry. This is due to Colostrum’s  antimicrobial immunoglobulins, anti-inflammatory proline-rich polypeptides and IGF-1 growth factors that can help eliminate gum disease and help to repair damaged tissue at the same time. In our business we see numerous pets with gum and teeth issues primarily due to poor diet and the resulting weak immune system. Colostrum taken internally and also then formed into a paste mixed with some filtered water and applied to the gum line has worked wonders for clients' dogs and cats with which we have consulted.

External Application

Colostrum can be applied externally with great success for your pets. It performs very well when applied topically as a paste to virtually any skin problem such as abscesses, hot spots, wounds, or surgical incisions. This is again due to the components found in Colostrum such as lactoferrin that are antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory as well as the growth factors, such as epidermal growth factor, fibroblast growth factor and insulin-like growth factor  (IGF-1) that help maintain healthy skin by replacing damaged tissue and accelerating wound healing.


When considering what Bovine Colostrum can be used for in dogs and cats you may take some of what is supplied above and apply it to the health concern your pet may be experiencing. For instance, if your canine or feline has a heart condition, Colostrum may be of benefit. Studies have shown that the growth factors found in Colostrum can help regenerate heart tissue and reduce cell death and blood vessel degradation that contribute to cardiovascular disease. Plus, there’s more, from diabetes to cancer to leaky gut syndrome, Colostrum has volumes of medical research that support its use for your companion animal with numerous other health challenges they may face over the course of their lives.


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Pitchford, P. (2002). Healing with whole foods: Asian traditions and modern nutrition (3rd ed.). Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.

Puotinen, CJ. (2000). The encyclopedia of natural pet care (2nd ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Keats Publishing.

Dekel, Dr. M. Bovine colostrum, immunity and the aging process. Retrieved from

Minton, Barbara L. New studies continue to reveal the health benefits of colostrum. Retrieved from

About the author

Philip Reich
Philip Reich is a Master Herbalist and co-founder of The Pet Health and Nutrition Center. He specializes in formulating natural, whole food supplements and organic herbal remedies that benefit the health of dogs and cats. The holistic pet health protocols he has developed are followed by clients from all over the world.

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