Ultimate Dog

By Sara Seitz - Reading Time: 10 minutes
Colostrum for dogs

Unlocking the Benefits of Bovine Colostrum for Dogs: A Comprehensive Guide

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What do allergies, leaky gut, and periodontal disease all have in common? Each of these prevalent issues can be improved dramatically by supplementing with colostrum. Bovine colostrum has the power to help a long list of common doggy issues and support your furry friend's overall health.

In this article, we take a deep dive into the world of bovine colostrum. We’ll look at what this product is, what’s in it that makes it so powerful, and the many benefits colostrum supplementation can provide for your pup.

What Is Colostrum?

Colostrum is a special type of milk produced by all mammals immediately following the birth process. This first milking contains an array of important immune system-modulating compounds, enzymes, growth factors, and nutrients that all mammal babies need to thrive.

Newborn humans and puppies both rely on colostrum to help develop their new immune systems. In cows (aka bovines), colostrum is the sole source of initial acquired immunity. This means that bovine colostrum is loaded with immune-modulating components. 

Colostrum is necessary for the health of mammal babies. It also offers a range of benefits for adult mammals. This is extra true for dogs (and humans) suffering from a dysfunctioning immune system, which is marked by allergies, autoimmune issues, chronic infections, cancer, and digestive problems.

What’s In Colostrum?

Colostrum is loaded with many vital compounds to help nurture babies, establish their immune systems, and help them grow quickly. 

In addition to carbohydrates, fats, and protein, colostrum also contains:

  • Growth factors
  • Antibodies
  • Enzymes (including antioxidant enzymes and those that induce antimicrobial activity)
  • Enzyme inhibitors (which aid in the absorption of immune modulators)
  • Nucleotides and nucleosides (important building blocks for DNA and RNA, energy storage, and signaling pathways)
  • Cytokines (immune system modulators)
  • Lipids (important fatty acid chains)
  • Minerals (calcium, phosphate, sodium, magnesium, and more)
  • Vitamins (A, K, E, C, D, and multiple B vitamins)

Newborn animals are primed to absorb the many compounds present in colostrum. Older animals with mature guts are not as capable of utilizing all these properties. However, colostrum still has a range of benefits for adult dogs and humans alike.

Benefits of Bovine Colostrum for Dogs

Adult dogs can benefit from many of the easily absorbed components of colostrum, including the vitamins, minerals, lipids, and more. Even factors that cannot be absorbed, such as some immune modulators, have been shown to have beneficial effects on the gut and can be used externally to promote wound healing.

Here are some of the most important benefits of bovine colostrum for canine health.

Reduces Allergy Symptoms

Bovine colostrum has profound effects on the gut of animals who ingest it. For dogs who experience symptoms associated with food allergies and intolerances, it can be immensely beneficial. 

Colostrum reduces inflammation in the gut and supports gastrointestinal barrier function. These factors help to heal leaky gut syndrome, a common canine issue that leads to allergy formation and an overactive immune system. Additionally, IgG, an antibody found in colostrum that protects against various pathogens, has been shown to neutralize allergens in the gut, reducing immune inflammation and the symptoms associated with allergies.

The immune-regulating components of colostrum also play an important role in reducing allergy symptoms by reducing overactivity and inflammation throughout the body.

Boosts Immune System Function

The components of colostrum are not just helpful in reducing allergy issues but also in improving immune system function as a whole.

This starts in the gut where IgG and other antimicrobial components actively neutralize viruses and bacteria that have been ingested. This protection extends to other mucus membranes in the body, including the respiratory tract. In fact, studies have shown that IgG from colostrum can prevent gastrointestinal tract and upper respiratory tract infections.

Colostrum has also been found to influence immune activity by reducing inflammation, stimulating repair, and interacting with immune system receptors.

One very specific application for colostrum that has been studied with promising results is as a treatment for Lyme disease. The bacteria that cause this disease form dense biofilms that standard antibiotics struggle to penetrate. Lactoferrin, a protein component of colostrum, has been proven highly effective in destroying the biofilms of bacteria and yeast to help fight infection. Studies have shown that lactoferrin from colostrum is even more effective in treating Lyme disease than standard treatment with doxycycline.

Improves Gut Health

Colostrum’s ability to reduce inflammation, fight infection, and support normal gut lining function all work together to improve gut health in dogs. Colostrum also contains glycosylated proteins, which act as prebiotics to improve the health of the gut microbiome. Oligosaccharides in bovine colostrum have also been found to support the microbiome by stimulating the growth of beneficial bacteria. 

Supports Oral Health

Many of the same factors that improve gut health when supplementing with colostrum also benefit oral health. The antimicrobial and biome-supporting effects can help protect the mouth from disease and infection.

The growth factors in colostrum have also been found to help heal gum pockets and tooth damage. In human studies, colostrum use, both as a dietary supplement and an oral topical, has been shown to decrease pain, inflammation, and candida growth in individuals with dental disease. 

Supports Healthy Joints

One of the biggest contributing factors to arthritis and joint damage in dogs is leaky gut syndrome. By reducing leaky gut issues and lowering inflammation, colostrum can help reduce joint pain and damage. Additionally, the lipids in colostrum can help lubricate joints, while the MSM present serves as an important building block in the production of collagen and glucosamine.

Helps Wounds Heal

Topically, colostrum can be used to aid in wound healing. The anti-inflammatory components play an important role in reducing swelling and stimulating the natural repair phase of wound healing. The antibiotics present in colostrum help reduce the incidence of infection while a multitude of factors expedite healing for a faster recovery. 

Studies have found that colostrum can be effective on various kinds of external wounds, including chronic non-healing wounds.

Fights Cancer

Colostrum has also shown great potential as a natural cancer fighter. Lactoferrin, a glycoprotein found in high concentrations in colostrum, has potent anticancer properties. Treatments containing colostrum-derived lactoferrin were successful in promoting regression in precancerous cervical cells. This same substance has been studied widely for its cancer prevention and treatment applications.

Studies in patients with colorectal cancer have shown that colostrum plays a role in limiting the spread of cancer cells due to the anti-inflammatory and immune-regulating effects of the cytokines it contains. 

Side Effects

Through numerous human and animal studies, bovine colostrum has been found to have relatively few side effects.

The most common issues reported in humans are nausea and gas, but these tend to be less frequent problems in dogs. However, in dogs with milk allergies or sensitivities, colostrum is likely to cause some digestive upset.

Colostrum is not known to have any drug interactions or carry any risks beyond potential allergic reactions. 

Bovine Colostrum Dosage for Dogs

The recommended dose of colostrum varies depending on your pet’s needs and weight.

Some sources recommend giving 1/16th teaspoon per 10 pounds of body weight. However, others recommend giving a larger relative dose for smaller dogs and tapering the dose down for larger dogs. 

For therapeutic use, we recommend:

  • Dogs under 10 pounds – ½ teaspoon
  • Dogs 10 to 40 pounds – 1 teaspoon
  • Dogs 40 to 70 pounds – 1 ½ teaspoons
  • Dogs 70 to 100 pounds – 2 teaspoons

This dose should be given once daily or split into two and given twice a day.

For maintenance use, you can cut the dose by half and give it daily. Or you can give the full dose every other day or only as needed.

Colostrum is most effective if taken on an empty stomach. Mixing the dose with a small amount of broth works well for most dogs. Natural colostrum powder has a slightly cheesy flavor that many dogs enjoy.

If your dog is a picky eater, try mixing their dose with a little wet food. If all else fails, you can always mix it with their food at mealtime and still get many of the benefits.

What to Look for in a Colostrum Supplement

Colostrum supplements for both humans and dogs have become more popular in the last decade. Pure bovine colostrum that includes no added ingredients or sweeteners is safe for use in dogs regardless of who it’s marketed for. 

Whether you’re shopping for colostrum in the human supplement aisle or the pet store, there are a few things you should look for:

  • Look for colostrum from pasture-raised cows. These cows consume natural feed with a wider variety of nutrients. This leads to more nutrient-dense colostrum. 
  • Avoid colostrum from rGBH-treated cows. Many dairy cows are given artificial growth hormones to boost milk production. Just as you want to avoid these growth hormones in your milk and beef, you also want to avoid them in your colostrum.
  • Look for liposomal-coated colostrum. Colostrum powder that has been coated with liposomes has a better absorption rate than traditional colostrum powder.
  • Third-party lab tested. Look for products that are tested by an independent laboratory and have those test results available on their website.
  • Look for ethical products. Colostrum is beneficial for dogs but it is vital for baby cows. Look for supplements that are ethically harvested so that the calf gets the colostrum they need first.

The best colostrum supplements contain only 100% pure colostrum powder. Be aware of any product that uses fillers like whey, as they will not provide nearly as many benefits.

The Last Word on Bovine Colostrum for Dogs

Bovine colostrum offers a long list of benefits for dogs. It is an especially great supplement to add to your dog’s routine if they suffer from allergies. Not only does it reduce allergy symptoms, but it can help heal the gut and modulate the immune system to prevent future allergy issues.

Beyond allergies, colostrum can also be a beneficial supplement for dogs with weakened immune systems, autoimmune disorders, arthritis, periodontal disease, and digestive issues. There is even evidence that colostrum can be beneficial for fighting certain types of cancer.

Best of all, colostrum is well tolerated by dogs as long as they don’t have milk allergies. It carries very few side effects and no known risks, even when given at high doses. Just be sure you find a pure, quality colostrum supplement to get the most benefits out of it.


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Stelwagen, K., Carpenter, E., Haigh, B., Hodgkinson, A., & Wheeler, T. T. (2009). Immune components of bovine colostrum and milk1. Journal of Animal Science/Journal of Animal Science . . . And ASAS Reference Compendium, 87(suppl_13), 3–9. 

Ulfman, L. H., Leusen, J. H. W., Savelkoul, H. F. J., Warner, J. O., & Van Neerven, R. J. J. (2018). Effects of bovine immunoglobulins on immune function, allergy, and infection. Frontiers in Nutrition, 5. 

Sara Seitz

Sara Seitz worked in the pet industry for over a decade. In addition to being a certified dog trainer, Sara gained experience working as the general manager of a dog daycare and boarding facility, as the creator and manager of a pet sitting company, as a groomer, and as a dog behavior evaluator. She also has a bachelors in animal behavior from CSU. Currently, Sara works as a freelance writer specializing in blog, article and content writing.

1 thought on “Unlocking the Benefits of Bovine Colostrum for Dogs: A Comprehensive Guide”

  1. Thank you for this. I know a very good source for colostrum from a nutraceutical company I use…Biotics Research. The product is called Immuno-gG. It’s for human use but you can just adjust dose for weight in animals. I’m starting my dog on it…me too:) She takes Chirp too.

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