What Is Bovine Colostrum?

Colostrum is mother’s first milk.  It supplies newborns with their first, most vital nutrition and it helps build a healthy immune system.  More than just vitamins, minerals, proteins and fats, colostrum is a complex biological fluid which helps prime the immune system of the newborn that makes its debut into the world almost entirely without active immunity.  Colostrum contains a surplus of special adaptogenic properties such as antibodies (A, D, E, G, and M), natural antimicrobials, growth factors (including Epithelial Growth Factor, lymphokines, lysozyme, cytokines, trypsin and protease inhibitors), Proline-Rich Polypeptide (a hormone that acts on the thymus gland which stimulates an under-active immune system).  Additionally, colostrum supplies a plethora of immune factors, such as lactoferrin, as well as a whole host of beneficial bacteria, all of which team up together in order to develop and activate the newborn’s immune system, ultimately building a stronger, more robust, healthy infant.  Powdered milk simply cannot replicate these benefits.  But it’s not just newborns that can benefit from colostrum.  Colostrum has successfully treated health conditions in humans for thousands of years and it can help your dog too.  The colostrum that can help your dog doesn’t have to come from a dog; Bovine colostrum (from cows) is easy to find, inexpensive, and the benefits to your dog are immeasurable.

Colostrum has some key components that make up its healing properties.  These components benefit in the following ways:

Immunoglobulins – Colostrum contains immunoglobulins, also called antibodies. The antibodies in colostrum include IgG, IgM and IgA:

  • IgG antibodies give puppies and young animals passive immunity.  This protects them until their own immune system matures.  IgG antibodies can neutralize viruses. In fact, they’re injected into humans to control hepatitis A. IgG antibodies can also fight bacteria and long-standing chronic infections.
  • IgM antibodies are the first antibodies newborns make.  These antibodies activate a component of the immune system called the complement cascade, and that’s an important job.  Some bacteria have evolved to have surfaces that complement proteins can’t bind to.  IgM antibodies can bind to nearly every surface the bacteria will throw at it, and help the complement proteins attach and destroy the invaders.  IgM antibodies are the first line of defense against viruses, too.
  • IgA is another important class of antibodies.  Your dog makes more of these than any other antibody.  IgA antibodies form a lining in the digestive tract.  Their job is to coat bacteria and viruses in the digestive tract so they don’t enter the body.  If dogs don’t have enough IgA antibodies, foreign invaders will constantly escape the digestive tract and cause chronic diarrhea and bowel inflammation.  They can also enter the bloodstream and cause allergy symptoms and chronic inflammation in the organs.  It is critical that dogs have enough IgA stores in their body.

Growth factors – stimulate cell growth, help repair muscle, bone, and connective tissue.  They can also heal the intestinal lining.

Lactoferrin – this protein in colostrum is antiparasitic, antifungal, antiviral, and antimicrobial.  It helps eliminate pathogens that trigger inflammation.  It also has anti-tumor effects.

PRPs– stands for proline-rich peptides.  They regulate the thymus and immune function, stimulating underactive immune systems or moderating overactive ones.  They help the body respond to invaders like microbes, toxins or allergens.

MSM – methylsulfonymethane (often found in joint supplements).  MSM is a micronutrient that supports wound healing.  It can maintain cartilage and manage pain.  MSM is also used in cancer treatments and has proven to reduce breast cancer tumors in some studies.  Additionally, it has helped manage liver and prostate cancers.

Bovine colostrum is one of the best ways to boost your dog’s gut health.  Increasing the amount of immunoglobulin protein sIgA (secretory IgA) levels in the body, this has been linked to the improvement of chronic intestinal problems including IBS, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease and Candidiasis.  It will help to balance the immune system, reduce inflammation in your dog’s intestines, and even repair damage committed by the gut issues previously mentioned.  In this way, colostrum is most popularly and successfully used to treat leaky gut damage (Godhia and Patel 2013), helping to repair the intestinal lining, reestablishing their gut flora and improving overall health.

Bovine colostrum, a raw material for immune milk preparations, can be used to treat or prevent infections of the gastrointestinal tract. Studies have shown that colostrum is the only natural source of two major growth factors, namely, transforming growth factors alpha and beta, and insulin-like growth factors 1 and 2. These growth factors…have multiple regenerative effects that extend to all structural body cells, such as the gut.

Uruakpa et al. (2002). Colostrum and its benefits: a review. Nutrition Research, 22(6): 755-767

Top Benefits Of Colostrum For Dogs


Allergies, often an overactive immune response, are one of the best-known reasons for bovine colostrum use.  The PRPs in colostrum help moderate the responses that are often misdiagnosed as “allergies”.  Bovine colostrum also helps manage inflammation caused by too many carbohydrates/too little meat protein in the dog’s food, which can manifest as red eye staining, itchy feet or ears, excessive odor or “Frito foot”, or inflamed skin rashes – all contributing to general discomfort for your dog.

Leaky Gut (Dysbiosis)

Leaky gut happens when your dog’s gut lining gets damaged and becomes chronically inflamed. Overuse of prescription drugs, improper food choices (often for lengthy periods of time), or other toxins in their environment can cause leaky gut.

In leaky gut, undigested food particles can pass through the intestinal lining and flow unfettered in the bloodstream.  These “bad actors” can present as problems ranging from allergies, to digestive issues, to arthritis.  Lactoferrin, found in colostrum, helps manage inflammation and acts as a prebiotic to “feed” healthy gut bacteria.  This creates a natural defense for your dog’s digestive tract.


One unfortunate side effect of leaky gut is diarrhea.  Whether chronic, acute, or infectious, bovine colostrum calms the dog’s intestines and soothes all types of diarrhea, improving overall fecal quality.

Oral Health

Periodontal disease is a leading veterinary problem in small animal patients. It’s especially prominent in small dogs and often leads to tooth loss, pulled teeth, and sometimes, death.  Most conventional veterinarians recommend “routine” teeth cleaning under anesthesia.  This can be quite risky and many dog owners are understandably reluctant.  Bovine colostrum, in conjunction with an appropriate meat protein-based diet, can dramatically reduce the bacteria that cause gum disease.

Gut Damage due to Chronic Prescription Drugs

Has your dog taken drugs like non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS) or antibiotics for extended periods of time?  Seasonal allergy medications, for example, are intended to be just that – SEASONAL.  All too often, however, dogs that are treated for allergies are left on these drugs non-stop for YEARS, and their systems are left depleted, damaged, and inflamed.  These drugs have many side effects, and can cause permanent damage to your dog’s gut health, including leaky gut.  IF your dog should ever require prescription medications in an emergency, bovine colostrum can significantly boost their immune system for overall health and healing.


As your dog ages, research shows that bovine colostrum can have anti-aging effects on your dog in several surprising ways.  It can help preserve lean muscle mass and bone density in older adults, resulting in better mobility and strength as your dog ages.  Bovine colostrum also improves recovery from exercise and exertion, helping prevent oxidative stress, and studies show it may prevent cognitive degeneration as well.

Autoimmune Disease

Like humans, dogs are suffering more and more from autoimmune disease.  Over-vaccination, leaky gut, and environmental toxins are just some of the factors.  The PRPs in bovine colostrum help regulate an overactive immune system.  Immunoglobulins and also help limit bacteria and viruses.  These viruses can trigger or aggravate autoimmune disorders.  Growth factors can reduce inflammation.


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.


Immunoglobulins in colostrum significantly help support your dog’s immune system.  They also help fight viruses and bacterial infections.  Lactoferrin’s anti-inflammatory effects may also help treat and prevent cancer.  Cytokines in bovine colostrum can help the body fight cancer as they activate special white blood cells that can find and kill cancer cells.

Bovine colostrum contains a special protein called Lactalbumin. Researchers report that Colostrum Lactalbumin can cause apoptosis (death) of cancer cells but leaves the healthy cells to thrive.

Joint Issues And Arthritis

Managing leaky gut and inflammation are a big part of controlling your dog’s joint or arthritis pain.  Growth factors in bovine colostrum can help repair tissue damage. The MSM in bovine colostrum can help manage pain and inflammation. It’s also important for helping maintain cartilage.

Flu Prevention

Bovine colostrum can prevent upper respiratory diseases.  It can also prevent the flu better than vaccination.  In fact, a 2007 study showed that colostrum was “at least 3 times more effective than vaccination.”

Additionally, a 2013 study found that a lactoferrin-whey protein supplement can significantly reduce colds; only 48 of the participants got sick versus 112 in the placebo group.  Patients who did get colds were sick for shorter periods.

If your dog goes to daycare or boarding, giving bovine colostrum could help him avoid flu or kennel cough altogether.

Another study in 2013 showed that dogs’ immune function improved with bovine colostrum. And if he’s vaccinated, the same study suggested bovine colostrum may improve the vaccine response.

Topical Use

Bovine colostrum may be used topically to speed skin repair and wound healing.  The antibacterial effects it possesses can also appreciably improve skin infections.

Mixed into a paste with distilled water, powdered bovine colostrum can be applied to:

skin infections
wounds (including surgical wounds)
insect bites
hot spots
ear infections

Choosing A Good Bovine Colostrum

Bovine colostrum quality varies a lot.  Here are some guidelines to help you choose a high quality supplement.

  • Find colostrum that comes from pasture-raised, rBGH-free cows. rBGH is a genetically engineered growth hormone. Dairies use it to boost milk production. Any genetically engineered product carries potential health risks, maybe even cancer. It’s banned in many countries, including Canada, the EU, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand.
  • Make sure the source of colostrum doesn’t use antibiotics in the cows’ feed. Dairies often use antibiotics to prevent mastitis and other diseases.

At Feed Right Pet Food, Inc. we recommend Four Leaf Rover Bovine Colostrum.  This product is organic, rBHG-free, non-GMO, gluten-free, contains no fillers, hormones, or antibiotics, and is PBA-free.  The beef from which it is derived is grass-fed and pasture-raised on a small dairy in Canada.