What is colostrum used for in Dogs and Cats?

Colostrum is the pre-milk fluid produced by the mammary glands of mammals during the first two to four days after giving birth.

Colostrum has been used throughout history for its many beneficial properties. 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. 

Most supplements use Bovine Colostrum in their formulations. Colostrum has some of the largest amount of documentation of any natural supplement. There are volumes of medical research with several thousand 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. The best part about bovine colostrum is that it is NOT species specific. Some examples of what colostrum can be used for in dogs and cats are found below.

Anti Aging

There are several (87) anti-aging growth factors in colostrum that help protect the body against he oxidative stress and degeneration that go along with aging. Pets suffering due to any debilitating condition and senior pets are the ideal primary recipients to benefit from the healing powers of colostrum

The components in colostrum with anti-aging benefits include insulin-like growth factors (IGF-1 and 2). 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 dogs and cats age, helps to regenerate organs and tissue. All of the above components as well as those not listed help maintaining a vibrant, youthful animal for as long as possible.

Immune Function

Colostrum offers potent 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 boosting immunity are:

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

Lactoferrin: A kind of protein (glycoprotein) with antibacterial, antiviral, anti-parasitic, catalytic, anti-cancer and anti-allergic 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 an animal’s own cells and tissue. Examples of conditions that occur in dogs and cats, in which the immune system is hyperactive, 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 (PRPs). As mentioned above PRPs help to restore balance to the thymus gland. Because of this they have the incredible 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 the 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. Components in colostrum that play a big 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 (Methyl Sulfonyl Methane), 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. It appears that IGF growth factor is important for the utilization of glucosamine and older and debilitated animals secrete less of this substance. Therefore, colostrum benefits 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 pets with arthritis or other inflammatory conditions, is gastric ulceration. This is why they should only be used for a short time. 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

This is due to colostrum’s  antimicrobial immunoglobulins, anti-inflammatory proline-rich polypeptides and IGF-1 growth factors that it can help eliminate gum disease and help to repair damaged tissue at the same time. 

External Application

Colostrum can be applied externally with great success for 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.


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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