In all creatures, allergies can be a complicated beast. While we still don’t have a complete idea about what causes them, science has made great strides in treating them. One method found to be particularly effective in treating canine allergies is the use of “Mother’s Milk,” aka colostrum, for dogs.
Colostrum offers many physical benefits to your dog, especially when it comes to treating allergies and their symptoms. Here’s everything you need to know about this nutrient-packed substance used in allergy and health supplements.
What Is “Colostrum?”
Commonly known as “Mother’s First Milk,” colostrum comes from mammary glands and provides high levels of antibodies for natural immune system support. Colostrum is a rich source of amino acids, growth and immune factors, enzymes and proteins that promote growth by aiding in cell renewal.
Highly concentrated, “Mother’s Milk” plays a huge role in the development of the immune system, fighting infection, and reducing inflammation.
Why Is Colostrum Known As “Mother’s First Milk?”
It’s a pretty intuitive moniker. Colostrum is the very first nourishment that a newborn receives before the production of “milk.” Loaded with all the benefits necessary to sustain life, colostrum also contains the all-essential Mother’s antibodies that help protect the helpless newborn from the hazards in the new environment of life. Without Mother’s antibodies to protect the newborn from pathogens, the newborn would be at a greater risk of death.
All that said, it’s not just newborns who can use colostrum. Your adult dog can also benefit greatly from it.
Colostrum contains immunoglobulins (also referred to as 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 and fight bacteria and long-standing chronic infections.
- IgM Antibodies are the first antibodies newborns make. They activate a component of the immune system called the complement cascade. IgM antibodies can easily bind to all kinds of bacteria, helping the complement proteins destroy the harmful invaders.
- IgA Antibodies form a lining in the digestive tract. They work to prevent bacteria and viruses in the digestive tract from entering the body. As a result, if dogs don’t have enough IgA antibodies, foreign cells will escape continuously from the digestive tract, potentially even entering the bloodstream to cause organ inflammation.
Proline-Rich-Polypeptide (PRP) in Mother’s Milk
Notably, colostrum contains a hormone called Proline-Rich-Polypeptide (PRP). This hormone either stimulates an under-active immune system or, in the case of allergies, down-regulates an overactive immune system. An overly active immune system can fail to differentiate its own cells from foreign molecules, attacking its own tissue. PRPs can regulate T-cell production.
Studies have also shown that PRPs reduce inflammation and relieve allergy symptoms.
The Top Benefits Of Colostrum In Dogs
- Allergies: The PRPs in colostrum help moderate an overactive immune response (which causes allergies.) Colostrum also helps manage inflammation that causes rashes, itching, and discomfort for your dog.
- Leaky Gut: The immune system and the GI tract are inextricably linked, and problems with the gut can lead to inflammation and allergy symptoms. Colostrum can help seal the lining so undigested food can’t pass through and cause problems.
- Autoimmune Disease: Since the PRPs in colostrum help regulate an overactive immune system and growth factors decrease inflammation, both of these actions reduce the risk of autoimmune disease in dogs.
- Cancer: Colostrum can enhance the body’s response to cancer by activating white blood cells that can find and destroy the cancer cells.
- Diarrhea: Good for the gut. Studies have shown that colostrum can reduce chronic, acute and even infectious diarrhea.
- Oral Health: Though, of course, it’s no substitute for regular dental care, Mother’s First Milk can reduce the bacteria that cause gum disease.
- Aging: Because colostrum can help preserve lean muscle mass and bone density, it may help give your aging dog better mobility and strength. Colostrum also improves recovery from exercise, helping prevent oxidative stress.
According to holistic veterinarian Stephen Blake, DVM:
“My experience thus far, has shown that a pet’s need for any particular supplement they are on can be reduced or eliminated, once they have been on colostrum. This is probably due to the increase in efficiency in the absorption of substances from the gut, better efficiency of tissue repair from the growth factors, and a healthier immune system from the immunoglobulin and other immune factors provided by the colostrum.”
One thing to be cautious about is giving colostrum to dogs who are allergic to dairy products. Obviously, Colostrum comes from milk, so it may cause a sensitive dog to react. A dog with beef allergies may also be intolerant to dairy, so make sure your dog can tolerate dairy before you give him colostrum. Consult your veterinarian with any questions or concerns.
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