Look anywhere on the web and you’ll find lists as long as your arm touting the benefits of bovine colostrum for dogs. But, is it all hype? Therapeutic studies and recent reports are conflicting. At best, it seems the benefits of bovine colostrum for dogs is anecdotal.
In general terms it appears to be safe, but there are several considerations you should know about. In some situations, bovine colostrum for dogs has related in worsening symptoms.
If you’re anything like me, you will do just about anything to provide relief from your dog’s misery. I completely understand. I still think it’s important to ask ourselves a few questions before jumping on the “cure all” bandwagon. The purpose of this post is to give you some specific questions to ask yourself before administering bovine colostrum to your ailing dog.
“Dr. Internet” Offers Rave Reviews on Bovine Colostrum for Dogs!
Pet stores, e-commerce websites, and department stores carry a variety of bovine colostrum supplements with health benefit claims related to:
- Food allergies
- Disorders of the Gastrointestinal Tract
- Arthritis/Joint Pain
- Improve immune function
- Remove toxins from the body
It’s true the colostrum (the early milk produced for newborn humans or animals) is rich in antibodies and lactoferrin. Lactoferrin is a complex protein also found in saliva, tears, and nasal secretions. Human milk actually has the highest concentration, followed by cow milk. This protein acts as an antibacterial and antimicrobial agent in human infants.
Dr. Stephen Blake, DVM, author of The Pet Whisperer recommends bovine colostrum for dogs for the relief of gastrointestinal conditions like colitis and diarrhea. He also suggest a use for it in canine food allergies. Dr. Blake doesn’t call it a “miracle” supplement, but he also doesn’t discuss real patient reactions. The handful of people I spoke say their dogs had a worsening of diarrhea/allergies after taking bovine colostrum. Their respective veterinarians suggested the reaction could be due to the high protein in the substance and the fact that it hasn’t been mixed with other enzymes.
How is “Dr. Internet” Allowed to Sell Bovine Colostrum as a Supplement?
There is no law against selling colostrum. The law comes into play when marketers use words like “drug”, “directions for use”, and “cures, treats, or promotes health…” In other words, it can be sold as long as it doesn’t make unproven medical claims.
According to the International Milk Genomics Consortium the “bovine version of an abundant protein in breast milk, called lactoferrin, has been authorized for inclusion in infant formula in several countries, but not yet in the United States.”
I can’t testify to the accuracy of the youtube video below, but I have listened to other videos by Dr. Becker and what she says sounds reasonable to me. Have a listen for yourself!
Ask Yourself These Questions Before Administering Bovine Colostrum to Your Dog:
1) Does the supplement make outrageous claims?
If a cure-all, miracle supplement actually existed, I’m sure the medical world and headlining news would be all over it. Be suspicious of any supplement that claims to be a fix for everything.
2) Is the store reputable?
I have a personal rule to only purchase goods online through well-known stores, high-profile stores. Does the website look sloppy or is it full of spelling errors? I use these markers as red flags telling me to move on!
Don’t be swayed by fancy packaging. I am a sucker for shiny things that, at the end of the day, don’t work any better than a less snazzy product.
3) Has my veterinarian approved this particular supplement?
I have a very strict rule about talking to my veterinarian before administering any holistic or “natural” product to my dog. To some people, the word “natural” implies that it is safe. However, grass, pollen, wheat, and dust are all “natural”, yet they still produce uncomfortable allergies in some.
4) Does my dog have other health problems that could be worsened by bovine colostrum for dogs?
Unfortunately, the handful of people I spoke to noted that bovine colostrum actually made diarrhea worse and heightened allergic reactions. It’s possible that underlying health conditions and competing supplements may have caused this. There are no studies (that I could find) to compare side-effects and reactions in dogs taking holistic supplements in combination with prescription therapy. For that reason, you can’t really know how your dog will react if given something like bovine colostrum. I tend to err on the side of caution by administering lesser doses of supplements until I’m comfortable that my dog isn’t suffering ill effects. I highly recommend talking to your veterinarian about this.
5) Does the product have a Drug Identification Number (DIN) on the label?
The DIN is an 8 digit number assigned to a product by the:
- Therapeutic Products Directorate in Canada
- FDA in the United States
- European Medicines Agency in Europe.
I searched the drug databases of the US Health & Drug Administration, Health Canada, and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Addiction but came up empty-handed. For that reason, it’s unlikely the container of colostrum in your hand doesn’t have a DIN number.
It’s Only Bovine Colostrum for Dogs…How Bad Can It Be?
Tested and approved drugs contain valuable information like correct dosages and possible side-effects, including potential interactions between different medications. In order for a product to be marketed as a “drug”, it has to be approved. Anything you give your dog without a DIN number, that is labelled as having medicinal properties, is at your own risk.
I don’t have the authority to give a thumbs up or a thumbs down on this product, but I will suggest talking to your veterinarian about it. Make a quick phone call and ask whether he/she thinks it could help. Not every veterinarian is against homeopathic treatments, but they all have the education and resources backing them up to make an educated decision.