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It is very clear that colostrum is very good for puppies. But is it also beneficial for adult dogs?

It is very important for newborn pups to drink colostrum from their mother because this first milk that the teats produce contains a lot of valuable substances for their health.

But what if the little ones are not nursed? Can adult dogs also drink colostrum? Read on to find out everything you need to know about this particular milk.

What is colostrum?

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Colostrum is the first milk a female mammal produces for its newborn offspring. As a rule, this milk is thicker and more creamy in color. It contains large amounts of antibodies, as well as vitamins and nutrients. Antibodies are proteins made by the immune system to help fight infection.

Before birth, puppies receive oxygen and nutrients in the womb via the placenta on the uterine lining. The structure of the placenta differs depending on the type of mammal, but in dogs (as in many other pets and farm animals) it is only possible to transfer antibodies from the mother to the fetus to a very limited extent. This means that the antibodies that puppies get from their mother through the colostrum are all the more important. They enable the development of a “passive immunity” that protects the little ones from certain diseases in the first hours of their lives. This is used to bridge the period until the puppy’s immune system begins to produce antibodies against infectious diseases that are triggered by pathogens in the environment. In addition, the puppies should also receive the required vaccinations in their first few weeks of life.

How long after birth should puppies be given colostrum?

Puppies need colostrum directly in the first few hours after birth. This is because the larger antibody proteins can only be absorbed into the bloodstream via the intestinal walls in the first few hours. The ability of the intestine to absorb these substances quickly regresses. There are far more studies on the effects of colostrum on farm animals than on pets. In calves, for example, these show a halving of the ability to absorb antibodies via the intestine within 12 hours. It can be assumed that this process is even faster in puppies.

It is important to distinguish between the natural colostrum produced by the dam and colostrum supplements. Supplements are usually made from colostrum from cows, so they do not create the same passive immunity in the puppy as colostrum from its own mother would. This is because different species of animals produce different antibodies. Still, the puppies will get nutritional benefits from the colostrum supplements if for some reason they cannot get enough colostrum from their mother. Colostrum supplements can also be given to adult dogs.

What are the beneficial effects of colostrum on adult dogs?

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Not too much research is done on the use of colostrum in adult animals. This is because the first milk in nature only serves to support the immune system of newborn puppies. The development of the animals after birth means that adult dogs cannot absorb antibodies through their intestines. It is therefore very unlikely that first milk could boost your immune system. Normally, the antibodies from colostrum are broken down in adult animals in the intestines.

It should also be borne in mind that colostrum contains lactose. This is a sugar that adult dogs cannot digest because they lack a certain enzyme. This means that any dairy product, including cow’s milk and colostrum, can lead to severe digestive disorders. Some colostrum supplements are lactose-free and are sometimes used by breeders for pregnant bitches.

The list below identifies certain conditions under which colostrum or colostrum supplements have the potential to have beneficial effects on a dog’s health. Usually, however, links to human health can be made. In general, there is little research into the benefits of giving colostrum in these specific cases. If you think your pet is suffering from any of the health problems on this list then please see a veterinarian instead of trying home remedies. The course of many of these diseases can be significantly improved if a veterinarian is consulted at an early stage.

The diseases or living conditions concerned are:

  • Chronic indigestion
  • Viral diseases
  • Allergies
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Weight loss
  • Heavy sporting activity
  • Wound healing
  • Cartilage and bone regeneration

Where can I get colostrum and do I need a prescription?

The first milk is naturally produced by a bitch shortly after the birth of her pups. But there are also colostrum supplements that are available without a prescription. If you think your puppy or dog may need colostrum then you should seek advice from a veterinarian about this.

If you are using a colostrum supplement for puppies, you should follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for the frequency and amount of giving the product. It will likely be necessary to feed your pet every few hours.

Does Colostrum Work In Dogs With Anxiety?

If you think your dog is suffering from anxiety, you should seek advice from a canine veterinarian or dog behavior specialist. Natural colostrum contains certain milk proteins that can have a calming effect.

What questions should I ask a veterinarian about colostrum?

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If a bitch has recently given birth to puppies but does not suckle the teats for the first hour or two of their life, you should contact a veterinarian immediately for advice. It is very important that puppies ingest colostrum as soon as possible after they are born. The mother may need to be examined to make sure that it is healthy and that there is no problem producing the colostrum. The puppies may also need to be examined in such a case to rule out that there is a serious reason for their not eating. Call a veterinarian to inquire and discuss whether a home visit is required – and also to find out if you can get a colostrum supplement just to be on the safe side.

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