Allergy symptoms occur when their immune system overreacts to the presence of a substance (an allergen) that is not normally considered to be of danger to the body. When a dog is hypersensitive to one or more allergens, the body assumes it is being invaded by something nasty and calls up the defense forces to neutralize the offending substance. Unfortunately, the release of histamine during this response produces unwelcome symptoms such as itchy, irritated ears, scooting, itchy feet, hot spots, breathing difficulties, and, in extreme cases, anaphylactic shock and death. Typical allergens include pollen and spores, foods, and flea and insect bites.
Colostrum, the “first milk” produced by mammals immediately after giving birth, contains a myriad of compounds which are involved in supporting the newborn infant’s immune system. They have a role to play in controlling the body’s response to potentially harmful outside invaders; that is, the mechanism that is erroneously invoked in those who have become sensitized to allergens.
Colostrum can be taken as a supplement and can provide a huge range of benefits for dogs of all ages. Bovine colostrum, which comes from cows, is fully compatible for dogs and for other species too. It is an old remedy that was relied upon before the advent of chemical companies churning out chemicals and antibiotics. Gloria Dodd DVM states: “Today the orthodoxy is in a losing battle with the infective organisms that have the capability of mutating, producing antibiotic resistant strains, and growing at faster numbers than the drugs can kill. It will always be so- this is the genetic code imprinted in the organisms that assure their survival. This is the beauty of Colostrum- the organisms have no time to reproduce. Colostrum’s healing affects are multifaceted. I have become a believer and recommend it in all ill animals and people no matter what the cause, in arthritic, allergic and autoimmune conditions. I have found it has reduced my allergy expressions of migraines and psoriasis since I have been taking 2 capsules 3 xs daily.”
Research has identified an ingredient called praline-rich polypeptide (PRP) as one of the main components of colostrum that is responsible for eliminating or improving the symptoms of allergies. It is also thought to be potentially useful for other autoimmune conditions. According to Staroscik et al, 1983 (Molecular Immunology, Vol. 20, No. 12, pp. 1277-1282), PRP has the same ability to regulate activity of the immune system as do hormones produced by the thymus gland. It can stimulate an under-active system into dealing with disease-causing organisms and it can also suppress an over-active system which results from autoimmune disorders and allergic reactions.
PRP’s ability to reduce allergic symptoms is thought to be partly due to inhibition of the lymphocyte (white blood cell) and T-cell overproduction that is normally associated with an allergic reaction. PRP may also assist in the creation of special cells (helper T-cells and suppressor T-cells) which suppress and switch off the immune response. Other studies have shown that PRP is highly anti-inflammatory, which helps to reduce the effects of the histamine that has been released.
Bovine colostrum has also been shown to contain an array of antibodies to common allergens that can affect dogs. These antibodies are built up over time by the cows as they themselves respond to the allergens. When a dog ingests the antibodies via colostrum, they remain on hand to assist in the body’s response to allergen exposure.
Colostrum comes in capsules or in loose powdered form. It is best fed on an empty stomach but can be fed with a small amount of yoghurt or broth. Gloria Dodd DVM recommends the following:
Recommended dosage is for one month minimum, then give as needed.
1/3 teaspoon powdered form/25 # body weight twice daily or:
Small dogs and cats –1 cap twice daily
Medium to large dogs- 2 caps twice daily
For more information on the many uses of bovine colustrum, read this article by Dr. Stephen Blake DVM.