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Why is colostrum important for new pups and kittens?

Updated: Nov 20, 2023


In mammals' colostrum is the first milk a mum produces for her babies, and it is packed full of a rich array of antibodies to provide her young with immunity for several weeks following the birth from all of the pathogens she has come into contact with during her lifetime. This includes those pathogens delivered to her via vaccination. Without this first milk the babies, in this case puppies and/or kittens will have some immunity transferred via the placenta, but the protection afforded them will be greatly reduced. Colostrum is also a rich source of beneficial compounds, growth hormones and nutrients, particularly Vitamin A, which provides much needed support for their little immune systems and gastrointestinal tracts [1].

In addition to the nutritional and immunity aspects, colostrum serves a very functional purpose for the newborns in that it is naturally laxative which aids the newborns to empty their bowels of meconium, the faeces which have built up over the preceding weeks while in-utero. Colostrum is at its richest immediately following the birth with nutrient and antibody levels declining steadily over the following 24+ hours. The youngsters’ ability to absorb colostrum also declines in a similar fashion meaning if they are going to gain any significant benefit from ingesting it, they would ideally do so within the first 6-12 hours of birth [2].


[1] Gollakner, R., 2020. Colostrum. Retrieved November 25th, 2020, from VCA hospitals web site:

[2] Billinghurst, I., 1998. Grow your pups with bones. Bathurst, New South Wales: Warrigal Publishing.

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