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Benefits of Lactoferrin for Dogs

Lactoferrin is a multi-functional protein that provides a variety of health benefits to both humans and dogs. Here, we'll examine what it is, where it comes from, and how it can play a role in your dog's health. In particular, we will discuss how lactoferrin benefits the canine skeletal system.

What is Lactoferrin?

Benefits of Lactoferrin for Dogs

Lactoferrin is a molecule that is naturally found in the bodies of humans and most mammals. This multi-functional protein, which can be isolated and purified from milk, is most commonly known for its important role as a transport molecule in the body. Lactoferrin has its own receptors in the digestive system; it binds to metals, such as iron, and facilitates absorption across the gastrointestinal tract. 

In the past 30 years, studies have shown lactoferrin’s significant impact on immunity, reproductive health, the skeletal system, and gastrointestinal health (Reference). 

Lactoferrin and Bone Health

Studies have shown that lactoferrin promotes healthy bone turnover in humans, dogs, and all mammals. This metal-binding protein has also been shown to promote bone growth and support bone density (Reference). Scientific studies now document how lactoferrin can boost the activity of the bone-building osteoblasts. Additionally, lactoferrin has been shown to reduce the number of the potentially bone-deteriorating osteoclasts (Reference). Lactoferrin is a metal-binding protein and helps with mineral absorption, so it is beneficial to the bones, which are a mineral bank.

Lactoferrin and Joint Health

Cartilage Production: Cartilage is a flexible connective tissue found in the bodies of dogs, humans and other animals. Cartilage can be found in many areas of the body, including the joints between bones, the rib cage, and the intervertebral discs. Cartilage is composed of specialized cells called chondrocytes. The defining metabolic feature of chondrocytes is their ability to produce cartilage, a two-part composite material composed of a collagen filled with a proteoglycan gel. When the cartilage deteriorates and chondrocytes are not produced fast enough to address the deterioration, this can result in joint pain and other joint-related health issues. Lactoferrin has been researched for its vital role in regulating and modulating chondrocyte metabolism (Reference).

Inflammation: Lactoferrin is also a prominent component of the secondary granules of neutrophils (PMNs) and is released in infected tissues and blood during the inflammatory process (Reference). Ribonuclease-enriched lactoferrin, specifically, has been demonstrated to have a significant impact on controlling inflammatory markers (Reference).

Other Benefits of Lactoferrin

In addition to its important role in canine skeletal health, there are many other health benefits associated with lactoferrin, such as:

- Stimulating the immune system.

- Preventing damage related to aging.

- Promoting healthy bacteria in the intestine.

- Regulating iron metabolism.

- Use as an antioxidant.

Ribonuclease Enriched Lactoferrin (R-ELF)

R-ELF is a combination of two milk derived (lactose free) proteins: angiogenin and lactoferrin. This combination is protected by two U.S patents. In 2007, in Institutional Review Board (IRB) approved placebo-controlled clinical studies in humans, R-ELF demonstrated a statistically significant reduction in bone resorption and increase in osteoblastic bone formation, to restore the balance of bone turnover within a six-month period (Reference). The same year, it also demonstrated a significant impact on reducing joint inflammation. (Reference

Since this time, the impact of R-ELF on canine bone health has also been demonstrated. In over 100 reported veterinarian-supervised clinical cases, radiograph (x-ray) were examined on dogs that were supplemented with R-ELF following orthopedic surgeries. This study indicated that R-ELF supplementation promoted an increase in bone turnover activity and helped support joint comfort. More specific information on this study and the results is accessible only to veterinarians and can be found in our vet portal.

As far as sources for R-ELF, Boneo Canine is the only natural bone and joint supplement for dogs that helps with bone turnover by utilizing this technology. Boneo does not contain glucosamine, chondroitin or MSM, because it operates on a different mechanism. Instead of focusing on lubrication and joint comfort, this all-in-one supplement focuses strengthening the entire skeletal system by promoting bone turnover and supporting the actual structure of the joints. 

Getting Lactoferrin into Your Dog's Diet

It’s never too early or too late to start giving a supplement that will benefit your dog’s bone and joint health. Supplements containing lactoferrin are especially beneficial for puppies who could use some extra support during their awkward growing phases (particularly large breeds), smaller dogs with fragile bones and joints, active and rambunctious dogs who experience aches and pains from over-exertion, and senior dogs who need extra bone and joint support for a good quality of life.

Boneo Canine® Maintenance Formula is an innovative supplement that supports strong bones and healthy joints in dogs. Traditional glucosamine, chondroitin and MSM supplements only support one aspect of your dog's skeletal health-the joints. Boneo Canine® is different...this lactoferrin-based supplement is the first to address the ENTIRE skeletal system-the joints AND the bones. Learn more about this supplement by watching the video below. 

You can read more about lactoferrin on our blog "Lactoferrin for Dog Bone Health." 


Want to know more about this important biologically active molecule? Check out the well-documented research available on Lactoferrin. 

Lactoferrin is a potent regulator of bone cell activity and increases bone formation in vivo (2009)

Lactoferrin promotes bone growth (2004)

Lactoferrin--a novel bone growth factor (2005)

Lactoferrin: a biologically active molecule for bone regeneration (2011)

Lactoferrin and bone; structure-activity relationships (2006)

Lactoferrin: a modulator of immune and inflammatory responses (2005)

Lactoferrin: a Review -Veterinary Research Institute (2008)

This content is written/reviewed by our Clinical Advisory Board for informational purposes only. It should not be viewed as an endorsement for any product or as a substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.