Milk is a cocktail of many essential nutrients and benefits us in countless ways, from a healthy brain to strong bones and muscles. Whether you’re a lover of coffee or smoothies, you can have it in many ways, plus it is the perfect sidekick for cake or cookies.
But does it mean we can share this nutritious beverage with our four-legged best friend? If anything, we want to give our pets the best of life. The short answer is: maybe. Ultimately, it depends on your pup’s digestive system.
Keep reading to find out if milk is good or bad for your dog, what types of milk are the exceptions, how to feed your Fido milk, and much more.
Should Dogs Drink Milk?
Many dogs find it difficult to properly digest milk and other dairy products because of insufficient lactase enzymes.
It’s unlikely that offering a small amount of milk would be toxic to your pup, but it should never be ingested in large quantities, and some pups should avoid it altogether. It all comes down to the sugar, lactose, and your furry friend’s ability to digest these nutrients.
Some pups can’t handle milk because of its high sugar and fat content, but they can tolerate other dairy products such as yogurt and cottage cheese which have significantly lower lactose levels.
Is Milk Good for Dogs?
Milk contains a lot of good stuff that is beneficial for your pup, including calcium, proteins, vitamins A, B12, and D. But milk isn’t the best way to offer your pup these nutrients. All the carbohydrates in milk are sugars, and even if Fido can tolerate lactose, he still needs a healthy balanced diet.
Instead, dairy products like cheese and yogurt are more suitable for your dog. They are loaded with good bacteria and are low in sugar because the probiotic bacteria initiates a culturing process that digests the sugar.
Raw vs. Pasteurized Milk. Which is Better for Dogs?
Organic raw milk is a good choice if you’re considering giving your pup milk. Most store-bought milk is pasteurized, and the process uses heat to destroy pathogens while extending the shelf life of the milk. However, lactase enzymes are also destroyed in the process.
Lactase makes it easier for your dog to digest cow’s milk. So, pasteurized milk is more likely to cause health issues for your dog, unlike raw milk, which has lactase making it easier to digest.
Related: What Can Dogs Drink Besides Water
Can Puppies Drink Milk?
Yes, puppies can have milk, unlike older dogs. Puppies have plenty of lactase enzymes to help digest their mother’s milk during nursing. Once the weaning phase is over, their bodies produce less of the lactase enzyme to adjust to their growing nutritional demands.
Although newborn puppies require a lot of milk to grow healthy, it’s undoubtedly not cow’s or goat’s milk. Dog milk can satisfy all the dietary needs of young puppies until they reach the weaning stage. Even when the mother dog is not available, cow’s milk is still inappropriate for puppies as it can upset their delicate digestive system.
Instead, you should seek a foster dog mother to nurse your puppy or use canine milk formula like the Hartz’s Puppy Milk Replacer, a quick mix powder formulated to match a mother dog’s milk. It is rich in calcium, Vitamin A, Magnesium, and linoleic acid.
Can Dogs Drink Cow Milk?
Cow milk is high in proteins, fat, vitamins, and minerals such as calcium, potassium, and phosphorus, but it also contains lactose which is problematic to dogs. The lactose content in cow milk is about 4.8%, which can irritate your dog’s stomach, so keep it to a few tablespoons per serving.
Another issue with feeding your dog cow milk is casein. There are A1 and A2 beta-casein in cow’s milk. A1 casein is difficult for pups to digest and is linked to digestive issues and milk allergy, while A2 is easier to break down and better for your furry friend.
Can Dogs Drink Goat Milk?
Goat milk is higher in nutrients such as calcium and potassium but lower in others like vitamin B12 and folate. The milk contains better probiotic and prebiotic properties than cow’s milk which support your dog’s gut health. Goat milk also contains less lactose (4.2%) than cow’s milk; hence, lactose-intolerant dogs can drink it with less likelihood of an allergic reaction or sensitivity.
Nevertheless, goat milk, like cow milk, should be fed in moderation. Start your dog on a small amount and see if its body can tolerate it before upping the serving.
Can Dogs Drink Lactose-free Milk?
Lactose-free or not, your dog can do without milk. Although some pups can tolerate small amounts of lactose-free milk, it can still cause gastrointestinal upset associated with milk protein allergy.
Instead, you should give Fido fresh, clean water and only opt for lactose-free pet milk if you have to.
Can Dogs Have Yogurt?
Yes, your pup can eat yogurt, but it doesn’t mean they should. Yogurt is high in protein and calcium and is also rich in probiotics which are suitable for the digestive system. However, yogurt has lactose, so most canines will have difficulty digesting it.
If you’re thinking of feeding your dog yogurt, ensure it is plain and unsweetened. Also, opt for yogurt with plenty of live cultures, such as plain, greek-style yogurt – plus it has lower lactose levels than the regular one. Even so, limit servings to a spoonful or two.
Can Dogs Drink Plant-based Milk?
Plant-based milk is made without dairy, so does this mean they are safer than dairy milk? On the contrary, plant-based milk is no better for Fido. Although the milk is not toxic to dogs, it provokes allergies in most dogs, and for the rest, it can cause gastrointestinal upset.
Additionally, the milk is not filling for dogs; instead, it is high in fat and calories leading to unwanted weight gain if consumed often. Also, sweetened varieties can spike your dog’s blood sugar levels, while xylitol, a common artificial sweetener, is toxic to pups.
Can Dogs Drink Almond Milk?
Almond milk is popular plant-based milk, but even though almonds are not toxic to dogs, canines cannot digest them well. Almonds are also high in fat, leading to weight gain and pancreatitis if consumed in high amounts.
But a few tablespoons offered as an occasional treat is fine. Make sure to read its ingredient list to ensure it contains no added sugar or an artificial sweetener like xylitol.
Can Dogs Drink Oat Milk?
Oat milk is another plant-based milk alternative that is safe for dogs to drink as long as you offer it in small amounts, as large volumes can be challenging to digest.
Oat milk is a good lactose substitute for weaning puppies.
Can Dogs Drink Coconut Milk?
Coconut won’t harm your pup as long as you offer it in moderation. Coconut milk is suitable for dogs as it provides a shinier, softer coat and prevents skin irritation. However, coconut oil could cause GI upset and diarrhea when your dog overeats it.
Can Dogs Drink Soy Milk?
Dogs digest soy products very well, so soy milk is good for your dog when fed in moderate amounts. Besides, most dog foods contain soy-based ingredients.
Soy contains proteins known as isoflavones, which reduce human cholesterol and help with dogs’ urinary incontinence.
Can Dogs Drink Cashew Milk?
Cashew milk is easy to digest, high in calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iron, and a good source of vitamin A. It is also lactose-free and lower in fat than cow’s milk.
Be sure to feed your pup the unsweetened version. Also, moderation is vital since cashew milk can trigger allergic reactions in canines with nut allergies.
Can My Dog Have Lactose Intolerance?
Dairy products are one of the causes of food intolerance in canines. Once puppies are past their weaning stage, they start to generate less lactase until they have no more of this enzyme. However, there are exceptions, as some dogs continue to produce lactase even into adulthood. This is why some can consume milk while others cannot.
Many dogs are lactose intolerant, meaning they cannot digest dairy properly. A lactose intolerant dog cannot produce sufficient lactase enzymes to break down milk sugars into easy-to-absorb nutrients. Instead, the undigested sugar molecules flow through the gastrointestinal tract and colon. These sugars absorb water leading to inflammation of the large intestines, loss of water retention, and loose, watery stools- a condition known as colitis in canines.
Even though most pups are lactose intolerant, some find it easier to digest dairy products such as cheese and yogurt. Other dogs will show adverse reactions to all dairy products.
Related: Can Dogs Have Dairy?
Pups have varying degrees of lactose intolerance, ranging from mild distress to severe discomfort. Clinical signs of lactose intolerance include:
- Loose stools
- Abdominal pain
- Flatulence/ constant gas
- Abdominal pain
- Lack of appetite
If your pup consumes too much milk at a go, it can trigger vomiting, tummy upset, and diarrhea in canines that are not lactose intolerant.
Are Dogs Allergic to Milk?
Milk and dairy products are common allergy-triggering foods in dogs. An allergy to dairy or milk can trigger the same response as lactose intolerance, such as vomiting and diarrhea. Other signs of allergy include:
- Skin redness
- Facial swelling
- Ear infection
- Excessive licking of their paws
- Difficulty breathing
Call your vet immediately or rush your pup to the animal clinic if you notice any of these signs. Milk allergy can lead your pup into anaphylactic shock, which is fatal if no immediate treatment is administered.
Is Milk Bad for Dogs?
Milk is high in sugars and fats and isn’t filling, so it may lead to excessive weight gain and diabetes in dogs. Most pups are lactose intolerant, so drinking milk can trigger digestive discomfort.
If your pup is sensitive to dairy but not necessarily lactose intolerant, you can only offer a few tablespoons. But, even in pups who can tolerate sugar and protein, the high-fat content can trigger vomiting, diarrhea, and allergic reactions.
Also, the high calories from the high sugar and fat content can cause obesity or pancreatitis when consumed frequently. Before introducing dairy to your dog’s diet, it’s best to first speak to your vet to be on the safe side.
How Much Milk Can My Dog Have?
Milk is a safe treat for your canine companion as long as it is offered occasionally and in small amounts. A few tablespoons of milk can be a nice treat for your furry friend without the effects of overindulgence.
Feeding your pup an entire bowl of milk in one sitting is a sure path to overall discomfort, including vomiting, diarrhea, and loose stools. Milk is also high in sugars and fats, so it’s not an ideal everyday treat as too much of it can lead to obesity and pancreatitis.
With your vet’s approval, a few sips of this occasional treat won’t cause any harm to your doggo. Limiting your dog’s dairy serving to 10% of their daily calories is good. As for Greek yogurt, 1-2 teaspoons are ideal for a small dog and 2 -3 tablespoons for a large breed.
But if you’re starting your dog on dairy, it is best to offer a lower amount and work up to the recommended quantity if there are no side effects.
How to Safely Feed Your Dog Milk?
Try out these serving suggestions to give your dog a milky dose of dairy. They are fun and exciting, especially if you have a picky canine.
- Use as a food topper: Douse your dog’s kibble with a few tablespoons of milk to add moisture and flavor and encourage your picky dog to eat.
- Frozen treat: Prepare a tasty popsicle for your pup by mixing plain yogurt and peanut butter. Freeze in an ice tray, dish, or puzzle toy and serve as a special treat.
- Treat your dog to a yak chew: Whip up an all-natural dog chew using organic cow milk, yak milk, sea salt, and lime. It will keep your dog occupied and help clean its teeth.
- Re-hydrate freeze-dried kibble: Instead of using water to re-hydrate your pup’s freeze-dried food, you can use milk to boost nutrition.
Recap: Can Dogs Drink Milk?
The occasional lap from your cup or an ice cream cone isn’t a big deal- unless your pup is allergic.
Nonetheless, to prevent gastrointestinal discomfort, you should avoid indulging your furry friend in hefty dairy products and milk servings.
Ideally, no dog naturally drinks milk past his early life, so don’t feel guilty excluding the beverage from your canine’s diet.
As for the calcium and phosphorus, your furry friend can get these essential minerals from their dog food, bones, and rawhide chew toys.