Can Dogs Drink Milk? Can I Give My Dog Milk Alternatives Like Soy Or Coconut Milk? What About Puppy Milk?
Is it safe to give your dog milk to drink? It sounds like a simple question, but the answer depends on both the individual dog and the specific kind of milk you’re talking about.
What type of beverage comes to mind when you hear the word milk?
While most people think of cow’s milk, there are other dairy and non-dairy milks too.
In this article, we’ll look at the pros and cons of giving dogs and puppies all kinds of milks to drink.
So you can make an informed decision when you ask the questions “Can dogs have milk?” and “Can puppies drink milk?”
Let’s start with the most common question – Can dogs drink cows milk!
Can dogs drink milk?
Cows milk is the most common type of milk that people drink, and therefore the most likely to give to their dogs.
But can dogs drink cows milk?
The short answer is yes, milk from cows is OK for dog on rare occasions in small quantities.
However, pet nutrition experts warn that some dogs do have difficulty digesting lactose, a natural sugar found in dairy products, which can cause digestive problems in not only dogs, but also cats…and humans, too.
If your dog has an intolerance, or even an allergy, to dairy products, then traditional cow’s milk might not be the best choice for your dog. How do you know if your dog has problems digesting milk? Let’s find out…
Is milk bad for dogs?
Just like people, some dogs can develop an intolerance or an allergy to certain ingredients in food.
Dairy products that contain lactose can be a prime source of trouble (as can certain meats and grains) in some dogs.
A food intolerance is a gastrointestinal sensitivity to a component of your dog’s food. A true food allergy is a system-wide reaction to a protein in your dog’s food.
Veterinarians note that pet owners often use the words “allergy” and “intolerance” interchangeably.
A good rule of thumb when monitoring symptoms in your dog is to understand that allergies will generally cause red, itchy skin and intolerances will show up mostly in the digestive system.
Look for loose stools after your dog drinks milk.
Is milk good for dogs?
If dogs show no signs or symptoms of lactose intolerance, then can dogs have milk?
Milk is a good source of nutrients like protein and calcium, as well as important vitamins like D and B12. But your dog gets these from his regular food anyway.
Veterinary nutritionists say that moderation is key when it comes to dogs and milk. Adult dogs should drink plenty of water, and can be given milk in small quantities as an occasional treat.
Milk has a lot of fat and sugar. Large amounts of fat in the diet can lead to obesity as well as more serious health issues like pancreatitis.
What happens if a dog drinks milk?
Dogs that can tolerate lactose should have no problems drinking small amounts of milk as an occasional treat.
If your dog cannot properly digest lactose, even a small taste of cow’s milk can contain more lactose than your dog’s digestive system can handle.
Pet nutrition experts report that there is more lactose in cow’s milk than in dog’s milk, which is why the delicate digestive systems of puppies can be especially sensitive.
You will know if your dog is lactose intolerant if you see loose stools whenever your dog consumes milk. Other symptoms may include gas, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting.
A few tablespoons of milk will produce a reaction in affected dogs, but even non-affected dogs may show gastric distress when given a large bowl of milk.
Goat’s milk for dogs
We’ve talked about cow’s milk, but what about other kinds of milk? Can dogs drink goat’s milk? What about raw goat’s milk for dogs?
With the increasing popularity of goat’s milk as an alternative to cow’s milk, many dog owners are wondering if this is a safer and healthier choice for their dogs.
Veterinarians are reporting that more and more of their clients are using raw goats milk for dogs in the belief that it has significant health benefits. Is this true?
When compared side by side with cow’s milk, goat’s milk is higher in some nutrients like calcium and potassium, but lower in others, such as vitamin B12 and folate. Goat’s milk has a slightly lower amount of lactose than cow’s milk.
Advocates for goat’s milk say that because of the differences in its fat and protein structures, it is easier for your dog to digest than cow’s milk, and that dogs with allergies are less prone to allergic reactions when they drink it.
The bottom line on goat’s milk? Moderation is key.
Large quantities of any dairy product are never a good idea. If you are interested in switching to goat’s milk, try giving your dog a small amount to see how it’s tolerated.
Then restrict it to an occasional treat if your dog tolerates it well.
Can dogs have almond milk?
It’s official, the vet has confirmed that your dog is lactose intolerant and cannot digest any dairy products.
What about non-dairy beverages? Almond milk is one of the most popular plant-based milks. Can dogs drink almond milk?
Some nuts (especially macadamia nuts) can be toxic to dogs. Canine health experts warn that while almonds are not as harmful as some other nuts, dogs generally don’t digest almonds well, and they are also high in fat, which can lead to obesity and pancreatitis in large quantities.
Small amounts of almond milk (tablespoons not bowls) should be OK for your dog as an occasional treat.
You can try some as a test and look for signs of gastric upset. Be sure to read the label of any packaged almond milk you buy.
Some almond milk is sweetened, so stay away from any almond milk that contains the sweetener xylitol, which is very toxic to dogs.
Can dogs have soy milk?
Soy milk is another non-dairy, plant-based milk alternative. What are the risks and benefits of giving your dog soy milk? Soy milk contains proteins called isoflavones.
Some of these proteins are known as phytoestrogens, which are estrogens (female hormones) found in plants. There is some debate about feeding your dog soy protein in large quantities, but small amounts are safe.
Some advocates say that isoflavones have health benefits for your dog. In humans, they can lower cholesterol and reduce the incidence of estrogen-sensitive cancers.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that soy protein can reduce urinary incontinence in dogs. Some veterinarians may even recommend supplements containing isoflavones.
Soy in moderate amounts is not harmful to your dog. Many commercial dog foods contain soy-based ingredients.
Dogs generally digest soy products well, and soy milk is OK for your dog to drink. Give it as a treat like other milks, and talk to your veterinarian if you are interested in learning more about soy protein supplements.
Can puppies have milk?
Can puppies drink milk? Mother’s milk is always the best source of nutrition for nursing puppies, but what about after a puppy is weaned from the mother, or if a newborn puppy is orphaned?
What kind of milk can puppies drink? Here is what you need to know…
It is especially important for a puppy to drink its mother’s milk in the first few days after birth because the milk contains an ingredient called colostrum, which is high in protein and boosts the puppy’s immune system.
But sometimes an alternative must be found to the mother’s milk.
Commercial milk replacer is always better than cow’s milk for nursing puppies.
A dog’s milk is richer in protein and calories, and much easier to digest than cow’s milk. Always choose a vet-recommended milk replacer over cow, goat, or plant-based milk for newborn puppies.
After a puppy is weaned and begins to eat solid food, proceed with caution when giving your puppy milk.
Remember, cow’s milk has more lactose than dog’s milk, so a lactose intolerant puppy will be especially sensitive to the effects of lactose. Eliminate all dairy products if your puppy has loose stools after drinking milk.
Puppy milk replacer
Milk formula for puppies is the best alternative to mother’s milk and should always be chosen over any other kind of dairy or non-dairy milk.
Research on different brands of milk replacer has shown that some compare better to natural dog’s milk than others.
Some puppy milk replacers have lower concentrations of essential nutrients like calcium, protein, and fat than other replacers, as well as dog’s milk.
Dog nutrition experts recommend milk replacers with higher amounts of calcium, amino acids, and essential fatty acids.
Be sure to talk to your vet if your puppy needs milk replacer.
Can dogs drink milk safely?
So, can you give dogs milk? The answer is generally yes, in moderation, but be sure to keep a close eye out for signs of food allergy or intolerance.
Dogs don’t need milk once they are weaned. But if your dog enjoys the taste of milk, a little dairy or non-dairy milk is OK for many dogs as an occasional treat. Say half a cup once a week.
- Banfield Pet Hospital. “Understanding Food Allergies in Your Pets.”
- Canadian Veterinary Medical Association. “Some Pets Unable to Tolerate Dairy Products.” 2012.
- Feldman, G. and Boehme, K. “Raw Goat’s Milk for Your Dog: Health or Hype?” The Drake Center for Veterinary Care.
- Marsden, S., Messonnier, S. and Yuill, C. “Soy Protein.” VCA Hospitals, 2008.
- Downing, R. “Feeding Orphaned Puppies.” VCA Hospitals, 2013.
- Heinze, C.R., Freeman, L.M., Camilia, R.M., et al. “Comparison of the Nutrient Composition of Commercial Dog Milk Replacers with that of Dog Milk.” Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 2014.
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