Goats milk for dogs can be a nice treat for your dog, if they enjoy the taste. Dogs can enjoy goat’s milk in small amounts, on top of a diet which is already otherwise nutritionally balanced and complete. Some owners use goat’s milk on top of dry kibble, or to create wet fillings for Kongs and other feeding toys. Goats milk contains readily digestible fats for energy, and important vitamins and minerals. Some goat milks might also be a helpful source of probiotics.
Can Dogs Eat Goat’s Milk?
Goat’s milk comes from domestic goats. There are thought to be more than 300 distinct breeds of domestic goat around the world. But they all belong to the same species – Capra aegagrus hircus. Of course, all other goat species produce milk for their young too. But it’s only the milk of domestic breeds that we collect and use as a food stuff for ourselves.
So, what about sharing it with our dogs? Is goats milk for dogs a good idea? In this article, we take a detailed look at the pros and cons of giving goat’s milk to dogs.
Goat’s Milk and Dogs
Goat’s milk divides opinion among humans due to its distinctive taste. Even nutritionally, it’s easy to find conflicting opinions about whether goat’s milk is better than cow’s milk or not. Which seems to be due differing ideas about how much more nutritious goat’s milk has to be, in order to make the taste worth it! The same debate applies to goats milk for dogs.
A cup of goat’s milk contains:
- 3.8% fat
- 3.5% protein
- 4.1% naturally occurring sugar (lactose)
- 0.8% minerals such as calcium, sodium, phosphorus and potassium
And the remainder (nearly 90%) is water.
Goats Milk For Dogs
None of these things are toxic to dogs, or likely to cause them harm, if dogs drink goat’s milk. Since the main part of goat’s milk is water, the main benefit it provides for dogs is hydration. They can also use the fat as an energy source and the protein to build muscle. Calcium is vital for maintaining healthy bones. And, the other minerals also have important roles to play in dogs’ bodies.
We’ll look more closely at those benefits in a moment. But first let’s also check when goat’s milk for dogs should be ruled out from the start.
When is Goat’s Milk Bad For Dogs?
Most dogs can drink modest quantities of goat’s milk without ill-effects. But, some dogs should give it a wide berth.
1. Dogs with lactose intolerance
Most mammals, including dogs, produce the naturally occurring sugar lactose in their milk. As puppies, dogs produce an enzyme called lactase which enables them to digest lactose. But after weaning, the amount of lactase they produce decreases. In some dogs it might decrease so much that they have difficulty digesting milk at all. These dogs are said to be lactose intolerant. If they consume milk or dairy products, they experience symptoms including:
- Stomach pain
Less Lactose than Cow’s Milk
Some dog owners want to know if goat’s milk contains less lactose than cow’s milk. The answer is yes – but not much less. Cow’s milk contains about 4.6% lactose, and goat’s milk about 4.1%. So, goat’s milk should be kept off the menu for lactose intolerant dogs.
2. Dogs with milk allergies
Lactose intolerance isn’t the only dietary sensitivity dogs can have to goat’s milk. They can also be allergic to the proteins in goat’s milk, which produces very similar symptoms.
Some evidence suggests that goat’s milk is generally less allergenic than cow’s milk. This is because the main type of protein in them is different. The predominant protein in cow’s milk is called alpha-casein. But, in goat’s milk it is beta-casein, which is observed to trigger allergies less frequently. This does mean that sometimes dogs allergic to cow’s milk tolerate goat’s milk better. But goat’s milk does still contain some alpha-casein. So if your dog has a history of digestive upset or stomach pain after eating dairy products from cows, switching to goat products isn’t a guaranteed solution.
3. Dogs with pancreatitis
Goat’s milk is high in fat. Fat is an important part of dogs’ diets. But, too much can cause or worsen inflammation of the pancreas, also known as pancreatitis. If your dog already has a pancreatitis diagnosis, don’t risk making their symptoms worse by giving them goat’s milk.
Is Goat’s Milk Good For Dogs?
Assuming there’s no specific reason not to give your dog goats milk, are you likely to see any health benefits if you do?
1. Ready energy
Goat’s milk is very similar in calories to cow’s milk. But, the globules of fat in goat’s milk are smaller than in cow’s milk. Which means that the digestive enzymes in dogs’ intestines that break down fats can get to work on them quicker and more efficiently. So for working dogs, and other very active dogs, goats milk can be a good source of hydration and quick-release energy.
2. Awesome amino acids
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, and dogs need protein for just about every part of their body to stay healthy. From their brains and muscles, to their coats and immune system. Dogs need 10 essential amino acids in their diets:
Goat’s milk is a rich source of all of these. And, what’s more, it contains more of all of them than cow’s milk does.
Calcium and other minerals
Dogs need calcium to maintain their bones, teeth, muscles, and nervous system. Goat’s milk contains calcium, and other minerals which your dog also relies on. So goats milk may make a positive contribution to a healthy diet. But what kind of goats milk is safest for them?
Can Dogs Eat Raw Goat’s Milk?
Raw milk is milk straight from the animal. Which means it hasn’t been pasteurized to destroy bad bacteria, or homogenized to spread out the fat particles more evenly. In fact, since the fat particles in goat’s milk are so small, the latter isn’t necessary anyway. But consumers are increasingly interested in buying raw milk that hasn’t been pasteurized, because the pasteurization process also destroys good bacteria in the milk.
Good bacteria, also known as probiotics, can aid dogs’ digestion and improve their immune function. One probiotic which has been observed having a beneficial effect on dogs is Lactobacilli acidophilus. Which is found in raw goat’s milk products.
Increase in Risk
So, raw goats milk might also have extra health benefits for dogs. But, there is an increased risk too. Raw milk is more likely to contain dangerous bacteria, such as Salmonella and E. coli. Some regions even have laws to prohibit sale of raw milk. Whilst others permit it, provided rigorous hygiene standards are met.
Can Dogs Eat Goats Milk With Added Prebiotics and Probiotics?
Some manufacturers try to overcome the risks of raw milk by adding probiotics (healthy bacteria) and prebiotics (the compounds probiotics “eat”) to pasteurized milk. You can even buy goats milk like this specifically targeted for dogs in pet stores. These are safe for dogs in moderate quantities, but we’ve written more about the pitfalls of adding probiotics – and why to be sceptical of paying more for them them – in this article.
Can Dogs Eat Goats Milk Cheese?
Cheese is a popular high value training treat for lots of dog owners. Most goat’s cheeses are soft, and a bit impractical to use as training treats. But small quantities of hard goats cheese can be used. We’ve written more about feeding your dog cheeses, and what to consider first, in this article.
Should I Give My Dog Goat’s Milk?
Lots of dogs like goat’s milk for the same reason that people aren’t keen. It has a strong, goaty taste. Some breeders still wean puppies by softening dry food in cow’s or goat’s milk too. So, their dogs have a taste for milky flavors all their life.
Goat’s milk isn’t suitable for dogs to rely on as a large part of their diet. But small amounts as an occasional treat can safely complement an otherwise balanced diet. You can choose pasteurized or raw goats milk. But if you choose raw milk be careful to choose a responsible source.
If your dog hasn’t had goat’s milk before, give them a small amount at first and watch them for signs of lactose intolerance or milk allergy.
How to Prepare Goat’s Milk for Dogs
You can splash goat’s milk on top of your dog’s dinner as a treat, or you can get a bit creative. If your dog enjoys emptying out stuffed Kongs and you’re short on ideas for filling them, why not soften some of their kibble in goat’s milk to make a mush and use that? Frozen cubes of goat’s milk can also be refreshing and hydrating snacks in hot weather.
Alternatives to Goat’s Milk for Dogs
If your dog can’t have goat’s milk, don’t worry. There are plenty of equally pungent snacks they can enjoy instead:
Can Dogs Eat Goat’s Milk Summary
Goat’s milk is generally safe for dogs. It contains essential amino acids, digestible fats, calcium and minerals. Some dogs are allergic to milk, or struggle to digest it comfortably. So if your dog hasn’t had milk since weaning before, only offer a little bit at first to see how they get on.
Does you Lab love goat’s milk?
Let us know how they like it served in the comments box down below!
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References and Further Reading
- Baillon. Effects of probiotic Lactobacillus acidophilus strain DSM13241 in healthy adult dogs. American Journal of Veterinary Research. 2004.
- Craig. Food intolerance in dogs and cats. BSAVA Journal of Small Animal Practice. 2018.
- Lara-Villoslada. Goat Milk is Less Immunogenic than Cow Milk in a Murine Model of Atopy. Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition. 2004.
- Lima et al. Nutritional and Health Profile of Goat Products: Focus on Health Benefits of Goat Milk. 2017.
- National Academy of Sciences. YOUR DOG’S NUTRITIONAL NEEDS: A Science-Based Guide For Pet Owners. 2006.
- Park. Goat Milk – Chemistry and Nutrition. Handbook of Milk of Non-Bovine Mammals, 2nd Edition. 2017.
- Ranadheera et al. Probiotics in Goat Milk Products: Delivery Capacity and Ability to Improve Sensory Attributes. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety. 2019.
The Labrador Site Founder
Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.
She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and the Dogsnet Online Training Program
Pippa's online training courses were launched in 2019 and you can find the latest course dates on the Dogsnet website