While milk and dairy products can have health benefits for humans, many people are asking their vets whether dogs can drink milk. When it comes down to it, dogs can have milk and most canines can drink some dairy without it being harmful or toxic. Although rich in calcium and vitamin D, there are many health issues to consider before determining if you can give them milk safely. Milk is not good for dogs in large quantities or when given frequently over a long period.
To help you learn more, we’ve compiled a guide on milk for dogs. From lactose intolerance to alternatives to cow’s milk, explore below for reasons why milk can be bad for dogs to drink.
Are Dogs Lactose Intolerant?
The majority of dogs are lactose intolerant. Drinking milk isn’t necessarily going to kill them, but in many cases, too much milk is not good for them either. Being lactose intolerant means that it’s more difficult to break down the enzymes in milk. Although it’s difficult for dogs that are lactose intolerant to digest milk, many dogs can have milk and other dairy products in moderation. However, it is never a good idea to give puppies milk. Puppies have very sensitive digestive tracts, which means it’s not good to introduce this type of food at an early age. Milk is also not good for senior dogs.
It may seem strange to you that puppies shouldn’t have milk since they drink milk from their mothers. They are able to drink mother’s milk because it provides lactase, an enzyme that helps digest milk. Lactase essentially aids in splitting lactose, a disaccharide sugar, found in milk into glucose and galactose. Once a puppy is weaned from its mother, they begin to produce less lactase, and many tend to become lactose intolerant.
This doesn’t mean that all dogs are lactose intolerant. Some dogs can drink lots of milk while others can’t drink it at all. Those that cannot tend to experience gastrointestinal issues, which can lead to quite serious problems in some cases.
Can Drinking Milk Lead To Food Allergies in Dogs?
Dogs that are lactose intolerant can eventually end up with food allergies if given milk or other types of dairy like cheese. You should eliminate milk from their diets if you notice that your dogs have red or irritated skin, scratches a lot, vomits, or has diarrhea after feeding them milk. If the symptoms go away after you stop giving them milk, you’ll know that milk was the source of these problems.
Can Dogs Drink Lactose-Free Milk?
You can opt to give your dog milk that is lactose-free but they will also lose out on many essential nutrients that milk provides. Milk is high in vitamin D, as well as other vitamins, minerals, protein, and calcium that dogs need. So, how can they get these nutrients without drinking milk? Many dogs are lactose intolerant to some degree but that doesn’t mean that they can’t have milk altogether. You just need to make sure that you give it to them in moderation.
Although milk is basically a meal in itself, you should not give too much to your dogs. Milk in moderation as part of a whole-food diet can benefit your dogs. Of course, you should immediately eliminate milk from their diets if you notice any of the above-mentioned signs of intolerance. Some of the essential nutrients in milk that dogs do need to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle include vitamins D, K, and E, as well as vitamin B complex.
Is Goat Milk Good For Dogs?
You might want to consider giving your dogs goat’s milk instead of cow’s milk. Goat’s milk has many of the same nutrients found in cow’s milk but is safer for dogs to drink because it has less lactose. In addition, goat’s milk is easier to digest because its fat molecules are smaller than those found in cow’s milk. Ounce for ounce, goat’s milk has more protein and calcium when compared to cow’s milk.
If you choose to give your dogs goat’s milk, you should keep in mind the source of where it came from. Make sure that the goat’s milk has been pasteurized, which is essentially a process of heating the milk to kill any potentially harmful bacteria. If you give your dogs unpasteurized fresh or raw goat’s milk, you run the risk of it leading to potential health problems because of these bacteria. If you can’t buy pasteurized milk from your store, you can get rid of the bacteria yourself by bringing it to a boil (around 165 degrees Fahrenheit) for 15 seconds. Afterward, allow the milk to cool before storing it in your refrigerator.
Yes, Dogs Can Drink Milk in Moderation
If you are still unsure about whether or not to give your dogs milk, you should talk to your vet and ask for their recommendation. Like any new food, it is best to introduce milk to your dogs in very small amounts. Watch your dogs after drinking milk to see if there are any signs of gastrointestinal distress. It is perfectly safe for you to include milk in your dogs’ regular diets in moderation if you don’t notice any symptoms of lactose intolerance. Alternatively, you can give them pasteurized goat’s milk, which has many of the same benefits but is easier to digest.