Last Updated on June 18, 2021 by adrienne hardwick
Mmmm. That’s the stuff. A cool and refreshing glass of milk to top the morning off. What a delicious treat, and one that you wish your dog could join in with. Or can they? After all, lactose-free milk is an option.
Dogs can drink lactose-free milk, but they should only have it as a rare treat because it can still cause upset stomachs. It can even be a great help for dogs who are suffering from a vitamin deficiency, but you should always speak to your vet first.
Wondering what else you can learn about lactose-free milk and how it affects your pup? This guide has everything you need to know (and more).
Is Lactose-Free Milk Safe for Dogs?
Absolutely, in small amounts, it is perfectly fine to give your dog lactose-free milk. However, it is not recommended to give it to them often. It should be noted that even though it is free from lactose, it still has the potential to leave them with upset stomachs. Read here if you want to learn more about your dog’s upset stomach.
There are some benefits to giving your dog lactose-free milk. It’s rich in protein, calcium, and vitamins A, D, and B12. However, there are plenty of other treats that can offer these same nutrients without any of the unpleasant side effects that milk has.
I sometimes give my dog goat milk that has been packaged and marketed for dogs – it’s a great little treat that they absolutely love and it is often recommended for puppies by vets and reputable dog breeders. Goat milk does NOT tend to have the same effects as cows milk.
Is Normal Milk Safe for Dogs?
After weaning, the vast majority of dogs become lactose intolerant – hence they get a bad stomach after drinking cows milk. Therefore, while it will not kill them it will leave them feeling pretty unwell and will likely cause diarrhoea as well as vomiting.
The reason puppies can drink milk is that they have an overabundance of the enzyme lactase. This is used to break down the sugars in milk so that it is easier to digest. Most adults lose these enzymes after weaning, hence they become lactose intolerant.
You can give your dog a couple of tablespoons of cows milk every now and again as a special treat and it won’t do any harm. Give them a bowl of it? Well, you’ll be up all night with them. If you’re worried your dog might be lactose intolerant these are the signs to watch for:
- Loose stools
- Abdominal pain
When you head to the beach and want to share an ice cream with your pup (vanilla, of course) there is nothing wrong with that. My dog and I love having a cone by the sea, but you do have to keep in mind that they might get an upset stomach in the next 12-24 hours.
The same goes for cheese. A delicious and very motivating treat for training – especially in little cubes – but later in the day you might regret giving it to them. A couple of little cubes is unlikely to cause any upset, just watch how much you are giving them.
Is Lactose-Free Milk Beneficial for Sick Dogs?
In short, it can actually be beneficial to dogs that are suffering from some chronic diseases and vitamin deficiencies – especially as it is rich in calcium. However, before you decide to give your dog lactose-free milk you should speak with your vet first.
This is because while milk can be a good way to help these deficiencies, your vet likely has a safer and much more practical solution to help manage their condition and keep them in good health.
So, milk. A good treat for your favourite pooch? Absolutely not, we wouldn’t recommend it. While lactose-free is a better option, it’s something that should be given as a rare and delicious treat – same with that ice cream on the beach – to avoid any upset stomachs.
Did you enjoy the latest chapter in our canine care series? If you want to check out more guides on how to look after your dog, we have loads for you to read through. Everything from diet and health all the way to behaviour and grooming is covered for your peace of mind.
For over a decade, Adrienne has been a freelance content writer and blogger who’s passion lies in anything related to dogs. Growing up, dogs were a very important part of family life in the Hardwick household. Now, Adrienne is the proud parent to two Swedish Vallhunds called Moose and Pumpkin.