Two of the most commonly asked question from dog owners are ‘can dogs drink milk?’ and ‘is milk good for dogs?’ After all, people want to know what is safe to give their canine companions, and it is important that you know if it is. In this guide, we will be taking a detailed look at milk and whether or not they can drink it, as well as looking to see if it is good for them. The answers may surprise you, so take a look and see if milk is safe for your dog.
Is Milk Bad for Dogs?
If you ask dog owners in general, there will be a lot of debate when it comes to this question. There are many who feed their dogs milk on a regular basis, and their dogs have no issues. However, there are also some who have given their dogs milk and have witnessed severe illness as a result.
The simple answer is that, in moderation, milk is not inherently bad for your dog. Nutritionally speaking, there is nothing in cow’s milk (or even other variations of milk) that is good for them. Of course, as puppies, they will drink their mother’s milk, but after they have been weened, it is of no use to them anymore. Instead, milk can become a delicious treat to share with your pet on occasion.
Are Dogs Lactose Intolerant?
This is an interesting point, as there is some debate in the veterinary community. There are some who feel that all dogs are lactose intolerant, but to varying degrees, while others believe that some are intolerant and others are not – a lot like humans.
It is definitely true that some dogs do suffer from severe lactose intolerance, and others show no symptoms. Unfortunately, you are unlikely to know until you give them some form of dairy to sample. Some dogs become incredibly ill and suffer from extreme gastric, as well as vomiting. Others will have no reaction, or at least show no symptoms.
Interestingly, the level of intolerance displayed appears to be linked to the amount of lactose that they are given. Therefore, a small spoon of milk fed to a Labrador (for example) should have no effect. That same spoon of milk fed to a small dog, like a Jack Russell, however, could have a much more severe effect.
Not all dairy products contain high levels of lactose, and some do not contain any at all. Have you fed your dog cheddar cheese and seen no negative reactions? That’s because the cheddar does not contain any lactose in each serving. Things like whole and skimmed milk, however, contain much higher amounts – 11g per serving. This is followed by ice cream (6g per serving) and low-fat yoghurt (5g per serving). So, the less lactose in the dairy product you give your dog, the less likely there is to be a negative reaction.
Some dogs are allergic to certain proteins in milk as well. This is a very rare condition, but it does happen and can lead to very severe illness. If your dog is incredibly sick after ingesting anything that contains lactose, you should take them to the vet to be checked over as they could be suffering from an allergic reaction.
Can Dogs Drink Cow’s Milk?
The short answer to this question is yes. Dogs can drink cow’s milk, and it can be a very delicious treat for them. However, it does not hold any nutritional benefits. If you want a milk that is good for your dog and will benefit their health, then you should try goats milk. Here are some of the benefits that it can have for your dog:
- Help with digestive issues like colitis and IBS. Goat milk is filled with natural probiotics that are quickly absorbed by your dog (or cat’s) body.
- Alleviates allergies and itching. Once again, this is thanks to the probiotics, which work hard to fight off things like yeast.
- Relieve arthritis. The enzymes that help with digestion could very well alleviate pain and inflammation in your dog’s joints, giving them some much-needed relief.
Of course, you should not be giving your dog goat’s milk every day, but it makes a great occasional addition to their dinner. Pour a little over their kibble and watch them devour it!
Is Ice Cream Bad for Dogs?
The answer to this is a definite yes and no. Ice cream can be given to dogs in small amounts and as a rare treat, provided they are not lactose intolerant. In small quantities like this, ice cream is not a bad thing for your dog to have. It should definitely not be given to them on a regular basis, no matter how much they beg you for it.
When you give your dog ice cream, it is important to stick to flavours that are safe for them to eat as well. Chocolate and raisin flavours are a strict no, as these are foods that are toxic to them and can cause serious health issues (as well as fatalities). Basically, it’s best to stay with vanilla and let them enjoy that. It can be a bit of a risk to give your dog any other flavour.
Can Puppies Drink Milk?
Yes, puppies can drink milk. Once their mothers have finished lactating and are no longer giving them milk, the basic need for it disappears, but that doesn’t mean they can’t drink it anymore. Many breeders will feed their puppies kibble soaked in goat’s milk before they leave for their new homes, and there is nothing harmful about this. In fact, goat milk has several health benefits (as previously mentioned).
It is possible to purchase puppy milk from the supermarket, which is a form of goat milk. This can be given to them as a treat, and is something that they really enjoy. You can even give the puppy milk to adults, and there shouldn’t be any issues, as long as they are not lactose intolerant. They often go absolutely mad for puppy milk, so definitely give it a try. Plus, it costs less than £1 for a small carton, so you won’t be out of pocket either.
It’s always a difficult thing to answer, but when people ask ‘can dogs drink milk?’ the simple answer is yes – as long as they are not lactose intolerant. Every dog is different, just like people, so the amount of milk they can drink (if any) will tend to vary from dog to dog. The question of ‘is milk good for dogs?’ has a yes and no answer. If you are feeding them cow’s milk, then it’s no. There is no nutritional value to it or health benefits. However, if you are feeding them goat’s milk, the answer is yes because it does have benefits to their health and wellbeing. Ultimately, you know what is best for your dog and what they can drink. If you are ever concerned or unsure, however, always speak to your vet first.
What did you think of our dog health guide? Is there anything that you would have added about dogs and milk? We love hearing from you, so leave your thoughts in the comments below.