Can I Give My Dog Milk?

Can I Give My Dog Milk?Although debatable, milk is nutritious and healthy for people. But sharing some milk with your dog raises some eyebrows. Of course, dogs drink it from their mothers shortly after birth. That does not necessarily mean it’s okay for them to consume it later in life.

Dairy products, in general, are questionable for already healthy pups. The high protein, vitamins and minerals in milk needs to be weighed against the negatives. First and foremost, milk products contain lots of lactose.

Most dogs lack the necessary enzymes to break down this component so it can be properly absorbed. On the other hand, there are some situations which may warrant providing milk to a vulnerable pet dog.

Can I Give My Dog Milk? Answer: Not Normally

Most say that milk and milk-based products should not be given to dogs but there are some exceptions.

In general, dogs have relatively poor levels of tolerance to lactose. Many pets are lactose-intolerant to varying degrees while some canines aren’t fazed one bit by dairy consumption. You simply can’t know until Fido’s symptoms begin to surface. It’s important to understand that feeding milk to your dog has the potential to cause digestive imbalances.

That said, there are some excellent dairy products which are specially made for dogs and puppies. These are much easier to digest and provide important vitamins and minerals. For example, Esbilac’s Powder Milk Replacer helps to ensure proper development and growth for dogs recovering from illness or surgery. They also have a related weaning food just for puppies. So there are, in fact, certain situations where it makes good sense to provide milk. Most vets will agree!

The Problem with Milk

Severe cases of lactose intolerance can cause vomiting and diarrhea among other gastrointestinal problems. If this happens, it’s critical to keep your dog well-hydrated by offering lots of fresh water. Pedialyte can also treat such an unfortunate episode and may actually be a much better alternative to milk.

Mild forms of lactose intolerance can also manifest in the form of gas. If your dog is gassy, you may be able to hear some rumbling sounds in their tummy. Often times, dogs experiencing gas will refuse to eat their food until the situation clears up. This is a clear sign of intolerance to certain foods that you’ll hopefully notice. In any case, if the symptoms continue or worsen, it’s wise to consult with a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Common Sense Advice

Consuming just a little milk isn’t life-threatening or even likely dangerous for dogs. In fact, they may even tolerate it. However, even if your best buddy suffers only mild forms of diarrhea, you’ll still be exposing them to some bacteria as a result. Bacteria-related problems are often difficult to diagnose later on. If you know that your dog is somewhat intolerant, it’s best to eliminate milk from their diet altogether.

Different Milk Products

There are so many variations of dairy these days. Soy milk should be avoided since this type contains very high levels of protein. Your dog probably can’t digest this type of milk protein but it may not be so obvious. Unfortunately, skim milk isn’t really much better. You must ask yourself, what’s the reason for providing milk in the first place?

A more canine-friendly dairy product may be yogurt, which is probably more easily digestible for most dogs. Aside from this, and quality lactose-free milk, be very selective. Have an objective and game plan when it comes to your dog and milk. Your best bet, and if you have a good reason to do so, is to go with a highly rated canine milk product as previously explained.

Conclusion on Milk & Dairy

Milk, and its many delicious variations all of which are meant for humans, can possibly do your dog more harm than good. It’s best to eliminate milk and dairy from their food regimen if they’re having some digestive problems. Regular milk, and dairy in general, may not agree with a lactose intolerant pet. Besides, dogs don’t typically require milk after a mother bitch has finished lactating. There are, however, cases where special milk can be beneficial for recovering dogs and puppies in particular.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Joana February, 2015

I think the greatest risk is to give cows’ milk to puppies and it’s also risky to give it to human babies because it has a lot of protein and they still don’t have their kidneys fully functional.

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Saurabh February, 2015

I’ve given milk to my dog, two times a day, for the last 13 years. He is fit and fine.

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Lisa March, 2015

Thank you so much for this. I have been told milk was really bad for my four-legged son, so I had to go and look it up. I have an almost 4 year old Lab and he absolutely loves his milk. It would be hard for me to eliminate milk from his diet. Every morning, when my kids eat breakfast, he knows he’s getting his also!

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Les January, 2016

I have been giving my two white German Shepards milk since they were pups. At 16 months old, they have had no problems.

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Buck December, 2014

In Africa dogs routinely drink cow milk. This is true for local breeds like Basenji but also for the many German Shepherds found there. Vets there do not have a problem with it and often feed milk and milk products to dogs in boarding.

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Sadhana October, 2014

I give my dog cow milk and she loves to drink it. She doesn’t have stomach upset or any problem. Should I continue giving her milk once in a while? Sometimes she gets fed up with chicken and rice and dog food and stops eating. But when I mix dog food with rice or roti with milk she loves it and starts eating her usual food. What shall I do?

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Tiffy October, 2014

If you’ve been doing it for a while with no ill effects, I don’t see a problem with it. Plus, you only do it occasionally. I think this article is meant for people who do it pretty often. I’m lactose-intolerant and I still eat ice cream occasionally. I only get an upset tummy. Still worth it!

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Radhika January, 2015

Hi Sadhana. I just came across your comment by chance. My mother gave milk to her German Shepherd for almost 12 years every morning and he had no problems. I give my 18 year old dog milk every day. So far no issues.

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Pawan March, 2015

Hi Radhika and Sadhana. I was concerned by some Facebook followers where a group stated that milk isn’t good for dogs. Then I found some ideas here. I have a 15 month old German Shepherd and don’t want to do any harm to my dog. I have been giving him milk two times a day and there haven’t been any issues. But I’m thinking I should give him yogurt or curd instead as it is summer now.

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Betty April, 2014

A dog drinking milk from a cow is radically different from a puppy drinking his own mother’s milk!

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