Can I Give My Dog Milk?

Can Dogs Drink Milk?Although debatable, milk is generally nutritious and healthy for people. But sharing some with your dog should raise some eyebrows. Puppies drink it shortly after birth but that doesn’t mean dairy is okay for them to consume later in life.

The high protein, vitamins and minerals in milk needs to be weighed against the negatives which includes the lactose factor. Consider that many dogs are intolerant because they may lack an enzyme to break down this type of sugar.

So this aspect of dairy means your dog may not be able to properly absorb milk. On the other hand, there are some situations which may warrant providing a milk product to a vulnerable pet.

Can I Give My Dog Milk? Answer: Not Normally

This type of beverage should not be given but there are some exceptions.

Many dogs are actually lactose-intolerant while some aren’t fazed one bit by dairy consumption. Milk is not exactly toxic and you simply can’t know how your dog will react until their symptoms begin to surface. Milk-Bone Dog Treats are much more appropriate. In any case, it’s important to understand that feeding pure milk to your dog has the potential to cause digestive imbalances. There are, however, always special cases where providing a milk replacement can make sense.

Formulated Dairy Products

Esbilac’s Powder Milk Replacer is made specially for dogs and puppies. It’s much easier to digest and provides important vitamins and minerals. Sometimes this is necessary for dogs recovering from illness or surgery. There’s also a related weaning food product made just for puppies. So, you see, there are certain scenarios where a milk-like formula is appropriate for dogs. Most vets will agree!

The Problem with Milk

Severe cases of lactose intolerance can cause vomiting and diarrhea (loose stools) among other gastrointestinal problems. If this happens, be sure to keep your dog well-hydrated by offering lots of fresh water. Pedialyte can also treat such an unfortunate episode.

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. Dogs experiencing gas may refuse to eat their food until the situation clears up. This is a clear sign of intolerance to certain foods or liquids such as milk. If such symptoms continue or worsen, be safe and 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 but that does not mean you should be giving them milk. This is a judgement call for pet parents, but most vets will tell you to avoid giving any milk at all unless there is a good reason to do so.

Different Dairy Decisions

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 may or may not be able to digest this type of milk but it may not be so obvious. Unfortunately, skim milk isn’t 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. The lower the amount of lactose, the more likelihood a milk-based food will be tolerated.

Conclusion on Milk

Providing milk will normally do your dog more harm than good. It’s best to not add dairy to your pet’s food regimen because bowel irregularity and other digestive problems are entirely possible. Regular milk, and dairy in general, may not agree with a lactose intolerant dog. Besides, canines don’t typically require milk after a mother bitch has finished lactating. There are, however, cases where formulated milk can be beneficial for recovering dogs. This is particularly true for puppies, but otherwise stick with fresh water.

Add Your Own Answer to the Question Can Dogs Drink Milk? Below

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{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Frankie June, 2016

My two Boston Terriers, aged 12 and 14, get milk every day with no problems.


Annika March, 2016

My dog has been drinking over a liter of regular cow’s milk a day since she was a puppy. She loves it and complains if she doesn’t get it. She clearly has no problem digesting lactose. Dogs aren’t all the same.


Susan March, 2016

My dog, a Shih Tzu mix, drank milk and got violently ill. She threw up several times, yelped in pain, then collapsed on the floor unconscious. I thought she was dead. I picked her up and she collapsed again. Then she woke up, started yelping again and lost control of her bowels. I rushed her to the vet thinking she might die but she recovered and is fine now. I will never feed her milk again. It was a terrifying experience.


Josie B February, 2016

My 14 year old dog became very lethargic and seemed tired all the time. I thought it was just old age. He wouldn’t eat either. So I bought some puppy milk and he went mad for it. He couldn’t get enough of it! He had no side effects but what a difference for him. He perked up, regained his appetite and had so much energy within a couple of days. I think it was probably dehydration as he hardly drinks water. It’s worth a try if a dog won’t eat anything. I definitely recommend puppy milk.


Craig February, 2016

I do give my dog, a fine looking and healthy Cocker, my leftover milk after dinner. There is usually 1/4 cup maximum left in my cup. She is my best friend and I take very good care of her. She goes to the vet at least 2 times a year and anytime I might think it is necessary. Our vet says that much milk will not hurt her by any means. Now, should a person give their dog a gallon a day? No, it is a matter of being conservative and not over doing it!


Samanthi January, 2016

I’ve been feeding powder milk to my German Shepherd since she was a puppy. Now she is 7 months and still I’m feeding her two times a day. Earlier she had a problem with that but now she is okay. Recently I got to know milk is bit difficult to digest and now I’m worried. Please help me to come out with my worries.


Kathleen January, 2016

I give both my dogs a small helping of milk each morning. The older dog, a 2 year old Shih-poo, sometimes has a sour stomach in the morning. I gave him some milk to settle his tummy. Then he started asking for it in the mornings. Now the 1 year old wants it, (thinks he’s missing out) and both tolerate it with no problem. We love ice cream so now I only buy vanilla and share a little with them. Neither has loose stools or vomiting.


Jack in Thailand December, 2015

I’ve been reading about problems of feeding milk to dogs. I have 3 Thai Ridgebacks who lap up milk once a day, their after supper and dessert. This has been going on for 10 years and I’ve never seen any problem. Suddenly I’m a bit scared and now do not want to give them milk. I don’t want the prospect of renal failure.


Virgyll November, 2015

My dog is a month old Japanese Spitz. May I ask if I can give milk to her and for how many months?


Sujay October, 2015

My dog is a cross between a Dachshund and a German Spitz. He’s 7 years old now and I have been feeding him milk almost everyday since birth. He never had any issues with it. Sometimes I even feed him a complete milk and rice meal which he easily digests without any loose poop. He’s quite a healthy dog.


Anne August, 2015

My dog is a cross between a Whippet and a Labrador Retriever. He has not been well and hasn’t been eating. I was wondering if giving some milk would help him?


Joyce August, 2015

I’m so relieved that some of you are quite happy to let your dogs drink milk. Cassie is a 4 year old Labradoodle who will not drink water. This started about 9 months ago. Through shear worry of her getting dehydrated, I have been giving her watered down skimmed milk (approximately 1/4 milk to 3/4 water.) This may sound quite weak, but she will accept that. She won’t drink pure water alone and does let me know if there’s not quite enough milk in there! Thank you all who have submitted on this subject as I feel more comfortable about giving it to her.


Kirsty July, 2015

I sometimes give my Rottweiler milk. However, I never give it to her straight, it always gets mixed in with the water already in her bowl and it’s usually just a touch. She loves it and has never had any problems.


Chuck July, 2015

My dog gets a little milk for a treat. For years there’s been no discomfort or other negative results. Now and then he also enjoys a tablespoon of french vanilla ice cream. Again, no bad reactions and he’s not overweight.


Cale Davinci June, 2015

Most claims that milk is not good for dogs are based on anecdotal evidence. Lactose intolerance is an assumption, nothing more. Both humans and dogs are mammals which means they both have an inborn ability to digest milk. As we age, we lose some of this ability but for most of us this is not a problem. The replies on the internet are often biased toward people having had bad experiences with their dogs. The reason is that usually the people who end up replying are those who have had such experiences. They will usually be the ones searching about that subject.


Lorinne August, 2015

The short answer is cows’ milk is not good for dogs. A much better choice is unsalted or watered down chicken broth. A high percentage of humans are lactose intolerant and a much higher percentage of dogs are also unable to digest the milk sugar (lactose) present in regular cow milk. So no, milk should never be given to any mammal other than the animal it was intended for, cows. Just because an animal does not get diarrhea doesn’t mean it’s not suffering from gut upset.

A dog that’s unwilling to drink is likely indicative of a medical issue that requires medical intervention. This is something that can rapidly become life threatening. As with humans, all mammals are predominantly made up of water. As this level decreases, the body concentrates the water in critical areas of the body which are the major organs. Water is pulled from the gut making the process of food digestion difficult or impossible and potentially fatal. This is why an emaciated or dehydrated animal, or person, must first be re-hydrated before giving food.


Ray May, 2015

It probably depends on your dog. I have a 15 year old dog from street blood heritage. She loves milk, no problems. I have a 7 year old Rottweiler and I don’t dare give her milk. She sleeps in our bedroom and I learned my lesson.


Lola April, 2015

One of my dogs has no issue with milk. The other, even the slightest bit of milk will send her into stomach distress. Lots of grass eating, vomiting and lethargy. It usually takes a day or two for her to return to normal.


Edward April, 2015

My pug, Millie, is absolutely mad about milk and it’s good to hear from other people that me trying to treat my pup isn’t gonna cause any damage to her.


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.


Saurabh February, 2015

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


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!


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.


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.


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?


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!


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.


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.


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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