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.