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Is lactose free milk safe for dogs? Does it ever make sense for a pet pooch?
Truth be told, most dogs have trouble digesting sugar in regular milk due a genetic intolerance that becomes apparent following their puppy weaning days.
While feeding lactose-free milk is an interesting idea, grown canines rarely need a mothers milk substitute.
Lactose-Free Milk Isn’t Recommended For Dogs
But a modest amount is unlikely to be harmful. It’s just that, under normal circumstances, pets are much better off drinking fresh water.
FYI: Lactose-free or not, the source is cow’s milk which means you’d still be feeding your dog a dairy product.
How About For Sick Dogs?
Are there special situations where lactose free milk could arguably be beneficial?
The answer is yes.
For example, milk can be nutritionally useful for certain dogs with a chronic disease or vitamin deficiencies.
That said, you would need a vet’s expert help. And, quite honestly, they’d likely have a hydration solution other than lactose-free milk.
Otherwise, it is a bit dubious to be supplementing a healthy dog’s liquid intake in this way.
Less Worse Than Regular Milk
While not outright dangerous, you really should not allow your dog to drink milk of any kind.
Despite being free of lactose, the calcium is not sufficient reason to share.
Granted, there is arguably less potential for gastrointestinal disruption compared to regular cow’s milk.
As we’ve said, a modest amount is probably not an issue. Nevertheless, we don’t think it’s a good idea.
Consider diluting the lactose free milk if you’re still keen.
Don’t Complicate Your Dog’s Diet
There is no way around it: Dogs are fairly sensitive to lactose and, to a lesser extent, dairy products.
Why risk triggering an upset stomach or other gastro-related discomfort?
Your healthy adult dog definitely would not be drinking milk out in the wild.
Of course, that alone doesn’t necessarily make a small taste so terrible. At the very least, closely watch for indications that your buddy’s bowels are reacting badly.
Puppies And More Perspective
Humans are the only species that drinks milk beyond the infant phase.
Sure, dogs also consume plenty of lactose. As puppies when they drink their mothers’ beast milk, but in nearly no time they wean off of it.
So your dog only required milk as a newborn. Beyond that it is basically unnatural.
If need be, there are specialized weaning formulas for when circumstances call for a replacement.
Get a checkup if, for some reason, you think your dog or puppy may benefit from regular milk or the lactose-free variety.
The Bottom Line
While a taste is no harm done, dogs generally should not be consuming lactose-free milk.
True, a modest amount may be better than regular milk. At the same time, feeding your dog lactose free (dairy or not) is not exactly smart irrespective of intolerance issues.
Besides, lactaid in itself won’t help a vitamin or mineral deficient pet dog.
20 thoughts on “Lactose-Free Milk For a Pet Dog? Read This First!”
What milk I could give if dairy is bad for my dogs? If I give them a substitute milk which one would be best for them?
We have Lab who will soon be 14. She hardly drinks any water, so I dilute some lactose-free milk in a bowl of water and she laps it up. I’m not sure if it’s affecting her tummy or not, as she is much looser these days. I suspect her digestive system isn’t working as well as it used to.
But, given the choice between soft stool or dehydration, I’ll choose diluted lactose-free milk every time. This isn’t a treat, but a potential life saver as I know that dehydration is dangerous (especially in an old dog).
The only problem is lactose (which is pretty much a non issue with lactose-free milk).
We give out 6 year old Boxer a drizzle, maybe 1/4 ounce, of Lactaid in her water in the morning. She doesn’t seem to drink much pure water. She is more interested in the water that way.
It has not affected her in any noticeable way other than she urinates a little more since she is consuming more water.
I gave my dog lactose free milk for the first time and wanted to know if it will harm him. He’s a Beagle and Doberman mix. He seems fine, but I’m still worried.
I had to give my Chihuahua lactose-free milk this morning because he was not eating or drinking water. I was afraid he might become dehydrated. So far he is okay and not vomiting. I would not give him any dairy products otherwise. I hope it was safe to do this as a way to get fluids into him.
My 5 year old Yorkie has been on Cesar food for 3 weeks and she loves it. It fills her up pretty good. She’s had diarrhea 3 times in 5 days and will only drink lactose-free fat-free milk. So I’m letting her have just a little bit, sporadically, with some rice and chicken which she has no interest in unless the milk is with it. I’m taking it slow and it seems to be working.
I don’t think Cesar is the best. Purina has one called Bella that I’m giving to my small breeds. One of the formulas has vegetables in it. Anyway, I sometimes give lactose-free milk to my young kittens and puppies when I don’t have an animal milk substitute. I haven’t noticed anything significant.
I’m looking for something to help my dog that’s suffering from reflux. Antacids that the vet has given interact with his other medications he’s on which he also needs. Any ideas?
I add a little bit of milk on my dog’s food. That is the only way I can get her to eat it. Her food is for diabetic dogs but she eats it all up.
I have a litter of 4-week old Boxer puppies. I’m trying to wean them off my bitch and I thought lactose-free milk was okay to give them for a couple more weeks.
I’ve done that and am doing it now to supplement the mother as the puppies are getting bigger. I add a little Nutro (small breed) kibble or Blue puppy food. At the most, it probably softens their bowl movements.
There are some cases where giving milk is life or death of a dog. Let me explain. Some dogs may at some point stop drinking water, no matter what you try they still will not drink. I have such a dog.
One way to get him to drink is to add milk to his water, as dogs love milk or any dairy product. This is a most efficient way to get them to drink. Lactose free helps by not making him so prone to getting an upset tummy.
Hi Roy. Whether it’s lactose free or normal cow’s milk, it’s still not healthy for dogs. Cow’s milk is the perfect food for baby calves.
Doctors say cow’s milk can lead to iron deficiency anemia, allergies, diarrhea, heart disease, colic, cramps, gastrointestinal bleeding, sinusitis, skin rashes, acne, increased frequency of colds and flu, arthritis, diabetes, ear infections, osteoporosis, asthma, autoimmune diseases, and possibly even lung cancer.
Each species of mammal produces its unique type of milk designed specifically to strengthen the immune system and provide nourishment for their babies, which are weaned after their birth weight has approximately tripled.
The milk of each species appears to have been specifically designed to protect the young of that species. Cross-feeding does not work. Milk has something for everybody – higher blood cholesterol, and increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
Why not try adding honey instead of lactose-free milk? Even though your dog might like the lactose-free milk, it does not mean it’s good for the dog.
It doesn’t have to be beneficial if it’s keeping his dog alive. Drinking milk is getting water into the dog which was Roy’s point.
I think you’re right, Tim. We are not talking beneficial here, we are talking fluid intake!
When my senior Westie (she’s 15) has stomach issues and won’t or can’t drink, I fill up an eye dropper with Gatorade.
Not the sugar-free kind, the regular kind. She takes about 3 eye dropper fulls and I repeat this every half hour so she stays hydrated.
It’s no different then a drip at the vet’s. But absolutely take your pet to a vet if he or she doesn’t respond in a day or so.
I do not know what doctor told you milk causes all of those diseases and symptoms. I am a medical student, and that is not true. Perhaps some isolated studies (which need to be replicated as a direct cause and effect), but doctors generalizing milk with all of those negative symptoms? I disagree.
Also, off of the idea that a species milk is made for what is in its species, can we not apply that to honey? When honey was made for bees to feed its young? Yet honey has rick nutrients and benefits, and so does milk.
Milk can be unhealthy to dogs, especially those that have bad reactions to it (all of them are different, just like humans are different). But lactose-free milk can also be very good for dogs, especially to encourage them to eat and drink other foods like others have been saying.
Hi Roy. The lactose-free milk has been a lifesaver for my Toy Poodle with chronic kidney disease. Subcutaneous fluids (IV) are not practical on a daily basis and my dog acts like they’re torture.
While a healthy dog doesn’t stand to benefit from milk, many others posting here are desperate to get fluid into their dogs. It works. My little girl almost died and they weren’t sure she even had 30 days.
She is here a year later on a kidney diet. Either canned, dry, or homemade due to random food aversion. Lactose-free (regular caused softer stool) in place of water when she will not take in any water whatsoever for many hours (a whole day even) has been a winning choice.
The vet told me that if she tolerates milk, and if it keeps her going until she feels better, then it’s okay. Nevertheless, pet owners should check with their vet when possible.
We have weaned puppies with lactose-free milk for years (when we were unable to get goats’ milk). Now we are in lock-down and have a litter due any day now. We have no option but to wean with lactose free.