Want to Give Your Dog Milk? Read This First!

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Are you wondering if it’s okay to give your dog some milk?

Whether drinking it is healthy, even for people, is subject to endless debate. Putting that aside, let’s start with an undeniable fact:

Can Dogs Drink Milk?Puppies begin consuming their mothers’ milk shortly after birth. It is obviously a key part of the nurturing process!

When milk becomes questionable is when owners provide it later in life.

Despite being nutritious i.e. high protein, vitamins and minerals, many dogs are lactose intolerant.

That’s right. The fact is canines lack the necessary enzyme to break down this type of sugar.

Dogs Usually Should Not Be Drinking Milk

While some animals handle dairy with ease, you can’t know how your buddy will react until symptoms surface.

Poor absorption is likely which means giving your dog milk could cause all sorts of digestive issues.

Special Dairy Replacements

There are certainly scenarios where milk, or more specifically a replacement product, can be of benefit.

For example, Esbilac’s Powder Milk Replacer can help out a vulnerable puppy.

The product is designed for nursing canines. It provides easily digestible vital nutrients and can even be used for adult dogs recovering from illness or surgery.

So, yes, milk-like formulas can make sense and most vets would agree.

More Milk-Related Problems

Lactose intolerance can cause vomiting and diarrhea among other gastrointestinal problems.

It may manifest in the form of gas. Expect to hear rumbling sounds when your dog is gassy. Fido may even refuse their food until the situation clears up.

Make no mistake about it:

Milk can cause some problems.

Keep things simple by providing your dog with plenty of fresh water. By contrast, water won’t complicate matters but it will ensure a well-hydrated hound!

Common Sense K9 Advice

To be fair, consuming a bit of milk isn’t too concerning for most dogs. It’s not dangerous.

In fact, it may even be fairly well-tolerated. That, however, doesn’t mean you should be sharing milk!

Vets typically advise against any form of dairy unless there is a good reason. Even then, it is often a milk replacement.

Different Dairy Decisions

There are lots of dairy products these days. Let’s touch on a few…

Soy milk is best avoided. Though it may not be obvious, your dog may not be able to digest it.

Unfortunately, skim milk is not much better.

Yogurt may be easier on your dog’s stomach. It’s more digestible.

But what is the reason for feeding dairy foods?

Lactose-free milk is another alternative. Lower lactose levels generally increases a likelihood that a milk-based food will be better tolerated.

Watch this quick yet informative video:

The Bottom Line

It is generally a bad idea to give your dog milk of any kind.

Introducing dairy doesn’t make much sense considering the likelihood of bowel irregularity and other digestive problems.

Milk often does not agree with even a mildly lactose intolerant pet dog.

Besides most canines don’t need milk once the mother’s finished lactating.

What Do You Think? Have Your Say Below…

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46 thoughts on “Want to Give Your Dog Milk? Read This First!”

  1. Like many of you, I give my 8 year old Saint Bernard a small 1/2 cup of milk twice a day with his meal. He loves it. If he doesn’t get it, he’ll remind me by barking at me. I originally was giving him 2% low fat milk, but could hear his stomach rumbling when he was lying down, and noticed that he frequently had loose runny stools.

    I’ve read all the info and suggestions about giving milk to dogs and lactose intolerance and even talked to our vet about it. I grew up in a central New York State dairy farming area, and feeding cows’ milk to dogs was pretty common, with no ill effects that I’ve ever seen. So, I decided to try 2% low fat Lactose free milk, and the belly rumbling stopped, along with the loose stools.

    My take on it is that like humans, some dogs are also lactose intolerant, probably to varying degrees. So all I would say is proceed slowly, and if you plan to give your dog milk, start with small amounts and watch how your puppy reacts to having it. Watch their behavior, listen for the stomach distress, watch their stools, and that should tell you if your dog can tolerate milk. There are other dairy options like skim milk, 1% milk, 2% milk, and Lactose free milk like the “Lactaide” brand sold in grocery stores. Just my opinion from my own experience.

  2. I have a mixed breed, 6 years old, that I have been giving lactose-free milk every day for about 2 months. My daughter was at my apartment yesterday and told me that milk was bad for my dog. I am lactose intolerant so that’s what I give my dog so far, no problems. Thanks for all the information.

  3. I gave my dog milk when he was refusing his food. It seemed to settle him and I continue to give him a little milk at bed time. He lets me know when it is time for his milk. Once he has had it, he curls up and goes to sleep.

    1. I have a Boykin Spaniel and she loves milk; it has the same effect…curls up and naps.

    2. Hi Janet. I have a very picky eater. She’s a 4 year old, 55 pound Siberian husky – Lab mix. Ever since we adopted her at 5 months old, I have been giving her whole milk because she refused her dog food. It keeps her hydrated and settles her tummy.

      Her stool is normal, and seemingly no digestive problems. She does drink water, but water doesn’t always satisfy. Our vet said to give her no more than a cup a day, which we have done.

      Feeding a dog sometimes seems to be the most complicated thing!

  4. When my dog has a sick stomach, I give him a little milk. It settles his stomach.

  5. I have a 20 month old Pug and I have tried everything to get rid of his mange; from injections to skin drops near the back of his head to herbal shampoos. It works for awhile but then his skin disease flares up again.

    His back was almost hairless and then it was his shoulder area that started to become bald. Finally, I tried giving him milk everyday and after six months all the hair has grown back and he’s fully healthy.

  6. Kammurabi says:

    This slamming of cow milk is mostly another one of these first-world, obsessive-compulsive, need-to-find-a-problem problems. It is true some humans, and therefore some mammals, have varying degrees of intolerance to certain compounds, enzymes, proteins and chemicals in many foods.

    This is blown way out of proportion, as is often the case in the United States. Dogs around the world are given cow milk and it’s an important factor in their nutrition. They are certainly far less sick from it than they would be without it.

    But giving cow milk to puppies, while not fatal, can actually be a problem. Cow milk is too alien from dog milk to be a satisfactory replacement in puppies 6 weeks and under. If, for whatever reason a puppy cannot be fed by their mother, try goat’s milk.

  7. My 7 year old Rottweiler had hip pain very badly and I began feeding her regular milk. I’ve increased the amount to a quarter gallon daily and her hip pain is long gone. The only problem is she asks for more milk after she is finished.

  8. I have female German Shephard puppy. Is a milk replacer best or goat milk?

  9. After reading other peoples comments I am much more enlightened and appreciate hearing from them. It’s nice to make a clear decision on what I will do with my dogs.

  10. I’ve been giving my dog milk every morning since she was a pup. No problems gut-wise, but she has calcification of the ankle joints. Do you think milk the cause of this?

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

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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!

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

    1. M Shih-Poo just turned 17 in November and at times only eats once a day. My husband and I get concerned about that so we give her milk every now and again. She seams fine after we give it to her.

      Her hips are giving her trouble now, so I’m thinking on giving her more milk. She is our baby girl and I understand that she is getting to her time.

      We want to keep her as long as possible. You comment on your Shih-Poo helped me greatly. Thank you!

  18. 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.

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

  20. 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.

  21. 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?

  22. 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.

    1. Have your water tested. There may be something in it that she can smell that you can’t. Try bottled water to give to her and see if she drinks it.

      Also, put in a low bowl or something where she can see where the water line is at. I have one that won’t drink unless he can see the water.

      It could be that if the city has treated the water, and the smells are strong from the treatment, animals won’t drink it.

      1. I always give my dog bottled water. It’s cheap (30 cents or less per gallon) and she drinks more of it than if I just give her tap water. We are in Arizona and she’s got a black coat, so it’s really important to keep her drinking plenty.

        She loves milk and ice cream, so I share with her, but in moderation. It gives her gas if she has too much. She loves yogurt just as much, and never has gas from it. We share a vanilla yogurt almost every day 🙂

    2. Wow! I just rescued a dog that has had multiple litters and she won’t drink water. I worry about dehydration so I put water in her food twice a day and with a small treat at lunch.

      Today I tried watered down milk and I am convinced that must have been her fluid intake. I’ll wait and see if we have any problem. If not, her daily fluids will contain milk!

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. I’ll try the bottle water. I have changed the bowl because I thought that was a problem. I’ll see. Thank you.

  26. 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.

  27. 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.

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

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

    1. 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!

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

  31. 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.

  32. 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?

    1. 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!

    2. 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.

      1. Hi Radhika and Sadhana. I was concerned by some Facebook followers where a group stated that milk isn’t good for dogs. 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.

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

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