Can dogs drink milk?
Curious if milk or milk products are safe for dogs? How much milk should a dog drink? How often can a dog drink milk? What kind of milk is safe for your dog? Well, you’re definitely not alone! Many dog owners have the very same questions. Read on to learn more about dogs and dairy products.
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Dogs and Lactose Intolerance
The enzyme “lactase” is required to break down and digest lactose, which is one of the carbohydrates or sugars in milk. When puppies are weaned from their mother, they begin to produce less lactase. Some will continue to produce more lactase than others and this is why some dogs can ingest milk whereas others cannot without regret.
Since dogs have varying degrees of lactose intolerance, the obvious way to determine if they are intolerant to milk is by the presence of any sort of gastrointestinal sign such as vomiting, diarrhea, gas, or an upset stomach after drinking milk. The symptoms may be severe or mild. For example, mild diarrhea that occurs in less than 12 hours after eating the dairy product.
Dogs and Dairy Allergies
Not only can dogs be lactose intolerant, but they can also have an allergy to milk or dairy products. Milk allergies can cause similar gastrointestinal symptoms as lactose intolerance. They can also cause issues such as itchy, red skin, skin infections, or even ear infections.
When is it OK to give you dog dairy products?
If your dog doesn’t seem to have any adverse side effects to milk or dairy products then one of the most convenient ways to get a probiotic (specifically, Lactobacillus acidophilus) into your dog is by offering them yogurt. For yogurt to be effective, however, it needs to say somewhere on the label, “live and active cultures” so be sure to look for that.
Greek yogurt is an excellent option for probiotic use in dogs and may help to resolve loose stools or diarrhea. As far as amount, 1-2 teaspoons per feeding for a small dog and up to 2-3 tablespoons for large breed dogs should be about right. However, if this is the first time your dog has had any sort of dairy product, it’s best to start on the lower end and work them up to the recommended amount.
Offering milk or dairy products in small amounts can be an acceptable treat on occasion if your dog doesn’t suffer from any of the potential side effects. There are now even veterinary-specific lactose-free milk alternative treats, frozen or refrigerated. If you do offer regular milk or dairy products, it’s important to make sure that they’re low or reduced-fat to help prevent weight gain or worse yet, pancreatitis.
So, can dogs drink milk? Well, the answer isn’t a cut-and-dry yes or no. In moderation, some dogs can but it’s best to only offer a small amount initially and to discuss with your vet what would be the best choice for your dog.
If you’re worried about your dog after he/she ingested some sort of milk or dairy product or just
have further questions about a particular product, you can book a video call with us at FirstVet to discuss products, get an initial assessment of your pet, and help determine what to do should symptoms arise.
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