Is it ok to give my dog plant-based milk?
Alternative milk options can be given to dogs in replacement of traditional cow’s milk. Plant-based milk alternatives such as soy, almond, and oats, are as nutritious as traditional milk and have significantly less lactose and sugar content, making them a safer alternative for dogs. But are all plant-based forms of milk safe for dog consumption? We’ll go into detail about each plant-based milk, how they’re made, their nutritional value, and if they’re safe to give to dogs regularly.
Can I give my dog regular cow’s milk?
Milk is rich in different vitamins and minerals. At a first glance, can be seen as a healthy and ideal source of nutrients for dogs. However, as nutritious as milk is, it isn’t always a good idea to give to dogs as it can cause several gastrointestinal problems. Most dogs are lactose-intolerant and can’t properly digest milk. Milk also has high fat and sugar content that can cause weight problems or diabetes in dogs if given regularly.
What are plant-based milk products?
Plant-based milk is extracted from different plant sources such as soy, almond, coconut, and oat. Unlike traditional milk harvested from a cow’s mammary glands that are rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals, plant-based milk contains lower nutritional content. In some plant-based milk, some nutritional components seen in traditional milk like sugar and calcium are absent. They also tend to have lower lactose content making it safe to give to dogs with established lactose- intolerance.
Commonly seen plant-based milk alternatives are soy, almond, and oat milk. Though considered generally safer than traditional milk, it is still best to understand what’s inside these plant-based milk products, their nutritional components, and other ingredients to determine if plant-based milk is safe to give to your dog and what type is appropriate for your dog’s nutritional needs.
Things to Consider Before Adding Plant-Based Milk to Your Dog’s Diet
It’s normal for dog owners to want to provide the best diet and nutrition for their dogs. While plant-based milk products are often a safer alternative to traditional milk while retaining some of the same nutritional benefits, it’s still best to consult your vet and discuss the benefits and risks of giving plant-based milk to your dog.
Each type of plant-based milk has some health risks that all dog owners need to keep in mind. It is best to weigh the benefits of supplementing milk alternatives against the possible health risks it may cause. In most dogs that are getting a high-quality diet, additional supplements or food ingredients are rarely needed to meet their nutritional needs.
In cases where supplementing the diet with plant-based milk is recommended, discussing the type of milk alternative with your vet is important, as each type has different nutritional values and health implications.
Is Soy Milk Safe for Dogs?
Soy milk is the most popular and the most common plant-based milk alternative available. It is derived from soybeans and is a good alternative protein source for both humans and animals. In fact, soy protein is a common ingredient in most commercially available dog food. Soy milk is made by soaking, grinding, and boiling soybeans and filtering out solid particles.
While soy milk can be a good protein source for dogs, some things need to be considered before supplementing your dog with one. The most common health problem associated with soy milk supplementation in dogs is an allergic reaction. Food allergy in dogs occurs when their body mounts an immune response against a potentially allergic component in the food or drink they ingest.
Most food allergy cases in dogs are caused by a reaction towards the protein component in the diet. Since soy milk contains high amounts of protein, it poses a relatively higher risk of triggering an allergic reaction in dogs compared to other milk products.
Most soy milk commercially available has sugar added to them during preparation. Continuous supplementation of regular soy milk to dogs can increase the risk of diabetes mellitus, a hormonal condition that often requires lifetime treatment and management. The sugar component can also slowly degrade the dog’s teeth and lead to periodontal disease.
An alternative to prevent problems like these from developing is using unsweetened soy milk products for your dogs.
Is Almond Milk Safe for Dogs?
Almonds, unlike other nuts, are not toxic and are considered very safe to give to dogs. Naturally, milk extracted from almonds should be the same. Regular almond milk is popular in humans who are on a strict ketogenic diet because of its low calorie and protein content and relatively higher fat content compared to other milk alternatives. In dogs, almond milk is safe to give in small amounts as some sort of treat or supplement.
Problems encountered in giving almond milk in dogs are mostly related to digestion issues. Almond, being high in fat, can be difficult to digest by some dogs, resulting in gastrointestinal signs like watery and oily diarrhea.
The high-fat content of almond milk can also potentially lead to pancreatitis in dogs, a serious gastrointestinal condition that can be fatal if not addressed immediately. This condition is usually triggered by the ingestion of high-fat food ingredients, a category almond milk falls into. If you decide to give your dog almond milk, it’s best to give it in small amounts to prevent these health problems from developing.
Is Oat Milk Safe for Dogs?
Oat milk is derived from whole oat grains soaked and mixed in water, sometimes with an added sweetener such as sugar. Oat milk is highly digestible and has practically no toxic components, making it very safe to give to dogs. It also contains higher nutritional components such as vitamin B-complex, calcium, and Vitamin D compared to other plant-based milk products.
The only risk associated with oat milk in dogs is its relatively high fiber content. While fiber is essential in keeping a healthy GI tract, too much of it can lead to various symptoms like constipation and diarrhea. Like with other plant-based milk alternatives, oat milk is best given in moderation to avoid any potential gastrointestinal problems.
Need to speak with a veterinarian regarding your dog’s food/drink or another condition?
Click here to schedule a video consult to speak to one of our vets. You can also download the FirstVet app from the Apple App Store and Google Play Stores.