Can Dogs Drink Milk? Exposing The Need To Know Facts
Can dogs drink milk? Whether or not dogs can enjoy milk is a confusing topic for many dog owners.
Is milk safe for dogs, since they drink milk as puppies? The short answer is no; I don’t recommend giving your dog milk or dairy products. While your dog might be okay to have the occasional dairy treat, I don’t think dairy should be a regular part of any dog’s diet.
Just as there are people that cannot have milk, there are dogs that will have a very bad reaction to milk. On top of that, standard cow, goat, or other milk provides no real nutritional value to dogs, so there’s really no reason to include it in their diet.
Keep reading to find out more about how milk makes it’s way through your dog’s system, how it could be dangerous, and what you can do to make sure you don’t accidentally make your dog sick because of a dairy product!
What Happens When A Dog Drinks Milk?
Let’s start by going through what actually happens when a dog drinks milk.
When milk enters the body, the digestive system must break down the lactose into its more basic, sugar components. The two base sugars in lactose are easy to absorb, but breaking them down is not always easy for dogs.
Breaking down lactose requires a specific enzyme called lactase. This enzyme will split the lactose into its base parts.
Producing lactase, however, is not common in dogs and is not a biological feature that they can rely on to regularly occur.
Can A Dog Drink Milk?
As you can see from my answer above, a dog can drink milk. However, it could make them sick. Not only do they produce less lactase after they are no longer feeding as puppies, but some also don't produce any at all.
That’s because some dogs are lactose intolerant. You can start by giving your dog a little bit of dairy to see how they react to it:
You might wonder why some dogs can process milk better than others. Not every dog produces the lactase necessary to break down the lactose in dairy products. This means that some dogs will not be able to break down lactose that enters their system, and they will likely get sick from the dairy, just like people that have a lactose intolerance or allergies do.
If A Dog Cannot Process Milk, What Will Happen To Them?
If your dog doesn’t have the lactase necessary to break down the lactose in milk, they’ll have a gastrointestinal response that will attempt to rid their body of the food.
Symptoms of such a reaction to milk or dairy products can include:
- Diarrhea or loose stools
- Appetite loss
- Weight loss
- Abdominal pain
- Excessive scratching
If you notice your dog exhibiting any of these symptoms (even if the case is mild) after having dairy products, you can assume that your dog does not produce enough lactase. You should make sure to avoid giving them dairy in the future if this occurs.
Is There Anything Else Should I Watch For?
When your dog's system starts exhibiting signs of loose stools or vomiting due to dairy ingestion, you need to be careful about the risk of dehydration.
Just as our bodies lose water when we have a case of food poisoning or digestive troubles, your dog’s does, too. Serious dehydration can be recognized by:
- Sunken eyes
- Dry gums
- Loss of elasticity in skin
When your dog is having a bad reaction to milk or dairy, make sure to keep an eye out for dehydration as well.
But Don’t Puppies Drink Milk?
Yes, puppies raised with their mothers drink their mother's’ milk. While dogs are puppies, they actually have a ton of lactase in their systems which allows them to break down the milk they take in while nursing.
As dogs stop nursing, however, most dogs stop producing lactase as they no longer need it.
Then How Do I Feed My Puppy Milk?
Can dogs have milk to drink while puppies? Yes, but not any milk will cut it. Puppies usually feed on their mother’s milk, which is different from cow or goat milk. If you are raising a puppy that should still be nursing without their mother, you will want to consider a milk replacement formula. Talk to your vet to choose the right formula and feeding scheduled for your puppy!
My Dog Can Digest Milk. Can I Let Them Eat Dairy Items?
Many dogs can eat some milk or dairy without any side effects. But can they drink it everyday? I don’t believe they should be, even if you don’t see any side effects. Lactase production in dogs is not consistent so I wouldn’t spoil your dog with dairy outside of an occasional treat.
Is Milk Good For Dogs?
Is milk good for dogs to drink as it is for most humans? No, it’s not. Milk doesn’t provide essential nutrients to dogs in quantities that they need. I’m a huge proponent of not feeding things to your dog if it isn’t an essential part of their diet.
Is Milk Bad For Dogs?
Even if your dog doesn’t show any side effects when they have dairy products, that doesn’t the risk is over.
Dairy products are often high in fat, and this can cause pancreatitis.
What Happens When A Dog Gets Pancreatitis?
Pancreatitis occurs in dogs whenever they are consistently getting too much fat in their diet. Even just one piece of very fatty meat can make a dog sick. Your dog’s pancreas will overproduce enzymes which in turn cause pancreatitis.
Signs of this disorder include:
- Hunched back
- Repeated vomiting
- Bloated, pain in abdominal
- Loss of appetite
If you see these symptoms in your dog after they have a high-fat dairy snack or another high-fat snack, visit a vet immediately!
The question today shouldn’t be, “Can dogs drink milk,” because many dogs can drink milk. The questions should be, “Is milk safe for dogs?” and “Can they drink milk everyday?” For me, the answers are no and no. Milk, which it can be digested, doesn’t give dogs any nutritional value and can make them sick. If dogs drink milk every day, they might develop pancreatitis.
Pay attention to what you feed your best friend. The best dog food brands won’t have much dairy in them, but they will have all the nutrients your dogs need! Focus on feeding what your dogs actually need, not what you think they might enjoy.