There are millions of images of kittens drinking milk, and it’s not so great for them. In fact, most cats are lactose intolerant. But what about puppies and dogs? Can they drink milk? Should they drink milk?
The other part of the conversation is that there are many types of milk. Dairy milk from cows, goat and sheep’s milk as well as some plant-based and non-dairy "milks” like oat milk, rice milk, almond milk, and coconut milk. How do you know what is safe to share with your pup?
Can I give my dog milk?
While it may seem obvious as dogs are mammals and drank their mother’s milk when they were born, most dogs become lactose intolerant as they get older. Small amounts of milk from a cow or goat should be an okay treat for your pet.
Milk is not a toxic substance but it may cause some unpleasant side effects if your pup can’t digest it properly. These include:
How do I tell if my dog is lactose intolerant?
This may be challenging - especially if your pet has overindulged in milk. Even dogs who tolerate lactose just fine may get sick if they consume too much milk.
If your pet is exhibiting the side effects listed above after consuming only very small amounts of milk that is likely a good indication that your dog is lactose intolerant. You should not continue to give your pet milk as it is probably a very uncomfortable experience.
Can I share dairy treats with my dog?
You may also be curious about other dairy products including cheese, yogurt or even ice cream. Can you share these treats with your pup? In limited quantities, your dog might enjoy some cheese or yogurt.
- String cheese can be a high-value treat for leash training sessions as most dogs would do pretty much anything for a bite of cheese. If you are feeding your dog cheese stick with lower lactose cheeses like cheddar and avoid cheeses that are soft, raw or too rich like brie.
- Plain yogurt can be given to your pet in moderation as it is high in protein and calcium. It also contains probiotics that help your dog’s digestive system.
- Whipped cream and ice cream are high in fat and sugar and should be avoided. If your pup gets the occasional Puppacino (whipped cream) from your local coffee shop or a lick of vanilla ice cream on a hot summer day, it won’t cause any long term damage but the sugar, fat, and calories are not providing any health benefits. Too much of these sweet treats can also lead to weight gain.
Are milk alternatives safe for dogs?
Some people swear by the health benefits of goat's milk for their dogs. These include:
- Easier to digest
- Contains vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes
Other kinds of animal milk that may be considered are sheep’s milk and camel milk. Before feeding any milk to your pet, you may want to consult your vet to discuss the risks and benefits.
Plant-based milk may also be safe for your pet in small quantities. Plain almond milk, for example, will not make dogs sick in smaller doses.
Be careful to avoid feeding milk containing sweeteners, gums, or stabilizers that can irritate your pet’s stomach lining. Additionally, be sure to never feed almond milk or any product containing the artificial sweetener Xylitol as this is deadly to dogs.
The Ollie blog is devoted to helping pet parents lead healthier lives with their pups. If you want to learn more about our fresh, human-grade food, check out MyOllie.com.