Is Milk Bad for Dogs?

We’ve all snuck our pups and full-grown dogs some foods that they shouldn’t have – other foods, we don’t think there is anything wrong with feeding it to them, but that may not be the case. Have you ever given your dog milk? I have once, and we weren’t too sure about the results. If you’re someone who loves providing organic milk to your pups and you’re unsure if it’s safe, (you should probably stop doing it before you find out the answer!); but continue reading to learn more.

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Dairy and Milk – is it that bad?

While some dogs show virtually no signs of a disdain towards milk or dairy products, there are other dogs that aren’t as fortunate. When given milk or dairy products, some pups can actually have gastro problems like diarrhea and of course, a gassy abdomen. It’s also worth mentioning that they can also vomit because of dairy products, so if you’ve seen this reaction after giving your dog milk, then you should cease providing that to them, as they are unable to have a high tolerance for said dairy product.

If you’re wondering what causes the differences between dogs, it all comes down to something we all know as lactose. Yes, humans and dogs have more in common than you think. The nutrient can bother some humans, but not others, and dogs are much the same.

What’s Lactose Got to Do with It?

Lactose is a form of compound sugar, unlike normal sugar that’s one singular type of sugar. When these who chemicals link together, they can create something that doesn’t settle well with some people. When it comes to puppies, they must digest the lactose, and to do so, their digestion process breaks this compound apart so their bodies can absorb the sugar much easier. If a dog’s body is unable to do this, it means that their body doesn’t produce the necessary enzymes – more specifically, lactase (yes, names are that similar in biology!) It’s common for dogs to be unable to do this, and becoming increasingly rare for a dog to do this successfully and healthily.

If the dog is unable to produce lactase, don’t rush them to the vet – this is normal (who knows, it could be due to evolution!) If you continue to give your pup dairy products while being unable to produce lactase, you’ll be knowingly taking part in giving them acute intestinal problems. If you love dogs and hate a big vet bill, we don’t suggest you continuously giving them dairy, despite their tummy troubles.

The aforementioned issue with breaking down lactose via lactase is something the pups have in common with some humans: lactose intolerance. If you find (or smell) that your dog is a bit gassy or going to the bathroom after having milk or some sort of dairy, you probably have a lactose intolerant pup on your hands.

Can It Be Any Other Problem?

Now, lactose intolerance doesn’t describe every dog’s problem. In fact, there are proteins within dairy or milk that a dog can be allergic to, but aren’t common toxins for other pups. At the end of the day, milk isn’t toxic for a puppy per se, but the contents within can disturb a dog’s stomach greatly. The more lactose the dairy product has, the more it may upset the dog if their body doesn’t produce lactase. In the next section, we’ll discuss more about lactose contents of a product and what it means for your dog.

Can We Train the Lactose Intolerance Away?

While a silly question, there’s something to address within this. Not all dairy products have the same level of lactose in them, allowing pups to have certain dairy products, and others to not. The content of lactose (or lack thereof) will ultimately determine if a pup can have them. The less lactose within a dairy product, the more likely your pup can deal with this normal. In a cup of whole milk, there are 11 grams of lactose within them – the same for skim. Ideally, this is not a very wise decision if you want to give your pup whole milk. Cottage cheese, American cheese, Swiss cheese, and Cheddar cheese all have less than 3 grams (and even 0 grams) of lactose within them. If you feed this to your puppy and this is fine for them, it’s because of the lack of lactose within the product. There are even some types of yogurt that don’t feature a lot of any lactose at all.

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What About Soy Milk?

Typically, soy milk and other types of soy products pass the test when it comes to a pup’s digestion. Since dogs can digest this ingredient and there have been no real cases of adverse effects against soy milks and dogs, we say that yes: you can give your dog soy milk. In fact, soy is quite often used in pet food manufacturing due to it being the best source of protein, while being extremely inexpensive. If a dog is allergic to soy, we obviously don’t recommend you giving it to them, and the allergy wouldn’t be due to any lactose problems. Soy milk products that are organic may be a bit better for your dog, but always introduce products slowly into a dog’s diet to test if they’re allergic. If you give it to them all at once, and they obviously don’t know if their allergic yet, it could prove fatal.

At the End of the Day…

As we spoke of in the aforementioned section, the less lactose the product has in it; the more likely your dog will be able to have said dairy product. If you’re thinking about giving your dog whole milk, we suggest that you try a small amount first to determine if your pup is able to have it at all. While some dogs do have the capability of breaking down the sugar compound in lactose, it’s common for a dog to be unable to do so.


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