Is your puppy lactose intolerant? Has it ever shown any signs of food allergies? And can dogs drink milk, or is it harmful to them?

It all depends on your pet, but generally — no, milk isn’t toxic to dogs.

But before you rush to the kitchen and pour your lovely fluff a glass of milk, hold your horses (or cows) and read on.

Here you’ll find everything you need to know:

Can Dogs Drink Milk?

And is milk bad for dogs? You’ll be happy to find out that milk is perfectly fine for your dog, but there are some exceptions and rules.

Too much fat in your dog’s diet can increase the chances of pancreatitis and obesity. That’s why you should be careful how much milk your puppy drinks. In most cases, a few spoons are fine occasionally.

But lactose intolerance in dogs is fairly common, so it’s a good idea to observe your dog after giving it milk.

Can Puppies Drink Milk?

Puppies up to three weeks old will only rely on their mommy’s milk to grow healthy. They don’t need other food or even water as their mom provides all the nutrients they need.

In the case of a motherless litter, you’ll need to find a way to supplement the puppies with milk. But beware — cow’s milk or other animal’s milk isn’t recommended for young puppies. Cow’s milk is harder to digest and doesn’t contain enough protein.

So what do you do?

A puppy drinking milk from a bottle

Can Dogs Drink Puppy Milk Replacer?

We don’t give human babies cow’s milk if we can’t breastfeed. Instead, we opt for a special baby milk formula. The same goes for puppies. They benefit the most from specialized milk replacement, made to match their mommy’s milk as closely as possible.

You can try Hartz’s powdered milk replacer for puppies. It’s rich in proteins and fats, easy to digest, and infused with magnesium, calcium, and Vitamin A. You can also use this puppy milk replacement for nursing and convalescing dogs.

Can Older Dogs Drink Milk?

Milk isn’t toxic or harmful for dogs. Even puppies can start drinking non-canine milk around their first year. But you should be careful how much milk you give your dog.

So yes, dogs can enjoy milk as a treat from time to time. Still, remember that moderation is key.

Is Milk Bad for Dogs?

Even though milk isn’t inherently bad for dogs, it can cause some unpleasant conditions. 

Milk contains a carbohydrate called lactose. The organism digests it with the help of the enzyme lactase. This enzyme is abundant in puppies as they need it to break down the lactose in their mommies’ milk.

Later on, when they start eating solid food, their bodies don’t produce as much lactase as before. This is when our pooches might become lactose intolerant.

Lactose intolerance and allergies can then trigger stomach aches and other painful and dangerous symptoms.  

Are Dogs Lactose Intolerant?

Not all dogs develop lactose intolerance as they grow up. Many are fine after drinking milk. Some owners even feed their doggies with milk as part of their normal diet. It’s not necessarily a good thing, but it shows that not all dogs develop the condition.

But lactose intolerance isn’t rare in dogs, so you should be careful with the amount of milk you give your pooch. Always observe your dog after you’ve given it milk.

Here’s a list of lactose intolerance symptoms that might help you identify the condition:

  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal tenderness or pain
  • Bloating
  • Dehydration
  • Excessive thirst
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Weight loss

If your pup develops any of these symptoms, stop giving it milk and learn some remedies for a dog’s upset stomach. You can try the nutritious and yummy bone broth.

What Foods Contain Lactose?

We already answered the question “Can dogs drink milk?” but why not dive deeper to learn more? 

If you find that your pup is lactose intolerant or allergic, avoid giving it food with that carbohydrate. Sadly, milk’s not the only product containing it. Here are some of the foods your dog shouldn’t eat:

  • Bread
  • Milk chocolate
  • Salad dressings
  • Creams
  • Breakfast cereals

Most of these are generally bad for dogs, even more so if they have intolerances or allergies. It’s best to contact your vet and run tests to find out whether or not that’s the case. If it is, feeding your doggy special dog food for allergies might be the most reasonable option. 

Can Dogs With Liver Problems Drink Milk?

Sadly, liver diseases are common in dogs. Some breeds, like the Doberman Pinschers and Yorkshire Terriers, are even predisposed to liver problems.

As part of their treatment, vets often put dogs on a special diet. What’s more, they recommend dairy products like cottage cheese, ricotta, and yogurt as a protein source and healthy probiotics for dogs with diseased livers.

But be careful not to overdo it. Dairy products can be harmful to your dog if it’s lactose intolerant. Also, these foods contain high levels of fat — the essential macronutrient that’s processed in the liver and can cause distress if consumed in high amounts.

Benefits of Milk for Dogs

Milk is one of the foods dogs shouldn’t eat in large quantities. And yet, there are some benefits to feeding your pup a bit from time to time.

Dairy products are rich in calcium and proteins, which are essential for healthy bones and muscle growth. Also, they also contain vitamins like A, D, and B12 that help for good sight, strong bones, and an efficient immune system.

But milk isn’t the greatest way to supplement your dog with these vitamins. It’s high in natural sugars, and these aren’t great for our fluffs. A well-balanced diet with lots of meat protein, vegetables, and safe fruits is essential for a healthy dog.

How Much Milk Can Dogs Drink?

Do dogs like milk? Yes, they do, but that doesn’t mean it’s good for them. Milk products can cause severe issues, even if not all dogs are lactose intolerant or allergic.

But small portions from time to time can be beneficial. Give your dog a few tablespoons once or twice a week. Remember to observe your pup for any intolerance symptoms after the meal.

What Kind of Milk Can Dogs Drink?

We talked about milk in general. But there are many different types — from the famous cow’s milk to goats’, and even non-dairy versions like almond and rice milk.

You can easily get lost in this vast sea of milk information. So which ones are safe for your puppy, and which should you avoid?

Can Dogs Drink Cow Milk?

Cow’s milk is an excellent choice for human consumption — it’s high in protein, vitamins, and minerals. But it’s also high in lactose and can cause problems in dogs.

The lactose content in bovine milk is around 4.8% and can irritate your dog’s stomach. If you’re giving your puppy cow’s milk, only add a few tablespoons per serving.

A puppy drinking milk from a pot

Can Dogs Drink Goat’s Milk?

Many sources claim that goat’s milk might be superior to cow’s milk for your dog.

It’s a better source of protein, fat, potassium, and vitamin C. What’s more important is that goat’s milk contains less lactose (4.2%). The difference doesn’t seem significant, but studies show it might be easier to tolerate this content.

Plus, goat’s milk is easier to digest than cow’s milk. It has smaller fat molecules and looser curd formation.

All these properties make goat’s milk an excellent choice for your puppy. But bear in mind that even though it’s better, that doesn’t mean it’s great — too much can still irritate your dog’s body. 

Can Dogs Drink Almond Milk?

Almond milk is generally safe for dog consumption.

This non-dairy milk is made up of almonds and water. Almonds are rich in Vitamin E, magnesium, and fiber for dogs. They also don’t contain lactose, so that’s a plus for intolerant pups.

But (and there’s always a but) be careful what almond milk you give to your dog. Some plant-based milks contain sweeteners and flavorings like chocolate or xylitol. These can be highly toxic to your pup and cause hypoglycemia (low blood pressure), and in extreme cases, even death.

Can Dogs Drink Soy Milk?

Fun fact about soy milk: Its production dates as early as 220 AD in China. So ancient Chinese hipsters were making soy milk and tofu before it was cool.

Soy is safe for dogs, and you can often find it in many dog foods on the market. It’s a nice source of plant-based protein and antioxidants.

But it’s also one of the most common dog allergens both in humans and our furry friends. Some soy allergy signs in dogs include:

  • Ear infections
  • Hair loss
  • Obsessive licking
  • Vomiting 

Can Dogs Drink Milk in the Form of Yogurt?

Yep, plain Greek-style yogurt is good for puppies. It’s high in protein and calcium, and the lactose content is way lower than in normal milk. Plus, yogurt contains probiotics that benefit your pup’s digestive system.

Be careful how much you give your pup, as some levels of lactose remain in yogurt. Give small breed dogs half a teaspoon, medium breeds —  a heaping teaspoon, and large dog breeds — a tablespoon a day.

Can Dogs Drink Coconut Milk?

Yes, you can feed your dog coconut milk. It’s beneficial for your pup’s immune system, furry coat, and breath.

But again, make sure you do it in moderation, as too much can cause irritation. Coconut milk is high in fat, so you shouldn’t overdo it — too much fat in your puppy’s diet might cause obesity and pancreatitis.

Can Dogs Drink Oat Milk?

Oat milk is an excellent substitute for cow’s milk in lactose-intolerant dogs. It’s rich in fiber, iron, and Vitamins A and D. It might also help prevent anemia and support the immune system.

As always, remember the dose makes the poison. In high quantities, due to its high fiber content, oat milk can cause gastrointestinal upset to your dog. 

Can Dogs Drink Cashew Milk?

Just as the other non-dairy milk alternatives, cashew milk in moderation is safe for your dog.

But dogs also have nut allergies, so you should keep an eye on your pup for signs of distress after drinking cashew milk.

Can Dogs Drink Rice Milk?

Rice milk is perfectly fine for dogs. It might even help puppies with upset tummies.

But rice milk has the lowest nutritional value of all plant-based milks. Besides, its environmental impact is immensely high as global rice production releases harmful greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Can Dogs Have Other Dairy Products?

All dairy products are safe for your pooch to snack on. But they contain lactose, so dogs should only get them in small quantities once in a while.

Here are the best milk products for dogs:

  • Ice cream — Dogs can tolerate small amounts of plain vanilla ice cream occasionally. But it’s even better if you freeze some plain Greek yogurt and give that to your pup instead.
  • Cheese — It usually has lower lactose content than milk. That’s why you can safely let your pup enjoy a small piece from time to time.
  • Buttermilk — The probiotics in it are good for your dog’s stomach. If your puppy can tolerate it, a spoon in its food a few times a week can only make your pet healthier.

Can Dogs Drink Milk Every Day?

Well, they surely can. But we’ll advise against that. Even if your puppy’s giving you a teary-eyed-pretty-please look, don’t overdo milk.

Dairy products have high lactose and fat content. They bring many health benefits, too, but too much of a good thing can sometimes turn bad.

You can still give your dog milk, but do it only a few times a week and in small portions (e.g., one tablespoon two times a week).

Warm or Cold Milk for Dogs

Depending on the weather outside, you can give both warm and cold milk to your furry bestie.

In winter, you might add a tablespoon of goat’s milk to your pup’s food and warm it up in the microwave. And on a hot summer day, you can make some yogurt popsicles for both of you.

Conclusion

Dogs can drink milk, and it can even be beneficial for them. But lactose intolerance is common in dogs and can lead to severe conditions, such as vomiting, weakness, and weight loss.

That’s why you should be careful with how much dairy your pup gets.

Generally, goat’s milk is better and safer for your dog than cow’s milk. Non-dairy options, such as almond and oat milk, and dairy products, like yogurt and cheese, are also nice alternatives to cow’s milk.So can dogs drink milk? Yes, they can. But don’t give them too much, or you might see some unpleasant side effects.

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Miglena loves spending time with friends and talking about science over a glass of wine. Born and raised in a small town, she’s always been surrounded by animals. Cats, dogs, chickens, cows, and goats have all been her companions from an early age. Her passion for the animal kingdom became even stronger after she went to study microbiology in Scotland. Miglena’s love for writing, combined with her curiosity, makes her a valuable member of the pawsome advice team.