Can dogs drink milk like the other dairy products that humans use? We will give you a short as well as the long answer in this article so that you don’t get confused and take care of your loving pet.
It is a hot summer day, you are a ball of sweat, and you decide to dig an ice cream cone from the freezer in an attempt to cool yourself down. You savor the smooth, icy texture gliding down the length of your tongue.
A wet stream begins to dip down your hand, glistening as the creamy dessert starts to melt into a liquid before you can finish the cone. You look down at your best friend laying on his side, legs spread as wide as possible and mouth open wide. You have a choice to make, one that seems to benefit both of you.
In both an effort to avoid the sticky mess and give your companion a chance to cool him off, you lean down and offer up the last bite. After all, he was breathing heavily with that thick fur heating his body like a winter coat in the summer. A slobbery tongue glides across your fingertips and he happily accepts your offering. His nose softly nudges your arm in thanks and you feel the warmth of caring for your loved one overwhelms you. Does this scenario sound familiar?
When we picture animals and milk, we often think of babies getting necessary nutrients from their mother. Some may picture a cat lazily sauntering over to lick out of a milk bowl set out for her, as depicted by a plethora of cartoons in the past.
Many experts agree, however, that adult cats should never be given milk of any kind after their initial kitten year. Yet, many households have another pet capable, and very willing, to try the milky liquid, be it from a cow or a goat. This animal is dubbed man’s best friend and has a slightly more forgiving diet than that of a carnivorous cat. It begs the question “can dogs drink milk?
What Kind of Milk Can Puppies Drink – The Science of Milk
There is a reason society thinks of babies when the words animal and milk are used simultaneously; milk is a mammals right of passage when coming into the world. It is our main source of nutrient, our sustenance, and means of survival for the first moments of our lives. The benefits for our bodies to drink milk are endless; more information comes to light with each new study of breast milk. Did you know a mother’s milk changes based on the current needs of the child or children in question? Milk is such a complex structure that contains almost all nutrients the body requires.
It’s an amazing natural resource produced and used by all mammals in a way that is very much like puzzle pieces fitting together. The miracle white liquid contains a nutrient called lactose, and our bodies digest this nutrient by producing an enzyme called lactase. Lactose is a natural sugar our bodies convert to energy. In other words, mothers manufacture the lactose and the babies produce lactase to help their bodies generate energy.
As babies, mammals produce an abundance of these enzymes making the digestion of milk extremely predictable and straight forward. Humans, cats, dogs, rabbits – any milk producing mother and child go through this cycle of life. That being said, can puppies drink the milk that we human drink, cow’s milk or goat milk? The short answer to that is a cautionary yes. The long answer is a bit more complicated.
Lactose Intolerance in Dogs – Not Just a Human Condition
In a perfect world, we would all be born equal, with all our bodily functions working perfectly, but that isn’t always the case. Disabilities, diseases, and disorders all are an all too familiar part of life. Sometimes puppies are born with little to no production of lactase. This is commonly referred to as Lactose Intolerance.
Many people suffer from this medical condition, as do our pets. In fact, as our animals grow older and wean off their mother’s milk, many develop lactose intolerance as their bodies produce less and less lactase. Dogs are no exception to that, as unfortunate as it may seem. Adult dogs are known to have varying degrees of lactose intolerance, meaning some dogs can still drink milk with no issues while others have unpleasant symptoms after drinking very little. Some of these symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, excessive gas, abdominal pain, and dehydration. That doesn’t sound like a great time for our lactose intolerant friends!
Milk for Dogs Good or Bad: What Happens if a Dog Drinks Milk?
Milk contains another not so secret ingredient we all heavily monitor fat. Just as we try to keep fat content within a healthy range for our own bodies, dogs need to have their diet maintained as well. Not only can too much fat cause diarrhea and vomiting, but it can cause a serious condition called pancreatitis. In this condition, the pancreas swells.
Due to a surplus of fat, digestive enzymes that are normally produced in the pancreas and sent to the small intestine to do their work essentially begin digesting the pancreas itself when they become trapped. Common symptoms are diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and loss of appetite.
Due to a repetitive arching of the back, the dog can develop an abnormal posture, as well. This can lead to other problems down the road, such as arthritis and joint pain. There is no way to eliminate the chances of getting this condition all together; however, there are steps that can be taken to lower the chances of your loved one developing it. In the case of our magical milky liquid, choosing one of the lower-fat content milk, such as skim, may be a better solution than whole milk for your adult dog.
The Rare Canine Milk Allergy: Is It OK for Dogs to Drink Milk?
On rare occasions, dogs can have an allergy to milk. This varies from the digestive conditions above in the fact that it is an allergy-like any other. The symptoms are not exclusive to the digestive system. Some of the ways this can become apparent are if the dog begins itching excessively, develops red or dry skin, develops bald spots, and on rare occasion, begins to have seizures. There is no cure for an allergy, so just be sure to keep an eye on your pup and take extra care should an allergy rear its ugly head.
Hopeful Alternatives: What Can Puppies Drink?
There are many dogs that do not have any issues with milk or milk products and even for the dogs who are lactose intolerant, not all hope is lost. As we mentioned earlier, it is thought that lactose intolerant dogs find themselves on a scale. Some just produce slightly under the required amount of lactase to combat lactose and therefore are able to eat dairy in a moderate amount.
There are dogs that still produce some lactase, but it’s very little. These dogs may have an occasional diary, but it needs to be kept to a minimum. Many milk products, such as cheese, yogurt, creams, and ice cream are lower in lactose than milk is. In fact, Cheddar cheese has less than 1% of the lactose that milk contains whole or skim. It might be in the owner of a lactose intolerant dog’s best interest to give a piece of cheese as a healthy snack as opposed to, say, and a bowl of milk.
The Benefits of Milk for Dogs & Puppies
There are benefits to giving your dog milk that humans drink. In nature, animals typically do not drink milk past weaning years, but as we know for our own bodies, it is a great source of calcium. The first thing we think of when we observe the benefits of calcium is good, strong bones. While that in itself is a wonderful reason to give your dog milk, calcium helps other aspects of the body, as well.
The heart, nervous system, and muscular system all benefit from a good dose of calcium. Our bodies and our dog’s bodies do not produce calcium on their own, so we have to look for other sources to sustain our nutrient needs. If you give your dog a natural diet as opposed to the dry food, finding enough calcium sources may be tricky.
Finally, I would say that this is a complicated question but you might have got an answer to the question “Can Dogs & Puppies Drink Milk That Humans Drink“.