Dairy and its numerous forms are so delicious. Some foods just aren’t the same if they aren’t piled with gooey, melted cheese or chased with a glass of cold milk. Sometimes a simple dessert of a dish of ice cream is the perfect end to your day. No matter how you take your dairy, its calcium and vitamin D are good for the human skeletal and immune systems. Kids thrive on it and it’s perfect for helping prevent osteoporosis in women. Whatever your reasons for consuming dairy are, you should know that it isn’t as good for your dogs as it is for you and your two-legged children.
Dogs and Lactose
The problem with dairy is all dogs aren’t lactose intolerant, but if they are, they don’t have the ability to digest dairy like humans do. They don’t naturally produce lactase, which is an enzyme necessary for breaking down lactose, the sugar found in milk.
If a dog consumes dairy, their body will react with a variety of symptoms that can range from mild to severe. If you sneak your dog cheese, for example, you might notice gas or loose stools. When you’ve given your dog an entire ice cream cone as a treat after a stressful vet visit, your dog could come down with diarrhea.
Unfortunately, you won’t know if your dog is lactose intolerant until you’ve given them dairy and they become sick.True lactose intolerance will make your dog miserable with days of diarrhea and vomiting. It can take at least 10 days for the lactose to actually leave your dog’s body, so your dog is in for a miserable few days. You’ll also have to keep an eye out for dehydration, and some dogs might require veterinary care to help treat the dehydration. Mild lactose intolerance will manifest as gas, a rumbling tummy, and inappetance.
When it comes to straight milk, your dog’s body won’t be able to handle it. Some people argue that dogs can drink milk because they thrived on it as puppies. There’s a big difference between dog milk and cow’s milk, however. Cow’s milk is designed to support the growth and development of calves, not puppies, and especially not grown dogs.
Dairy isn’t necessarily dangerous for a dog except for the risk of dehydration from diarrhea, but that doesn’t mean that it’s good for your dog. There’s a huge difference between “dangerous” and “okay”, but that doesn’t mean “okay” is healthy for your dog to eat.
Are Other Types of Dairy Safe for Dogs?
There are different types of dairy, and you might be considering these other types of milk for your dog. First, ask yourself why you think your dog needs milk or other forms of dairy. If you’re concerned about putting weight on your dog, you should consult with your vet to make sure there isn’t an underlying problem causing weight loss. If you want to give your dog a treat, there are plenty of dog-safe options out there.
Goat milk has been considered safe for dogs because it lacks the lactose found in cow’s milk. It’s also higher in fat, so that’s something to consider if your dog is already overweight or lives a sedentary lifestyle. Goat’s milk is also very expensive, so that’s something else to take into consideration.
You should avoid soy and almond milks/cheeses. There isn’t a lot of research about the effects of soy on dogs, so it’s best to keep it out of their diets for now. Almond milk is very high in protein, and too much protein can actually damage a dog’s kidneys.
Yogurt is relatively safe for dogs, and it’s an excellent way to introduce probiotics back into the digestive tract after a round of antibiotics or a few days of diarrhea. Probiotics are bacteria, and they’re necessary for a functioning digestive system. Antibiotics can wipe out that good bacteria, so they need to be replaced to stop any diarrhea or gas.
It’s really not necessary to give your dog dairy in any of its many forms. Their dog food provides all of the necessary vitamins and minerals they need, so there isn’t found in dairy that your dog is missing from their diet. If you add dairy to their diet, you’re simply giving them fat, protein, and lactose that their body doesn’t need. While a few bites of cheese here and there won’t cause any harm, frequent doses of dairy are going to catch up to your dog’s digestive system. Spare them the misery and give them food that’s a bit more suitable to their bodies.