Not a substitute for professional veterinary help.
Many of us enjoy milk every day, in breakfast cereal, in our coffee and smoothies, and as the perfect sidekick for a couple of cookies at snack time. Is it ok to share milk with our dogs?
Can Dogs Drink Milk?
Maybe. Dogs do not process fat as easily as humans do, so milk should only be served on occasion. Dogs may also be lactose-intolerant; you’ll know if your dog has loose stool or bad gas after consuming dairy, typically.
If your dog isn’t lactose-intolerant, then reduced-fat milk without added sugar should cause few issues. Don’t allow your pet to drink chocolate milk, of course, since chocolate can be fatally toxic to dogs.
Is Milk Healthy for My Dog?
Milk contains lots of good stuff that dogs need in their diet, including protein, calcium, and vitamins A, D, and B12. But milk isn’t the best way to get these nutrients, and the reason is that milk is too high in sugar.
At first glance, whole milk looks like ideal health food for dogs. An perfect balance for a dog’s diet is a ratio (by weight, such as grams) of 30% fat, 30% protein, and 40% carbohydrates (including sugars). Whole milk has a very similar ratio: 30% fat, 30% protein, and 45% sugar.
The problem is that all the carbohydrates in milk are sugars, mostly lactose. Even if your dog can tolerate lactose, this amount of sugar without complex carbohydrates and dietary fiber is off balance. Reduced-fat and skim milk have slightly higher sugar content, cup for cup, because the fat has been removed.
One solution to this is to share other, lower sugar dairy products with your dog. Cheese and yogurt are both lower in sugar because in the culturing process the probiotic bacteria in yogurt and cheese digests the sugar.
If you want to share a bit of regular old milk with your dog, that’s ok, as long as she can tolerate lactose. But yogurt and cheese are more dog-friendly options.
- Share plain yogurt (never sweetened yogurt) with your dog by topping their food
- When giving your dog medications, yogurt, especially thick Greek yogurt, is a good way to hide a pill
- Mix up our dog-friendly High Protein Cheesecake Bites featuring cottage cheese and nonfat yogurt
Can Milk Be Dangerous for My Dog?
As my big mix-breed dog Princess Daphne Sparkle Ballerina Dancer taught me, no matter how fancy a dog’s name, their lactose intolerance farts are truly staggering in odor and longevity. Truly. Staggering.
If your dog cannot digest lactose, you will probably know within a few hours because you’ll experience secondhand your dog’s symptoms of flatulence and diarrhea.
Why are some dogs lactose intolerant? Just like in people, some dogs produce an enzyme called lactase that pairs with lactose and breaks it down into digestible units. If there’s no lactase available, the lactose sugar goes undigested and causes trouble as it passes through the digestive system.
Symptoms can include bloating, vomiting, diarrhea, and very smelly flatulence.
How Much Milk Can My Dog Have?
With all dairy, it’s a good idea to follow the 10% rule—limit your dog’s treats to 10% of her daily calories.
Milk-based Recipes for Dogs
Yogurt is a healthy probiotic addition to a dog’s diet. Try some Yogurt Peanut Butter Banana Paws and Frozen Cantaloupe Paw Pops. To mix up a shareable treat for your next puppy play date, I recommend our Easy No-Bake Strawberry Yogurt Dog Treats.
- Author: Kiki Kane
- Prep Time: 11 minutes
- Total Time: 11 minutes
- Yield: 20 balls
- Category: Think Pink!
- 1 1/2 cup oat flour (pulverize rolled oats in the food processor to make your own)
- 1 cup coconut flour
- 1 cup plain nonfat yogurt
- 1/3 cup strawberries (about 4 large)
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 Tbsp dried pomegranate seeds (you can skip this ingredient if you can’t find them in your store)
- 1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut flakes
This dog treat recipe couldn’t be simpler!
- Combine all ingredients in the bowl of your food processor and pulse until combined.
- Form balls by the handful, or make whatever size works the best for your dog.
- Squeeze tightly!
- Chill before serving for best consistency.
Feeling fancy? You can roll these in more unsweetened coconut flakes for a fluffy effect.
For More Information
Learn more about feeding your dog a wonderfully varied diet while learning the limitations of a dog’s sensitive digestive system. We offer a collection of articles on foods that are safe, dangerous or even toxic for dogs to eat, including vegetables, dairy, bread, and junk food.