Can Dogs Have Milk Products?
Yes, dogs can typically have dairy in small amounts. And, as you may already know, many dog owners find that their dogs love dairy items, such as cheese and ice cream. The key here, as always, is moderation.
For example, your dog can probably handle a few spoonfuls of milk, but can’t handle a full bowl of milk. Likewise, it is okay for dogs to eat dairy products once or twice a week, but eating dairy products everyday may cause problems.
Keep in mind that, depending on how well your dog digests lactose, they may experience gas, vomiting, or diarrhea after consuming items such as milk, cheese, or ice cream.
The following sections will go through some common questions related to feeding dogs dairy!
Why is it important to determine if dogs can have dairy?
These questions are especially pertinent as more and more chain restaurants have begun to offer dog menus with supposedly “dog-friendly” treats, such as whipped cream, custard, and ice cream.
Of these menu options, the most well-known is Starbucks’ Puppuccino, but others include the Dunkin’ Donuts puppy latte, Dairy Queen’s Pup Cups, Shake Shack’s Pooch-ini, etc.
Before allowing your dog to indulge in these sweet treats, first understand the risks and benefits that come along with feeding dogs dairy.
Looking beyond “Can Dogs Have Milk Products?”
What is lactose intolerance?
Lactose intolerance is very common in dogs. Dogs with lactose intolerance don’t have enough of the lactase enzyme to break down the sugar in milk, called lactose. If you are feeding your dog a dairy product for the first time, share a small amount, and observe how they react to it.
If a dog has a dairy allergy, they may show many of the same signs as intolerance, but with a more severe reaction.
How do you know if your dog is lactose intolerant?
Lactose intolerance differs between dogs. Some dogs may be able to handle dairy products such as cheese and plain yogurt, and only experience symptoms with milk. Other dogs will have symptoms with all dairy products, with varying levels of severity.
The most common sign of lactose intolerance is diarrhea. Other common symptoms you may observe if your dog is lactose intolerant include gastrointestinal issues such as passing gas, bloating, abdominal pain, or a sudden change in appetite.
Can feeding dogs dairy contribute to other allergies or health conditions?
When lactose intolerance or dairy allergy symptoms worsen, secondary complications, such as skin and ear infections can occur. Once you have narrowed down the allergy to dairy, eliminate it from their diet.
Does dairy have any probiotic benefits?
Both plain, Greek-style yogurt and goat’s milk have probiotic benefits.
Probiotics support healthy digestive and immune systems, while inhibiting the growth of bad bacteria. Good bacteria can help remedy chronic conditions, such as liver and kidney disease, diabetes, GI diseases, and indigestion.
That said, the amount of dairy a dog would have to consume to have significant probiotic benefits would likely be more dairy than most dogs can handle.
Can dogs have milk products on restaurant menus?
If the serving size of these menu items is small enough, they can safely be shared with your dog as an occasional treat. That said, at Yitto Paws, we believe dogs are sweet enough and don’t need any added sugars.
But if you’re willing to break that rule on occasion, look for lower sugar items like Starbucks Puppuccino (which is simply whipped cream served in an espresso cup) vs. larger, more sugary, higher calorie treats.
What are the best options when feeding dogs dairy?
- Yogurt is a great source of calcium and protein for your dog! Plain yogurt with no added sugar can be used in homemade dog treat recipes or served on its own in moderation.
- Greek yogurt would be a good choice because it’s a lower lactose food, containing about a third of the amount of lactose in a cup of milk.
- Goat’s milk is another good option for dogs since it may be easier for dogs to digest than cow’s milk due to the enzymes and smaller fat molecules it contains.
- Additionally, the forms of protein in cow’s milk (alpha-s1-casein, beta-lactoglobulin, and alpha-lactalbumin) are more likely to be associated with allergic reactions.
- As always, choose organic grass-fed dairy! Organic, grass-fed milk is more nutrient-dense and higher in omega-3 fatty acids, a healthy type of fat.
- Like humans, dogs cannot produce omega-3s on their own but adding them to your dog’s diet will support body and brain function.
- By choosing organic, grass-fed milk you can also be sure that the cows have not been given recombinant bovine growth hormone or antibiotics.
Dairy products to avoid:
- While the answer to the question “Can Dogs Have Milk Products?” is technically yes, many dairy products are not necessarily safe for dogs.
- Dairy products to avoid include those containing fats, sugars, and preservatives, each of which are not healthy for dogs, especially in large amounts. Diets high in fat can contribute to the development of pancreatitis.
- Like humans, dogs can become addicted to sugar, so it is important not to give them products that contain added sugar!
- Sugar can also cause health complications, such as obesity and diabetes, or destroy their teeth.
- If you’re looking for a special treat, choose foods that are naturally sweet, such as fruit!
- Ice cream especially is high in both fat and sugar. Try out frozen dog treat recipes using healthy dog-friendly ingredients like Greek yogurt, bananas, and peanut butter for an easy ice cream swap!
- Yitto Paws is committed to making products free from any added sugar.
- Avoid overly processed treats, which contain a long list of ingredients. When a dog consumes heavily processed foods, they run the risk of consuming harmful toxins and chemicals.
- Stick to the basics and choose products with short and simple ingredient lists or make your own! It is easy to make healthy frozen treats for your dogs with whole ingredients that you recognize.
- Most importantly, beware of products that contain xylitol! Xylitol is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol used to sweeten sugar-free foods.
- For humans, too much xylitol can have adverse digestive system effects. For dogs, it is extremely toxic and potentially fatal.
- Many human foods, including some yogurt and ice cream brands, contain xylitol as a sugar substitute, so it is critical to read product labels before sharing foods with your dogs.
Three healthy recipes to try feeding dogs dairy:
Check out our founder’s recipes for frozen dog treats, which have a base of plain yogurt! The recipes, Blueberry Banana Frozen Dog Treats and Frozen Peanut Butter and Banana Dog Treats, each have only 3 ingredients.
These recipes are perfect for incorporating fruits in your dog’s diet, a topic covered in our post, The Complete List of the Best Fruits Dogs Can Eat Plus Tips & 2 Simple Recipes.
Coming soon: Our recipe for a Healthier Pumpkin Puppuccino that’s filled with ingredients we love like pumpkin and oats! This recipe is a nod to Starbucks’ classic pumpkin spice latte but will make your dog happy all year round. Keep an eye out for a more detailed post on the benefits of feeding dogs pumpkin as well.
P.S. These recipes sound so tasty you may want to try them out for yourself too!