Why Milk Can Be Bad For Your Dog

Julia Henriques

You might be wondering what dogs can drink besides water. Beer and wine are certainly out, but what about milk? If you’ve ever wondered if milk is bad for dogs, here’s what you need to know.  

Is Milk Bad For Dogs?

Milk can be quite bad for dogs. While dogs often like the taste of milk, you should think twice before making it a regular part of your dog’s diet. You don’t have to panic if your dog got into some milk by mistake, but it’s not a good thing to give him often. Read on to find out why.

4 Reasons Milk is Bad for Your Dog

It’s traditional to believe that milk is a healthy part of a balanced diet. It’s debatable if that’s even true for humans. But milk isn’t good for your dog … and she can get the nutrients in milk from other sources.

Here are 4 good reasons not to give your dog milk regularly.

1. Milk Is Relatively High In Sugar And Fat

Adding too much milk to your dog’s diet could put her at risk for obesity. Too much fat in the diet can contribute to inflammation of the pancreas, diabetes, and other health issues. Milk also contains almost a tablespoon of sugar per cup. 

In addition to fat and sugar, milk may also contain proteins (such as caseins) that are inflammatory. You should avoid giving any type of milk to your dog if she has cancer or any digestive or skin issues.

2. Many Dogs Are Lactose Intolerant

Like some people, many dogs are lactose intolerant. This means they lack the enzyme lactase that’s needed to digest lactose, a sugar found in milk. Without this enzyme, your dog will have a very hard time digesting milk and she may suffer unpleasant gastrointestinal symptoms. 

3. Milk May Cause Digestive Upset

What happens if your dog drinks milk without having the lactase enzyme? She’s likely to suffer from one or more of these symptoms after drinking milk:

  • Bloating
  • Flatulence
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea 

This is uncomfortable for your dog, and not very pleasant for you either. It’s not just lactose intolerance that can cause this. Your dog could also be allergic or sensitive to milk. Research shows there are many proteins in milk that can cause allergic reactions. 

4. Milk Can Contain Antibiotics And Pesticides That Are Harmful To Your Dog

Commercial milk doesn’t come straight from the cow to you. It’s collected from different farms and mixed in large vats with milk from other farms and sometimes even with water. 

In most dairy operations, cows are fed antibiotics to control infections, and these antibiotics end up in the milk. Similarly, pesticides present in the cow feed can contaminate the milk.

What Type of Milk Can Dogs Drink?

If milk doesn’t upset your dog’s stomach, you may want to give it occasionally as a treat. Now that we’ve seen why milk isn’t great, let’s look at which types of milk are safer than others for your dog.

Which Type Of Cow Milk Is Best?

Raw, organic, grass-fed milk is the best option for your dog. Raw milk has a higher content of lactase, which will help your dog digest the lactose in the milk. 

If you go with an organic, grass-fed milk, you can be confident that the cows were pasture-raised without exposure to antibiotics, GMO foods, or pesticides. The milk from these cows also tends to be lower in saturated fats, has more protein, and has a healthier balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

A2 milk is a better option than A1 milk. A1 milk comes from western breeds like Holsteins, Jerseys and Friesans. It contains alpha-s1 caseins which can cause inflammation in your dog. 

A2 milk comes from cow breeds that originate from South Asia. Most importantly for your dog, A2 milk does not contain alpha-s1 casein proteins. This makes A2 milk easier for your dog to digest than A1 milk.

Goat Milk Is Safer Than Cow Milk

Goat milk, like A2 milk, lacks the alpha-s1 casein that can cause inflammation in your dog. Also, unpasteurized goat milk has both probiotics and prebiotics, which are beneficial for your dog’s gut health.

Probiotics are good bacteria that help your dog’s digestive system, and prebiotics are plant fibers that are food for the good bacteria. A healthy gut flora is essential for a healthy immune system, so foods high in probiotics and prebiotics benefit your dog’s overall health.

As well as these digestive benefits, goat milk is also higher in calcium and small and medium chain fatty acids than cow’s milk. Smaller fat globules also make it easier for your dog to digest goat milk.

Fermented Goat Milk Is Better Than Regular Goat Milk

Fermented milk, in products like yogurt and kefir, provides extra nutritional benefits to your dog. Fermentation makes milk richer in prebiotics that provide food for the good bacteria in her gut. 

It also has postbiotics that stop harmful bacteria from growing, boost immunity, and reduce inflammation. Postbiotics are created during fermentation, delivering metabolites like short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that help control harmful bacteria, prevent leaky gut and lower inflammation.

Fermented dairy products are easier for your dog to digest because they have more enzymes that help the body absorb nutrients. 

Caution: Don’t give any kind of fermented dairy to your dog if she has a yeast related skin condition. The prebiotics in fermented foods will feed the yeast, so avoid all fermented foods until your dog’s yeast is resolved. 

 There Are Better Sources of Nutrients Than Milk For Dogs

Milk is heavily marketed as a healthy part of any diet. But the truth is, there are no nutrients found in milk that your dog can’t get in other parts of a well-balanced diet. The main nutrients milk has been celebrated for include:

But why risk allergies and indigestion when you can provide all these nutrients through a balanced raw meat diet that includes fresh vegetables and raw bones

In short, the only milk that’s good for your dog is the milk she got from her mother as a puppy. Feed it as a treat occasionally if you must, but don’t make it a regular part of her diet.

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