Can Dogs Have Milk?

Mmm Ice Cream.  Cheese, and milk, and yogurt oh my!  Dogs love everything dairy, just like us.  That creamy sugary mix is just a true winner.  But can dogs have milk?  Some vets will tell you to give your dog a pill with cheese while some will tell you not to give any dog dairy products at all.  Of course, as with just about any other food, our dogs want to eat it no matter what the vet has to say!  What is a poor dog owner to do with all this contradictory advice!?  Well, read on and we will explore the seemingly mysterious subject of dogs and milk.

The fact is, some dogs have no problems digesting dairy products, but yet others will experience intense pain and intestinal problems, like bloating, diarrhea, or vomiting.

Can Dogs Have Milk?Some dogs have no problems digesting dairy products. Yet others experience acute intestinal distress — like gas, diarrhea or vomiting.  It all comes down to one specific part of the milk, which you have probably heard of, a nutrient known as lactose.  When a dog cannot digest milk, it is called lactose intolerance, which also affects many humans.  Lactose is a type of bonded sugar molecule, two sugars chemically bonded together.  To digest the milk properly, your dog must break down lactose into two individual and more basic sugars, that are easy to absorb.  The enzyme that does this is called lactase.  If your dog cannot produce lactase, they cannot digest milk, and most dogs cannot reliably produce enough lactase to digest the lactose.  When your dog cannot digest the lactose, it will cause acute intestinal symptoms, like some really, really bad farts.  If your dog displays any symptoms after eating dairy products, you will know they are having trouble digesting the milk, and thus, have a lactose intolerance.

So can dogs have milk?  A dogs reaction to lactose will be directly related to the amount ingested, and there are varying levels of intolerance, just like in humans.  Some dogs will vomit up dairy while some will just have some gas.  Likewise, good luck if your dog gets into a tub of ice cream, it’s probably a good idea to evacuate as doggy fumigation is incoming!  Not all dairy foods contain the same amount of lactose either.  Cheese and yogurt contain much less lactose than milk or ice cream.  The less amount of lactose, the much less the chance of a lactose intolerance reaction.  So you really have to feel out what your dog can and cannot handle with dairy products, as no two dogs will handle it the same.  There is no inherent problem with giving them dairy products if they are digesting it properly, lactose intolerance is not lethal, just uncomfortable.  Although do feed them dairy with moderation, as it is very high in fats and does not have very many health benefits.  So keep it a treat, and let your dog enjoy some cheese, they love it!