Can Dogs Drink Milk? Times when it’s safe and when to avoid it

As a pet parent, you want to do what is best for your pup, especially when it comes to what you feed them. Knowing what is safe to feed your dog and what is not can be difficult.

Knowing if it’s safe to give them milk to drink, be it cow’s or plant-based, is no exception.

Let’s consider whether it’s safe for your dog to have milk in their diet, with a highlight on the times when it should be avoided.

Is Animal Milk Safe for Dogs?

The simple answer is that a small amount of pure animal milk as an occasional treat is probably fine for most dogs. However, there are times when your pup should avoid milk and these are discussed below. Animal milk with added colors, sweeteners or flavorings should not be given to dogs.

What about plant-based milk?

In general, the recommendations for plant-based milks (soy, almond, oat, etc.) are the same as for cow’s milk.

Many People are switching to plant-based productsand the question often comes up, “Is it safe for my dog ​​too?”. Plant-based milk must be made naturally with no added sugar or flavorings when given to your dog. If you are unsure of how your plant-based milk is made or what additives it contains, it is best not to give it to your pup. Again, it should only be given in small amounts as an occasional treat and not made a regular part of your dog’s daily diet.

When is milk unsafe for dogs?

There are certain medical conditions when milk is given, either plant-based or cow’s milk, which can be harmful to your pup.

lactose intolerance

Lactose is a type of sugar found in dairy products. lactose intolerance is when the body cannot digest the sugar lactose, leading to signs of indigestion. Puppies and kittens can digest milk because they have an enzyme called “lactase” that does the job. After weaning, the activity of this digestive enzyme decreases. Unfortunately, many dogs suffer from lactose intolerance.

Signs of lactose intolerance are:

  • Diarrhea
  • gas
  • flatulence
  • a stomach ache

If you are unsure whether your dog is lactose intolerant, It’s best not to feed her dairy and to speak to your vet for further advice. Most plant-based milks are lactose-free or low in lactose. However, they can still cause stomach upset, especially when administered in larger amounts.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory bowel disease is a collective term that includes various diseases. A fault is reported as “Food responsive enteropathy” (FREE). The exact mechanism of disease development is not fully understood. Even the specialists in the field of human medicine have yet to reach a consensus! As a simple overview, it is believed that complex negative interactions between your pup’s immune system, the bacteria in the gut and certain molecules in the diet are to blame.

Typically, FRE is associated with sensitivities to certain dietary proteins. Signs of the condition include vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, weight loss, gas or bloating. If your dog has long-standing or recurring gastrointestinal problems, you should discuss this with your veterinarian. It’s likely that some diagnostic tests such as blood tests, an ultrasound scan of your dog’s abdomen and sometimes even a camera scan of the intestines are advised for biopsies. Your vet will then recommend treatment based on the case assessment and your pup’s test results.

For FRE, this often begins as a multi-week dietary trial with strict exclusion. You must adhere to this without feeding any treats or food that could derail the investigation. Depending on your puppy’s age and the severity of their symptoms, dietary testing may be recommended prior to invasive testing. If your dog is suspected or diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease, you should not feed them milk.


The pancreas is an organ that plays an essential role in digestion and sugar utilization in dogs. Pancreatitis is a condition in which the pancreas becomes inflamed. How this comes about in dogs is complex, probably multifactorial, and incompletely understood. However, high levels of dietary fat are considered a potential risk factor for the disease, and this is even more true if your dog has had pancreatitis in the past.

Any dog ​​that has had a bout of pancreatitis is advised to maintain a low-fat diet, sometimes for life. Animal milk is high in fat and should not be fed to a dog with a history of pancreatitis. Although plant milk generally has a lower fat profile, it is still not recommended for dogs with pancreatitis.


Canine obesity is a growing epidemic, leading to a rise in related diseases among our furry companions. A chubby puppy may come across as cute, but being overweight is associated with many health problems. This is because fat not only puts a physical strain on your pet’s bones and joints and increases the risk of joint disease, but it is also “metabolically active.” This means that fat releases hormones and molecules that can negatively impact your pet’s overall health.

If you think your puppy is overweight, you should speak to your local veterinary clinic. They can advise you on a healthy diet and exercise program to help your puppy shed pounds. It is not advisable to supplement your dog’s diet with treats and treats. This will only add calories, making their weight loss journey more difficult. Therefore, it is not recommended to give your furry friend cow or plant milk if he is overweight.

diabetes mellitus

diabetes mellitus is a disease in which the body cannot properly regulate its blood sugar levels. The disease results from problems with the production or response to a hormone called “insulin”. Most commonly in dogs, it results from a failure of insulin production, but other mechanisms are also possible. Signs of diabetes mellitus include excessive thirst and urination, weight loss and increased appetite.

Treatment is usually through regular insulin injections and very careful dietary management. Both plant and animal milk contain naturally occurring sugars. Therefore, if your dog has diabetes mellitus, feeding milk may interfere with diabetes control. It’s wise to never feed your pup anything new if he has diabetes without first checking with the vet who is treating his condition.

milk during pregnancy

Thirsty 7 week old Bernese Mountain Dog puppy drinking milk
Feeding non-dog milk to a puppy can cause an upset stomach.

It’s a common myth that your dog needs milk during her birth pregnancy. The nutritional needs during pregnancy are very complex, and while she needs plenty of calcium, too much can also be harmful. It is advisable to offer your pregnant bitch a complete and balanced growth or lactation diet and avoid any attempts at home supplementation. If you have any concerns about your dog’s diet during her pregnancy, discuss them with your veterinarian who can advise on any changes or additions that should be made.

My breeder says I have to give milk to my new puppy

If you’ve just brought home a new puppy, chances are you received a puppy kit from your breeder with lots of advice and care information. Some breeders advise that your pup should be given regular milk (be it cow or goat milk) as they grow. Provided you feed your pup a wholesome and balanced puppy food, and most quality store-bought diets meet this standard, your pup will not need to add milk to their diet.

Instead, always provide plenty of fresh water. When young, puppies are very prone to dehydration with stomach upset, so it’s best not to put them at risk. If you If you’re looking to feed your new pup a home-cooked diet, we highly recommend consulting your local veterinarian. It is extremely difficult to meet your growing pup’s complex nutritional needs with a home-cooked diet. As such, this should always be done under the guidance of a licensed veterinary nutritionist.

How do I know if I’m giving my dog ​​too much milk?

A small tablespoon every now and then as a treat probably isn’t harmful, but you shouldn’t give your dog a whole bowl of milk. Too much milk in your pup’s diet is likely to cause signs of gastrointestinal upset, including abdominal pain, bloating and diarrhea. Therefore, if you choose to give milk to your pup, it is best to limit yourself to special occasions and only give a small amount. If your dog is uncomfortable after a small amount of milk, you should refrain from feeding your puppy dairy products in the future.

Final Thoughts

A small amount of milk is unlikely to harm your pup unless he has a medical condition that means he shouldn’t be given milk. Too much milk is likely to cause an upset stomach in any dog. If you’re unsure if milk is safe for your four-legged companion, speak to your local veterinarian, who can offer advice tailored to your pup’s needs.

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