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Can Dogs Drink Milk? Is Milk Safe for Dogs?

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

Dog Drinking Milk_shutterstock_Kim Christensen

If your household is like most, cow’s milk can almost always be found in the fridge. It’s great with cereal, it can be mixed with coffee or hot cocoa mix, and a tall glass can cool you down on a hot summer day. Milk can be a nutritious part of a human’s diet — assuming they aren’t allergic to it. As a pet owner, you may be wondering whether your dog can drink milk. Is milk safe for dogs? There isn’t a clear yes or no answer here. Some dogs may be able to drink some milk, while others should stay away from it completely. Here’s the lowdown.

Divider 1When Can and Can’t Dogs Drink Milk?

Like humans, some dogs are lactose intolerant. Like milk from animals like cows and goats, a mother dog’s milk has a sugar called lactose in it. Puppies are born with an enzyme called lactase that helps them digest the lactose in their mother’s milk. When they wean off the milk and start eating solid foods, though, they stop producing so much lactase.

Some dogs produce such little lactase that they become lactose intolerant over time. Lactose intolerance can lead to diarrhea, stomach upset, and general lethargy due to not feeling well. Therefore, dogs that are lactose intolerant should never drink milk. However, some dogs have plenty of lactase in their bodies to properly digest the lactose found in cow’s milk. So, they can lap a few drinks of milk up with no problems. Another thing to consider is the fat content in milk. Dogs that eat fatty foods could develop problems like pancreatitis over time.

Therefore, even if a dog isn’t lactose intolerant, they shouldn’t have milk as a regular part of their diet.

Even when a dog can drink milk comfortably, they shouldn’t drink an entire bowl in one sitting. Doing so could still lead to digestive upset over the next several hours. It’s best to give your pooch just a couple of tablespoons worth of milk at any given time to ensure that they can properly digest it.

Image credit: Couleur, Pixabay

Feeding Suggestions and Idea

If you do decide to give your dog milk as a snack or treat, you can just put a little in a dish and allow them to lap it up. But there are a few other fun ways to add milk to your pooch’s diet.

Here are a few that might interest you:
  • Bake Treats With It — Add some milk to oat flour and canned tuna until it becomes a dough. Then roll the dough into little balls, and bake the balls at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or until they start to brown. You’ll be left with delicious treat balls that your pooch is sure to love!
  • Soften Their Food With It — If your dog is getting older and they have a hard time chewing their dry food, you can add some milk to it to soften it up. This will save you money over having to replace dry food with wet food.
  • Freeze It for a Hot Day — Pour milk into an ice cube tray so when it’s hot outside, you can give your dog a cube to cool off with.

No dog needs milk to stay healthy throughout their life. It can be a tasty treat that gives your pooch comfort, but it isn’t a necessity. So, don’t feel bad if your dog can’t tolerate the consumption of milk. On the other hand, there is no reason to feel worried if your dog loves drinking milk and enjoys it as an occasional snack.

Divider 3Our Final Comments

While some dogs can digest milk just fine, others have a harder time doing so. Feeding your dog a little bit of milk and then waiting to see how it affects their digestion is not the only way to find out if they are lactose intolerant. Your veterinarian can run tests to determine whether milk will be a problem. So, if in doubt, talk to your vet. Does your dog like drinking milk? How do they react to it? Feel free to let us know about your experiences in our comments section below.

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Featured Image Credit: Kim Christensen, shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

Authored by

Nicole is the proud mom of Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway, and Baby, a Burmese cat. Originally from Canada, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. Nicole has a strong love for all animals and has experience caring for all types of dogs, from Yorkies to Great Danes. Nicole even worked as a dog sitter during her travels through South America and cared for stray pups — something she ...Read more

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