Lactose-Free Milk For Dogs – Are These Safe (Pros And Cons)?

When dogs are past weaning, they become lactose intolerant. Thus, to answer the question theoretically and logically, lactose-free milk is safe for dogs. If you feed a dog with lactose milk, it is likely to experience diarrhea and gastrointestinal distress – which are unpleasant things. This can also happen if a dog takes in lactose-free milk. Really, individual dogs have different reactions to milk, lactose, or lactose-free. But if you choose to feed your dog with milk, it is safer to pour the lactose-free kind. You can also consider other options if you’re looking to give the dog particular nutrients.

This article will give you some little information about lactose and lactose-free milk. Then, it will address the heart of the topic: lactose-free milk for dogs. It will soon commentate on lactose intolerance in dogs before it answers some frequently asked questions about dogs and milk.

Let’s get milky! 

About Lactose-Free Milk

With lactose-free milk, the essential things to know are its health information, benefits, and drawbacks. You should know that lactose is just a type of sugar you find in dairy milk. You will find a particular amount of it occurring naturally in the milk of a cow. Also, it can be found, although in smaller traces, in sheep and goat milk. Lactose-free milk is that which lacks the sugar lactose.

How They Make Lactose-Free Milk

During milk processing, what manufacturers do is add lactase – an enzyme. So, when a person consumes the milk, the lactase in it breaks down the lactose. Some lactose-free products include cream, lactose-free whole milk, and skim milk.

The addition of lactase is the most taken-up method by manufacturers to give their customers milk that lacks lactose. The other, more extreme methods include passing the lactose milk over lactase or doing the lactose-milk separation mechanically. The more complicated and complex the method is, the costlier the lactose-free product will be.

Dogs And Lactose-Free Milk

Many dogs find it troublesome to break down the sugar in milk because they are genetically intolerant. As mentioned in the kicker, this becomes apparent when the puppy has already been weaned. Although giving a dog cow milk that doesn’t have lactose is a brilliant idea, a growing canine will still need its mother’s milk.

Giving a small amount of lactose-free milk will not have any detrimental effects on the pup. Under normal circumstances, however, it would be better to provide the pet with fresh water. Remember that whether you feed a dog with lactose or lactose-free milk, it all comes from a cow, and in the end, the dog will still be ingesting a dairy product.

Sick Dogs And Lactose-Free Milk

Are there special occasions where giving a dog lactose-free milk would prove beneficial? Yes. Speaking from a nutritional perspective, milk will help the dog compensate for vitamin deficiencies or recover from chronic illness.

With that said, you must get the opinion of an expert. Quite frankly, and in my opinion, it is essential to give the dog a hydration solution rather than milk of any kind. The point here is that as much as you can provide lactose-free milk to dogs, you need to do it with reservations as it may have some implications, however little.

Lactose Milk Versus Lactose-Free Milk

Although it is not detrimental, you should not encourage your dog to be drinking milk all the time. Lactose-free milk is a brilliant option, but it lacks enough calcium content to benefit the dog. But, it wins over the lactose milk because it will cause less gastrointestinal disruption.

As already mentioned, it won’t be an issue if you gave a modest amount. If you are still keen on feeding the dog with lactose-free milk, consider getting it diluted.

Reduce Any Complication In The Dog’s Diet

As reiterated up to this point, there is no way you can bypass the issue – dogs have a particular sensitivity when it comes to lactose. What is the rationale, really, for triggering a stomach upset or gastrointestinal problems? If the pup were in the wild, it would not be drinking milk. After you feed the dog with the milk, watch it keenly to see if the milk reacts vigorously. Then, take vet action.

Putting Puppies To Perspective

The only species which drink milk past the infancy stage is humans. So, it is unnatural to give milk to dogs. When pups are young, they take in a lot of lactose. However, it does not take a lot of time before they detach. If you need to give your puppies lactose or lactose-free milk after weaning, you should check up with your vet.

Lactose Intolerance In Dogs

This section will explore how lactose milk can give a dog troubled times. Dairy products have several components – some of them being preservatives, proteins, sugar, and fat – that can take your dog’s stomach on a roller-coaster ride. This section will bring to your attention the warning signs that may come up to indicate that your dog is having an overwhelming reaction to milk. It will also help differentiate between the ideas of lactose intolerance and allergic reactions to any dairy products.

Many times, people confuse the signs of intolerance to lactose with allergic reactions triggered by dairy products. However, that should not be happening because the two are different reactions, and the common thing between them is adversity. See the following table:

Dogs And Their Reactions To Diary Products
It can occur from a food additive or food in the milk.It has an immune-system (or immunological) component to it.Its consequences are systemic.It is non-immunological.It is, mostly, an abnormal or unusual response by the dog’s physiology to a food additive or a food.It may occur when the food is first ingested 

How Lactose Intolerance Manifests In Dogs

1. Diarrhea

As a manifestation of lactose intolerance, this is the most common symptom. When you notice that your dog’s fecal matter is increasing and coming out loose or watery, it may be diarrhea from the milk. The lactose in it cannot be ‘tolerated’ by the dog’s physiology. If the stool is normal – firmly formed – you don’t have anything to worry about.

You can get unique charts online that can help you monitor your dog’s fecal matter. With the information on the chart, you can know what is normal or abnormal to the door. If you are dealing with a case of lactose intolerance, you are likely to see diarrhea stool 12 hours after the dog takes in the milk.

2. Vomit

Although vomit has a particular commonness when it comes to dogs, it may be alarming when it comes out intensely or frequently. If the dog is sensitive to any dairy products, the vomiting can be triggered by the lactose changes that happen after the dairy product is ingested.

Before the vomiting occurs, nausea is likely to kick in. To know if the dog is feeling nauseated, it will start licking surfaces or drooling a lot.

3. Inappetence Or Lack Of Appetite

If the dog is showing a particular disinterest in food, it may be nauseated because of gastrointestinal issues triggered by the dairy product. If you don’t know what really caused the reaction, you need to investigate. It could be the box of milk you left unattended yesterday.

Inappetence is often a sign of many other things – injury, intolerance, or even a virus. You need to consult a vet to know what the issue could be.

4. Bloating And Swelling

With bloating, the gas content in the stomach will start increasing. This will also happen in the large and small intestines, making your dog feel uncomfortable.

Intestines have a particular elasticity – they accommodate the changes that come with ingested food volumes and the gases given out by bacteria and sugar fermentation in the gut. However, bloating may be a little too overwhelming for them.

5. Flatulence, Or Breaking The Wind

You’ve probably heard and smelled when your dog passes gas. To some extent, it can be amusing. Although flatulence is not a cause for alarm, it implies that some food fermentation is happening in the gut. If it is in excess, it could be that the dog is reacting to the lactose it got from consuming dairy.

Causes Of Lactose Intolerance

As mentioned elsewhere, lactose is a type of sugar. It can make its way to the colon of your dog if lactase is insufficient to break it down. If the lactose stays in the colon, it will draw water into the colon. Resultantly, the stool will come out loosely, or diarrhea will occur.

Signs Of Dairy Allergy In Dogs

On the one hand, lactase is the only item that causes lactose intolerance – a common thing among adult dogs. If you feed your dog with a lot of dairy products, gastrointestinal upsets are likely to occur. The only problem is that the lactose has not been broken down.

On the other hand, an allergic reaction to dairy products means that the dog’s physiology cannot tolerate milk proteins (as opposed to sugars). It is vital that allergy information be caught early. Generally speaking, a dog that is dealing with an allergic reaction towards milk may experience more severity as compared to lactose intolerance.

Allergic Reaction Signs
VomitingDiarrheaExcessive itchiness – licking anus, paws, and scratching earsHivesSkin redness in the anus and earsSwelling on the facial areaTroubled breathing

Seek immediate vet care if the dog has an allergic reaction shown by troubled breathing, hives, or facial swelling.

What To Do In Both Situations (Allergy And Intolerance)

To know if dairy is the mastermind of the dog’s troubles, you should eliminate it from your dog’s diet. Then, monitor the pet for days or a few weeks to see if the signs decrease. You need to eliminate all cheese, ice cream, and all human dairy foods.

If no changes occur and the symptoms persist, you can take the dog to the vet. There, you will be able to evaluate its condition with an expert, preferably a vet nutritionist.

If you like giving your dog yogurt or milk because of the probiotic benefits, you should use formula made specifically for dogs. That way, the dog will get the good kind of bacteria and avoid the gastrointestinal problems that come with lactose. 

Related Questions: Dogs And Different ‘Milks’

1. Can A Dog Be Given Almond Milk?

Assuming a vet confirms that your canine friend is lactose intolerant and can’t break down any dairy products, could you consider non-dairy drinks? The almond type of milk is one you can go for as it is an excellent plant-based product. But can dogs accommodate it?

Nuts – like macadamia – can be toxic to a dog. Experts of canine health say that although almonds pose little harm than the other nuts, dogs do not digest them well. Also, they have high-fat content, meaning that they can introduce pancreatitis and obesity to the dog if taken in large quantities.

Small, tablespoon amounts of almond milk will be okay if you give them to your dog occasionally as a treat. Before you give them regularly, you should test them on the dog and see if the canine experiences any bowel upsets.

If you choose to go for almond milk, be sure that you read the label. The almond milk you intend to give to your dog may be sweetened, and you should stay away from it. Xylitol – which is used to sweeten milk – can have detrimental effects on the dog’s system.

2. Can A Dog Be Given Soy Milk?

Like almond milk, soy milk is a plant-based, non-dairy alternative. So, what are the pluses and minuses, if any, of soy milk? One of them is that it contains isoflavones, a particular type of protein known as phytoestrogens. The word phytoestrogens should be interesting to you as it includes estrogens, which are female hormones. Small amounts of soy milk are safe, but there is still a debate about giving soy proteins to dogs in large quantities.

Some pro-isoflavones say that the dog can reap health benefits from ingesting those proteins. For humans, the proteins can help in mitigating the risk of developing estrogen-sensitive cancers and lowering oxygen. Evidence from stories has it that soy protein helps in reducing urinary incontinence in canines. Actually, some veterinary experts recommend that dogs be given isoflavones-containing supplements.

In a moderate amount, giving soy milk is not detrimental to the health of your dog. Actually, many pet foods have ingredients whose bases are formed by soy. Since the digestion of soy milk is a well-done business by dogs, you shouldn’t worry about giving the milk in small amounts.

3. Can A Dog Be Given Oat Milk?

Like soy and almond milk, oat milk is an excellent substitute for dairy milk. Oats do not expose dogs to any risks and are not toxic, meaning that oat milk gets a green flag. However, it should be given in small amounts, and the dog should be monitored for any adverse reactions.

4. Can A Dog Be Given Coconut Milk?

This is a product that many lactose-intolerant people go for. But, can our furry canine friend drink from the same cup? Like the others, the idea is that the milk will cause no harm to your dog. Then, you should only give it occasionally and in small quantities. However, it is essential to note that the ASPCA – the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals – highlights coconut milk as human food that pets should not eat.

But that shouldn’t scare you. ASPCA lists it because the oils contained in coconuts can cause diarrhea and stomach upsets when ingested in large amounts.

5. Can A Dog Be Given Goat Milk?

As an alternative to cow milk, goat milk has become an option that many dog owners are exploring. This increased love for goat milk is getting more people wondering about its safety. Many vets and animal experts say that the many clients going for raw goat milk believe it has benefits.

When contrasted with the milk of a cow, that of a goat is better nutritionally. It has higher levels of potassium and calcium. However, it is lower in nutrients such as folate and B12. In terms of lactose content, goat milk has an amount lower than that in cow milk.

The many people who vouch for goat milk say that it is easier for a dog to break down considering the differences in protein and fat structures. Also, a dog that drinks goat milk is likely to have fewer allergic reactions.

So, what is the bottom line when it comes to feeding dogs with goat milk? Well, like the non-dairy milk types, you must give it in moderation. Any dairy product provided in large quantities is never a brilliant idea. If you want to switch to the milk of a goat, you can start with small servings and assess the dog’s reaction. If all is well, you can serve it to your pup occasionally.

6. Can A Dog Puppy Be Given Cow Milk?

As you may already know, the best milk to give a puppy is its mother’s milk. It is the best nutritional source for puppies that are nursing. However, what happened if a newborn puppy loses its mother? Some situations like the mother’s death make a dog owner start looking for alternatives to keep the puppy alive. But, what should they go for?

It is better to give commercial milk replacers instead of cow’s milk to help in puppy nursing. The dog’s milk comes rich in calories and protein and is easy for the puppy’s stomach to break down compared to a cow’s milk. Before you make your choice, ensure that you get a vet’s recommendation; don’t go for dairy or plant-based milk too soon.

Remember that the lactose levels in cow milk are higher than those in dog milk. So, if you’re dealing with a lactose-intolerant pup, the little one is likely to be a bit too sensitive to the lactose effects. If the puppy delivers loose fecal matters after drinking cow milk, eliminate it and all other dairy products.

7. What Are The Ins And Outs Of Milk Replacers For Pups?

As already established, a puppy should be entirely dependent on the milk that its mother gives, especially for the first few days after it is born. The milk that the mother provides contains colostrum, an ingredient high in protein that helps build, boost, and improve the puppy’s immune system.

So, if you’re taking up a milk replacer, you should go for milk formula for puppies. This is the best option and should come first before other non-dairy and dairy kinds of milk. Research and studies have shown that some different milk replacer brands compare better even to the milk of the mother dog. However, some other milk replacers have low levels of fat, calcium, and protein than other replacers.

Experts in dog nutrition recommend that you give puppies a milk replacer with high amino acids, fatty acids, and calcium levels. Before you make any ‘replacer’ move, ensure that you talk to your vet.

8. What Is The Truth Behind Milk As A Treatment For Dogs Suffering From Constipation?

Many times and on many online sources, milk is listed as one of the home remedies that can help take care of constipation in a dog. Notably, the suggestion is not a recommendation given by dog nutrition experts and veterinarians. It probably worked with several dogs and is now something that people have faith and belief in.

When a dog is lactose-intolerant, milk functions as a laxative. So, instead of taking good care of the problem, giving a dog lots of milk can open it up to the opposite issues.

If your dog gets constipation regularly, it is recommended that you get the opinion of a vet. They will give you a more sustainable solution that will not cause the dog any extra problems, you know, on top of constipation.

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