Mystery of Milk: Is it safe for your pooch?

Dairy products can have great benefits for humans. They’re rich in vitamin D and calcium, which can help keep your teeth and bones healthy and strong. Milk has a lot of benefits for humans, but when it comes to our furry friends it might not be as beneficial as you think it is.

Dr Kumar Mangalam Yadav
Dr Kumar Mangalam Yadav

One of the most commonly asked questions pet parents ask is – can my pet have milk? Your furry friends drink their mother’s milk, but when it comes to dairy substitutes, it is a big No. Milk is not toxic to your furry friends, meaning your four – legged friend can have a lick! Most dogs love dairy products which mean that milk and other milk-based products remain popular additions to canine diets. But it’s not recommended that they drink it regularly, and the reasons might surprise you.

Love to lick – puppies and their love affair with milk

Does your furry friend give you those hard-to-resist eyes while you are indulging in a glass of milk? But as you take another sip, you might wonder “can my furry friend drink milk?”

Milk contains a sugar called lactose that requires an enzyme for proper digestion known as lactase. A newborn puppy who’s nursing produces a lot of lactase, which is an enzyme that allows it to break down lactose, a sugar found in milk. That’s why puppies can drink their mother’s milk easily with no side effects.

As puppies become weaned and are no longer dependent on their mother’s milk, they will produce less lactase in their digestion system. This is the reason that they become increasingly lactose intolerant. The lactose in milk is blamed for diarrhea, vomiting, loss of appetite, bloating, flatulence, and other symptoms associated with lactose intolerance.

Is milk safe for my adult furry companion?

Though drinking milk is not toxic to your furry friend, it may produce a lot of significant problems. Many dogs are lactose intolerant to some degree, which means they have a difficult time digesting dairy products.

Your pet can’t tell you when they’re unwell, so it’s important to keep an eye on their behavior to recognize the signs of being unwell. You may check for the following signs for tracing the health of your pet –

  • Loose stools
  • Bloating
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Flatulence
  • Cramping
  • Dehydration
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of appetite

Sometimes, lactose intolerance is confused with a dairy allergy in pets. Dairy allergy refers to the inability to tolerate the proteins in milk and can be far more serious. Dogs with dairy allergies may display signs such as –

  • Red, inflamed skin
  • Itchiness and scratching
  • Hives
  • Facial swelling
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Licking their paws
  • Hair loss

Because of the high fat content of most dairy products, especially whole milk, consumption can lead to pancreatitis for your pet, which is a serious health concern.

Say yes to healthy homemade ice cream for your pooch

Dr Ashwani Kumar Singh
Dr Ashwani Kumar Singh

Your pet loves frozen dairy treats like you, but frozen dairy treats are not good for them. Ice cream made with cow’s milk is likely to be high in lactose, also sweetened with sugar, high in fat, and artificially flavored. All these together are not a good combination for your beloved pet’s health. Always check the ingredient list carefully. Some ice-creams contain xylitol, maltodextrin, polydextrose, sorbitol, which may be toxic for dogs.

You could prepare a healthier ice-cream treats at home. Just freeze some plain yogurt in ice cube trays. You may also add fresh fruit, peanut butter, or other sugar-free flavorings before freezing to give your pets a healthy and delicious homemade ice-cream treat!

With a sip or two, there’s nothing to worry!

You should avoid allowing your pet to have large amounts of milk and other dairy products. Keep an eye on the above-mentioned symptoms. Usually, upset stomach will occur approximately twelve hours after your pet has consumed milk or any other dairy product.

If you notice these signs of lactose intolerance, or a change in behavior possibly caused by dairy’s adverse effects, call your vet right away.

(Dr. Ashwani Kumar Singh and Dr. Kumar Manglam Yadav – Bachelor of Veterinary Science & Animal Husbandry from Rajasthan University of Veterinary and Animal Science, Bikaner. They run their pet clinic in Kanpur and Lucknow.)