Milk and yogurt are considered to be very healthy for humans. Is it the same for dogs? In this text we are comparing milk and yogurt and we are discovering which nutritive values from these products are important to dogs.
Dogs drink their mother’s milk when they’re born. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s good for them to drink milk later in life.
As with other dairy products, dogs can have a hard time digesting them, as they lack the necessary enzyme lactase to break down the lactose.
When they’re puppies, they have this enzyme and can break down their mother’s milk easily. Later in life, however, they may have problems with goat and cow milk that people drink.
Is milk safe for your dog?
On one side, milk is full of protein, vitamins and minerals, but on the other side it is full of lactose.
In most cases, milk shouldn’t be given to dogs, but there are some exceptions.
As mentioned before, many dogs have problems with dairy products and are lactose-intolerant, while others don’t have any problems with it at all. Therefore, it is very important to establish whether your dog is tolerant or not, as lactose can cause digestive problems, such as diarrhea and vomiting.
Milk can also cause food allergy resulting in redness, itching and irritated skin, just as with humans. In the worst case scenario, your dog can get pancreatitis from a lot of fat intake. In milder case, your dog might experience problems with gas.
You can detect this by sounds coming from their tummy. Most dogs won’t eat until this situation passes. This is a clear sign of intolerance and should be a sign to you, as a dog owner, not to give lactose to your pet. In addition, dogs don’t really have many benefits from milk when they’re older.
Recommended read: Can Dogs Eat Cheese?
What to do if your dog drinks milk?
Lactose intolerance, as mentioned, can lead to gastrointestinal problems. If your dog is intolerant and drinks milk anyway, you have to make sure that your pet drinks a lot of fresh water in order to stay well-hydrated.
If the symptoms of intolerance are mild, you should still keep your dog away from milk, as diarrhea may lead to bacteria problems which could be difficult to diagnose in the future. Of course, some milk isn’t life-threatening, or maybe not even dangerous. Some dogs might even tolerate it.
Can dogs drink skim milk?
Although giving small amounts of it won’t probably cause any harm, drinking skim milk won’t bring any benefits to your dog. Skim milk is not lactose free and will still have quite a similar effect as regular milk.
Therefore, skim milk should not be given to dogs as they won’t be beneficial at all.
How about yogurt?
You might have heard that probiotics are good for gastrointestinal health. Also, more and more biscuits and treats contain yogurt and make you consider it in your dog’s diet. So the question is:
Is yogurt good for dogs?
Many dog owners give yogurt to their pets without any problem. The yogurt itself isn’t dangerous, but lactose, as in other dairy products, might be.
Lactose intolerance aside, many yogurts for humans contain sugar and additives. These additives don’t fit in a dog’s diet. One artificial sweetener in particular, Xylitol, is very dangerous and can lead to a rapid drop in blood sugar, potentially resulting in seizures.
If you want to take advantage of probiotics in yogurt, veterinarians usually recommend probiotic treats made especially for dogs, such as Purina Fortiflora.
Why is yogurt so nutritive?
Yogurt is a source of calcium and protein, thanks to which bones and muscles become stronger and healthier. Also, it contains potassium, a mineral that acts as an electrolyte in order to maintain the perfect balance of fluids in your dog’s body.
This is not the only value from potassium. It has an important role in heart function, it regulates enzyme function and it is responsible for healthy nerves and muscles. Last but not least, yogurt contains magnesium which helps the body absorb vital vitamins and nutrients.
The benefits from yogurt
Probiotics, or good bacteria, are good for intestinal problems and can help with diarrhea. Acidophilus, as the specific organism is called, keeps a good balance of bacteria in the intestines, while it keeps the bad bacteria away as much as possible.
Another benefit could be in case your dog has to take antibiotics. Unfortunately, they kill both bad and good bacteria, but giving yogurt to your pet a couple of hours after the antibiotics will help replace some of the good bacteria.
The probiotics also fight yeast infections, common with young puppies or dogs with recurrent ear and skin infections.
Which are the best yogurt products?
Plain, nonfat yogurt is choice number one, as it doesn’t contain sugar. Sugar in abundance is not good for dogs, or for humans. This yogurt also has a lower fat level, making it easier to digest. Lastly, it contains fewer calories.
If you want to treat your dog with flavored yogurt, some acceptable choices are vanilla, strawberry and blueberry. Once again, beware of artificial sweeteners which can cause a drop in their blood pressure. Even natural sweeteners can do that, yet alone artificial.
The safest option is to use a plain, nonfat, unsweetened yogurt, and just throw in a couple of strawberries with it. Just a spoon or two a day is enough for your dog to get the benefits from yogurt.
Can Dogs Have Soy Milk? Can Dogs Eat Soy Yogurt?
When it comes to soy there has been a lot of debate. Most experts agree that soy is perfectly safe for dogs, while other claim that a long-term intake of soy might lead to certain health issues. But knowing that soy is one of the most common ingredients of commercial dog foods, it would be really strange for this grain to be labeled as “unsafe for dogs”, right?
However, if your dog is not allergic to soy (the chances for it are very minimal), he could have a bit of soy milk or soy yogurt. BUT, the problem with soy products is that they are often packed with sugar, which is never a good thing to feed your dogs with.
So before feeding your pup with soy products check if they have additional sugar. Also, if they are too high in protein it is better not to share any of it with your dog.
From all the information above we can conclude that milk and its different forms can do more harm than good for your pet.
Since there’s no actual need for milk for a grown dog, it is better to eliminate it from your dog’s diet except special cases where it is needed, in particular for puppies and injured dogs. If your dog is allergic but still need lactose after an injury or an illness, there are powder milk replacements especially for dogs.
On the other hand, the answer to the question :”Can dogs drink yogurt” is a much easier YES.
Yogurt can be very beneficial, if your dog isn’t lactose intolerant, and can be used in your dog’s diet regularly, preferably plain, nonfat and without additives. All in all, out of all diary products mentioned in this article, yogurt seems to be the one your dog will enjoy the most.