Lactose intolerant means that our body can’t digest lactose that well, which is a type of natural sugar found in milk and similar dairy products. When lactose gets to our large intestine without beign digested in the right way it can cause uncomfortable symptoms like gas, belly pain and bloating.
There are also people with lactose intolerance that can’t digest milk at all, and other can but in very small amounts. Lactose intolerance is common in people, and mostly Native Americans and Asians, Africans and South Americans.
The biggest challenge for people with lactose intolerance is that they have to make up for the calcium which is a main component of dairy products. Since lactose intolerance is very common in people, the question is are dogs actually lactose intolerant since they can’t eat milk? And the answer is yes, dogs can be lactose intolerant.
When is it ok to give milk to dogs?
When we think about dogs drinking milk, we imagine a small puppy and a bowl of milk. And in this case, this picture is ok, or puppies can eat milk. Puppies have an enzyme in their digestive systems which is responsible for breaking down lactose. Even tough, puppies crave mother’s milk, it doesn’t mean that they will take in that well cow’s milk or goat milk. You can certainly try it out, and if he has a bad reaction, stop it.
The period when dogs can become lactose intolerant is the period after they have been weaned. They will start to produce less lactose, and he will probably show signs of lactose intolerance if he gets in touch with dairy products.
Dairy products can also cause food allergies in dogs. They come as a sort of irritator, so symptoms of redness, itching and GI upset are possible.
Since grown dogs lack in enzyme that breaks lactose, they can have more problems digesting dairy products. Deficit levels of lactase can lead to diarrhea and vomiting. Dogs can also develop a serious disease called pancreatitis if they eat dairy products, especially the ones that are unfamiliar to them.
You will probably notice if your dog is lactose intolerant, by his behavior after eating dairy products. The main symtoms will appear, and if things get worse make sure to call your vet.
If your dog happens to eat dairy products, then you shouldn’t be too worried. If it’s a small amount he won’t probably even show any signs of intolerance. But, if he consumed a larger amount then expect his digestive system to react.
This will probably occurr 12 hours after consuming milk, so monitor his reactions for a while.
Dairy products and their effects
Different dairy products have different reactions to dogs that have lactose intolerance. Cheese can cause your furry friend constipation and also abdominal pain. He will have to strain before defecating and will produce only small, dry feces. Many dog owners use cottage cheese instead, which doesn’t produce these effects.
Milk can perhaps cause the biggest problems. It will make him bloated, he will get diarrhea, vomiting and all other symptoms of lactose intolerance. If your dog doesn’t seem to mind eating milk, then it is ok to give it to him occasionally, and in smaller amounts so he doesn’t get sick. There are milk-bone dog treats that are much more appropriate for dogs, and they won’t have trouble digesting them.
There are powder milk perplacers that are made for dogs and puppies. They are easier to digest and provide all the important vitamins and minerals. This is also important in recovery treatment for dogs and puppies after surgery or hard illness.
Treating your dog after consuming dairy products
If your dog is lactose intolerant and he eats dairy products, then you should keep him well hydrated. You can also try giving him natural remedies that are well known for treating digestive troubles. If he shows signs of severe lactose intolerance, then definitiely call your veterinarian or take him directly.
Dogs can even refuse to eat food until their stomachs calm down, so make sure to provide him all the nutrients after his digestive systems settles down. Consuming a small amount of dairy products won’t be a problem for your dog, but it doesn’t mean it should be a sign to give it to him.
There are many dairy options today that can be used in nutrition. Soy milk should be avoided because it contains high levels of protein. This might be hard for your dog to digest, and also skim milk won’t be any better option.
A healthier option is yogurt, but of course the one without sugar or fruits. These types are not good for him for obvious reason, and that is sugar. You can use lactose free-milk as well, but make sure to find the ones that are as low as possible in lactose so he doesn’t have trouble digesting it.
In the end, milk is not a very recommended food for dogs. Most of them are lactose intolerant, and will experience trouble when trying to process milk, or other dairy products. You can use milk in your puppies diet, but also be very careful not to give him too much, and you should definitely discontinue this practice if you notice any signs of lactose intolerance in your canine friend.
You wont to help him and not hurt him, so there are other dairy options like yogurt and lactose free-milk that can be used, and still provide him enough calcium for the day.