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Is it ok to give dogs milk?

Is it ok to give dogs milk?

Secrets that dog lovers do not like to share

There are many stories I could share from my practice. Some themes repeat themselves in different versions over and over.

Many dog lovers come to my practice or website with questions about allergies and food intolerances. It’s not unusual that by the time they arrive their dogs have already seen several practitioners and specialists. Along with their pooch comes a stack of file notes, tests and diet restrictions that would make anyone's head spin. 

These diet restrictions often include special diets available only at a veterinary clinic. The latest special allergy formulas are usually made by disintegrating and processing protein to the point where the body and its immune system does not even recognize it as real food, which makes it not react. These super-processed foods are far from what nature intended, so other problems from these foods arise. 

All one needs to do is look at the ingredients to see that something is wrong with the picture. Here is an example of the top four ingredients in one such special diet food:

Corn starch, hydrolyzed chicken liver, powdered cellulose and soybean oil. 

Based on this recipe translation, the so-called scientific approach to allergy diet is to feed starch, liver, wood chips and soy oil. How does that sound to you??

My experience with treating allergies in dog

When it comes to allergies, addressing them in most dogs is quite simple. Most dogs respond well and in a relatively short time to what I call the healing cycle. Part of the healing cycle is a HairQ test to check for mineral deficiencies, essential minerals and vitamins to correct deficiencies and spinal alignment and energy flow check. Some severely affected dogs may need a detox but, generally, the prognosis is good unless there are deeper hormonal causes.

Misdiagnosis in food allergies is common

Unfortunately, there are also many dogs that have been misdiagnosed with environmental and food allergies. I wrote about this topic in a previous article. Many people and practitioners do not realize that many digestive issues stem from back injuries.

However, some dogs have true food hypersensitivity and it is the best to avoid foods that are especially allergenic. One of them is milk.

Secrets that dog lovers do not like to share

When I see a dog that appears to react to a certain food category or meat protein, the first step is a dietary trial. The canine digestive tract is usually most reactive to foods that they would not eat in nature. Grain and milk often end up at the top of the allergenic food list and it is a good practice to ask questions about these first. 

The funny part is that many dog lovers often hide the fact that their dog gets morning toast with peanut butter or a scoop of ice cream after dinner. Knowing this, when I ask if a dog gets any grain, bread or milk products and the answer is no, I follow by asking, "anything else?".  

On average, the confession about the ice cream, cheese, or toast with peanut butter comes after several “anything else?” queries or even several appointments. I find this phenomenon' endearing and challenging at the same time. We all love to give our dogs what they should not eat because we love to eat what we should not too, right?!

I hope that from now on, you will not hesitate to share this information with your veterinarian because it will help him or her help your dog. I completely understand, food is an expression of love and it is hard to deprive our pooches of what they love the most.

Milk or no milk

My answer is, whenever unsure, look at what nature does. 

In general, no mammals in nature consume milk past weaning, which clearly suggests that milk is not essential and that applies to dogs. Some people still falsely believe that dogs need milk to get calcium, but nature solves this with bones. There is also a significant amount of calcium in meat and vegetables. GreenMin also contains highly digestible plant-based calcium but, more importantly, it contains other trace elements that are deficient in soils and food due to intensive agriculture practices.

Everything in moderation

When it comes to nutrition, moderation is usually the way to go. While I do not recommend milk on a regular basis, some dogs enjoy a spoon of yogurt or a small piece of cheese or even the odd lick of ice-cream and, occasionally, it is ok unless your dog has suspected diet allergies. In such cases, one of the first steps of an elimination diet trial should be no grain and no milk products.  

The main reason is that most adult dogs lack lactase, the enzyme that digests lactose - the milk sugar. The inability to digest lactose can lead to bowel inflammation and diarrhea. Knowing this, it is also better to opt for fermented products such as yogurt, which have a lower percentage of lactose thanks to the fermentation process.

What about probiotics?

I am thrilled to see that most dog lovers now understand the importance of probiotics in healthy digestion, immunity and disease prevention. I prefer non-dairy probiotics and canine-specific strains. Many dogs with diet allergies respond very positively to them, especially if they have a tendency for diarrhea or poor digestion. 

If you would like to learn more about allergies in general, here are a few related articles.

The surprising link between back injuries, diarrhea and too much exercise

There is a message of good health and longevity in your dog's hair and elephant's know it

© Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM
About the author

Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM is an Integrative veterinarian, nutritionist and creator of natural supplements for dogs and people. Helping you and your dog prevent disease, treat nutritional deficiencies, and enjoy happier, healthier, and longer lives together.

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