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Popular culture tells us that dogs love drinking milk. Unfortunately, as much as dogs might enjoy milk and dairy products, there are a few things dog owners need to know about milk before they feed it to their dogs on a regular basis.

Dogs and Dairy Don't Always Mix

Dairy products are a leading source of food intolerance in dogs, and many dogs are lactose intolerant, which means they have difficulty digesting milk. Some lactose-intolerant dogs have trouble drinking milk, but can handle dairy products like cheese and plain yogurt, as they are easier to digest than straight cow's milk. Others have adverse reactions to dairy in general.

Milk Contains Beneficial Nutrients

Luckily for owners who have dogs that love to lap up spilled milk, adverse effects to dairy are not the norm. Many dogs safely consume milk without any adverse side effects, and milk contains vitamin D, riboflavin, vitamin B12, calcium, and phosphorus, which play an important role in your dog's metabolic processes and growth.

How to Tell if Your Dog is Lactose Intolerant

puppy drinking milk

Most dogs can drink milk in moderation, however dog owners need to be aware of the symptoms of lactose intolerance if they plan on giving their dog milk. The most common symptoms are:

Many owners don't find out that their dog is lactose intolerant until after they feed their dog milk. Trying to determine if your dog is lactose intolerant can also be tricky if your dog has consumed a large amount of milk, as this can trigger vomiting and diarrhea even in dogs who are not lactose intolerant. However, if your dog shows signs of these symptoms after drinking a small amount of milk, you might want to find a different treat.

How Much Milk Can Dogs Drink?

Milk is a safe treat in small quantities, but you should probably hold off on offering your dog an entire bowl of milk in one sitting, as this can cause unpleasant reactions such as diarrhea, vomiting, and/or loose stools. A few tablespoons of cow's milk or goat's milk on an occasional basis can be a nice reward for your dog without the side effects of overindulgence.

Milk is high in fat and natural sugars, which is another reason to feed it in small quantities. Too much fat in your dog's diet can lead to obesity and pancreatitis, which are serious conditions.

So Is It Safe for Dogs to Drink Milk?

dog drinking

Dogs can drink milk, but owners should feed milk with caution if they want to avoid intestinal upset. Pay close attention to your dog after introducing milk into his or her diet, and ask your veterinarian about the appropriate amount of milk for your dog's size and health.

For more information about human foods dogs can and can't eat, check out this helpful list.

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