Risks of Dairy Products for Your Pet

The most common problems associated with consuming dairy products are allergies, cramps or diarrhea. The latter causes dehydration, especially in young dogs
Risks of Dairy Products for Your Pet
Francisco María García

Written and verified by the lawyer Francisco María García.

Last update: 21 December, 2022

Some say that humans are the only species that consume the milk that comes from other species on a daily basis.  However, some pass this habit onto their pets by offering their dogs or cats cow’s milk. You should know that there are risks associated with dairy products that can hurt their bodies.

Newborns need milk from their mothers but offering cow’s milk to another animal species can cause digestive problems. Diarrhea or constipation are the most common problems.

Risks of dairy for your pet’s digestive system

When talking about baby animals, you’ll notice that both your puppy or kitten will still be hungry after drinking cow’s milk. This is especially true if they couldn’t complete the weaning stage at the right time. Maternal milk that comes from dogs and cats has a much higher nutritional content in comparison to cow’s milk.

The other risk factor of dairy for domestic pets is that cow’s milk is high in lactose. Lactose is a sugar-protein. Lactase enzymes are necessary for digestion to take place. These enzymes make decomposition of proteins possible in the intestinal tract.

Dogs and cats don’t have the necessary amount of lactase in their stomachs in order to properly digest lactose. This peculiarity can cause different digestive problems, such as colic and diarrhea. It can also cause food imbalances that can cause other food intolerances.

Dog drinking from bowl

Puppies probably have the least tolerance to lactose in cow’s milk. However, cat’s can also be allergic to it or have adverse effects. These problems usually show up about 10 to 12 hours after they’ve consuming cow’s milk or something made with it.

You should keep in mind that a case of diarrhea can cause more complications, especially in puppies. Puppies and kittens with diarrhea may easily become malnourished or dehydrated.

If you have doubts about how to feed a prematurely weaned puppy or kitten, some veterinarians and pet stores sell infant formulas for animals. They’re usually sold as a powder, so they’re easy to prepare. Another option for small puppies that were weaned prematurely is lactose-free cow’s milk. You can find this in special markets.

Can you give your pet cheese or yogurt?

There’s less risk in dairy products that are derived from cow’s milk, like yogurt or cheese. The amount of lactose is considerably lower in these by-products, which makes them easier to tolerate for both cats and dogs. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t animals that are more sensitive and will have negative reactions.

This puppies likes dairy products like milk

You should also keep in mind that cheese and yogurt contain calcium levels that exceed your pet’s needs. Too much calcium or protein can cause bone conditions in dogs and cats.

Some veterinarians may occasionally recommend yogurt. Lactobacilius acidophilus is an active culture of bacteria that can benefit your pet’s intestinal flora. With the right amount of yogurt, you can help your pet if they gave an upset stomach or diarrhea.

It’s not recommended to give them more than one tablespoon of yogurt every 12 hours. To reduce the risk of contraindications, the yogurt should be natural and sugar-free. If your pet is eating it on an empty stomach, the recommended amount should be a half cup.

Your pet will most likely love cheese. However, they have the same risks as dairy milk and yogurt. If you want to give these products with your dog or cat, then give them low-fat cheeses because they can digest them easier.

Cream cheese is a light option for your pet. Remember that any type of dairy could cause an allergic reaction in your pet. So, it’s best to avoid giving your pet dairy products as much as possible.



The contents of My Animals are written for informational purposes. They can't replace the diagnosis, advice, or treatment from a professional. In the case of any doubt, it's best to consult a trusted specialist.