When you think of a pet drinking milk, you may automatically imagine a cat lapping up a bowlful by a cozy fire. But what about dogs? Can a dog breed, like poodles, drink milk? Is it even safe for poodles to drink?
Poodles can drink milk in moderation. Although dogs don’t require milk to be healthy, dairy products can provide essential fat, protein, and carbohydrates to supplement a healthy diet. Despite this, many poodles are unable to break down the sugars in milk, resulting in lactose intolerance and other health conditions.
Your poodle may be eyeballing your ice cream cone or glass of milk right now. Of course, it’s hard to ignore those big sad puppy eyes. The question is…do you have to? Let’s find out.
Is Milk Safe for Poodles to Drink?
If your poodle has gotten into the milk jug somehow and gulped down more than he should’ve, there is no cause for concern.
Milk is not toxic or fatal to poodles. While providing milk to your poodle does not come without health risks, poodles can enjoy dairy products safely in moderation.
It would seem like whole milk has all the healthy ingredients a poodle needs: fat, protein, and carbohydrates, and in similar percentages to a recommended diet for dogs. However, the carbohydrates in milk are all sugars, which throws off the balance of fiber and complex carbs.
When puppies drink milk from their mother, they produce an enzyme called lactase that helps them digest the milk. As dogs mature, they make less and less of this enzyme.
Mature poodles, and any dog really, are not able to break down the sugars in milk, which can lead to lactose intolerance.
Lactose Intolerance in Poodles
You won’t know if your poodle is lactose intolerant until you give him some milk. When you do, watch out for signs of lactose intolerance, which usually occur within twelve hours of ingesting milk.
Signs of lactose intolerence in poodles include:
- Gas (incredibly stinky flatulating)
- Loose bowel movements
Even dogs that aren’t lactose intolerant may show one or more of these signs if they take in too much dairy product at one time.
Allergic Reactions to Milk in Poodles
Cow’s milk and dairy products, as well as other types of milk, can trigger an allergic reaction in dogs, including poodles. It’s a common issue, and you should stop giving your poodle any dairy products if you see any of the warning signs.
Signs of a milk allergy in poodles includes:
- Redness or irritation of the skin
- Itchy ears
- Yeast infections
If your poodle shows severe levels of any of these warning signs, you should immediately contact your vet.
Drinking Milk: Serious Health Problems in Poodles
In addition to the common issue of lactose intolerance, drinking milk can cause more severe problems in poodles. Whole milk and dairy products made of whole milk, such as cheese, cream, or yogurt, are high in fat, and too much fat is not good for dogs.
Drinking Milk can lead to serious health problems in poodles such as:
Drinking too much whole milk and eating an abundance of whole milk cheese or yogurt can lead to an overweight poodle. And just like with us humans, obesity is often the cause of other, far more serious, health issues.
Obesity in dogs can lead to heart disease, hypertension, cancers, and respiratory issues.
Bloat in a poodle occurs when gas or food stretches the stomach out way beyond its normal size. Obviously, this can cause intense pain for the animal. But beyond that, one of the dangerous results of this bloat is that the stomach can twist around on itself and cut off the places where trapped gas and food should exit.
Bloat is a life-threatening emergency and can lead to death in just a matter of a few hours. You should contact a qualified vet immediately if you suspect bloat in your poodle.
Pancreatitis is the inflammation of the pancreas and is a severe and potentially life-threatening health issue for a poodle. The primary cause of pancreatitis in dogs is a diet high in fat, particularly when receiving a considerable amount of fat at one sitting.
Drinking too much high-fat milk can lead to acute pancreatitis. Once your poodle has experienced a bout with pancreatitis, it’s common for this condition to become a recurring or chronic situation.
Signs of pancreatitis in poodles include:
- Vomiting repeatedly
- No appetite
- Abdominal pain or bloating
- Hunched back
What Kinds of Milk Can Poodles Drink?
Generally speaking, poodles can drink most of the kinds of milk on the grocery shelves right now. As we’ve already noted, dogs don’t need dairy in their diet, and since many are lactose intolerant or allergic, it’s important to heed caution when offering any milk to your poodle.
Safe milk options for poodles to drink include:
The lactose content of cow’s milk varies only slightly among all types. With whole cow’s milk containing a lot of fat, you might think that reduced-fat or skim milk would be a better choice for your poodle.
However, because much of the fat has been removed, these lower-fat options often have more lactose, or sugar, than the same amount of whole milk.
|Type of Cow’s Milk
|Lactose (in grams per cup)
|2% Reduced Fat
|1% Reduced Fat
A lower-fat cow’s milk without any added sugar could be an acceptable option if you really want your poodle to have milk. Be sure to read the label carefully to check for added sugar.
Goat’s milk has gained popularity as an alternative to cow’s milk. At nine grams per cup, it is lower in lactose than cow’s milk. With less lactose, goat’s milk should be more easily digestible by your poodle.
For dogs, raw goat’s milk offers health benefits such as:
- Better digestion
- anti-inflammatory properties
- reducing allergies and itching.
Another milk on the shelves in greater quantities these days is almond milk. While the milk itself will not harm your dog, almond milk can sometimes contain the additive xylitol (an artificial sweetener), which is toxic to dogs. Almond milk is also high in calories.
If you want to offer your poodle almond milk, give it in small amounts and check the label to make sure it doesn’t contain xylitol.
Other Kinds of Milk
When considering the sizable number of alternative milk products on the market, you may be wondering which are safe for your poodle. Before offering one of these milk types to your poodle, it’s important to check the labels for harmful ingredients.
Safe Alternative milk products for your poodle includes:
- Coconut milk: Safe but may contain additives; overly processed.
- Soymilk: Safe, but soy is a top allergen for dogs; high in calories with added sugars; may contain xylitol
- Oat milk: Safe in limited amounts
- Rice milk: Safe; more easily digested but high in glycemic index and calories
- Hemp milk: ONLY safe if free of all THC compounds
The good news is that drinking cow, goat, or other alternative kinds of milk will not be deadly for your poodle. A little bit on infrequent occasions is okay as long your poodle can tolerate lactose.
Keep in mind that dairy is not a nutritional need for dogs, and drinking too much milk can lead to health issues. If you can’t resist those puppy eyes, limit your poodle’s milk intake to a few licks or sips of your ice cream or milk. And if you notice any side effects afterward, immediately call your vet.
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