In circumstances where your new litter is unable to nurse from their mother, you may look to quick and convenient replacements for milk. But what kinds of milk can puppies drink? And why are some more suitable than others?
Your dam’s colostrum and milk are always the best options for your new puppy. But, when asked what kind of milk is good for dogs, especially adults, the answer changes depending on their age and health status. Some types of milk are too fatty and sugary for young puppies, while others are better as treats for adult dogs. Ready to find out more? Read on with us today for all you need to know.
What Milk Can Puppies Drink?
If you are in a pinch and your puppies are failing to feed, it’s natural to wonder what you may be able to give to them instead. However, don’t reach for other types of milk just yet. Not all types of milk are safe or suitable for puppies, especially newborn puppies. So, what kind of milk can puppies drink?
Can Dogs Have Almond Milk?
Almond milk is a great source of vitamin E, a fat-soluble antioxidant that helps to protect your dog’s body from free radical damage. As such, unsweetened almond milk that is free of xylitol is safe for adult dogs in moderation. However, it is high in calories and should not be given often. It’s also not suitable for nursing puppies and is not a replacement for colostrum. Almond milk possesses a different nutritional profile to colostrum and does not offer the antibodies that your newborn puppy requires.
Some almond milk contains an ingredient called carrageenan, a derivative of red seaweed that is used as a gelling agent. In laboratory studies, food-grade carrageenan has been linked to gastrointestinal inflammation and ulcers. Degraded carrageenan, the other form, is known as a carcinogen. However, for every study that suggests carrageenan is harmful, there is another that indicates that it is safe. A 2018 study by the European Food Safety Authority found no adverse effects from carrageenan in rats at high doses. They did, however, also state that there was not enough information on the gelling agent’s effects and would like to conduct more work before they can 100% guarantee its safety. Be sure to do your own research and always check the label before giving your dog new treats.
Can Dogs Have Oat Milk
When it comes to plant-based milk, oat milk is the clear winner for fiber and carbohydrate content. It’s also commonly fortified with vitamins A, B, and D, as well as iron, calcium, and riboflavin. As well as this, oat milk contains less sugar and fats than other plant-based milk, and it’s a generally healthier option for your dog. So what’s the catch?
Oat milk, with its higher fiber content, can cause gas and bloat in dogs. In excess, this can be painful and uncomfortable for your pooch. As well as this, oat milk’s contents may interact with medications used for diabetes and can cause blood sugar levels to drop or increase dangerously when given in excess. Oat milk is not a suitable milk replacement for newborn puppies. Its nutritional profile does not compare to that of a dam’s colostrum and is too high in fiber.
Can Dogs Have Coconut Milk?
Coconut milk is commonly touted as a healthy milk alternative for humans. Firstly, coconut milk is a source of healthy fats called medium-chain triglycerides. It’s also lactose-free, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and anti-fungal in nature. These properties may boost your adult dog’s immune system. As such, unsweetened coconut milk is safe for your dog in small amounts.
However, coconut milk is high in fat and calories – combining this with a carbohydrate-rich diet can quickly result in weight gain for your dog. It’s also important to note that coconut milk is often sweetened, and may contain xylitol. Overall, coconut milk is not a suitable milk replacement for newborn puppies. Its nutritional profile is different and too high in fat, so it is not the kind of milk that is suitable for puppies.
Can Dogs Have Goat’s Milk?
Goat’s milk is a natural source of magnesium, iron, folate, phosphorus, and potassium. With eight grams of protein per cup, it’s also loaded with calcium. It’s also lower in lactose, but only by a small amount – while goat’s milk contains around 4.20% lactose, cow’s milk contains almost 5%. Overall, goat’s milk is great for boosting your pup’s immune system and is a tasty treat that many dogs enjoy. Some breeders will use goat’s milk in puppy mush for four-week-old puppies. Most importantly, some goat milk products are used as milk replacements in a pinch for young puppies. Nutro-Lac, for example, uses goat milk in its ingredients.
However, goat milk alone is not a suitable replacement for a dam’s milk in the long run. According to Shelter Medicine, goat milk contains around 3.6% protein, which, when compared to the 7.5% content of a dam’s milk, means a puppy would need almost twice as much to meet their energy requirements. This can predispose them to diarrhea and other imbalances due to the higher lactose content. Be sure to invest in a high-quality puppy formula that meets their nutritional needs as soon as possible.
Can Dogs Have Cow’s Milk?
Cow’s milk is a good source of calcium and protein, as well as vitamin B12, magnesium, and iodine. Some sources call it a superfood because it offers 13 nutrients. However, because most dogs are lactose intolerant to some degree, the higher lactose content of cow’s milk is not suitable for them. Some dogs suffer from diarrhea after drinking even a small amount of cow’s milk, while others need to drink more to experience ill effects. The same goes for young puppies, too – and diarrhea can quickly become life-threatening for them. It’s not worth the risk to give cow’s milk to a young puppy, and it is not a suitable replacement for puppy milk formula.
Can Dogs Have Soy Milk?
Soy milk is a whole soy food, rich in antioxidants, potassium, magnesium, folate, and zinc. It also has anti-inflammatory properties and is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are excellent for maintaining your dog’s coat and skin health as well as heart health. Overall, soy milk is safe for dogs, in small amounts, and only if your dog is not allergic to soy.
Unfortunately, soy products are major allergens in both dogs and humans. Soy milk is also higher in sugar than other types of milk and may contain sweeteners like xylitol which are toxic to dogs. Lastly, soy milk is not a suitable milk replacement for nursing puppies. Its nutritional profile does not compare to that of your bitch’s milk or a high-quality puppy milk replacement formula.
How Much Milk Can Dog Have?
Any type of aforementioned, unsweetened milk is safe for dogs as a treat in small quantities. A few tablespoons here and there can act as a nice reward for your pooch. However, it’s not advised to give them milk frequently, as each type has its own downsides. Too much cow’s milk, for example, can cause uncomfortable diarrhea and gas in dogs. Too much soy milk can contribute to weight gain as it is higher in sugar and calories. Lastly, adult dogs do not need to drink milk in order to be happy and healthy.
Lactose Intolerance in Dogs
After weaning, your puppy’s body produces fewer lactase enzymes, which makes them lactose intolerant. The degree of this intolerance varies from dog to dog, but most dogs end up with a deficiency of lactase as they age. You’ll find that older dogs struggle more with lactose intolerance than younger dogs do for this reason. As such, when asking what kind of milk is good for dogs, it’s important to avoid milk with higher lactose, sugar, and fat content.
Signs of Lactose Intolerance in Dogs
One dog may experience just mild symptoms, sometimes so mild that you won’t notice anything is amiss. On the other hand, dogs with a severe intolerance will exhibit severe clinical signs. Without enough enzymes to digest lactose, milk passes through the gastrointestinal tract and draws water into the colon. With this, the excess water can result in diarrhea. Then, the fermentation of sugars in the undigested milk causes flatulence and discomfort. Some dogs will also experience vomiting alongside diarrhea and gas. In severe cases, these symptoms may lead to dehydration.
Is Milk Bad for Dogs?
All puppies need milk, ideally their dam’s milk, in order to grow to be healthy and content. However, adult dogs do not require milk in their diet to maintain adequate health and nutritional status. As your puppy grows, the amount of lactase their body produces decreases significantly, as they no longer need to digest milk. This is what leads to lactose intolerance in dogs. Some types of milk can be given as a treat or reward, but as it is not needed in your dog’s diet, it should be avoided where possible.
How to Feed Your Dog With a Milk Replacement
When feeding a puppy with a milk replacement, there are several things to do and several things to avoid. For example, you must only use puppy-safe feeding bottles, use syringes slowly and carefully, and always warm your puppy’s milk to a safe temperature.
Use Animal-Safe Feeding Bottle
When feeding puppies, it’s a must that you choose a feeding bottle that’s appropriate for their needs. Moreover, according to vets, the best feeding bottle that pet owners should use is the one with a small hole in the nipple. The risk of aspiration pneumonia increases when using a bottle to feed a newborn puppy. The most common mistake is to squeeze the bottle during feeding, as it can force puppy formula into the lungs and cause choking or suffocation. When a puppy is nursing normally, it can take 10 to 30 minutes for them to get their fill, so avoid the desire to “speed up” the process by squeezing the bottle.
If your puppy struggles to feed from a bottle, a syringe may be preferred to feed them with. However, syringe feeding must be done with care, as your puppy has no control over how much milk they drink. Always hold the puppy in the position they would be in when feeding from their mother – this means, keep them on their belly, and do not attempt to hold them like a human baby. The goal is to introduce formula into your puppy’s mouth so that it will swallow it spontaneously. To do this, place the tip of the syringe tip in the corner of the puppy’s mouth and express the formula onto the tongue. Give small amounts at a time, allowing time to swallow.
Use Warm Formula
Since puppies cannot regulate their body temperature well, keeping their formula warm is essential. Your pup’s milk replacer should be warmed to 95° to 100°F (35 to 37.8°C). Always test the temperature of the milk replacer on your skin before feeding – it should be about the same temperature or only slightly warmer.
Mix the Milk Well
It is essential to mix your puppy’s formula well before feeding. This is to avoid them choking on their milk or struggling to swallow. You also need to mix the formula well to ensure that your pup gets the most out of their formula, as getting the proper nutrition is crucial for a growing puppy.
Keep a Logbook
Keeping a logbook can help you to track important milestones and information about your puppies. By doing this, you can identify if there are any concerns with your puppies’ development. Be sure to keep track of your puppies’ food intake, stool consistency, when their teeth begin to erupt, and when their eyes open. This information can aid your vet in treating your puppy if they fall ill or seem to be developing slowly.
Contact Your Veterinarian
Always contact your veterinarian if you have any concerns about the health or nutrition of your puppies. However, best practice is to bring your puppies to the vet within 48 hours after birth. This allows them to check for illness, birth defects, and any physical abnormalities.
Milk Puppies Can Drink: FAQs
Still have questions about what kinds of milk puppies can drink? Feel free to check out our Frequently Asked Questions for more information. If in doubt about your puppies’ health or nutrition, always ask your local vet for advice.
Puppy milk is best substituted for a specialist puppy milk replacement formula. A high-quality formula will deliver all the nutrition your puppy needs to develop and grow. Otherwise, whole goat’s milk is another potential, but temporary, replacement for your dam’s milk.
For weaning puppies, evaporated milk can be used. Some pet parents will mix evaporated milk with sterilized water, egg yolk, plain yogurt, and Karo corn syrup. However, be aware that evaporated milk is sugary and fatty compared to other types of milk, and is not the ideal milk replacer for young puppies.
A puppy should feed on nothing but milk or milk replacer for three weeks. Between three and four weeks of age, your puppy should begin weaning. You can mix milk replacer or whole goat’s milk with food to make puppy gruel.
Human baby formula is not suitable for puppies. This is because baby formula is designed to be as close to human breast milk as possible, which means that its formula often contains higher amounts of lactose. Its nutritional profile is also different to that of a puppy’s milk replacer formula.
The best milk for newborn puppies is the colostrum and milk produced by their mother. In cases where this cannot be provided, a high-quality puppy milk replacement formula is the next best step. Where this is not possible, whole goat’s milk is another alternative, but may not be suitable for long-term use in all cases.