Can dogs be Lactose Intolerant?

by Healthy Barks Social September 05, 2022 5 min read

Can dogs be Lactose Intolerant?

Is Milk Bad For Dogs?

Dogs can be lactose intolerant too, just like humans. Where most dogs readily gulp down dairy products, it is a pet parent’s responsibility to ensure that it doesn’t harm the dog in any way. While mother’s milk is the best form of nutrition for puppies in their neonatal period, things become different as they grow and step into adulthood. In order to survive those early weeks of life when they are most vulnerable to infections and diseases, mother’s milk which is rich in antibodies provides the pups with much-needed immunity. Most puppies are fully weaned when they are 6 to 8 weeks old. 

Fact Check: Cow milk contains about 5 percent lactose while dog milk contains a mere 3.7 percent. Cow milk also does not contain as much fat, protein, or calories. 

As puppies grow, they lose their ability to digest milk. The lining of the puppy’s intestinal tract secretes“lactase”- a special enzyme that is meant to break down lactose into two easily digestible and absorbed simple sugars,“galactose”and“glucose”. As the matured puppies are introduced to solid foods, production of lactase gradually decreases, making them more susceptible to developing digestive problems such asflatulence, diarrhoea, bloating, cramps, nausea, and stomach pain. 

Can dogs be Lactose Intolerant?

Let’s understand in detail about this condition in dogs.Sometimes pet parents confuse symptoms of lactose intolerance with an allergy to milk products. Indeed, these are two separate genres of disorders in dogs.

Signs of Allergy

Signs of Intolerance

Occurs due to food or food preservatives present in milk products after some days or years.

Quick abnormal physical response to a diet or food preservative right after the first digestion of dairy food.

It has an immunological element.

It is non-immunological.

Symptoms of lactose intolerance in dogs can be seen as early as 30 to 120 minutes after ingesting milk or a dairy product containing lactose.

With this article, we’ll review the caution signs to notice.


What is Lactose

In simple terms, lactose is a sugar found in milk. You will notice that pet milk found in the market is mostly lactose free. When lactose enters the digestive system of a lactose intolerant pet, the body is unable to break down this sugar and hence the pet is incapable of digesting it. This happens because the enzyme (lactase) responsible for tolerating the lactose depletes as your pet grows, This causes tummy upset in your canine companion along with other symptoms. 

Can dogs be Lactose Intolerant?

Food labels verification helps to know lactose content. Pet parents can find a listing of lactose’s ratio in each dairy food.


Physical Symptoms of a Lactose Intolerant Dog

  • Diarrhoea
  • If parents notice that their dog is producing more quantity of feces or if it’s moist or loose, undoubtedly the dog has diarrhoea due to lactose intolerance. Usual dog stool must be firm and stable.

    Thischart is available for observing your pet’s stool and knowing “what is regular for them”? Having lactose intolerance, parents will probably realise their dog's diarrhoea after 12 hours of their pet ingesting a dairy food.

  • Vomiting
  • It’s dangerous when it occurs repeatedly. For dairy-complex dogs, vomiting may arise from variations in the gut when eating dairy foods. If your dog rapidly starts drooling more or licks the ground, this can be a symptom that he or she is unsteady and is going to vomit.

  • Lack of Appetite
  • When your dog is dull with food intake, this may be a symptom that they are facing Gastro-intestinal difficulties. You’ll have to determine whether your pet is normally a selective eater or if the loss of appetite is because of consuming dairy. A sudden alteration in appetite is also a reason for this sickness; either it can be lactose intolerance, an injury, or a virus. Make sure to consult with your vet for a clear diagnosis.

  • Bloating
  • A surge in gas production in the stomach, along with the small and large intestines, may make your dog look bloated. In general, intestines are capable of stretching with respect to changes in consumed food quantity and gases formed by bacteria and sugar’s fermentation in the gut. Bloating is painful when excess gas is occupied.

  • Flatulence
  • It is a signal that food is inflaming in your dog’s gut. Extreme flatulence might be a symptom that your pet friend is lactose intolerant, mostly if it happens after dairy food consumption.


    Can My Dog Be Lactose Intolerant

    What to do if you suspect Lactose Intolerance in your dog

    For lactose intolerant dogs, digestive signs will be visible within 12 hours of consuming milk or dairy products. If you suspect your dog is lactose intolerant, closely take note of the symptoms (even a bout of very smelly gas after having lactose should be noted) and immediately eliminate dairy foods from your dog’s supply completely. This includes rejecting treats made by cheese, people foods liketable scraps, ice cream or a diet that is enriched in milk in general. 

    Can dogs be Lactose Intolerant?

    Now notice if there is a decline in the symptoms. If your dog is still showing violent reactions, it’s important to seek veterinary advice immediately. 

    Give your dog lactose-free dairy alternatives. It is important to avoid unhealthy dog foods or treats containing artificial sweeteners such as ‘xylitol’ and flavors. Sugary treats should be strictly avoided.

    Also Read:All About Dog Treats - Part 1


    Treat your dog with Balanced Diet

    How a dog reacts to milk or dairy products varies on an individual basis, depending on the capability to digest lactose or the type/quantity of milk ingested. Even if your dog is lactose tolerant, moderation is key. The beverage is high in fat and natural sugars, feeding one entire bowl of milk in a sitting can cause unpleasant reactions. Too much fat in your dog’s diet can lead toobesity and pancreatitis.

    A balanced diet including meat, fruits, veggies, good grains, legumes etc. should be fed to your dog. Feed your dog specially formulated and portioned meals as per their dietary requirements. Quality food, just like for humans, yields incredible results for a dog’s overall health as well. Check on a regular basis to make sure your dog is getting the nutrients he needs. Well balanced dog food will contain all the calcium your dog needs. 

    The Bottom Line

    To reduce the risk of milk sensitivity, pet owners must avoid overindulgence. Continuous exposure of cow’s or any other mammals’ milk to your pet will lead to lactose intolerance and potentially serious health issues. Feed dairy products in small amounts and strictly discontinue if you suspect an allergy. A couple of tablespoons may be an option. However, a dog with dairy allergy should not be fed any form of dairy product. 

    So rather than being guilty of sharing a lil bit of your favorite icecream with your dog, treat them with healthy barks summer specialFrozen Treats. For a healthy treating time with your pup, try our very new all-natural single ingredient ‘Pure Bone Mix Frozen Treat’ that will leave your dog absolutely fresh, healthy and energetic with the right nutritional value. These treats are rich in calcium, highly digestible, and super palatable. We promise all-natural, human grade ingredients and no hard-to-digest by-products and fillers!

    Most pet-parents often struggle with managing their pet’s nutritional requirements. We help pet parents with fresh, complete and tailored nutrition for their pets by providingpersonalized meal plans (made fresh with real ingredients) specially designed to meet their pet’s health needs, and formulated by a veterinary nutritionist so that they stay worry-free & can get on with spending real-time with their doggos. 

    We are currently serving in Bangalore. So, if you reside in Bangalore, book a free, in-person consultation with the Healthy Barks familyhere or feel free to call or drop us a ‘Hi’ on WhatsApp at +91 - 76767 20200. 

    Come and enjoy a food tasting session with us!

    PS: If you have any additional queries, or would want us to cover any specific topic, feel free to tell us in the comment section below.

    Happy Wagging & Healthy Barks! 🐾

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