Can Dogs Drink Milk? And Cats?

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We have always associated cats with a bowl of milk. However, milk is not the most appropriate treat for dogs, neither for cats. 

What is the problem with lactose?

Most dogs and cats, same as lactose intolerant people, don't have the enzyme that helps digesting and absorbing lactose. The lactase. 

When this enzyme is missing, lactose does not degrade and acts as a laxative, causing diarrhea. It also promotes the growth of bacteria and fermentation, which causes gas and discomfort. 

But when dairy products makes us ill, it's not only caused by lactose intolerance, but it could also be caused by an allergy. 

4 Things To Know About Lactose

  • Not all dairy products have the same amount of lactose
  • Humans are the only animals who keep drinking milk after lactation, and who drink milk from other species
  • Not all milks are the same: cow's milk contains higher levels of lactose than goat's milk
  • Humans and animals cannot drink nor eat any kind of dairy product if they are allergic 


Are Dairy Products Safe For My Dog?

It depends. 

You can feed your dog certain cheeses or yoghurts because during the fermentation process they loose most of the lactose. You can also give them lactose-free milk. In the case of cats, you can give them special milk for cats. 

It is not really necessary to feed them dairy products. If your pet eats dry food, high quality dry food is balanced. If you feed them natural food, you should contact a nutritionist to be sure your pet is receiving all the nutrients in the right amount. 

But maybe you want to spoil your pup once in a while. We get it!

As we mentioned before, if your pet is allergic to lactose, you should never give him/her dairy products. If your dog (or cat) has diarrhea every time he has yoghurt or cheese, stop feeding him/her that and ask your vet. 

Puppies or kittens should never drink lactose-free milk nor cow's milk, they need milk for puppies or kittens. You can get especially formulated milk at the vet or some pet stores. Any other milk can cause them diarrhea and, since they are very little, put their lives at risk.

6 Dairy Products For Dogs

  • For puppies and kittens, milk powder specially formulated for them
  • Lactose-free products
  • Yoghurt, with lower amounts of lactose, is easily tolerated by some pets
  • Cured cheese have also lost most of the lactose
  • Goat's milk has lower levels of lactose than cow's milk
  • Evaporated milk


To sum up, lactose can make your pet ill, same as it makes ill to some people. However, yoghurt and cheese are better tolerated because they have lower levels of lactose. That doesn't mean we should abuse of them. 

If your pet is lactose intolerant or allergic, you should never feed him/her dairy products. 

If you have a nursing puppy or kitten at home, you should feed them milk powder specially formulated for them, so they will grow up strong and healthy.