Dog Friendly Dairy

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This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Dog Friendly Foods

In the first two parts of this series, I discussed dog safe fruits and vegetables that you can safely feed to your Husky. Today, in the final part of this series, I talk about feeding Dairy to your dog. Is it safe? Are there any benefits to feeding these foods? How much and how often should you feed these foods to your dog? Today, I answer these questions for you.

Feeding Dairy Products To Your Dog

Look up information on feeding dairy products to your dog and you will surely find a staggering amount of contradicting information. Some experts list it under “never feed” while some tell you that it is okay to feed. So which is it?

The answer is: It depends on your dog and whether or not they can breakdown a naturally occurring sugar called lactose AND it also depends on what kind of dairy products that you plan to feed to your dog.

Some dogs have absolutely no problems digesting dairy products while some dogs are lactose intolerant. These dogs will suffer intestinal problems like painful gas, diarrhea and even vomiting if they eat dairy products.

What Is Lactose?

Lactose is two sugar molecules found in milk that are chemically linked together and in order for it to be digested, it must be first broken apart into its separate parts. For this to happen your dog’s body must produce an enzyme called lactase, the enzyme responsible for splitting apart the bond of the lactose molecule. Dogs that cannot digest dairy are missing the enzyme lactase.

After dogs have been weaned from their mother, a dog’s ability to produce lactase falls to about 10% of what it is during normally during the time that they are nursing. When more lactose is consumed than a dog can digest, then they will have a reaction called a lactose intolerance. So does that mean that lactose intolerant dogs can never enjoy any foods that contain dairy?

Actually, it helps to know that not all dairy products contain the same amount of lactose and knowing the lactose content of a food can be very helpful to you. Sometimes feeding a dairy food low in lactose might make reduce or eliminate many of the side effects high lactose foods have for a lactose intolerant dog.

Lactose Content In Common Dairy Products

Cow’s milk contains about 4.5% to 5% lactose as compared with the 3.1% lactose in the milk that nursing dogs produce. It is not much wonder that many dogs have problems digesting cow’s milk products as the high level of lactose overwhelms a dog’s digestive system.

So does this mean that eating dairy products is unhealthy for dogs? No, dairy products have a lot of healthful benefits but the trick is finding products with a lower lactose content. The higher the lactose content of a food the greater the chance of it causing a reaction in your dog. Many kinds of cheeses and yogurt contain considerably less lactose than other cow’s milk products.

Produce (cow) Serving Size Lactose (g)
Whole Milk 1 Cup 11
Skim Milk 1 Cup 11
Ice Cream ½ Cup 6
2% Fat Yogurt 1 Cup 5
Cottage Cheese ½ Cup 3
Swiss Cheese 1 ounce 1
Cheddar Cheese 1 ounce 0

 

Dairy products can be an excellent source of protein and calcium. Products like cheese, cottage cheese, and yogurt often have the lactose removed or at least partially broken down through their bacterial fermentation process making these foods well tolerated by those dogs that normally have a reaction to full lactose milk products.

This is why dogs can safely consume cottage cheese and yogurt without any of the normal G.I. ailments attributed to dogs eating dairy.

Did You Know? … Lactose intolerance is a reaction to milk products and it is not classified as an allergic reaction. For a food to be classed as a food allergy it would have to initiate a response from the immune system. A food intolerance involves the GI tract and does not involve an immune system reaction.

The Oddity of Goat Cheese Products

While goat’s milk products contain nearly as much lactose as cow’s milk dairy products, they tend to be more easily digested and tolerated by people who are lactose intolerant. How can this be?

This is thought to occur because the fat molecules in goat’s milk are shorter than in cow’s milk causing it to be digested far more easily. So if your dog has problems digesting dairy products from cow’s milk, try him on goat’s milk and he may have less digestive issues with it. Goat cheese also contains more calcium than regular cheese making it highly beneficial for bone health, proper nerve functioning, and for strong heart and muscle contractions.

Nutritional Benefits of Dairy Products

Dairy products are a wonderful source of Vitamins A, B complex, D, and provide essential minerals like calcium, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus, protein, and Iodine (needed for good thyroid functioning).

  • Dairy also contains tryptophan, an essential amino acid responsible for mood enhancement.
  • Dairy also contains heart healthy essential fatty acids. Your dog’s diet should include 30% of good fats in a 2 to 1 ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 fatty acids. These fats are necessary to support good skin and bone health, are necessary for the production of strong and supple ligaments, and for good brain functioning.
  • Diary is a wonderful source of Calcium that helps support healthy bone growth and good blood health.
  • Diary is a great source of protein and necessary amino acids for good health.

Good Sources of Dairy For Your Dog

Yogurt

Yogurt is one of the best dairy foods that you can feed your dog. As was pointed out earlier in this article, yogurt often has the lactose removed or at least partially broken down through their bacterial fermentation process making this foods well tolerated by those dogs that normally have a reaction to full lactose milk products. So that means you can comfortably feed this food without worrying about any of the usual side effects created by lactose intolerance.

Yogurt is packed full of vitamins and minerals needed for healthy dog functioning. Eating yogurt regularly can help prevent parasite infestation and related diseases. But be very cautious and make sure to read the label of the yogurt container before feeding it to your dog.

You want to feed only a plain natural yogurt that contains no artificial food colours, artificial sweeteners or extra sugar, carrageenan, any extra starches, potassium sorbate, or other preservatives. Also, avoid feeding fat free yogurt because very often these yogurts contain an artificial fat substitute and these should not be fed to dogs.

Yogurt is great source of probiotics (good bacteria). Researchers at UCLA confirmed that good bacteria in the gut are crucial to proper brain functioning. Their studies show that when intestinal bacteria levels become unbalanced, it affected mood and behaviours. Is your dog’s bad behaviour in part due to poor intestinal flora balance? If your dog has been has been taking antibiotics lately, then it might just be part of the problem.

When antibiotics are introduced into the body, they tend to kill off ALL bacteria, even the beneficial intestinal bacteria in the gut. Dogs frequently become a victim of the vicious cycle of being prescribed antibiotics for digestive issues only to have the digestive issued caused by the very antibiotics that they were taking. After taking antibiotics probiotics MUST be re-introduced to help rebalance good gut health. Feeding yogurt can helps with this.

How Much Yogurt To Feed Your Dog

  • Medium sized dogs – 1/8 cup
  • Large dogs – 1/3 cup
  • Extra large dogs – 1/2 cup

Kefir

Kefir, a fermented dairy product made from the milk of cows or goats, has been used for over 2000 years by the shepherds of the Caucasian Mountains. One tablespoon of kefir contains a count of 5 billion beneficial intestinal bacteria. It is a rich and concentrated source of good probiotics bacteria and contributes to good health in a wide variety of ways:

  • Kefir is easily digestible because it is very low in lactose.
  • Is an excellent for food supporting immune system functioning and ultimately helps with warding off many illnesses due to its natural antibiotic and anti-fungal properties.
  • It has been shown to promote anti-cancer and anti-tumour activity in the body and is thought to be beneficial in aiding in the healing of wounds.

How Much Kefir To Feed

  • Medium sized dogs – 1 tbs to 2 tbsp
  • Large dogs – 2 tbs to 3 tbsp
  • Extra large dogs – 4 tbs to 6 tbsp

Cottage Cheese

This is another one of those foods that contain all of the wonderful nutritional benefits that come from feeding dairy but because of the way it is prepared, the fermentation process removes or breaks down the lactose making it very easy for your dog to digest it. Feeding Cottage cheese is a wonderful choice for feeding to dogs who have sensitive tummies.

How Much Cottage Cheese To Feed

  • Medium sized dogs – 1 tbs to 2 tbsp
  • Large dogs – 2 tbs to 3 tbsp
  • Extra large dogs – 4 tbs to 6 tbsp

Hard Cheese

Almost every dog loves cheese. But always choose cheeses that are low in lactose like cheddar, swiss, or goat cheese. As well as the usual nutritional benefits that come from feeding Dairy, feeding Cheese has some unique health benefits as well.

Feeding hard cheese can create a good pH balance in the mouth conducive to good oral health and in fighting periodontal disease. This comes from the good bacteria that is contained in cheese. Cheddar cheese contains the highest level of alkali making it the best for this job.

Hard cheese is a very good source of vitamin K2 which is important for good heart, strong bones and good brain health. Calcium deposited into arteries can cause clogs but Vitamin K2 is thought to help direct and control where calcium goes in the body. It is for this reason that making hard cheese a part of your dog’s diet helps to slow down the progression of Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (also known as Old Dog Senility Syndrome which is the canine version of Alzheimer’s Disease).

But too much hard cheese can cause constipation in some dogs so make sure that you don’t over feed and also include high fiber foods and lots of water in your dog’s diet to avoid constipation from happening in your dog.

How Much Hard Cheese To Feed Your Dog

  • Medium size dogs – 1 1/2 ounce
  • Large dogs -2 ounces
  • Extra large dogs – 2 1/2 ounces

Processed Cheese Is NOT Really Cheese

Any cheese that is highly processed, comes in pre-formed slices, or comes in a spray can or tube is not really cheese and is not good for your dog. It does not have the same nutrition or any nutritional value to it at all. It is just empty calories, it is full of preservatives, and artificial colouring. Pass on feeding this food to your dog.

Final Word About Feeding Dairy

Not all dairy behaves the same way in the digestive tract. The lower the lactose content of a dairy product the easier it is for your dog to digest it and tolerate it in their diet. So offering low lactose dairy products to your dog makes this a great and healthful addition to your dog’s diet.

As with any new food, introduce it into their diet slowly. For the first week cut the recommended amounts in half to allow for their stomach to adjust to the increase in good bacteria.

What Are The Symptoms Of A Dairy Allergy?

Sometimes the issue is not lactose intolerance but an allergy to milk protein. This differs vastly from not being able to break down the lactose sugars. Here are some of the signs to look for that tell you that your dog might be allergic to milk protein:

Dry Itchy Skin

Often dogs will scratch endlessly or bite and lick at uncomfortably dry itchy skin.

Digestive Issues

Many dogs have vomiting, diarrhea and flatulence mimicking lactose intolerance making it hard to pinpoint the true cause of their symptoms.

Constant Ear Infections

Many dogs will develop an ear infection from scratching related to itchy skin. Watch for head shaking, head tilting, or a bad smell coming from the ears.

Lack Of Appetite

This allergy often causes dogs to have constant stomach upset so they either refuse to eat at all or just eat sparingly.

Hot Spots

These patches of raw oozing skin infections spread and causing hair loss, pain, and intense discomfort in dogs. Vets often diagnose a food allergy as the cause for these hot spots but it can be difficult to narrow down what food specifically is responsible for the causing the symptoms.

What’s In The Milk?

If you suspect that your dog may have an allergy to milk protein then you may have to discontinue the feeding Dairy products to your dog. But first you may want to check your source of the Dairy that you are currently feeding to your dog.

Quite often the sensitivity may not be to the milk protein as it is to what is contained in the milk. The milk is only as pure as the cows that it comes from. These days cows are being pumped full of hormones and antibiotics. The feed they are eating is laden with pesticides, herbicides, and GMO crops. Whenever possible opt for feeding Dairy products that come from cows that are organically fed and raised.

This concludes the series on Dog Safe Foods For Your Husky.

As always we welcome your questions, comments and stories regarding this topic. When we share our wisdom and stories we might be helping someone who is struggling with their Snow Dog.

Helping ALL Snow Dogs … one owner at a time.

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3 Comments

  1. This information is even helpful to me. I just found out I have a food sensitivity (not an allergy) to dairy. I was so disappointed because I love cheese so much. But she said I could still have goat cheese. Yay! I heard dairy was bad for dogs so I would only on occasion give them a piece of cheese or a taste of ice cream. I hear Sugar the Golden Retriever gets yogurt and Jodi with Heart Like a Dog gives her dogs kefir. I’ve been meaning to try it with my dogs and your information has convinced me to go for it. Thanks 🙂

    • Margit Maxwell on

      Well I guess the timing of this article was just perfect for you!! So glad that found it helpful 🙂

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