BY MOLLY | EVERYTHINGSHIHTZU.COM
While most people typically consider milk a healthy choice, some can experience ill effects from it.
When it comes to your Shih Tzu dog drinking milk, they could potentially have a few issues too. But, for some dogs, a little dairy is okay.
Therefore, what gives when it comes to this popular dairy product?
Can dogs drink milk?
The short answer is yes; technically, dogs can drink milk. Milk is not toxic to dogs. However, dogs can have other issues with milk, like stomach upset and diarrhea due to digestive problems, allergies, or lactose intolerance.
However, even if your pup has no adverse effects from milk, you should only give it to her sparingly.
Milk is an excellent source of several nutrients, including vitamins B complex, D, E, and K. These benefits make it an excellent part of a whole-food diet when consumed in moderation.
However, if your Shih Tzu has a milk, or more specifically, lactose intolerance of any kind, you should avoid giving it to them altogether.
Many dogs are actually lactose intolerant, meaning it’s hard for them to break down the lactose enzymes in milk.
When a pup can’t break down these enzymes properly, it is very difficult for them to digest milk.
Consequently, if your Shih Tzu is lactose intolerant, they’ll likely experience several gastrointestinal issues from drinking too much milk.
When a dog can’t break down the sugar in milk, it travels through their GI tract, undigested, and draws water into the colon, which causes diarrhea.
Your pup can also experience other issues like gas, vomiting, and general discomfort.
Additionally, if the milk contains a high-fat content, this can increase the likelihood of vomiting and diarrhea, as well as potentially lead to more severe conditions, such as pancreatitis.
Of course, some dogs have no adverse reactions to drinking milk.
If this applies to your dog, you can serve them milk, but still do so in moderation.
Even humans should only have a limited serving of dairy each day.
Honestly, unless your dog genuinely needs to drink milk for some specific health reason (which would really only be if your vet advised you to do so), there’s no reason to serve it to them.
Instead, you can find a doggy alternative that your pup can digest safely and easily.
Regular milk is not particularly good for puppies because it could cause upset stomach, vomiting, or diarrhea, and it is not a suitable alternative to mothers' milk.
As a puppy, your dog gets all the milk they need from their mother and doesn’t need anymore. Plus, it’s not wise to introduce this new type of milk to its sensitive digestive tract.
Also, a puppy receives an enzyme known as lactase from its mother.
This special enzyme breaks down the sugar (lactose) in the milk that it drinks from its mother.
However, when you wean your puppy, the amount of lactase in your dog’s system gradually decreases as they get older, reducing their ability to break down lactose.
If you want to give milk as a treat to your dog, a couple of tablespoons now and then and in small quantities may not result in an upset stomach in your Shih Tzu.
However, when introducing any new food to your dog, it is best to do so gradually and in small amounts.
Serve your Shih Tzu a small amount of milk and watch them closely for any signs of tummy upset or other issues.
Keep in mind; that GI problems could take up to 12 hours to show up, so give it at least a day.
If your dog is okay, then milk might be fine for them in moderation.
If you are unsure, talk with your vet first. If your pup seems to have an issue with drinking milk, it's best to eliminate it from their diet.
You could try lactose-free milk if you want to give your pooch milk, but they are lactose intolerant.
Then, your pup will get many of the same nutrients and tastes as regular milk, just without the upset stomach.
You could also try goat’s milk.
Goat’s milk has similar nutrients to cow’s milk, but it does not contain lactose. However, goat’s milk comes with its own set of considerations.
First, you need to ensure that the milk has been pasteurized, as raw milk can contain a lot of harmful bacteria.
If you can’t find pasteurized goat’s milk, bring the milk to a boil, and let it cool completely before allowing your Shih Tzu to drink it.
You can also try soy milk, which does not contain lactose like the other alternatives.
Soy is not toxic to pups and can be found in many dog foods.
However, carefully monitor the ingredient list of any soy milk you serve your dog, as many contain additives that can be hard for dogs to digest.
Other ingredients, like the artificial sweetener Xylitol, are poisonous to dogs.
In addition, different types of soy milk are fortified with dairy and might contain lactose.
Similarly, unsweetened almond milk that only contains almonds and water is okay for dogs.
However, it would be best if you only served it sparingly, and it really has no nutrient value for your pup.
Almond milk can also contain additives and sweeteners that can pose a risk to your dog.
Therefore, always read labels thoroughly before giving anything to your Shih Tzu.
Another factor to consider when giving your Shih Tzu milk is that she could have (or develop) a food allergy.
This possibility applies to milk and other milk products like cheese. In fact, milk and other dairy products are relatively common triggers of allergic reactions in dogs.
If your pup has red, irritated skin, vomiting, diarrhea, or is scratching excessively, these symptoms could be due to an allergy.
Eliminate all milk and milk products from their diet and see if the symptoms disappear.
If they do, then it’s a pretty safe bet that your pup has a milk allergy.
But, of course, the only way to know for sure is to visit the vet and have your dog undergo proper allergy testing.
Basically, Shih Tzu can drink milk, so you likely don’t need to panic when you spill milk on the floor, and your Shih Tzu laps it up excitedly.
But, when serving your dog milk, it is always best to do so in moderation.
However, if your dog has a milk allergy, you need to avoid serving them milk completely.
If your dog seems to develop gastrointestinal issues after drinking milk, this is also a reason to find another option that can deliver similar nutrients and flavor, like goat’s milk.
When in doubt, always consult with your vet or look for special doggy alternatives, like puppy ice cream, that will make your Shih Tzu lick its lips in delight!