Have you ever noticed that your dog is always after your dairy products? It may seem like a weird question, but dogs tend to absolutely love milk and dairy. For years a lot of animal experts have explained this behavior away, but more recent ideas regarding animal and mammalian development suggest that this love of milk could be due to some more modern, trained behaviors as opposed to their heritage. Is it dangerous? What can you do if your dog develops a taste for your yogurt? How does milk affect your dog's health? These are some of the questions we'll be answering below.
The Root of the Behavior
A lot of people end up visiting the vet due to their dog having food allergies. It's quite common for there to be misdiagnoses regarding this particular issue. So, how does milk fit into this? Well, dogs develop allergies to foods on a case by case basis. So with this in mind, you need to treat the situation with care and attention. Does your dog get sick regularly when eating the same foods? Your dog might then be suffering from a food allergy, in which case it's best to restrict their diet and phase foods back in one at a time. In this way, you can discern exactly what food or foods disrupt your dog's digestion.
Milk is still thought of by some professionals as absolutely appropriate for animals to consume. And although no consensus exists, several studies have shown that it contains a lot of proteins proven to help in dog and mammalian growth. An offshoot of this very same theory tries to explain milk as a basic need and want that's bred into canine DNA. They posit that because early dogs instinctively nurse, they must develop a taste for milk that stays with them throughout their adult lives.The idea that milk is healthy for animals later in their lives has become less popular in more recent years, however. This is due to recent research which suggests that generally, mammals only require milk to boost their early development. If consumed regularly after this period, it can actually be detrimental to the animal. This is because, in addition to the various proteins in milk, there also exist several hormones and fattening agents that can disrupt your dog's healthy development and aging. It's also completely possible that dogs tend to develop this habit on their own. Your dog is always likely to follow things that taste good to him. This is something bred into your animal as a survival trait.
Encouraging the Behavior
A lot of current veterinary doctors say roughly the same thing; No dogs in a natural environment drink dairy or natural milk past their early lives. This is clear evidence that milk is not an essential part of a canine diet. A lot of individuals still claim that a canine needs some sort of calcium added to their diet, but they can easily get this from rawhide chew toys and bones. Animal and vegetable-based dog foods also have a high percentage of calcium in them, so it's relatively easy to get your dog what he needs without milk. Keeping your dog's diet healthy also includes a good dose of moderation. Giving your dog dairy constantly may not be healthy, but sometimes sharing your ice cream cone or the milk from your cereal? Probably not so terrible in small doses. Remember that this is only acceptable if you already know that your dog hasn't developed some sort of allergy to the food you give him.
The cause of this dairy “allergy” is often a missing enzyme needed for your canine to digest lactose. If your beloved doggy companion is missing this enzyme, it can lead to a severely inflamed stomach and incontinence. If you notice these symptoms, immediately phase milk out of your dog’s diet.
Other Solutions and Considerations
One great solution a lot of dog owners have been using lately is dairy-free milk. These have become far more popular in recent years and can be found at just about any local grocery store. Everything from almond milk to hemp milk could be great alternatives for your animal, but remember that just like any new addition to your dog's diet, these milk products can be potentially upsetting, so always look for the aforementioned symptoms. Another, more obvious solution here is to just never engage in the behavior in the first place. A lot of the experts agree that dogs develop a taste for milk only after their owners give it to them. So if you keep milk away from your dog, it's much less likely that they'll try to get it in the first place.
So, should you let your dog enjoy milk regularly? Probably not, but every now and again seems to be alright, as long as you maintain focus on how your particular canine handles it. In the meantime, keep your dog's health in mind. And remember that if you scream, I scream, and we all scream for ice cream...your dog probably does too!
Written by a Shiba Inu lover Patty Oelze
Veterinary reviewed by:
Published: 02/07/2018, edited: 01/30/2020