While you might not necessarily plan to give your dog breast milk, it's always possible that your doggo could get curious and accidentally get into something they shouldn't be drinking. If that's the case, it's good to know what you should be worried about and what you can let your dog digest without a care.
Breast milk is one of those things that you shouldn't worry too much about, but also shouldn't intentionally feed your dog. Milk, especially human breast milk, contains tons and tons of nutrients, but unfortunately, the composition of those nutrients (as well as the ratios) are not made up for dogs' systems.
Most presently, the lactose is out of whack. Your dog's body likely will not tolerate lactose well, and while it's unlikely that your dog will die from accidentally getting into the breast milk you've stored for your baby, it's also going to be a rather unpleasant, as well as a potentially dangerous, digestive experience for your pooch.
Signs Your Dog Got Into the Breast Milk
No matter what you're told, there are no actual benefits of giving human breast milk to your dog. In fact, your dog is probably really lactose intolerant and will not be able to digest any of the nutrients that are contained in breast milk.
Drinking it isn't necessarily fatal, but it is dangerous and can cause cutaneous adverse food reactions for your pup. If you suspect your dog has accidentally gotten into the breast milk you've stored to feed to your (human) baby, there will probably be some pretty unpleasant gastrointestinal signs.
For example, expect lots of throwing up and loose stool. That's right, breast milk will give your poor pup diarrhea. You can also expect upset stomachs, weakness, fatigue, lethargy, whimpering, and general laziness while your pup heals up from their milk adventure. Typically, you won't need to take your dog to the vet for drinking a bit of breast milk, but if your pup has an adverse reaction that doesn't seem to go away, take your pup to the vet right away.
History of Dogs and Breast Milk
We know what you're thinking - how can dogs be so averse to milk and lactose if they drink it from their mothers when they're puppies? As puppies, dogs receive the milk nutrients they need when they're nursing from their mothers, but as their systems develop, they no longer need, nor can they process, those lactose ingredients that are providing a special type of nutrition.
As dogs grow into eating regular diets, all of the nutrients and antibodies that are found in their mother's milk are included, without the lactose. This is a better, more natural way for your dog to consume the nutrients they need than trying to get them from milk.
The Science of Breast Milk's Affect on Dogs
While milk is incredibly beneficial for humans while they're growing, and dog milk is helpful for young pups, human milk simply doesn't fit into a dog's diet. Your dog likely has a lactose intolerance to human milk that will cause them incredibly discomfort.
Human breastmilk has similar components to dairy products, specifically lactose, that make it bad for dogs. A lactose intolerant dog will be unable to convert lactose they digest into viable sugar (the case for most dogs) and they will likely experience intestinal distress, bloating, a loss of appetie, and severe gas.
Training Your Dog to NOT Drink Breast Milk
If you didn't know before that you shouldn't feed your pup breast milk, you know now, so we don't anticipate you pumping a little extra to feed to the dog. That being said, though, dogs are curious, and it's possible they'll get into your stored breast milk out of sheer wonderment. And, dogs being dogs, will probably drink it without a second thought. So, how can you train your dog to leave the curiosity behind them and let the breast milk be?
First, make sure your dog has a firm understanding of basic, obedience commands like "no" and "leave it." This will be incredibly handy if you ever see your doggo approaching a spare bottle you left lying around the house that's full of milk.
Next, train your pup not to beg or lunge for food or drinks. Often, unintentionally, your dog can knock something out of your hand and gobble it up, so it's important your dog knows this is a no-go. It's also important to crate train your pup. This way, if you're not home, or if you need your doggo to behave during feeding time, they'll have a safe space to relax and wait and not get into anything curious while you're preoccupied with feeding your baby.
It's also important to train your pooch to stay out the kitchen, the fridge, and the pantry. Just as people train their pups to leave the furniture be, teach your dog that the kitchen (where you store your milk), is no place for pooches.
By a Great Dane lover Hanna Marcus
Published: 04/26/2018, edited: 04/06/2020