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There is a belief that meat and bones should be fed to dogs, whilst milk should be given to cats. So is milk really suitable for dogs?How essential is Milk?
At a universal level no mammal in nature after weaning, consume milk. Thus it can be safely concluded that the same is applicable to dogs too and that milk is not an essential food for them. Looking positively at milk, it cannot be denied that milk is a good source of nutrients containing proteins, calcium and vitamins D and B12. But such nutrients are also available in regular dog food anyways. The best milk for dogs is goat or sheep's milk. Goat’s milk has a substantially lesser amount of lactose than cow’s milk, with much more calcium. And surprisingly, it is also tastier than cow’s milk. Besides, it is rich in vitamins B, D, K and E.Can dogs handle Milk?
There seems to be no definite answer to this as some dogs do not digest milk and dairy products easily, which give them intestinal problems like gas, abdominal pain, loose stools, vomiting, and diarrhea. A specific nutrient in milk known as lactose is responsible for this. Most dogs are not lactose intolerant. However, it is very rare to find a dog that can't handle a little bit of milk. This does not apply universally. A few dogs can easily digest an entire bowl of milk without the slightest trace of indigestion, whilst for other dogs, a small cheddar piece can have disastrous results on the digestive system.Lactose and Lactase
So what exactly is lactose? Lactose is a kind of sugar, with two sugar molecules closely linked together. This lactose needs to be broken up into two basic easy-to-absorb sugars, which is possible if a dog’s body is able to produce lactose splitting enzyme called lactase. This enzyme is not common in dogs and the same with humans, thus we have lactose intolerant human beings too. A small taste of cow’s milk can contain more lactose than can be handled by a dog’s digestive tract, so a pup fed on dog’s milk has better chances of digestion. Besides canine milk is completely different from cow’s milk. The good news is that not all dairy products contain the same amount of lactose.Not different from Humans
As age advances, similar to humans, dogs lose their ability to digest lactose, due to decreased production of lactase by the body. Thus dogs and humans show similar traits to lactose intolerance. And for both species, a lot depends on the individual and the specific kind of milk under consumption.