LACTOSE INTOLERANCE IN DOGS
When you picture a pet drinking milk, most will imagine a cat happily lapping up some out of her bowl. So many, might be surprised to hear that cats really shouldn’t ever be poured a bowl of milk. But, when it comes to their four-legged counterparts, is there a similar answer to the question: Can dogs drink milk? There may not be a simple yes or no response, but there are a few guidelines to keep in mind.
You may be thinking: “Don’t puppies drink their mother’s milk?” And, the answer to that question is: Yes.
Milk contains a sugar called lactose that requires an enzyme called lactase for digestion.
Puppies generally have the enzyme in abundance as it is used to breakdown their mother's milk while nursing. While puppies thrive on their mother’s milk, they may not tolerate cow's or goat’s milk that you find in your fridge later on in their lives. Once puppies have been weaned they’ll produce less lactase and this is when most dogs can, in fact, become lactose intolerant.
A dog that is lactose intolerant can experience the same kinds of symptoms as people with the condition. Dogs have varying degrees of lactose intolerance, so some dogs who drink milk may just experience mild GI distress, or none at all, while others will have severe clinical signs.
A food allergy to milk or dairy can appear as irritation of the skin, redness, itching and GI upset such as vomiting and diarrhea.
The lactose found in milk will pass through their GI tracts and into their colons undigested, and this undigested sugar will draw water into the colon causing diarrhea, and the fermentation of bacteria in their colon may result in flatulence and discomfort.
Dogs may also develop a potentially serious disease called pancreatitis if they eat dairy products—particularly high fat dairy products—that are unfamiliar to them.
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