So, can German Shepherds drink milk?
It depends! Generally, it is safe for German Shepherds to drink milk meant for human consumption, but only in limited quantities. Also, you first need to make sure that your pup isn’t lactose intolerant, as many dogs are.
How do dogs become lactose intolerant?
Puppies are born with an abundant supply of lactase, an enzyme that’s essential for digesting their mothers’ milk. As they grow older and become weaned, their bodies produce less lactase. Consequently, many of them become lactose intolerant.
Additionally, the milk processed for human consumption is very different from that produced by nursing dogs. Cow’s milk has a higher lactose content, and so dogs are more likely to be sensitive to it. The same is true for goat’s milk, although to a much lesser extent.
How do you know if your German Shepherd is lactose intolerant?
Unfortunately, the easiest way to know if your German Shepherd is lactose intolerant is to observe for reactions when you give them milk. According to the American Kennel Club, different dogs will react to milk differently, depending on how sensitive they are.
Typically, a lactose intolerant dog will have excessive gas and soft stools soon after drinking milk. Some might exhibit more severe symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting. These reactions will typically occur within 12 hours of drinking milk.
How to Safely Give Your Dog Milk
If you’re keen on giving your German Shepherd some milk, here are things you need to keep in mind:
1) Give milk infrequently.
Don’t make milk a part of your German Shepherd’s regular diet. Instead, use it as a rare treat.
2) Give milk in small portions.
Too much milk all at once could be too heavy on your pup’s digestive tract. Generally, half a cup of milk should be enough for your adult German Shepherd to savor the treat without risking gastrointestinal upset.
3) Favor goat’s milk.
Although it might not matter too much when you’re only giving milk infrequently and in small quantities, you might want to lessen the risk even further by buying goat’s milk for your German Shepherd.
Goat’s milk is better for dogs than cow’s milk because of its unique protein profile. So, it is easier to digest and is less likely to cause any allergic reactions.
4) Avoid fortified milk.
Avoid milk variants that are fortified with iron. Although iron toxicity is unlikely in small quantities, your dog should absorb it from their own food rather than as a supplement meant for humans.
The only milk German Shepherds actually need is the kind that comes from their mother when they’re still pups. Once they’re weaned, they no longer need milk – especially not those from other animals and processed for human consumption.
But, as long as your pup isn’t lactose intolerant, it should be alright to give your GSD small portions of milk from time to time.
If you are interested in other articles about what German Shepherds can eat check out some of the articles below: