Can Dogs Drink Milk Alternatives?

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In recent years, milk alternatives such as soy, coconut, oat, macadamia, and almond milk have become more and more popular. Vegans love them because they're dairy alternatives, which means they don't contain any animal byproducts, and contain ingredients like calcium, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, and protein.

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When it comes to your dog, you're wondering if he can have these non-dairy products as well. Will he benefit from the nutrition, too? Or should you avoid adding these items to your dog's diet?

Before giving your dog a sip of your milk alternative, make sure you do your research, or else he may end up getting sick.

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Milk alternatives: Yes or no?

Dogs can drink some milk alternatives, but only if there are no artificial sweeteners. ​Xylitol especially needs to be avoided because it is toxic to dogs​. Sometimes it's used to sweeten soy milk and almond milk, among other products.

In terms of all the milk alternatives, you may be able to give them to your dog depending on his food allergies. For instance, if you have to feed him soy-free dog food because he's allergic to it, then obviously you'd want to avoid giving him soy milk as well. However, if he's not allergic, then it's fine in small quantities because dogs usually can digest soy products pretty well.

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Oat milk is also fine in small quantities since dogs typically don't have any digestive issues when they eat oats.

Coconut milk may contain oils that upset your dog's stomach, so it's best to avoid it.

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Dogs do not digest almonds well, and they are high in fat, so you'll want to keep your pup away from almond milk too.

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Macadamia nuts can be toxic to dogs and cause vomiting, weakness, depression, elevated body temperature, and tremors, so it's a good idea to steer clear of any other nut milks just in case.

Most importantly, dogs don't ​need​ milk alternatives to drink. Instead, it's always best to give them fresh water.

Signs of digestive issues in dogs

If your dog takes a few licks of a cup or bowl that just had a milk alternative in it, he should be fine. But if he has a larger amount of it—especially nut milks—then he may get sick.

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Let's say your dog got ahold of a container of alternative milk and now you think he might be sick. If he is exhibiting any signs of illness, you'll need to take him to the veterinarian right away. Alarming signs include vomiting, diarrhea, regurgitation, excessive drooling, shock, abdominal pain and bloating, dehydration, and loss of appetite.

Can a dog’s diet include cow’s milk?

Cow's milk, like most alternative milks, is safe only in small quantities. A few tablespoons of it here and there is fine, but giving your dog an entire bowl of cow milk is likely to upset his stomach and cause issues like diarrhea, loose stools, and vomiting.

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Some dogs are lactose intolerant, which is why they have a bad reaction to milk. However, they may be able to have cheese and plain yogurt. Just be careful with yogurts in case they contain xylitol or high amounts of sugar. Dogs should not eat sugar because it can lead to obesity.

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Additionally, if your dog is a puppy and he is having trouble breastfeeding, feed him a milk replacer that's made of puppy formula. Don't give him cow's milk or any alternative milks, or even infant formula. When your puppy is ready, you can give him his formula in a bowl or mix it in with solid food as his begins to eat regular solid dog food.

In conclusion

Some alternative milks like soy milk and oat milk can be given to your dog but only in small quantities, and only if they do not contain artificial sweeteners. If your adult dog enjoys cow's milk, he can have a few tablespoons every once in a while. If your dog ever shows signs of illness, take him to the veterinarian immediately to ensure he's OK.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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