Can pets eat soy, almond, or other plant-based milk?
We all love to see our pets healthy, happy, and strong, and most times, we want to give spoil them with a little treat or two. However, you need to know that not every food is safe for your dog. Although water is generally accepted as being safe for all animals, when it comes to milk, a lot of people have been having doubts.
You might have even asked, “Can pets eat soy, almond, or other plant-based milk?” Well, in this article, we shall be showing you if plant-based milk is safe for your pooch and the available options.
Keep in mind that some plant-based kinds of milk have toxic ingredients, while some are considered safe for dogs.
Generally, any milk that contains xanthan gum, stabilizers, or even replaces sugars with artificial sweeteners is not healthy for dogs.
What is plant-based milk?
Plant-based milk is basically milk extracted from plants, such as coconut, almond, soy, oat, hemp, etc. This milk is not different from the regular dairy extracted from animals, however, its taste differs from natural milk. More so, plant-based milk has lower nutritional components than regular milk.
When we talk of animal-based milk, cow milk is the first thought that comes to mind. Unlike this cow milk, the plant-based milk options are quite low in protein, calcium, and sugar content, and sometimes, they may be absent.
However, some dogs are lactose intolerant, and in this case, plant-based options may be a good alternative.
What are the plant-based milk options that are suitable for a dog?
Asides from regular milk, you can feed your dog the following plant-based milk:
Dogs can digest soy milk perfectly well. This milk is an excellent alternative to cow’s milk. Some veterinarians and nutritionists recommend soy milk for dogs as supplements. This is because soy milk contains isoflavone, which works for weight management.
Besides, soy milk is very effective in mitigating urinary incontinence in dogs.
Many commercial dog foods contain soy, so taking it in a moderate amount can be helpful for your dog’s health.
If you have a dog that is lactose intolerant, giving them almond milk may be a good idea. This milk is extracted from almond nuts and they are not toxic for dogs.
Although almonds contain a low amount of lactose, some dogs may find it hard to digest the almond milk well. So you need to watch your dog closely to see how they react to this milk.
Almonds also need to be consumed in moderation as they are high in fat and can cause obesity in dogs when consumed in excess amounts. Besides, if you feed your dog more almonds than the required amount, it puts them at risk of pancreatitis.
If you’re to give your pooch almond milk, then you need to ensure they are free from all types of sweeteners, including xylitol, which is highly toxic for dogs. So, pay close attention to what’s written on the label of an almond milk product before purchasing.
Oat milk is extracted from oats after soaking it in water. This milk doesn’t contain any toxic elements and it is digestible for your dog. So, you don’t have any problem feeding your dog oat milk.
More so, oat milk contains a good amount of riboflavin, calcium, and fiber. But you shouldn’t feed your dog too much of this milk due to the high amount of fiber it contains.
Dogs can digest coconut milk and they offer a lot of health benefits, including boosted immunity, reduced bad breath issues, and better dental health.
However, the consumption of coconut oil has to be monitored due to the high levels of fat which could cause weight gain in dogs.
So, it is advisable to seek the consent of your veterinarian before adding coconut oil to your dog’s routine.
Rice milk is produced by boiling rice and draining the excess liquid. This milk has the least nutritional content, but they are good to tackle nut allergy and lactose intolerance.
So, if you have a dog that cannot digest nut and lactose, you can offer them rice milk.
Hemp milk is derived from the Cannabis sativa plant. They are produced mainly by blending cannabis seeds and mixing them with water.
Hemp is naturally rich in calcium, but there may be salt or sugar added to hemp milk for flavor. The taste is almost similar to cow’s milk.
The high calcium content in hemp milk makes it a good remedy for arthritis, cognitive dysfunction, seizures, etc.
However, hemp is not always readily available; you may have to look at big retail shops to get this.
Start with a small quantity and watch how your dog reacts to the milk. Don’t overfeed!
How much plant-based milk should you give your dog?
It is only ideal to offer plant-based milk to your dog if they’re sensitive to lactose. But if they tolerate lactose, cow’s milk is still the best option. But you still need to regulate the amount of milk you add to your dog’s meal.
The age of your dog matters when it comes to the amount of milk. However, you can offer your pooch milk once or twice a week.
Note that when you give your dog too much milk, they tend to gain weight. The medium age of dogs can digest about 50 ml of milk, while the matured ones can take up to 100 ml. For most puppies, however, 20 ml of milk is enough.
Is plant-based milk okay for puppies?
The simple answer is “NO.” Puppies should always take their mother’s milk. The alternatives should only be considered in cases where the puppy is orphaned or weaned from its mother.
Regular dog milk has a high amount of calories and protein and they are easier for puppies to digest.
Cow’s milk, however, is rich in lactose, and this may be a problem if your puppy is lactose intolerant.
You can choose from the most suitable option of plant-based milk, but make sure you consult with your vet first.
How to prepare milk for dogs
After confirming that your dog is lactose intolerant and does not have any issue arising from milk, you can give them a small amount of plant-based milk.
Measure the milk in tablespoons and not bowls. A few spoons may seem too small for a medium-sized dog, but always remember that it’s a treat and not the main meal.
Pets, such as your dog, can eat plant-based milk, but only if the pup is lactose intolerant. However, ensure you don’t overfeed your pooch with milk. Feed them with a little amount and observe their adaptability to the plant-based milk.
If your pooch is lactose intolerant, you’ll often see loose stools whenever they consume milk. Other common symptoms may include diarrhea, abdominal pain, gas, and vomiting.
Lastly, always remember that dogs do not need milk once they are weaned. But if they enjoy the taste of milk, a little non-dairy or dairy milk is not bad for your dog as an occasional treat. You may give them something like half a cup, once every week.