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Can Dogs Drink Human Breast Milk? Nutrition & Health Facts

Written by: Brooke Bundy

Last Updated on May 24, 2024 by Dogster Team

human breast milk

Can Dogs Drink Human Breast Milk? Nutrition & Health Facts

While you might consider your dog to be your baby, canines have nutritional needs that are different from those of any human babies you might have in your care. It’s not recommended to let your dog drink leftover breast milk because they likely won’t be able to digest it well. Adult dogs are likely to be lactose intolerant, which means pretty much any milk will be devastating to their tummies.

At the very least, human milk isn’t nutritionally adequate to support growing puppies. Alternatively, goat’s milk contains less lactose than other types, making it a safer choice for dogs of all ages.

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Why Can’t Dogs Drink Human Breast Milk?

Like humans, dogs become partially to fully intolerant to lactose as they age. While an occasional nibble of some dairy products such as cheese might not hurt them, human milk and cow’s milk contain a significant amount of lactose that can make their tummies throw tantrums.

Even though puppies may not be lactose intolerant, they shouldn’t rely on human breast milk for growth and development. The nutritional needs of dogs and humans are totally different. Puppies who regularly drink human breast milk instead of canine milk or formula made for dogs may have developmental issues.

Is It Ever Okay for Dogs to Drink Breast Milk?

Although we definitely don’t recommend feeding your dog breast milk on a regular basis, it could occasionally be justified based on the situation. A few years ago a Colorado woman made international headlines when she breastfed a starving foster puppy who’d lost its mother.1 She credited her actions with saving its life, noting that the puppy who had formerly been the runt but now was bigger than its siblings.

The news media and veterinarians cautioned against following her example as a general rule. Dr. Amber Williams commented on a news story warning that there are zoonotic diseases that are transmittable between humans and animals, so she didn’t recommend people follow suit.

However, she concluded that the Colorado woman’s action was probably okay since it was a one-time, life-saving situation. Just don’t make a habit of it.

labrador puppy in the arms of a vet
Image Credit: Ilike, Shutterstock

Milk Alternatives for Puppies

If you’re fostering a young dog who urgently needs milk, a formula or milk replacement that’s made for dogs is the safest choice that’ll meet their dietary needs. However, there may be cases where the local pet store is out of stock or closed, and you have a screaming, starving puppy on your hands.

For emergency situations, you can try goat’s milk recipes. You can find goat’s milk at your grocery store, or at a pet store in dry or liquid form. All you need to do is mix 10 ounces of goat’s milk with 1 raw egg yolk, 1 cup plain full-fat yogurt, and ½ teaspoon corn syrup. For the yogurt, you can use goat’s milk yogurt or cow’s milk yogurt since there isn’t a devastating amount of lactose in those dairy products.

We recommend steering clear of cow’s milk in general, though, because it can upset your dog’s stomach.

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Conclusion

Despite the fact that all mammals are raised on milk, there are distinct nutritional differences among species that make their milk non-interchangeable. If you have a starving puppy on your hands, giving them a milk replacement that’s formulated for dogs is the safest option. If you’re out of commercially manufactured puppy formula, you can make a homemade goat’s milk recipe to keep them satisfied until you can find more.

Your adult dog can’t handle human breast milk because they usually become lactose intolerant over time. It’s best to save the breast milk for human babies and opt for a refreshing bowl of goat’s milk for the pups.

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Featured Image Credit: Nor Gal, Shutterstock

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