Almond milk is one of the most popular plant-based “milks.” It’s not a real milk from an animal, of course, but some people use it as a substitute for cow’s milk. You may have wondered if it’s safe to give almond milk to your dog. There’s not a short answer to this question so keep reading while we explain about almond milk and dogs.
Facts about Almond Milk
Almond milk is made from almonds and is popular with people who are lactose-intolerant or who wish to avoid dairy products for other reasons. You can make it at home in a blender with almonds and water. Commercial almond milk is sold sweetened, unsweetened, and in flavors. It can also have added micronutrients. It has much less protein, fat, and carbs than cow’s milk or soy milk.
One of the potential problems with almond milk that is purchased in stores is that some brands are sweetened with xylitol, an artificial sweetener which can be deadly to dogs.
Xylitol Poisoning Can Lead to Hypoglycemia and Include the Following Symptoms:
- Lack of coordination or difficulty walking or standing
Symptoms of xylitol poisoning can develop quickly, often within 15-30 minutes of consumption.
In severe cases, a dog can develop seizures or liver failure. Dogs that develop liver failure from xylitol poisoning often show signs of hypoglycemia.
Any almond milk that has added chocolate or other ingredients that could be harmful to dogs should also be avoided.
If your dog does drink almond milk that contains xylitol, chocolate, or other harmful additives, contact your veterinarian immediately! Do not wait.
Is Almond Milk Good for Your Dog?
There are no particular health benefits https://www.nutritionvalue.org/Nuts%2C_almonds_nutritional_value.html to giving your dog almond milk. Technically, you can give your adult dog pure almond milk – almond milk that is made only from almonds and water that have been blended into a liquid, without any additives. But even pure almond milk doesn’t offer your dog any special health benefits. A small amount of natural almond milk probably won’t bother most dogs but there are many other foods that dogs will like better that have more health benefits.
Caution about Almond Milk
We’ve already mentioned the problems that can occur with xylitol and other additives added to almond milk sold in stores. Be sure to read the label carefully if you are buying almond milk at the store. Even if you give your dog pure almond milk made at home, some dogs can have digestive upset from drinking the almond milk. That’s because dogs don’t normally digest this kind of food. If your dog ingests enough of the almond milk he could vomit or experience diarrhea. Dogs have a digestive system that normally deals with protein, fats, and carbohydrates in solid form. They can’t always digest a nutty milk product very efficiently.
A small amount of pure, unsweetened almond milk, occasionally, probably won’t cause your dog problems, as long as your dog doesn’t have an allergy to the nuts, but too much can lead to trouble.
Keep in mind that almonds are also rather expensive so if you add them to your dog’s diet you could be spending money that would better be spent on nutrients in foods he would digest better.
When it comes to puppies, you should not give them almond milk at all. Puppies need to be raised on their mother’s milk until they are weaned when they are about a month old (the age varies from litter to litter). At that time they can slowly transition to eating puppy food. You can add a little goat’s milk, cow’s milk, or puppy milk replacer (usually purchased online or from veterinarians) to your puppy’s first few solid meals, but do NOT add almond milk or other plant-based milks. Puppies have the lactase enzyme needed to break down the lactose in milk and they will continue to have this enzyme for several months. (Some dogs never lose this enzyme.) This enzyme allows them to drink and digest milk from animals. Giving them plant-based milks, such as almond milk, which do not contain the nutrients they need for growth, is harmful to them.
If you are raising a litter of puppies that have lost their mother or the mother isn’t producing enough milk, do NOT nurse them with almond milk or any other plant-based milk. They will not survive if you do. Talk to your veterinarian about a good milk replacer formula for the litter. A milk replacement formula will have the proper nutrients that young puppies need to grow and thrive. Your vet can also show you the best ways to nurse the pups, depending on their age.
Most people do not give adult dogs milk from cows because it can cause digestive problems, especially if the dog is lactose-intolerant. Some dogs – but not all – are lactose-intolerant. If your dog enjoys milk you might try offering him a small amount of goat’s milk instead of cow’s milk. Studies have shown that goat’s milk is nutritionally closer to the milk from a mother dog than cow’s milk so it can be easier for a dog to digest. Even with goat’s milk, however, it’s usually a good idea to only give a small amount occasionally. You can find goat’s milk available in many grocery stores today in the baking aisle.
So, the answer to whether dogs can have almond milk is “Yes, but why?” Or, they can have almond milk without any additives. If you want to give your dog almond milk, you are better off making it yourself at home; or check the label very carefully to make sure it doesn’t contain xylitol or any additives that could be harmful for dogs. Keep in mind that almonds and almond milk really don’t provide your dog with any nutritional benefits. There are a lot of foods that your dog would probably like better. And, if you have a puppy, we recommend that you skip the almond milk entirely.