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Is Goat Milk Safe for Dogs?
There are many people promoting raw diets for dogs and you may see raw goat milk listed as an important part of a raw diet. But is goat milk (raw or pasteurized) safe for your beloved pet? Just because your dog may love sneaking a lick of your ice cream and obviously enjoys the taste of milk products, should you intentionally feed him or her goat milk?
As with humans, it depends on your individual dog, and his overall diet. It's important that your pet gets a balanced diet. Goat milk and goat dairy products can play an important role in that diet as long as all your dog's nutritional needs are being met.
Which is safer - raw goat milk or pasteurized goat milk?
When milk is collected from goats, it is in its natural, raw state. This raw goat milk contains lots of valuable vitamins, minerals, enzymes, proteins, fatty acids, probiotics, and electrolytes. Many people prefer to drink their milk raw because of all these benefits.
But milk that is not from healthy animals or milk that is not obtained in a clean facility with proper cleanliness procedures can be contaminated by bacteria. Because of the possibility of contamination and the prevalence of confinement dairies, much of the milk in America is pasteurized. Pasteurization is designed to kill any potential pathogens that have infected the milk. Unfortunately, it also kills many of the healthy enzymes and probiotics that are heat sensitive and therefore destroyed by the pasteurization process.
The Jonas family drinks our milk raw because we know the health of the goats and that they are raised on pasture with sunshine. We also know these healthy goats are milked cleanly and the milk is immediately chilled down. But in the state of Indiana, where our farm is based, it is illegal to sell raw milk for human consumption. We have our pet food license and have sold raw milk to deer farms, dog breeders, cat rescues, and other pet lovers. We regularly get back reports that these animals are thriving.
If you choose to feed your dogs or cats goat milk, be sure to know the source of your milk. Raw goat milk from healthy animals can add a lot of nutrition to your pet's diet. But if you don't know the source of the milk or question the sanitation methods used, pasteurized milk might be a better alternative.
Goat Milk Stuff is a registered Grade A goat dairy and produces both raw and pasteurized goat milk. Do your research and decide whether you feel raw or pasteurized goat milk is safer for your animal. The decision should largely be based on what dairies you have access to.
Which is safer - goat milk or cow milk?
If you want to add dairy to your dog's diet, it's important to determine which type of milk you are going to feed her - goat milk or cow milk. In our opinion, goat milk is healthier, which is why we chose goats over cows. You can read more details about goat milk vs cow milk, but here are some basic reasons we believe goat milk is better for both humans and pets.
Goat milk is higher in some nutrients. Some studies have shown that goat milk is higher than cow milk in essential fatty acids (such as linoleic and arachidonic), vitamin B6, vitamin A, niacin, selenium, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
Goat milk is naturally homogenized. All milk (no matter the mammal) contains fat globules. Not only are the fat globules in goat milk much smaller than those in cow milk, but goat milk also does not contain agglutinin.
Agglutinin is necessary for agglutination (the clumping together of particles) to occur. The larger fat globules and agglutinin in cow milk cause the butterfat to rise to the top. To prevent the cream from rising, most commercial cow milk is homogenized. Homogenization mechanically breaks the fat cell wall thereby preventing the fat molecules from clumping together and rising.
When homogenization breaks the cell wall, xanthine oxidase (a free radical) is released. Free radicals can negatively impact the health of your pet. Because of this potential threat, goat milk may be a healthier option than homogenized cow milk.
Goat milk is easier to digest. The smaller fat globules in goat milk also make it easier to digest since your pet's digestive enzymes can more easily break down a smaller fat globule than a larger one. Goat milk also has more short and medium chain fatty acids which are easier to digest than the fatty acids in cow milk.
Goat milk is less allergy forming. Goat and cow milk both contain protein, but cow milk contains large amounts of a protein called Alpha S1 Casein, while goat milk does not. This protein is often blamed for causing allergic reactions in humans (I've never seen any studies related to S1 Casein and dogs). The lack of S1 Casein in combination with the easier digestion may explain why most people who are allergic to cow milk can drink goat milk. The same is likely true for dogs.
Goat milk improves lactose intolerance. Lactose (milk sugars) occurs in both cow milk and goat milk. When humans and canines have a deficiency of lactase (the enzyme responsible for breaking down lactose), they can experience the painful symptoms (gas, bloating, diarrhea) associated with lactose intolerance. Goat milk is less likely than cow milk to produce lactose intolerance symptoms. We don't know the exact reason for this, but one theory is that because goat milk is easier to digest, less lactase is needed to process the lactose.
As with the decision to feed raw or pasteurized goat milk, do your research on feeding goat milk vs cow milk. Again, consider the source. While I believe goat milk is better, I would always choose milk from a healthy animal raised outside on grass and sunshine than an animal raised in a confinement system.
Is goat milk safe for puppies, adult dogs, and sick or older dogs?
Newborn puppies should always be fed their mother's milk. But sometimes puppies are orphaned or their mother simply doesn't produce enough milk. As mentioned earlier, we assist many breeders to raise healthy puppies by supplementing them with our raw goat milk.
If you don't have access to goat milk, you may need to use a formula for your puppy. Unlike cow’s milk, goat milk based formula is a safer alternative for nursing puppies. This is because goat milk more closely imitates their mother's milk and is easier for them to break down and digest.
Cow’s milk doesn’t work for well puppies because it’s harder on the digestive system and will often upset puppies' stomachs.
Supplementing your puppy with goat milk as she grows will add wonderful nutrients to your puppy's diet.
Once your puppy reaches adulthood, goat milk has vitamins and minerals that dogs can use to maintain good health when used as part of a balanced diet. Remember that as dogs get past the puppy phase, they produce less lactase. Keep an eye out for lactose intolerance symptoms (gas, bloating, diarrhea) especially if you are feeding cow milk instead of goat milk.
Is goat milk safe for older or sick dogs?
Older dogs or dogs recovering from an illness can benefit from the easy to digest nutrition and electrolytes that goat milk provides. In fact, it is common to find directions for convalescing dogs on goat milk based puppy formula.
An even better option for a sick dog or one suffering from any kind of stomach ailment is a dose of goat milk yogurt, which is one of the best ways to get your dog on the road to recovery.
You've probably heard the recommendation that if a human is taking a round of antibiotics they should also eat yogurt or other fermented foods to help repopulate their gut with healthy bacteria. The same is true for your dog. Plain yogurt (that is not full of sugar or artificial flavors) can help speed your dog's recovery.
Yogurt is packed with probiotics, protein and calcium, which your dog needs. Putting goat milk yogurt into your dog's diet will make your dog's gut happy which will give their immune system a boost.
Whenever you introduce a new food to your dog, make sure to feed just a little bit and check for any allergy reactions or symptoms. Whether you use pasteurized goat milk, raw milk goat milk, or goat milk yogurt, they should all be safe for your dog as long as he or she has no allergy issues.
Goat milk can be an important part of a balanced diet and help your dog to have all her nutritional needs met. Healthy goat milk provides many essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients your dog requires to keep her healthy.
If you've made the decision to feed your dog goat milk, we'd love to help. We have goat milk and goat milk yogurt available regularly on our farm. It can be frozen if you want to keep an extended supply on hand, or have a long drive to get home from here.
Unfortunately, Goat Milk Stuff is not able to ship goat milk or goat milk yogurt at this time. If you are not within driving distance of our farm, you will need to expand your search. Keep asking around and don't give up. Your pet will thank you for it!
Disclaimer: We are not vets. We do not attempt to advise you on health and nutrition when it comes to your pet. Please use information on such controversial topics, such as the use of raw milk, as part of broader and balanced research.