Can Dogs be Lactose Intolerant?


As humans, we love our pups more than anything, and with that, we love to share with them. Treats? Absolutely. Toys? You betcha. People food? Without a doubt. But when it comes to what you can feed your pup, you have to be cautious.

You probably know a few of the basics, like, chocolate is toxic and garlic might hurt him beyond repair, but did you know that there are specific dogs that shouldn’t eat specific things? Did you know that your pup could be, unlike other pups, lactose intolerant?

It’s true! Just like people, some doggos can have a harder time digesting lactose than other four-legged friends. If you didn’t know, now you do, and we’re here to explain all the signs you should look for, how to treat your doggo if you think he’s lactose intolerant, and what you can do to avoid any severe episodes.

Signs Indicating Your Dog May be Lactose Intolerant

If you suspect that your pooch may not be able to digest lactose like other dogs, but you’re not sure how to tell, we’re going to give you a few, quick signs to look out for that may indicate that your pup is suffering from an intolerance.

If you regularly feed your dog cheese, milk, or anything else that contains lactose – a kind of sugar molecule that’s broken down by an enzyme known as lactase – and don’t survey any kind of different or odd behaviors, he might be just fine with digesting lactose. however, if you notice that your dog tends to be gassy, has loose stool, or vomits after eating dairy products, it’s likely that he’s not able to digest these things.

That being said, if you notice your pup has a lack of appetite, is having a hard time gaining weight, is itching a lot, and or shows sign of stomach pain after eating these products, it’s highly likely that his little body just can’t digest the lactose. It’s important to note that dairy products aren’t typically toxic to dogs, but they also are not a necessity in their diet, and can be harmful to pups that aren’t able to digest them properly.

Body Language

Keep an eye out for a few of the following signs that your pup might need to lay off the cheese:



Ears Drop

Other Signs

Take a look at the other signs your dog might be exhibiting to help determine if your little guy is suffering from lactose intolerance.

Poor Body Condition

Itching And Scratching

No Appetite


Diarrhea/ Loose Stool

Flatulence And Abdominal Gas

Tummy Pain And Discomfort

Weight Loss

Lactose Intolerance and the Historical Effects its Had on Pups

Lactose intolerance is an ailment that used to be thought of as a humans-only condition, but it’s quite common for pooches and their bodies to be unable to produce the enzyme that breaks down lactose correctly. In fact, it’s one of the most common conditions in the canine community, specifically when dealing with digestive disorders.

Historically speaking, people started realizing doggos could also suffer from this condition relatively recently, thinking often that dairy was either entirely okay or just a toxic food group for animals. Historically, it has affected dogs of all shapes, sizes, breeds, and genders. It simply just depends on your dog’s ability to digest lactose and whether or not their bodies are equipped with the enzyme needed to do so.

How Does Lactose Intolerance Really Work?

To help explain lactose intolerance and how it can affect your doggo, we thought we’d get a bit deeper into the science of it all.

Like we mentioned before, lactose is a nutrient that is found in milk and other dairy products. Lactose is a sugar that’s made up of two sugar molecules that are chemically linked together, and in order to be digested properly, your pup’s body has to be able to produce the right chemicals to break it down.

That right chemical is an enzyme called lactase, something that’s produced in your dog’s body that splits those lactose molecules and helps them digest properly. If your doggo doesn’t produce that enzyme, that’s when your pooch can be in trouble.

Milk and dairy products are not considered toxic for pups, and it’s even possible that if your dog is emitting these signs, they may simply be allergic to the protein in milk products as opposed to the lactose. That being said, it’s important you keep a watchful eye on your doggo’s dairy intake, as dairy can be a real, present problem in the canine community.

How To Help Train Your Pup To Cope with Lactose Intolerance

While there’s not a whole lot you can do in the way of training your pooch to stay away from dairy-specific treats on his own (he probably can’t tell the difference between a hunk of cheese and a milkbone), there’s plenty you can do to get him used to avoiding dairy-based products.

For example, get him used to eating a specific kind of treat and make sure you find a new, dairy-free favorite for him! In addition, train your friends and family. We’re sure they love your pup and don’t want him to hurt, but sometimes those puppy eyes are too big and beautiful to deny a lick of the ice cream cone. Explain to your pup’s surrounding people that that cone could cause more harm than help, and make sure he doesn’t eat any of those treats.

Additionally, if your pup’s food usually has some dairy in it, gradually get him used to new food and wean him off the dairy as soon as possible.

It’s important to be aware of the signs of lactose intolerance in dogs and take steps to avoid dairy products if necessary. Training your pup to cope with lactose intolerance and educating others about the potential harm of dairy treats can help keep your furry friend healthy and happy.

Tips & Things to Know

1️⃣ Monitor your dog’s response to dairy products: If you notice symptoms such as gas, vomiting, loose stool, lack of appetite, or signs of stomach pain after your dog consumes dairy products, these could be indicators that your dog is lactose intolerant and struggles to properly digest lactose.

2️⃣ Understand the science behind lactose intolerance: Lactose intolerance in dogs is due to the inability to produce an enzyme called lactase, which is necessary to break down lactose, a sugar found in dairy products. This condition is common among dogs and is not due to toxicity; however, it can cause discomfort and digestive issues.

3️⃣ Help your dog cope with lactose intolerance: If your dog is lactose intolerant, it is crucial to adjust their diet accordingly. This could involve finding dairy-free treats, educating friends and family about your dog’s dietary restrictions, and gradually transitioning your dog to dairy-free food if their current diet contains dairy products.

Frequently Asked Questions, Answered ✅

1. What are some signs that my dog may be lactose intolerant?
– Signs include gassiness, loose stool, vomiting, lack of appetite, itching, stomach pain, and weight loss after consuming dairy products.

2. Are dairy products toxic to dogs?
– Dairy products are not typically toxic to dogs, but they can be harmful to dogs that are lactose intolerant and unable to digest lactose properly.

3. How common is lactose intolerance in dogs?
– Lactose intolerance is one of the most common conditions in the canine community, specifically when dealing with digestive disorders. It can affect dogs of all shapes, sizes, breeds, and genders.

4. How does lactose intolerance work in dogs?
– Lactose is a sugar found in milk and other dairy products. In order to be digested properly, dogs need to produce an enzyme called lactase. If a dog doesn’t produce enough lactase, they may have trouble digesting lactose.

5. How can I help my lactose intolerant dog cope with their intolerance?
– While you can’t train a dog to avoid dairy products on their own, you can find dairy-free treats for them and train your friends and family to not give them dairy-based treats. Gradually transition your dog to a new food that doesn’t contain dairy.

Max Kozinskiy
Max Kozinskiy
Max Kozinskiy is a seasoned writer and an enthusiast of dog breed expertise. Having dedicated over 5 years to studying the intricacies of different dog breeds and their unique characteristics. His profound insights and love for our four-legged friends have made him an invaluable part of our team.

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