Can My Dog Be Lactose Intolerant?

Are you wondering if your furry friend may be lactose intolerant? We’re here to offer some insights and help you keep your pup healthy.

In this article, we’ll talk about the potential of your dog having lactose intolerance and explore the signs and symptoms to look out for.

Plus, find out how to properly test your pup for lactose intolerance and what steps you can take to ensure they stay in tip-top condition.

But first, what exactly is lactose intolerance?

What is Lactose Intolerant

Lactose intolerance in dogs occurs when the body does not produce enough of the enzyme lactase, which is needed for the digestion of lactose, a sugar found in milk and other dairy products.

When the body does not produce enough lactase, it can’t break down the lactose found in dairy products. This causes the lactose to move undigested through the small intestine and into the large intestine, where it is broken down by bacteria that produce gas as a byproduct.

This gas accumulates in the intestines and leads to uncomfortable symptoms like bloating, abdominal cramping, and diarrhea. In some cases, people or dogs may also experience nausea, headaches, and fatigue

Are dogs lactose intolerant as puppies?

Generally speaking, puppies are not lactose intolerant. Puppies need the extra nutrition found in milk and other dairy products to ensure they grow and develop properly.

The proteins, fats, and carbohydrates present in dairy products are especially important for puppy growth, as they are essential for healthy development and can help build muscle, support bones, and joints, and provide energy for activities.

Additionally, some of the nutrients found in dairy products, such as calcium and phosphorus, can help strengthen a puppy’s teeth and bones, which is critical for proper development.

Can dogs have dairy?

Some dogs may not have an issue with eating dairy products, however, it is best to use caution when feeding dairy to your dog, especially an older dog.

This is because, as dogs get older, their bodies produce less lactase, making it more difficult for them to digest lactose.

Additionally, older dogs are more likely to have underlying health conditions, such as food allergies or inflammatory bowel disease, that can cause digestive issues and make them more sensitive to lactose.

What Causes Some Dogs to Reject Dairy (Allergies vs Intolerance)

Dogs can reject dairy in two ways, either by an allergic reaction, or an intolerance. It’s important to know the difference.

The main difference between lactose intolerance and food allergies is that food allergies involve an immune system reaction while lactose intolerance is a digestive issue.


When a food allergy occurs, the body’s immune system mistakenly identifies a harmless food protein as an invader and releases histamine to try and fight it off.

This causes a range of symptoms that can vary in intensity from dog to dog, but typically include itching, hives, swelling, redness, coughing, sneezing, difficulty breathing, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Symptoms may occur quickly or develop over time, and can be triggered by even small amounts of the food allergen. Treatment for food allergies typically involves avoiding the food allergen altogether and in some cases, taking medication to reduce the severity of symptoms.


Lactose intolerance is caused by the lack of the enzyme lactase, which is needed to break down milk and other dairy products. Symptoms of lactose intolerance include bloating, abdominal cramping, and diarrhea.

Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance in Dogs

When your dog is lactose intolerant, the undigested lactose can cause gastrointestinal symptoms such as excessive gas, abdominal cramping, and diarrhea.

In some cases, your dog may experience nausea, headaches, and fatigue due to the body’s inability to break down the lactose.

You may also notice that your dog is drinking excessive amounts of water or having difficulty gaining weight, both of which could indicate lactose intolerance.

As these symptoms can also point to other health issues, it is important to consult your veterinarian if you suspect your dog may be lactose intolerant.

How to Find out if Your Dog is Lactose Intolerant

If you suspect that your dog may be lactose intolerant, there are two tests available to help confirm a diagnosis, a blood test, and a hydrogen breath test.

Blood test: A blood test is a less accurate option and is typically done by taking a sample of your dog’s blood and measuring the amount of glucose in it. Glucose levels will be lower than normal if your dog is unable to properly break down lactose.

Hydrogen breath test: The hydrogen breath test is the most accurate, as it measures the amount of hydrogen gas in your dog’s breath, which increases when undigested lactose reaches the large intestine.

Milk Alternatives if your Dog is Lactose Intolerant

When looking for dairy alternatives for your dog, it is best to select products that are high in nutrition and low in lactose.

Almond and coconut milks are great options as they contain essential vitamins and minerals that can help keep your pet healthy.

Additionally, there are many non-dairy products available that are fortified with vegan, dairy-free probiotics that can help maintain your pet’s digestive health.

Lastly, make sure to feed your dog high-quality food and provide plenty of exercise and activity to help keep their weight in check and promote a healthy lifestyle.


I hope this article has been helpful in understanding the possibility of your pup being lactose intolerant.

If you’re worried they may have a food sensitivity, there is no need to worry – just reach out to your local vet for proper diagnosis and treatment.

And if it turns out that your pup does indeed have lactose intolerance, don’t fret – simply give them high-quality food and plenty of exercise and activity to keep them healthy and happy.