Although it may sound exotic, goat’s milk is actually the most-consumed type of milk worldwide. A current trend is to feed goat’s milk to dogs. This has become popular due to the high quantities of a wide range of nutrients in the milk and because some dogs who are unable to consume cow’s milk suffer from no negative side effects with goat’s milk. Plus, it is available raw, which makes it a great addition to a dog’s raw diet.
When choosing goat’s milk, make sure you pick a high-quality product. The goats should be pasture fed and not receive antibiotics. It is also critical that the milk is raw, not pasteurized.
Some products have added ingredients. As long as these are healthy, natural foods (and your dog has no allergies to any of them), such products can also be good options.
In addition to fresh milk, goat’s milk is available as a powder. Such products lack many of the benefits named above. For instance, the probiotics may not be alive or they may be easily destroyed by the stomach on the way to the gut, rendering them useless. Plus, due to the fact that the milk is processed, your dog’s digestive system will react to it differently.
Kefir is a type of fermented goat’s milk. The process of fermenting the milk causes even more probiotics to form, therefore increasing the health benefits of the milk. These extra probiotics are especially helpful for dogs with skin conditions and recurring allergies. You can purchase kefir or make your own using raw goat milk.
Start providing your dog with the benefits of goat’s milk as soon as possible. Give her a small amount to begin with and see how she responds. Most dogs react to the milk well. If this is the case for your pet, you should begin feeding her a portion of goat’s milk on a regular basis. If you want to give her an occasional treat, consider goat’s cheese. Just bear in mind that the higher fat content means that cheese should never replace raw milk or kefir.
Dogs may struggle to digest cow’s milk because of pasteurization. Among other things, the process removes the lactase enzyme. Dogs who are lactose intolerant do not make the lactase enzyme in their bodies and are therefore unable to cope with the lactose content in milk. Raw goat’s milk is unpasteurized, meaning it still has the lactase enzyme.
Goat’s milk is also more digestible than cow’s milk for a couple more reasons:
Firstly, the fat particles are smaller than those of cow’s milk. Your dog’s stomach turns these particles into a soft curb, which is easy for the intestines to break down. This allows your dog to digest the milk in just 20 minutes.
Secondly, goat’s milk is packed with probiotics and enzymes, which improve the balance between good and bad bacteria. This means that if your dog has a naturally sensitive gut, goat’s milk will aid her digestion as a whole. It also means that goat’s milk is useful during and after antibiotic treatment.
Your dog may respond badly to cow’s milk due to an allergy rather than lactose intolerance. This is because milk contains the protein alpha-S1 casein. The protein is present in a much smaller quantity in goat’s milk — usually too little to trigger an allergic response.
With high levels of short- and medium-chain fatty acids, goat’s milk provides your dog with energy without causing her to store more fat on her body. These lower bad cholesterol while raising good cholesterol — essential for preventing heart disease. The milk also has fewer calories and unhealthy fats than cow’s milk.
Goat’s milk can help your dog recover from a number of conditions, including:
It can also help your dog manage or even prevent diabetes by improving her sensitivity to insulin.
If your dog is suffering from inflammation, feed her goat’s milk in her next meal. The enzymes in the milk can reduce the bacteria causing inflammation in her gut. They can also reduce inflammation elsewhere in the body, relieving discomfort. For this reason, goat’s milk is also ideal for dogs suffering from food or environmental allergies.
Another way goat’s milk can help is by repairing gaps between the cells in the gut caused by previous inflammation. This prevents leaky gut syndrome — where pathogens and bad bacteria are able to enter the body and cause an array of health problems.
Dogs who have suffered malnutrition (such as rescue dogs) recover more quickly when they receive goat’s milk. This is thanks to the high amounts of protein in the milk. Better still, the delicious flavor is appealing to even the pickiest of dogs, including dogs who are sick or old and weaning puppies who are initially resistant to eat solid food.
Goat’s milk allows your dog to receive a daily intake of some essential vitamins and minerals, including:
All the above nutrients are present in goat’s milk in a natural form, which means they are more easily available to your dog’s body than synthetic versions. For this reason, goat’s milk can prevent conditions like malabsorption, anemia, and bone demineralization.
The high levels of potassium in goat’s milk also makes it a great antacid. It helps your dog’s achieve the right pH throughout her digestive system. Read here about how goat's milk can help settle your dogs upset stomach.