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Is the German Shepherd Lactose Intolerant? Look here!

lactose intolerant german shepherd

My German Shepherd loves an occasional piece of cheese, however when I recently let him lick on some heavy whipping cream straight from the whisk, he suffered an upset stomach and diarrhea within hours. So that made me wonder, “ Is my German Shepherd lactose intolerant? ” This is what I found:

Some German Shepherds can digest all dairy foods as the lactose they contain does not cause any problems for them. However, dogs have varying degrees of lactose intolerance and some dogs may be able to tolerate only certain types of dairy products, for example cheese, while others will experience adverse reactions to all dairy products in general.

Why is lactose bad for German Shepherds?

Before we can answer this question, let’s first look at what exactly lactose is.

Lactose is a type of sugar found in milk and other dairy products. If your German Shepherd cannot digest lactose, it will be what’s known as lactose intolerance. This condition is not harmful to your dog, however it will be unsightly.

When your German Shepherd drinks milk or a similar dairy product (for example, cream, ice cream, cheese, or yogurt) the lactose requires an enzyme called lactase to digest the food or drink. An enzyme is simply a substance that acts as a catalyst to cause a specific biochemical reaction, in this case, digestion.

German Shepherd puppies have a lot of lactase which is necessary to break down their mother’s milk allowing them to obtain all the required nutrients. However, once they have been weaned from their mother they produce less and less lactase and this is the stage when some dogs can develop lactose intolerance.

Dairy foods contain varying amounts of lactose (see table below) depending on how the food is processed, for example, most types of cheese are quite low since by processing milk into cheese, the amount of lactose is reduced.

German Shepherds also have different degrees of lactose intolerance and all dogs are different, for example my German Shepherd occasionally enjoys a very small bowl of milk, the equivalent of a few tablespoons. However, a few licks of heavy whipping cream give you stomach problems within hours.

Your dog may also show a variable degree of tolerance if the dairy product is consumed with other foods. For example, a tablespoon or two of yogurt on top of your dog’s food may not cause any gastrointestinal upset, while the same amount of yogurt consumed alone may be enough to cause excess gas or diarrhea.

Also, it should be noted that different brands of dairy foods can have different effects on your dog.

Yogurt is also interesting, as this food may not cause any problems for your dog. This is because many of the bacterial strains in yogurt produce lactase, helping the breakdown of lactose.

I have no idea if my German Shepherd can tolerate yogurt since he has never eaten it – I am not a fan of it and therefore I do not buy it! I know that many people enjoy the many varieties of yogurt, however it always reminds me of when my mother made me eat it as a child as a remedy for a sore throat!

Can German Shepherds Drink Milk?

This seems to be a fairly common question from dog owners and opinion is divided. So can German Shepherds drink milk?

German Shepherds can drink milk, however, as in the case of all dairy foods, it depends on whether the dog can tolerate the amount of lactose it contains.

Some dogs may experience unpleasant reactions to lactose, including flatulence, diarrhea, and vomiting, while others may be fed a few tablespoons of milk every now and then, which can be a good reward for them without any side effects.

When I refer to milk in this article, I am referring to cow’s milk that has long been associated with good health for you and me as it is packed with nutrients and provides energy.

Milk contains high amounts of calcium, which is good for bone and tooth health, and cow’s milk is fortified with vitamin D, which is also good for bone health.

It is a good source of potassium, which is good for the heart, and milk is a rich source of high-quality protein that contains all the essential amino acids. It contains many other vitamins and minerals and healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

If you want to test your German Shepherd with some milk or any other dairy food, it should only be given in moderation or as an occasional treat. Many dog ​​owners only discover that their dog is lactose intolerant after they have given him milk.

Remember – dairy foods are not an essential part of your German Shepherd’s diet.

If you find that your dog cannot tolerate even a small amount of milk, it will be an unpleasant experience for both of you!

Due to deficient levels of lactase, ingesting milk can cause gastrointestinal disorders, including diarrhea and vomiting.

It is also interesting to note that the lactose content of milk is also not greatly affected by heat or fat content, for example whole milk contains the same amount of lactose as low fat milk.

Many dairy products, for example whole milk and cheese, can also contain too much fat, which can lead to diarrhea and vomiting.

German Shepherd dogs are known to have sensitive stomachs and repeated consumption of high-fat foods can also lead to pancreatitis, which is a potentially serious illness.

High-fat foods can also lead to obesity, especially if your dog is inactive or elderly.

It’s also possible that your dog is allergic to milk protein, which can lead to not only vomiting and diarrhea but also itchy skin.

Can German Shepherd Puppies Drink Milk?

To answer this question, let’s first look at the lactose content of cow’s milk. Milk contains around 5% lactose, whether it is whole, full-fat, or low-fat, and this compares to around 3% in a female dog’s milk.

So can German Shepherd puppies drink milk? German Shepherd puppies should not drink milk since when they consume milk from a cow they must metabolize a greater amount of lactose than the milk that comes from their mother.

Even with this slight difference, German Shepherd puppies can have a hard time digesting cow’s milk, which can often overwhelm a puppy’s delicate digestive system and cause symptoms of diarrhea and vomiting. Therefore, it is best to avoid cow’s milk – the only milk they need comes directly from mom!

Even in rare cases where the cub has been orphaned or the mother has fallen ill, cow’s milk is still inappropriate. In these situations, it is important to find a foster mother to breastfeed or use a canine milk substitute like this one from Amazon. I have not personally tried this puppy milk replacer, but I have heard good things from those who have used it.

Puppy milk formula mimics a puppy’s mother’s milk and has a lactose content very close to that of mother’s milk and is easy for the puppy to break down. The nutritional composition is also as close as possible to that of breast milk, with high levels of energy and protein. It is also easy to prepare.

Can German Shepherds Drink Lactose Free Milk?

If you still want to feed your German Shepherds dairy, then there are some dairy-like alternative products you can try. Some of them are:

  • Lactose free milk
  • Lactose-free dairy
  • Almond milk products
  • Soy milk products

There are several varieties of lactose-free milk and dairy products available that may be suitable for your German Shepherd, however when choosing a non-dairy milk substitute, keep this in mind:

Many lactose-free products contain added ingredients, such as artificial sweeteners, preservatives, and flavors.

If you decide to test your dog with almond milk, you will have to experiment with a small amount. Although almonds are technically safe for dogs to eat, they are high in fat that can also cause additional gastrointestinal problems.

Soy milk is also high in calories and sugar, which can lead to weight gain and tooth decay. You should also carefully check the ingredients and make sure that the product does not contain xylitol (sweetener) which is poisonous to dogs.

Remember, if you want to feed your German Shepherd lactose-free dairy products, only feed small amounts in moderation, and be sure to speak with your vet if you have any questions or concerns about any lactose-free product.

What are the symptoms of lactose intolerance in German Shepherds?

You and I have learned that due to insufficient lactase to break down the sugars in dairy products, adult German Shepherd dogs may have a more difficult time digesting it.

Lactose passes undigested through your dog’s gastrointestinal tract and into the large intestine, which absorbs water causing diarrhea. The fermentation of bacteria in your colon can also cause gas and general discomfort.

The lactose intolerant German Shepherd will experience the same acute intestinal symptoms as humans suffering from the same condition. Symptoms are not life threatening unless they continue for a long time, although this is rare.

These are some of the symptoms to watch out for:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Swelling
  • Dehydration
  • Diarrhea
  • Flatulence
  • Vomiting
  • But excessive
  • Lack of appetite
  • Soft spot
  • Weightloss

Some of these symptoms can start as early as 30 minutes to 2 hours after your dog consumes the dairy product.

How is lactose intolerance treated in German Shepherds?

The initial treatment of lactose intolerance in German Shepherds consists of eliminating the offending dairy product. Then it’s about waiting for the lactose to pass through your dog’s digestive system.

In the meantime, you should try to calm your German Shepherd’s stomach with a bland diet, for example, cooked chicken and white rice, until the symptoms have subsided. These foods are highly recommended for treating your dog’s stomach problems. You can also find other useful ideas and tips on what to feed a German Shepherd with diarrhea here .

Make sure your dog doesn’t get dehydrated from diarrhea. Fortunately, most dogs recover within a couple of days, but if the diarrhea lasts too long it can lead to dehydration.

You should see your vet if diarrhea persists as he may recommend that your German Shepherd fast for 24 hours to help speed recovery.

When a dog becomes dehydrated, blood flow is reduced, which decreases the supply of oxygen to organs and tissues. There is also a loss of electrolytes, such as sodium, chloride, and potassium, which have important functions.

In severe cases of dehydration in a dog, a shortage of fluids can lead to kidney and other organ failure and later death. However, there is no need to worry, as this is quite rare.

Dogs suffering from diarrhea will have to keep their fluid levels high to replace the extra water they are losing in their poop. Make sure your German Shepherd has access to water at all times, and that they are drinking throughout the day.

A good idea is to let them lick ice cubes which can also help with rehydration. A pet water fountain is also a great way to ensure your German Shepherd has access to fresh water and encourages hydration – many dogs just love this.

Once the symptoms are gone, gently reintroduce your dog to his regular diet for the next several days. If there is no improvement with the soft diet after a day or so, and the diarrhea persists, you should visit your vet for advice and eliminate any other causes.

What is the difference between lactose intolerance and allergy to dairy products?

Many people get confused between German Shepherd food intolerance and German Shepherd food allergy and they are not the same thing. We have learned that lactose intolerance is when your dog has insufficient amounts of the enzyme lactase that is needed to break down lactose, the sugar found in milk and dairy foods.

In contrast, a food allergy is an over-response or hypersensitivity on the part of your German Shepherd’s immune system to a usually harmless food. For example, a milk allergy is caused by an allergic reaction to milk protein or a food allergy can be caused by protein in fish, lamb, or eggs.

Your dog’s immune system reacts to food as if it is under attack and tries to defend itself against the threat with antibodies. When the allergen (food in this case) comes into contact with the antibodies, histamine is released causing inflammation, for example redness, swelling and itching. Other symptoms of a food allergy in dogs are vomiting and diarrhea, ear infections, and red, watery eyes.

An allergic reaction does not occur the first time a dog is exposed to the allergen, but it does develop over time and can sometimes take years. Some German Shepherds may suddenly develop an allergy to a specific type of protein, for example beef or chicken, and may later have to switch that protein source in their diet to one they have never eaten before, such as new sources. protein such as duck or venison.

To learn much more about allergies from German Shepherd, I wrote an in-depth article that includes the causes, symptoms, treatments, and prevention tips that may be helpful.


You and I both know that dairy foods are not an essential part of our German Shepherd’s diet, however if you would like to experiment with any milk-based product I would recommend that you try one type at a time and keep a close eye on your dog. to see if you can tolerate it.

Many dog ​​owners use cubes of cheese as training treats or feed a few tablespoons of milk with no ill effects, including myself. However, remember that your dog’s treats should not account for more than 10% of his daily caloric intake.

It is also wise to consult your vet before introducing anything new to the German Shepherd diet, especially if they already have an underlying medical condition, for example diabetes.

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I love the animals. Reading and writing about them, their customs, their peculiarities or the attention they require is exciting, and I also believe that it makes us better people. I share articles that solve the questions that dog caregivers face on a daily basis.

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