When we become dog owners, we suddenly start to want to give our dog’s the best of everything we possibly can. In a day and age where we are all painfully aware of how our diet can affect our own bodies, it naturally follows that we want to give our dogs the best diet we can possibly afford. However, given that the majority of us are not dieticians, let alone dog nutritionists, how do we know what is good for them or not?
What makes this problem worse is the constant bombardment of new information regarding what is good for us or our dogs and what is bad for us or our dogs. There always seems to be a fad new diet to follow or a new superfood that we all need to be adding to our diets whether we have two legs or four.
In this article, we look at whether we can or should give our dogs goat’s milk. It is one of the latest hot topics so we want to address any issues that dog owners may have or queries they hold with respect to feeding their dogs this new “it” food.
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Why Do Pets Need Milk At All?
It is very easy to forget that there are other types of milk out there as well as cow’s milk, given the amount that we as humans consume every day on our cereal and in our drinks. However, cows weren’t and still aren’t the only source of milk that has been used in the past. While we predominantly consume cow’s milk now, historically, yak, buffalo, camel and donkey milk were also drunk. What may surprise some readers is that goats milk has actually remained one of the most popular sources of milk even in the rise of mass cow farming.
So why is milk so popular? Pets need both micro and macro nutrients. Milk is a fantastic source of these nutrients as well as containing protein, fat and carbohydrate which dogs need to remain healthy. When puppies are feeding from their mothers, they will be ingesting milk that has a very high fat and protein content.
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It is for this reason that cow’s milk may not be totally suitable for dogs given that calves, for which milk is produced, will have different physiological and dietary needs. Because of this, goat’s milk has been investigated as a possible alternative. But does it work?
Why Is Goat’s Milk Good?
It is gaining popularity in the West as it has now been confirmed that goats milk contains unique characteristics that can make it superior to cow’s milk as well as many other animal milks. For starters, it is far more easily digested than other milks and it does not contain a protein that is thought to aggravate allergic reactions, that can often be seen with cow’s milk. This protein is called Alpha S1 Casein protein and goat’s milk is completely free of it. Additionally, cows milk also has proteins beta-lactoglobulin and alpha-lactalbumin proteins that are thought to cause allergic reactions
A common allergic reaction to cow’s milk is lactose intolerance. This is a reaction that has developed within humans and pets due to the increase of pasteurization of milk. Lactose is a substance within cow’s milk that is like sugar. It needs an enzyme to break it down so that it can be digested. This enzyme is killed within the pasteurization process. People and pets have an allergic reaction when they don’t have this enzyme within their bodies either so can’t digest pasteurized milk.
Other reasons that nutritionists like goat’s milk is that within its fat composition. While it contains smaller fat globules, it actually has a higher amount of necessary fatty acids in smaller and medium chains. It makes digesting it and getting to the needed nutrients within those fatty acid chains that much quicker.
What About Raw Goat’s Milk?
For similar reasons to the pasteurization of cow’s milk, many people prefer to feed themselves and their pets raw goats milk. The reason being is that it will still contain all the vitamins and minerals it originally had as well as electrolytes, protein, fatty acids and those all important enzymes. Because of this composition, it is thought that a dog’s body can actually digest goat’s milk in just twenty minutes to access all the goodness it holds. The size of the fat molecules make it far easier for dogs to eat, especially ones with easily irritated stomachs.
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It is even thought that all the probiotics that raw goats milk contains can help a dog with many conditions that are alleviated through diet. These include:
- Kidney stones
- Liver disease
- Kidney stones
- GI disease
- Poor digestion
- Kidney disease
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In fact, some advocates for goat milk even suggest fermenting it to make it even better for dogs. This is down to the fermentation process creating even more probiotics with the result that it is even more helpful in the gut and digestive process. Some of these advocates go on to say that fermented goats milk can help with conditions like arthritis, colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, intestinal pathogens, gastric ulcers, and perhaps some brain disorders.
Where to Find Raw Goat’s Milk
It’s important to think about where you buy raw goat’s milk from as the source can play a huge part in just how efficient that goats milk can be. The reason being, if a goat has been bred with its health and well being in mind, its milk is far more likely to have optimal levels of nutrients, minerals, enzymes and probiotics in it. If a goat has not been treated well and given a bad diet, the milk that is produced cannot be of a good quality.
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For that reason, look for raw goat’s milk that has come from goats that have been fed on grass in as free range an environment as possible. Ensure that it is free from any processing that may have affected the nutritional composition of the milk, like pasteurization or perhaps even spray drying.
If you are after fermented goat milk, ensure that that milk too has come from well bred goats but also that it was originally raw milk. If not, the milk will not have been able to ferment enough for it to be of any nutritional use. Fermented goat milk needs to have been kept away from any high heats too to remain full of goodness. For example, probiotics will still be within fermented goat’s milk if it has been stored and treated properly without high heats.
It is possible to make fermented goat milk at home by purchasing good quality goat milk as well as kefir grains that will work towards fermenting that goat milk for the ultimate health impacts. Try to ensure that you use full fat goat milk if you choose to make your own fermented liquid as well as trying to buy organic milk from grass fed animals. That will all help to work towards making the best fermented milk possible.
Adding Goat’s Milk To Your Dog’s Diet
Ultimately, adding raw or fermented goat milk to your dog’s diet can help their digestional tract which in turn will often aid or support their overall health. This is not only down to the enzymes and probiotics that goat’s milk contains, but because they make for a healthier and more efficient gut. This makes your dog far more able to process antioxidants and vitamins to fight off illnesses as well as break down essential fatty acids to keep their coats and skin shiny and in the best condition.
Should I Feed My Pet Goat’s Milk? The Bottom Line
If you are buying good quality kibble that is formulated to meet all your dog’s dietary needs, you should not need to add goat’s milk to your dog’s diet. However, it does give them that extra help with all the nutritional benefits that goat’s milk, either raw or fermented, comes with. So there is certainly no harm in trying to see whether your dog’s mood and physical demeanor improves – especially if you are worried about their health in any way. It’s a good home remedy to try as well to help them get over any bouts of sickness or to rebalance their gut if they have had to have a course of antibiotics for any reason.
So whether you are after goat milks for pitbulls, labradors or dobermans, it’s most definitely something that your dog will enjoy while you can be happy in the knowledge that you are supporting your dog’s health and wellbeing.
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- Goat Milk For Dogs, Dogs Naturally Magazine