Can Dogs Have Almond Milk?
Throughout the twentieth century, those of us who were lactose intolerant, vegan, or otherwise dairy-averse had limited options with which to moisten our cereal. Soy milk was a fringe beverage reserved for hippies, lactose-free dairy milk was often rather expensive, and there were not a lot of widely available alternatives. The twenty-first century, on the other hand, is turning out to be the nondairy revolution—alternatives to cow’s milk are available in mainstream stores, and even people who regularly consume dairy products have found that they prefer certain alternative milks to old-fashioned cow’s milk. One of the most popular alternatives is almond milk, which is creamy, lower in calories and fat, and, most importantly, delicious.
Many people are turning to almond milk as a way to reduce their calorie or fat intake. For those who are trying to avoid dairy products, almond milk’s spike in popularity means that they can more easily enjoy treats like ice cream, yogurt, or cookies dunked in milk. But what does this mean for our four-legged lactose intolerant friends? Many of us know that dogs shouldn’t eat dairy, but can you give your dog almond milk?
Technically, yes, dogs can drink almond milk. Almonds themselves are not poisonous to dogs—which is why almond butter can make such a great treat for canines in moderation—and, because almond ‘milk’ is dairy free, it contains no lactose! Dairy milk often causes digestive problems for our pets, but almond milk tends to be well tolerated in small amounts. If your dog has a soft spot for creamy beverages, feel free to give them a little bit of almond milk every now and then. Just remember to read through the ingredients and make sure there are no dangerous flavorings added to the almond milk.
What are the health benefits of giving your dog almond milk? Really, there are not any nutritional benefits. Fortified almond milk can provide us with calcium, Vitamin D, and B12, but it is doubtful that these supplementary nutrients will do too much to help your dog meet their daily dietary needs. Dogs require different nutrients in different ratios, and there are much better sources of these vitamins and minerals than almond milk. If your dog is suffering from a deficiency in any of these nutrients, talk to your veterinarian about canine-friendly supplements. Giving your Kindergartener fortified almond milk with breakfast may help them meet their Vitamin D needs, but it is unlikely to keep your dog fit and healthy.
However, almond milk can be a great treat option for dogs who like nuts or creamy beverages. Though your pooch loves nut butters of all types, they often have problems digesting more than a very small amount of these fatty, caloric spreads. Too much nut butter (or too many raw almonds, for that matter!) are likely to cause vomiting, diarrhea, indigestion, weight gain, and possibly even pancreatitis—and, since they are so calorically dense, ‘too much’ can be quite a small quantity.
Almond milk is a good substitute because it is highly diluted; it is mostly water. A single cup of store-bought almond milk only contains a few almonds, so your pet can have all of the nutty flavor they crave without being quite as likely to take in massive amounts of calories and fat. Because it is lower in calories, fat, and cholesterol (and lacking in, well, lactose), almond milk also makes an excellent substitute for cow’s milk.
Things to Consider
It is important, however, to practice moderation. Giving your dog too much almond milk can cause indigestion or diarrhea—and, over the long term, it can lead to weight gain. As a general rule, liquid calories are a subpar source of nutrition for canines. The best almond milk you can give your dog is unflavored and unsweetened; this type of nondairy milk will be far lower in calories and in sugar than the ‘original vanilla’ options. Be sure to read the nutrition information on the back of the milk carton before measuring out a serving for your pup.
There are a few types of almond milk that may be downright dangerous for dogs. Avoid giving your dog chocolate flavored almond milk; chocolate is extremely poisonous to dogs, and if they drink enough of a chocolatey beverage, it can be life-threatening. Also avoid any almond milk that has been sweetened with the artificial sweetener xylitol, which is also toxic to dogs. If your dog has already consumed almond milk that contains xylitol or chocolate, contact a veterinarian. They may be able to take steps to reduce absorption and prevent toxicity.
In conclusion, almond milk is not exactly a healthy beverage for your pet, but it is generally considered safe to consume in moderation. Opt for unflavored, unsweetened almond milk and remember to practice portion control—liquid calories can lead to weight gain and obesity!