Can Dogs Have Buttermilk? Exploring the Benefits and Risks


Many dog owners wonder if they can share certain foods with their furry companions, and one common query is whether dogs can have buttermilk. In this article, we will delve into the topic of dogs and buttermilk, exploring the potential benefits and risks associated with feeding it to your canine friend.

Understanding Buttermilk

Buttermilk is a fermented dairy product that is often used in baking and cooking. It is typically made by adding lactic acid bacteria to milk, which ferments the lactose and gives buttermilk its tangy flavor. This fermentation process also creates probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria for gut health.

Can Dogs Drink Buttermilk?

While buttermilk is not toxic to dogs, it is not recommended as a regular part of their diet. Dogs are lactose intolerant, meaning they lack the necessary enzymes to break down lactose, the sugar found in milk. Feeding dogs large amounts of buttermilk can lead to digestive upset, including diarrhea, gas, and bloating.

Potential Benefits of Buttermilk for Dogs

Buttermilk contains probiotics, which can be beneficial for dogs’ digestive health. Probiotics help maintain a healthy balance of gut bacteria, which is essential for proper digestion and nutrient absorption. Introducing small amounts of buttermilk to your dog’s diet may help alleviate mild digestive issues, such as occasional upset stomach or diarrhea.

Additionally, buttermilk can serve as a source of hydration for dogs, especially during hot summer months. It can be a refreshing treat when served chilled, providing dogs with a tasty way to stay hydrated.

Risks and Considerations

One of the main concerns with feeding buttermilk to dogs is lactose intolerance. Dogs lack the enzyme lactase, which is necessary to break down lactose. Feeding dogs large amounts of buttermilk can lead to gastrointestinal issues, including diarrhea and discomfort.

Furthermore, some dogs may be allergic to dairy products, including buttermilk. Signs of an allergic reaction can include itching, skin rashes, vomiting, or diarrhea. If your dog shows any of these symptoms after consuming buttermilk, it is best to avoid giving it to them in the future.

Lastly, buttermilk is relatively high in fat content. While dogs require some fat in their diet, excessive consumption can lead to weight gain and obesity. It is important to consider the overall fat content of your dog’s diet and ensure that buttermilk is given in moderation.

Moderation is Key

When it comes to feeding buttermilk to dogs, moderation is crucial. While small amounts of buttermilk may not cause any issues for some dogs, it is best to consult with your veterinarian before introducing it to their diet. They can provide guidance on appropriate serving sizes based on your dog’s size, breed, and overall health.

As a general guideline, it is recommended to limit buttermilk intake to occasional treats rather than a regular part of your dog’s diet. This will help minimize the risk of digestive upset and ensure that your dog’s nutritional needs are met through a balanced diet.

Alternatives to Buttermilk for Dogs

If you are looking for safe and healthy alternatives to buttermilk for your dog, there are several options available. Plain, unsweetened yogurt is a popular choice as it also contains probiotics that can benefit your dog’s digestive system. Just make sure to choose yogurt without any added sugars or artificial sweeteners.

Another option is kefir, a fermented milk drink that is similar to buttermilk but has a lower lactose content. Kefir also contains probiotics and can be a suitable alternative for dogs with lactose intolerance.

Introducing Buttermilk to Your Dog’s Diet

If you decide to introduce buttermilk to your dog’s diet, it is important to do so gradually. Start by offering a small amount, such as a teaspoon, and monitor your dog’s reaction. If there are no adverse effects, you can gradually increase the serving size over time.

Pay attention to any changes in your dog’s stool or behavior after consuming buttermilk. If you notice any signs of digestive upset or discomfort, it is best to discontinue feeding buttermilk and consult with your veterinarian.

Signs of an Adverse Reaction

It is essential to be aware of the signs of an adverse reaction to buttermilk in dogs. Common symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, gas, bloating, or signs of discomfort. If your dog experiences any of these symptoms after consuming buttermilk, it is best to avoid giving it to them in the future and seek veterinary advice if necessary.

Other Dairy Products for Dogs

While buttermilk may not be suitable for all dogs, there are other dairy products that can be safely consumed in moderation. Plain, unsweetened yogurt and cottage cheese are often well-tolerated by dogs and can provide similar probiotic benefits without the high lactose content.

When feeding dairy products to your dog, it is important to consider their overall diet and ensure that dairy is given as an occasional treat rather than a significant portion of their meals.


In conclusion, while buttermilk can offer some potential benefits for dogs, it is crucial to consider the risks and individual factors before introducing it to their diet. Dogs are lactose intolerant, and feeding them large amounts of buttermilk can lead to digestive issues. Always consult with your veterinarian before making any significant changes to your dog’s diet. Remember, moderation is key, and there are alternative options available that can provide similar benefits without the potential risks associated with buttermilk.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can dogs with lactose intolerance have buttermilk?

Dogs with lactose intolerance should avoid consuming buttermilk. Buttermilk contains lactose, which dogs with lactose intolerance cannot digest properly. Feeding buttermilk to dogs with lactose intolerance can lead to digestive issues such as diarrhea, gas, and bloating. It is best to opt for lactose-free alternatives or consult with your veterinarian for suitable options.

Can puppies have buttermilk?

It is generally not recommended to give buttermilk to puppies. Puppies have delicate digestive systems that may not be able to handle the lactose in buttermilk. It is best to stick to their regular puppy formula or consult with a veterinarian for appropriate dietary recommendations for your puppy’s specific needs.

Can buttermilk be used as a remedy for constipation in dogs?

While buttermilk contains probiotics that can aid in digestion, it is not a recommended remedy for constipation in dogs. If your dog is experiencing constipation, it is important to consult with your veterinarian to determine the underlying cause and appropriate treatment options. They may recommend dietary changes, increased water intake, or other remedies specifically tailored to your dog’s condition.

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