The Benefits of Feeding Your Dog Milk

A reader wonders whether organic cow milk is good to feed her dog.


Q: My dog drinks about a half-cup of organic milk (same as I drink) with his evening meal. He is a strong, healthy 10-year-old dog, and has never had any problems with arthritis or digestive troubles. My husband, though, is certain that milk is bad for dogs. I look at my dog and feel certain I’ve been doing things right; he looks great. Is there any reason to discontinue his milk?

Kate Mueller
Cincinnati, OH

We asked CJ Puotinen, a frequent contributor to WDJ, to answer this question. Puotinen is the author of The Encyclopedia of Natural Pet Care and Natural Remedies for Dogs and Cats.

A: Milk is a controversial food. Some pet nutritionists say milk and dairy products are perfect foods, while others blame them for every canine disorder from ear infections to cancer.

The truth lies somewhere in between. Raw, organically grown, unpasteurized, unhomogenized milk straight from a healthy cow or goat can be an excellent food for dogs of every description. After all, it has been for thousands of years. Unfortunately, America’s supermarkets stopped selling raw, whole milk long ago. Supporters of the Campaign for Real Milk, a grassroots movement that advocates a return to humane, organic dairy farming, small-scale dairy food processing, and the sale of good-quality raw milk, documents many problems with America’s milk supply. Today’s dairy cattle are often raised in crowded conditions, fed inappropriate feed, and dosed with hormones, antibiotics, and other drugs that disrupt or alter the production of milk while leaving their residues in dairy products.

But that’s not all! Most of the organically grown milk and cream sold in America’s supermarkets and health food stores is ultrapasteurized and homogenized, which makes it an inappropriate food for dogs.

The two most common methods of pasteurization heat milk to 145 degrees F for 30 minutes (low temperature, long time) or to 161 degrees F for 15 seconds (high temperature, short time). Both methods kill nearly all the bacteria, yeast, molds, and enzymes in milk. Another method, ultra-pasteurization, was developed to give slow-selling products a longer shelf life. These products are heated to 280 degrees F or higher for at least two seconds and packaged in an aseptic atmosphere in sterilized containers. The high temperatures destroy proteins as well as enzymes and bacteria, giving these products a cooked taste.

Pasteurization, which is intended to kill harmful bacteria, is ineffective against drug-resistant strains of salmonella. In addition, pasteurization and ultrapasteurization alter milk’s amino acids, promote the rancidity of unsaturated fatty acids, and destroy vitamins and enzymes. In homogenization, jets of milk collide under high pressure, breaking fat molecules into tiny particles that remain distributed rather than floating to the top. These particles can enter the human and canine bloodstream, explaining why homogenization has been blamed by some researchers for heart disease and circulatory problems.

In most states, the sale of raw, whole milk is illegal, but some states allow raw milk to be sold for pet use, and some allow consumers to buy raw milk directly from dairy farms. Your local health food store may be able to help you find a supplier, as can the Campaign for Real Milk.

Fortunately, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration considers raw milk cheese to be safe if properly aged. Connoisseurs agree that the world’s finest cheeses are made from raw rather than pasteurized milk, and some have an international following. Raw cheeses are available in specialty shops, health food stores, and a few upscale markets. Warning: Some are incredibly smelly – and expensive! Your health food store is a likely source of mild, affordable raw milk cheeses that hold their shape when cut and make high-reward treats for dogs.


  1. I rescued a 18 day old Box heeler/great Pyrenees puppy (13 months ago). If it wasn’t for feeding him baby formula and ‘muscle milk’ he would not be with me today. Unfortunately a lot of people have forgotten that dog’s, especially of the working class, have always drank (some even suckling straight from cows, goats, sheep, and even horses) milk. America, especially, has become so dependent on ready-made food products, that they insist processed dog foods are the only thing you should feed them. Yet if you research natural remedies for Fleas, Ticks, worms, or basically any other parasite it instructs you to feed your animal vegitables (shredded carrots, greens, garlic, cinnamon, cloves, ECT.). So with a few exceptions (grapes, raisins, chocolate, and the seeds of most fruits). Feeding your Animal Organic, HOMEMADE, foods is actually VERY HEALTHY for them, and actually helps save you money, as you prepare yourself food, you prepare for them also. Zay-vior loves a fresh salad (and enjoys one 2 to 3 times a week with Buttermilk ranch dressing). He was the runt of his momma’s first litter and literally weighed about 9 ounces when I stepped in. Now he is at 73 pounds and still growing. He is a healthy happy puppy (so much so that it’s hard for some people to believe he is also DEAF).

  2. I’m wondering about the raw cow milk cheese bites I gave my dog. They were hardened and not past expiration date but were supposed to be kept frozen and/or in refrigerator only 14 days. Could he get sick from hardened raw cheese past 14 days old? It was 26 days old.

    • I don’t know what you mean by raw milk cheese “bites” – that sounds like something very processed. I can tell you that raw milk cheese – like raw milk – has never gone bad at my house, and I keep it for much longer than a month. Raw milk will change – it will “sour” – but it is still perfectly good to drink and healthy. As it gets older and more sour, the taste may be too strong for drinking, but it is perfect for baking, and still quite healthy to consume. Finally it will be time to convert my milk to cottage cheese. This is done by removing the cream (which will be sitting on top) and leaving the old sour milk out on the counter, covered with a towel to block light. (or put in a cabinet). I Let it sit for a day or maybe 2 or 3 days, however long it takes for the milk to form a solid layer on top and a liquid layer on bottom (the fresher the milk, the longer it will take).

      Now I have curds (solid) and whey (liquid) – just like Little Miss Muffett sitting on her tuffett. I drain the whey (save it for smoothies, add it to whatever is cooking, soak beans with it, bake with it in place of other liquids, google uses for whey). Now you have the real thing, you don’t need those expensive highly processed whey protein powders!

      The solid layer is left. Sprinkle a little salt on it, break it up, and voila! Cottage cheese. Keep refrigerated. Enjoy!

      Raw milk changes into different foods as it ages. It gets sour, but not spoiled, even if you leave it unrefrigerated. It is only pasteurized and homogenized milk that spoils and must be thrown out. Raw milk (and cheese made from raw milk) has all the enzmes and good bacteria intact – not destroyed by the heat used in pasteurization. Those good bacteria are the best defense against bad bacteria. Obviously, you can contaminate even raw milk if you put a dirty spoon or dirty fingers in the milk jar. So don’t do that. As for raw milk cheese, it is very stable. I believe there is a requirement that it must be aged 60 days before it can be sold. So, Why would it be damaged by sitting in the fridge for a few weeks?!!?

  3. My dog is 9 months old and I do give him pedegree as his food but I want him to get big does this milk help the dog to go big if it’s so where may I get it please thanks

    • If you wanna big dog give him canine caviar with rhino milk (sold @ pet food express) for about 200$ does it work maybe to oo oo goooood my pit was nine mos and 110 pounds at six months my sons pit the older brother to mine weighed in at 102 I got pictures to prove size BUT THE DOWN SIDE you got to remember rhino milk is steroids and unless you really spend time training your dog REALLY TRAINING HIM RIGHT he can and will get ancy so long walks are a must or at least a good hour and half running

  4. My dog is 9 months old and I do give him pedegree as his food but I want him to get big does this milk help the dog to go big if it’s so where may I get it please thanks hope to hear from you soon thanks

  5. This article is absolutely full of it! Absolute bullshit claims about pasteurisation and nonesense “natural can’t be harmful” logic.

    • Have you tried it? I used to believe like you, until we met more and more healthy happy families using homegrown foods and raw milk. We have been doing the same for almost 20 years now. Literally no flus, maybe a cold every five years, maybe….,animals all very healthy, no parasite issues either.

    • I’m with you, Julian. There are reasons these processes have been developed. Think about it. Why would a dairy go through all of this trouble, instead of just putting it in bottles and selling it? Because of all kinds of bad things that cows carry, beginning with tuberculosis. The homogenization process was developed because all the cream floated to the top. We had a milk cow and we always strained out hair and poop and then heated the milk before storing it. Whoever gets up first in the morning gets the cream. Even when you shake it, some sticks inside the neck of the bottle. Little blobs of cream would stick on the top of my cereal.

    • Learn something about nutrition. Start with what pasteurization does to foods and how Louis Pasteur ended up regretting his invention. It is you that is full of shit, and you are rude in addition to your ignorance. And learn how to spell while you are at it. Now go away and do your homework.

  6. I was raised in a ranch family and my grandparents and great grandparents before and I married a rancher. Even just back in the 1940 our dogs lived much longer than they do now. Golden Retrievers lived between 16 and 17 years compared today 9/10 years. There was no such thing as processed dog food then. Our cattle dogs ate left over table scraps all healthy and milk and barring an accident always lived to be at least 16/17 years old. Right now I have two dogs 18 years old and last summer lost two that were 17 years old. I am dumb founded walking through a pet store and see 22 pound sacks of dog food priced at $200.00.

    • I tend to agree here, this all sounds insane. I bottle fed a doberman that grew up to be 70 cm tall. I have a 13 year old ridgeback that drinks a glass (quantity) of milk every day. I sometimes wonder if all these articles are written by dy food companies?

  7. I have a four year old male cavapoo. My dog loves anything dairy. I try to buy organic for my family whenever I can so that’s what my dog has had with no problem’s whatsoever. There was a time though when I had bought some powdered milk (which I enjoy eating straight from the can or box) and shared it slowly with my dog over a couple weeks that I noticed an aggressive turn in his behavior. I stopped giving him that milk and slowly he turned back to his old loving self.
    My mom who has returned from an extended one year vacation made a big batch of lasagna using non organic cheese. Without my knowledge she was feeding him the leftovers of that lasagna. A few days later my daughter complained of our dogs aggressive behavior towards her. That’s when I did some investigating and now have confirmed that the non organic dairy really is the culprit of my dogs aggressive behavior.

  8. My shit zu is very fussy and refuses to eat she’s happy in herself and livly she’s 16month old n av tried all sorts of dog food but she just won’t eat it can u help with suggestions please wat I can do


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