GOT MILK? NOPE!

Despite popular belief most dogs, cats and ferrets ARE lactose intolerance making milk, ice cream, cheese, yogurt and cottage cheese inappropriate foods to feed.

 

Milk especially that from the mother without a doubt is the most important source of nutrients at birth until weaning. It contains beneficial properties such as essential antibodies and colostrum until the young develop their own immune system and antibodies (1, 2). It contains tons of nutrients to sustain life, to grow and develop into strong, healthy adults and naturally made by every mother. However, after infancy milk is no longer needed. In fact, humans are actually the only creatures to not only drink milk after infancy but also milk of another animal.

 

The milk of various animals is unique to that animal including fat levels, nutrient profiles, and lactose content. Because of this, only the young of that animal should be drinking that milk as most milk of another animal is not comparable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

           

                                                                                (3)

 

These figures are one of the many reasons why it is very hard to supplement milk for young that no longer have a mother or one that is not producing milk. The best option is to find another lactating mother of the same species that can act as a wet nurse versus using another species’ milk. If this is not possible obviously you need to do whatever you can for those puppies or kittens.

 

One question that is always asked is whether dogs and cats are lactose intolerance. The short answer is generally yes. The sugar in milk is called lactose (4). It is a double sugar molecule so in order for a cat or dog to break it down they must have the ability to produce an enzyme called Lactase that can break that bond creating two simple sugar molecules (5). While puppies and kittens do have this enzyme when they are nursing, adult dogs and cats usually can no longer produce this enzyme (6, 7) in significant amounts to break down lactose.  As mentioned lactose is present in the milk of mothers who are breastfeeding their young however the lactose in animal’s milk is equivalent to that young’s ability to break down the lactose and therefore varies from animal to animal.

Well, can’t you just use lactose-free milk or a milk alternative like almond or soy milk?


With dogs and cats being carnivores (cats are obligate carnivores) any plant-based products are not properly utilized as cats and dogs are not designed anatomically or physiologically to utilize plant-based products (7, 8, 9). They provide little nutrients and often is just excreted quickly out of the body, therefore, providing little to no benefit to our carnivore companions. Furthermore, soy, in particular, is one of the most genetically modified crops (10). With limited regulation over labeling laws, we don’t have a clear idea of what is actually in many of our food products. We are unsure at this time the true effects of genetically modified crops. Soy also has been shown to mess with estrogen levels increasing them while lowering the function of the thyroid (11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16).

 

Milk isn’t the only dairy product that isn’t appropriate for our companions. Other dairy products include cheese, yogurt, ice cream, and cottage cheese. If you do feed your cat or dog dairy products, you will notice varying side effects. This is because dairy products have differing amounts of lactose for example whole milk from cows has 11 grams versus yogurt that has about five. Side effects can include bloating, diarrhea, constipation, gas, and vomiting (17,18). In addition to the lactose in these products may contain high levels of sugar or don’t contain pro/prebiotics which is often the main reason people include them in the diet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yogurt is commonly recommended for its pro/prebiotics which aid in digestion. In general, it is recommended that any product meant for digestion is specific to the individual animal and their condition. Probiotic strain, the combination of these strains and the amount of beneficial bacteria probiotic strains per serving is essential to be effective (19, 20). Originally yogurt had these properties but as it has become more and more popular live cultures are a thing of the past while sugar content has sky rocketed. Unfortunately, to reap the benefits of yogurt you would have to feed buckets full to your companion (21) but your companion may suffer diabetic shock as well.

 

Some of the reasons people add cottage cheese to their companion’s diet are the calcium and protein content as well as being low fat. Not that I recommend feeding kibble or wet canned food, but if you are feeding any kind of balanced diet, your companion does not need more calcium. If too much calcium is given this not only offsets the calcium-phosphorus balance but it can lead to many other problems within the body anatomically and physiologically (22, 23). Protein wise, obviously being carnivores, they need protein but in the big picture of quality protein sources, this is not one of them. Our companions need meat, organs, and bones, not a processed dairy product (24, 25, 26). Finally, for human’s cottage cheese may be a good food item for losing weight but low-fat foods are not needed by cats and dogs even those that do need to drop a few pounds. Dogs and cats thrive on moderate to high-fat diets (27, 28). They don’t get high cholesterol like humans (29, 30). In fact, they need fat to stay healthy (31).

 

As for ice cream, there is little to no health benefits from ice cream. Any that may exist are almost immediately negated by the high sugar content as well as any other additives like cookie pieces, chocolate swirls, sprinkles, and cherries. Your cat nor your dog, heck even you don’t need to be consuming this dairy product.

 

Cheese such as parmesan cheese may be suggested to sprinkle on top of raw meals to entice animals to eat but most cheeses are not appropriate on a regular basis. Just like cottage cheese, cheese is high in sodium and is a processed dairy product. It does contain high levels of calcium and protein but again if you are feeding a balanced diet there is no need to add additional calcium. Furthermore, protein from a processed dairy product is not on the same level as quality animal proteins from meats and organs.  Although some cheeses contain less lactose (32) never the less some cheeses cause diarrhea where others cause constipation (33).

 

While your companion may not be lactose intolerant, providing dairy as a source for calcium, protein or probiotics is not the way to go. Anatomically our cats and dogs are designed to consume and break down lactose from their mothers’ milk as infants but as they grow into adulthood this ability is greatly reduced to a bare minimum level. Therefore, it is taxing to the body to provide not only the milk of another animal but also processed dairy products including cheese, ice cream, cottage cheese, yogurt, and milk.

 

REFERENCES

 

  1. Bertotto A, Castellucci G, Fabietti G, Scalise F, Vaccaro R (November 1990). "Lymphocytes bearing the T cell receptor gamma delta in human breast milk". Archives of Disease in Childhood. 65 (11): 1274–5. doi:10.1136/adc.65.11.1274-aPMC 1792611PMID 2147370.

  2. Ballard, Olivia; Morrow, Ardythe L. (February 2013). "Human Milk Composition: Nutrients and Bioactive Factors". Pediatric clinics of North America. 60(1): 49–74. doi:10.1016/j.pcl.2012.10.002ISSN 0031-3955PMC 3586783PMID 23178060.

  3. Jensen, R G. “Milk Composition - Species Table.” Handbook of Milk Composition, Academic Press, 1995, ansci.illinois.edu/static/ansc438/Milkcompsynth/milkcomp_table.html.

  4. Gerrit M. Westhoff, Ben F.M. Kuster, Michiel C. Heslinga, Hendrik Pluim, Marinus Verhage (2014). "Lactose and Derivatives". Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry. Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry. Wiley-VCH. p. 1. doi:10.1002/14356007.a15_107.pub2ISBN 9783527306732.

  5. “LCT Gene - Genetics Home Reference - NIH.” U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, 13 Nov. 2018, ghr.nlm.nih.gov/gene/LCT#sourcesforpage.

  6. Hore, P. & M. Messer (1968) Studies on disaccharidase activities of the small intestine of the domestic cat and other carnivorous mammals, Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology. 24(3): 717-725

  7. Kienzle, E. Carbohydrate-metabolism of the cat. 3. Digestion of sugars. J. Anim. Physiol. Anim. Nutr. 1993, 69, 203–210.

  8. Verbrugghe, Adronie, and Myriam Hesta. “Cats and Carbohydrates: The Carnivore Fantasy?” Ed. Jacquie Rand. Veterinary Sciences 4.4 (2017): 55. PMC. Web. 6 Sept. 2018.

  9. Hazard, Evan B. (1982). "Order Carnivora". The mammals of Minnesota. U of Minnesota Press. ISBN 978-0-8166-0952-9.

  10. Bawa, A S and K R Anilakumar. “Genetically modified foods: safety, risks and public concerns-a review” Journal of food science and technology vol. 50,6 (2012): 1035-46.

  11.  Messina M, Redmond G. Effects of soy protein and soybean isoflavones on thyroid function in healthy adults and hypothyroid patients: a review of the relevant literature. Thyroid. 2006;16:249-258.

  12.  Divi RL, Chang HC, Doerge DR. Anti-thyroid isoflavones from soybean: isolation, characterization, and mechanisms of action. Biochem Pharmacol. 1997;54:1087-1096.

  13. Harvard Health Publishing. “An Update on Soy: It's Just so-So.” Harvard Health Blog, Harvard Health Publishing, June 2010, www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/an-update-on-soy-its-just-so-so.

  14. Chorazy PA, Himelhoch S, Hopwood NJ, Greger NG, Postellon DC. Persistent hypothyroidism in an infant receiving a soy formula: case report and review of the literature. Pediatrics. 1995;96:148–150.

  15. Divi RL, Chang HC, Doerge DR. Anti-thyroid isoflavones from soybean: isolation, characterization, and mechanisms of action. Biochem. Pharmacol. 1997;54:1087–1096.

  16. Patisaul, Heather B and Wendy Jefferson. “The pros and cons of phytoestrogens” Frontiers in neuroendocrinology vol. 31,4 (2010): 400-19.

  17. Vandenplas, Y. “Lactose Intolerance.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2015, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26715083.

  18. Deng, Y, et al. “Lactose Intolerance in Adults: Biological Mechanism and Dietary Management.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 18 Sept. 2015, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26393648.

  19. Deng, P, and K S Swanson. “Gut Microbiota of Humans, Dogs and Cats: Current Knowledge and Future Opportunities and Challenges.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Jan. 2015, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25414978.

  20. Grześkowiak Ł1, Endo A2, Beasley S3, Salminen S4. “Microbiota and probiotics in canine and feline welfare.” Anaerobe. 2015 Aug;34:14-23. doi: 10.1016/j.anaerobe.2015.04.002. Epub 2015 Apr 8. .

  21. “A gastroenterologist's guide to probiotics” Clinical gastroenterology and hepatology : the official clinical practice journal of the American Gastroenterological Association vol. 10,9 (2012): 960-8.

  22. Adatorwovor, Reuben et al. “Intakes of Calcium and Phosphorus and Calculated Calcium-to-Phosphorus Ratios of Older Adults: NHANES 2005-2006 Data” Nutrients vol. 7,11 9633-9. 19 Nov. 2015, doi:10.3390/nu7115492

  23. Sanderson, Sherry Lynn. “Nutritional Requirements and Related Diseases of Small Animals - Management and Nutrition.” Merck Veterinary Manual, Merck & Co., Inc., www.merckvetmanual.com/management-and-nutrition/nutrition-small-animals/nutritional-requirements-and-related-diseases-of-small-animals.

  24. Nasreddine, Lara et al. “A minimally processed dietary pattern is associated with lower odds of metabolic syndrome among Lebanese adults” Public health nutrition vol. 21,1 (2017): 160-171.

  25. Poti, Jennifer M et al. “Is the degree of food processing and convenience linked with the nutritional quality of foods purchased by US households?” American journal of clinical nutrition vol. 101,6 (2015): 1251-62.

  26. Spritzler, Franziska. “21 Reasons to Eat Real Food.” Healthline, 2 Oct. 2016, www.healthline.com/nutrition/21-reasons-to-eat-real-food#section5.

  27. Hewson-Hughes, Adrian K et al. “Balancing macronutrient intake in a mammalian carnivore: disentangling the influences of flavour and nutrition” Royal Society open science vol. 3,6 160081. 15 Jun. 2016, doi:10.1098/rsos.160081

  28. Hall, J A, et al. “When Fed Foods with Similar Palatability, Healthy Adult Dogs and Cats Choose Different Macronutrient Compositions.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 25 July 2018, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29773684.

  29. Collens WS. Atherosclerotic disease: an anthropologic theory. Medical Counterpoint. 1969;1:53–57.

  30. Roberts WC. We think we are one, we act as if we are one, but we are not one. Am J Cardiol. 1990;66:896.

  31. Manabe Y, Matsumura S, Fushiki T. Preference for High-Fat Food in Animals. In: Montmayeur JP, le Coutre J, editors. Fat Detection: Taste, Texture, and Post Ingestive Effects. Boca Raton (FL): CRC Press/Taylor & Francis; 2010. Chapter 10. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK53543/

  32. Samuel A. Matz: Ingredients for Bakers, McAllen, TX: Pan-Tech International, 1987.

  33. Mattar, Rejane et al. “Lactose intolerance: diagnosis, genetic, and clinical factors” Clinical and experimental gastroenterology vol. 5 (2012): 113-21.

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