A year ago, I wrote a post about our dog, who was suffering from autoimmune hemolytic anemia. At one point during her disease, she had stopped eating, and I thought to give her some buttermilk. She lapped it right up, then began eating again. Unfortunately, a few weeks later, she still succumbed to the disease, but I still think the buttermilk helped her through a rough patch.
Since then, I’ve noticed a lot of hits on that page, so I assume people wonder whether buttermilk is good for dogs. I won’t claim that it is for all dogs, but it’s been helpful for two of ours. We have a new dog now, and recently she was refusing her food. Everything else seemed fine, so I wasn’t too worried, but I gave her some buttermilk. Again, she lapped it right up. We also got her some new food, and she began eating healthily.
Now, I don’t know if she was sick or just out of sorts (we had been traveling and had given her some motion sickness medicine in the recent past). I don’t know that the buttermilk helped anything, but I do know she liked it.
Since then, I’ve read up on it a little. Many discourage giving dairy products to dogs because they may be lactose intolerant. Buttermilk is lower in lactose than regular milk, and it does contain bacteria that may help the digestion of lactose. Of course, it’s possible that the two dogs I’ve given it to are not lactose intolerant, so they wouldn’t have trouble with regular milk. I haven’t experimented with that, and I probably won’t.
If your dog has lost his/her appetite, giving a little buttermilk probably won’t hurt, but I wouldn’t give a lot at a time. Start small, and if your dog likes it and tolerates it, then it ought to be okay. If it seems to upset your dog’s stomach more, then I would definitely stop and try something else.
As always, it’s best to consult your vet, but if your dog doesn’t seem very sick or if you can’t get to a vet right away, then buttermilk might be a home remedy to try in small doses until you know your dog tolerates it.