Should you give your dog buttermilk?

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.

Published by Kendall Dunkelberg

I am a poet, translator, and professor of literature and creative writing at Mississippi University for Women, where I direct the Low-Res MFA in Creative Writing, the undergraduate concentration in creative writing, and the Eudora Welty Writers' Symposium. I have published three books of poetry, Barrier Island Suite, Time Capsules, and Landscapes and Architectures, as well as a collection of translations of the Belgian poet Paul Snoek, Hercules, Richelieu, and Nostradamus. I live in Columbus with my wife, Kim Whitehead; son, Aidan; and dog, Aleida.

15 thoughts on “Should you give your dog buttermilk?

  1. My dog hasn’t been sick and will eat anything I give him. Some things in moderation of course. I love buttermilk and I put some on my finger he lapped it up…I’m thinking how did dogs make it for 100’s of years without the gov’t. .as long as he is happy and healthy. .I am happy..

    1. i gave mine buttermilk and he barked and ran leaving a brown trail to the door to go out.he snob me when he came back in.

  2. All 5 of my dogs love buttermilk or plain double cream yoghurt. It is their evening treat. I often foster dogs, who are sick and scared. A bowl of buttermilk works wonders every time – they lap it up and tails start happy wagging.

    1. MY pound pup loves buttermilk. My other dog will not come near it. Armani(pp)looks better and his blood work up is fine. I never liked buttermilk but started craving it. I am diabetic and found out after drinking it that it actually aids diabetes because of the vitamin B12 Potassium,calcium and healthy gut bacteria. I instinctually knew I needed it. I had no idea that Armani liked it until he tried to take my cup out of my hand. I cook for my dogs and use Honest Kitchen base. Dogs survived on scraps for years. I am sure buttermilk was on the table. People survived famine on tree bark bread our instincts are smarter than we are.

  3. I mix 1/2 tsp of powdered buttermilk into my 2-year old Havanese’s wet food daily. It has drastically reduced the red tear staining that is common with many breeds. I know it works because when he is boarded when we’re out of town, the staff forget to use it regularly and when we return his staining has increased. I Googled ways to reduce red tear staining and found this tip.

    1. To be honest, I never make buttermilk. As I understand it, in the old days it was a byproduct of making butter and was the sour milk left in the churn. Now, it is made with a culture similar to yoghurt, though it doesn’t get as thick. Original buttermilk was quite watery. Today’s is thicker (and a mixture of half milk and half yoghurt us a good substitute for buttermilk in cooking). You could probably make buttermilk using fresh milk and active buttermilk as a starter, but as with yoghurt, you would have to keep it at the right constant temperature to get the right results. I have no idea what that temperature would be.

      1. Buttermilk is extremely easy to make – tip some cream into a bowl and whisk just the same as you are making whipped cream but keep going. It may seem like nothing is happening but if you keep it up the solids (fat) will separate from the buttermilk. scoop the solids up and this is your butter. The liquid left is buttermilk. It’s high in fat so be careful to keep an eye on the fat content of your dogs total diet – 15% fat is good but some dogs need less/more. too high in fat can cause pancreatitis.

      2. Thanks, Pete. That does sound like the original process β€” make butter and keep the remaining milk. Commercial buttermilk is different and can be purchased in low-fat or whole milk varieties. I will say, I don’t give it to my dog often, and I don’t give her a lot. Maybe a tablespoon or two up to 1/4 cup at a time (not that I measure), and not even once a month. So I’m not too worried about the fat content. If someone were to give it every day, then that could certainly be an issue, though, so thanks for bringing it up.

  4. My 3 year old Greater Swiss Mountain Dog female absolutely loves drinking buttermilk. She gets about 4 oz per day

  5. My dog is female Lab and we stay in Mumbai since it is Summer here my πŸ• doggy doesn’t eat food maybe she is feeling uneasy due to heat in the body . Her name is Pepsi. Thank you dear Kendell

  6. I feed my Standard Poodles buttermilk once a week. Their PennHipps and Bone density tests were above average. Their pups I give once a week from 4 weeks on. I had one pup that was lactose intolerant and I knew because he got sluggish for 4 hours until he pooped. I just did not give to him anymore.

  7. Hello my Name is Tina!
    My German Shepard is begging πŸ™ for Buttermilk cause I drink it.
    She tolerates it well ,to me it’s just like plain Yogurt in liquid form.
    She loves plain Yogurt as well.
    Thank you for this post.
    Tina G.🌺

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