If you check the packet of many high grade dog foods, you may find some elements of soy listed as an ingredient.
But can dogs drink soy milk specifically?
The question as to whether or not your dog can drink soy milk will depend on a variety of factors, however in general, the answer is YES.
The funny thing about this particular question is that not only is soy safe for your dog, but it is actually found in many pet foods as a great source of protein. This may surprise you, but in moderation it can actually prove to be a very healthy option for your dog.
One of the concerns would be if your dog has allergies, as soy is known to be one of the top food allergens in dogs. Another major concern is ANY type of artificial sweetener in the soy milk which are TOXIC to canines.
With that being said, giving your dog soy milk should be approached the same as anything else, it’s safe so long as it’s in moderation. Soy milk is high in calories, and generally has added sugars which can lead to further health problems for your pup like tooth decay, or obesity.
In order to further understand some of the effects that soy milk can have it is paramount that you also understand the history of soy milk, what’s in it that makes it good/bad, and what other alternatives are available to you.
UNDERSTANDING SOY MILK
Nowadays there are a multitude of different types of milk that we consume on a daily basis. From almond milk, to coconut milk, to oat milk, even to hemp milk, the options seem limitless. Among one of the more popular milk alternatives we have grown to love is soy milk, a plant-based product which became known as the first widely available non-dairy milk in history.
Soy foods had been very popular in East Asia for years for common foods such as tofu, tempeh, and yuba, however no culture had thought to use soy as a milk product up until the 20th century.
Soy milk was first believed to be the product people turn to when dairy is unobtainable or “off-limits”, sort of as a last resort. During the 1st and 2nd World Wars, many of the food was rationed and so soy milk (and other soy products) were used as substitutes.
Soy milk has a rich history in our community, and is often misrepresented, however when taken in moderation, it can actually provide as a very nutritious, non-dairy alternative.
Soybeans are the primary ingredient when making soy milk, and the process to which soy milk is made is actually quite simple. The process by which soy milk is made involves soaking the soybeans in water overnight, and then grinding the beans with water added during the grinding process. Other ways people have gone about making soy milk is by using full flat flakes, grits, or flour to create what is called soymilk “slurry”, which is then boiled and stirred for about half an hour.
Soy milk in it’s finest condition, is an all-natural product with tons of nutrients, and protein. However, one primary concern with soy is that it contains an estrogen-like compound called isoflavones, which (according to some studies) has been liked to some cancer cells, as well as female fertility, and thyroid functionality.
BENEFITS TO FEEDING SOY MILK TO YOUR DOG
Soy is a tremendous source of protein for dogs, it is treasured by those who can’t or don’t eat meat. Which can also be true for your dog, as they may have developed an allergy, or dissatisfaction with animal proteins. In this case, soy has proven to be one of the best options for pet owners.
Aside from the protein factor, soy is extremely helpful with dogs who have digestive problems, as hydrolyzed soy protein is easier for dogs to digest. If you notice that your pup is having difficulty getting other protein down, then soy milk can act as a reasonable substitute.
On top of that, soy milk is also very high in fiber, which can assist with weight management for those struggling to keep their pet at a certain weight, or one with dietary issues.
Soy is found in a plethora of popular pet foods, and feeding your dog soy milk can be a tremendous way to help enhance overall health. So yes, soy milk is safe for your dog, the only thing you need to watch out for are the extra calories, and possible allergies.
If you are trying to watch your dog’s weight, then do not give them anything beyond their regular meals (including soy milk). Some soy milk is sweetened with added sugars, which makes this a considerable point before transitioning over to soy milk.
WHAT ARE THE RISKS OF SOY MILK FOR DOGS?
Although drinking soy milk in moderation shouldn’t harm your dog, there are some potential risk factors to be aware of.
To begin, as previously mentioned your dog could have issues with soy if they have allergies. If they have a soy allergy, it can become pretty severe ranging from hives and stomach problems, to anaphylaxis, as well as ear infections, hair loss, and other potential dangers.
Some dogs can develop stomach problems (like vomiting or diarrhea) after eating soy if they are allergic, and if this is the case, stand by and if the symptoms don’t get better within 24 hours, you will have to seek medical attention.
Also, if your dog is allergic to soy there is a greater chance that they will be prone to excessive licking. This compulsive behaviour can act up after consuming soy, and if you begin to notice hot spots, or continuous licking behavior, then you will have to seek medical treatment immediately.
When it comes to symptoms to watch out for if your dog does have a soy allergy, the main ones are: ear infections, excessive licking, vomiting, and diarrhea.
When looking for specific ingredients, beware of any soy products made with xylitol, or other artificial sweeteners as they can cause serious health concerns for your pup. Specifically, xylitol is an additive that is extremely toxic to dogs, and can even lead to hypoglycemia, liver failure, or even sometimes death.
In both humans, and dogs, the level of blood sugar is controlled by the release of insulin from the pancreas. Xylitol when given to dogs, it is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, resulting in a potent release of insulin from the pancreas. It is this process that can cause serious health problems.
OTHER DOG MILK ALTERNATIVES
Cows’ Milk – Cows milk is without a doubt the most popular milk that people drink, and so many people tend to think that it is the healthiest option for their dog. However, much like the other milks on this list, cows’ milk is fine when given to your pup, as long as it’s in moderation, and in small quantities.
Almond Milk – Almond milk is a extremely popular choice for people worldwide, and has turned into a go-to choice for a plant-based milk. Some nuts (especially macadamia nuts) can be toxic to dogs, and though almonds aren’t the worst for dogs, it is relatively difficult to digest for them.
They are far too high in fat, which can lead to obesity, and pancreatitis when given to them in large quantities. Although, when given in small amounts, it has proven to be fine for dogs as an occasional treat.
Once again, just be aware of potential artificial sweeteners that may be present in the almond milk, as these can be harmful for your pup.
Oat Milk – Oat milk is another massively popular option for people, as yet another non-dairy milk substitute. With that being said, oats are not toxic or dangerous to dogs, so absolutely dogs can have oat milk. Although once again, it is best to give it to them in small quantities and be aware of any potentially dangerous additives.
Coconut Milk – Coconut milk is particularly popular for lactose-intolerant people, and is actually more than fine to give your dog on occasion. See our detailed coconut oil and coconut milk for dogs breakdown here.
An interesting note is that the ASPCA has included coconut milk on it’s list of human foods not to give your pet. This isn’t because of it’s toxicity levels, but rather because coconuts contain oils that could cause an upset stomach, and diarrhea when eaten in large doses.
Goat Milk – Goat milk is one that some might not think to give their pups, but it has actually gained reasonable traction over the years. Vets are reporting that more and more of their clients are using raw goats’ milk for dogs in the belief that it has significant health benefits.
When compared to cows’ milk for example, goats’ milk is higher in some nutrients like calcium and potassium, but lower in others like B12 and folate, and actually has a slightly lower amount of lactose than cows’ milk.
Many people who advocate for goats’ milk say that because of the differences in it’s fat and protein structures, that it is easier for your dog to digest, and that dog’s with allergies are less prone to having allergic reactions.
Once again, the key here is moderation, and even though goats’ milk does carry some value, it should be given to your dog in small amounts at first, to see how it can be tolerated.
Can Dogs Drink Soy Milk Takeaways
To summarize, many misconceptions have been built around soy milk, and with so much hesitation towards other forms of protein-based dairy, it is actually left as one of the better options.
Soy products are used in a variety of pet foods as a tremendous source of protein, fibre, and nutrition, however drinking soy milk can create complications depending on your situation.
Allergies, artificial sweeteners, and sugar are amongst some of the factors to be aware of before giving your dog soy milk. However, so long that soy milk is given to your furry friend in moderation, it can actually help to provide a safe, and healthy alternative.