by Dr. Fiona Lee, DVM
Almond milk and soy milk are available most everywhere these days, from the grocery store to your coffee shop. And more and more, people are stocking their fridge with these products. But, is almond milk or soy milk okay to share with your dog or cat?
What is almond milk/soy milk?
Almond milk is made from processing almonds, which are safe in moderation in pets. Soy is also safe and is actually found in many pet foods as a protein source. Soy, however, is one of the top food allergens in dogs. So soy milk should be avoided when the dog has food allergies.
The biggest concern for feeding soy or almond milk is the extra calories. With obesity in companion pets reaching over 50%, added calories consumed outside of a healthy commercial diet are just that, extra unnecessary calories.1
For reference, an average ten pound cat needs about 200 calories a day. Just one cup of soy or almond milk contains around 100 calories! Since adult cats and dogs are not really designed to drink milk, these are empty calories devoid of the nutrients the pet really needs.
Some almond or soy milk is sweetened as well, meaning there may be additional sugar added. Added sugar can lead to tooth decay and, again, obesity. Interestingly, most cats don’t really care for sweets, so they may not like the sweetened version of alternate milk products. Artificial sweeteners should be avoided in pets as well; especially xylitol, which is toxic to dogs.
Is almond milk or soy milk safe?
If you are going to share these foods with your pets, the key is to share in moderation! A couple sips at the bottom or your cereal bowl is probably fine. Anything more than that, especially a cup a day, is going to be too much.
What about cow’s milk?
Many cats and dogs are lactose intolerant, meaning regular cow’s milk can upset their GI tract. Most dogs and cats lack the enzyme needed to break down the sugar found in regular milk. Lactose-free milk can also be a good substitute for cow’s milk as an occasional treat for cats and dogs. However, emphasis should be placed on occasional and as with the above, in moderation.