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The other day, I noticed that Rodrigo was licking his paws more than usual. This usually happens when we have a lot of damp weather (Fall, Winter, and Spring). There's something about the wet grass that irritates his paws. Since switching to raw dog food, the obsessive licking has stopped, which is good because this resulted in sores on his paws. But raw feeding isn't a cure-all, requiring a lot of trial and error to understand what each dog needs. At least, that's how it's been for me.
For Rodrigo, his paw licking is due to his compromised gut health. When he was still eating kibble, his first veterinarian treated everything with antibiotics and I didn't know enough to question this or add probiotics to Rodrigo's diet to protect his gut. As a result, my dog has environmental and food sensitivities. In fact, I've sent away for the following tests to see specifically what those sensitivities are:
In the meantime, I've begun adding more milk to Rodrigo's diet to boost his gut health, and therefore, his immune system. In this blog post, I'm going to share the dosage that helps to give Rodrigo relief from itchy paws.
Benefits of Raw Goat's Milk and Kefir
I began alternating raw goat's milk and kefir in my dogs' diet as a source of probiotics. While it's true that dogs tend to be lactose intolerant, raw goat's milk has far less lactose than cow's milk; and the step of fermenting the milk (to make kefir) makes it easier to digest as well. My dogs think “milk” is a treat and come running when I pull it out of the fridge.
Raw goat's milk and kefir don't just improve our dogs' gut health (irritable bowel disease, poor digestion, and diarrhea), these two miracle foods have also proven beneficial for dogs with several chronic illnesses, including:
- Kidney disease
- Liver disease
- Kidney stones
While there are many brands that offer raw goat's milk, I prefer Answers Pet Food. And although I can make kefir at home, I buy the cow kefir from Answers because I have yet to succeed in DIY kefir.
Raw Goat's Milk vs. Kefir for My Dogs
I used to think that raw goat's milk and kefir were the same; kefir is more supercharged than the milk, but they're both a source of probiotics and good for digestive health. After several years of adding both to my dogs' diet, I know that there is a difference – at least with my dogs.
I feed raw goat's milk to support the gut; when Rodrigo or any of my dogs have digestive issues (gas, loose stool, diarrhea), I add raw goat's milk to their diet for a few days. Usually, I add 1/2 a meal to a full meal to help turn their gut around and I'll see a difference within 48 hours.
Immune System Boost (Allergies)
I feed kefir to support the immune system. When Rodrigo is licking his paws more often, if I notice any of the dogs itching their ears (or shaking their head), or any other signs of environmental allergies – I add kefir to my dogs' meals. The amount depends on the dog. For instance, three of my dogs do well with a meal topper. However, Rodrigo needs more and I'll usually add 3-4 tablespoons to a meal for a few days in a row, transitioning to two to three days a week.
How Much Raw Goat's Milk for Dogs
I add raw goat's milk to my dogs diet in several ways, as a meal topper, as half the meal, and has an entire meal.
Raw Goat's Milk Meal Topper
When adding raw goat's milk as a meal topper, I pour a small amount over my dogs' meals. It probably amounts to three or four tablespoons.
Raw Goat's Milk as Half the Meal
When I add raw goat's milk as half my dogs' meal, I usually add 1/2 cup to each of my dogs' meals.
Raw Goat's Milk as a Meal
I fast my dogs once a week and I'm a wimp about it. I hate the idea of my dogs not being fed, so I incorporate raw goat's milk, kefir, and bone broth in their fast.
- Friday evening: my dogs get a bigger meal than normal; approximately 3-5 ounces more than usual.
- Saturday morning: my dogs get a full meal of either raw goat's milk, goat's milk + kefir, or bone broth. The girls enjoy 1/2-3/4 of a cup. My boys, who are more active, get 3/4 to 1 cup.
- Saturday evening: my dogs get a regular meal.
Answers Pet Food Raw Goat's Milk Suggested Servings
- Dogs that weigh up to 20 pounds – 4 tbsp or 1/4 cup
- Dogs between 20 and 50 pounds – 8 tbsp or 1/2 cup
- Dogs that weight 50 pounds or more – 12 tbsp or 3/4 cup
How Much Kefir for Dogs
I don't feed my
Answers Pet Food Kefir Suggested Servings
- Dogs that weigh up to 20 pounds – 2 tbsp or 1/8 cup
- Dogs between 20 and 50 pounds – 4 tbsp or 1/4 cup
- Dogs between 50 and 75 pounds – 6 tbsp or 3/8 cup
- Dogs that weight 75 pounds or more – 8 tbsp or 1/2 cup
DIY Kefir for Dogs (and Humans)
Supplies for Making Kefir
- Kefir grains
- Nylon Mesh Strainer (very fine so you can capture the grains)
- Mixing Bowl (to capture milk during straining)
- Mason Jars
Alternatives to Raw Goat's Milk and Kefir
If you're unable to find a good source of raw goat's milk or if you're nervous about making kefir at home, then I recommend one of the following (all of which I currently use with my dogs) alternatives if you're
If you have a dog with severe digestive issues, don't be discouraged if adding raw goat's milk or kefir to your dog's diet doesn't help at first. It didn't work for Rodrigo at first either. Today, I alternate raw goat's milk, kefir, and digestive supplements (listed above) with Rodrigo and this practice has made a huge difference.