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This post was originally published in October 2016. It has been updated with new information.
I was introduced to kefir and raw goat's milk when I first started feeding raw. People in raw feeding groups kept talking about kefir; I didn't know what it was, but everyone in the UK and Canada was feeding it to their dogs. Shortly after, I learned about raw goat's milk – Answers Pet Food sells it – and how beneficial it is for dogs.
I could have Googled both kefir and raw goat's milk, but I was so overwhelmed with this information that I made some assumptions, and they stuck with me for a while before I learned what kefir and goat's milk were and the role they played in dog nutrition.
What I Thought Kefir Was…
At first, I thought kefir was what folks in the UK and Canada called milk and yogurt. Then I thought it was homemade yogurt. Then I thought it was similar to Greek yogurt.
What is Kefir?
Kefir looks like milk (some call it kefir milk or milk kefir), but it's made from kefir grains and whole milk; mixed together, these ingredients ferment at room temperature. Kefir is great for digestive health and gives the immune system a big kick in the butt. Over the years, I've used it to soothe upset tummies, improve nutrient absorption, clear yeast build-up, and more.
I've tried several times to make kefir at home because it's the most cost-effective way to keep stocked up, but I failed every single time and I still don't know what I did wrong (or if I did do anything wrong). I don't drink milk so I can't taste it to make sure it's right because I don't know what it should taste like.
Where to Buy Milk Kefir Grains
I've been feeding kefir to my dogs for several years now. At first, the only people who talked about kefir were other raw feeders; today, I see kefir being sold in my local grocery store (along with fermented vegetables, dandelion greens, and other cool finds). The more resources I find for feeding my dogs, the less inclined I am to learn how to make kefir at home. However, it's possible and one day I'll give it a try again.
Over the years, people have recommended Cultures for Health for kefir grains (the video above); their grains are sold on Amazon or directly from their website.
- Milk Kefir Grains from Cultures for Health
- Water Kefir Grains from Cultures for Health (using water instead of milk)
- Glass jars
- Nylon Mesh Strainer
If you don't want to work with the grains, you can buy kefir (Answers Pet Food) at your local pet store. Or you can purchase plain kefir at some local and natural grocery stores.
Benefits of Milk Kefir for Dogs
I add kefir to my dogs' diet because kefir…
- kills yeast quickly
- relieves gas
- promotes healing in the body
- is a natural probiotic and supports gut health and nutrient absorption
- alleviates allergy symptoms
- is a natural antibiotic and antifungal
I know plenty of people who make kefir successfully. I get hung up at the step where the kefir is supposed to have the consistency of buttermilk – it's still very runny and I'm not sure how much longer I'm supposed to allow it to sit until it begins to thicken. So, after several failed attempts, I now buy the Answers Pet Food kefir through my local raw food co-op.
Benefits of Raw Goat's Milk for Dogs
Kefir can be made from raw goat's milk, but it's not the same as raw goat's milk. Both kefir and raw goat's milk promote healthier digestion, beyond that, they're very different foods. I like to think that kefir is kind of like raw goat's milk on steroids because it's fermented.
Raw goat's milk is unpasteurized milk from – can you guess? – goats. When people learn that I give my dogs goat's milk, they often reply, “my dog is lactose intolerant and can't have goat's milk.” My response is, “are you sure?”
Goat's milk has lower lactose than raw cow milk, making it easier for dogs to digest and it is so good for dogs that I always keep it on hand because not only does it support good health, it's great for several chronic illnesses.
Raw goat's milk…
- supports gut health, improves digestion, and promotes healthy gut flora
- reduces inflammation
- prevents diabetes or helps pet parents better manage diabetes in their dog
- brings a lot of nutrients to the bowl, helping pet parents feed a more nutritious diet
- alleviates allergy symptoms
- brings more beneficial fatty acids to the bowl
- alleviates symptoms of serious illnesses like…
- liver disease
- kidney disease/kidney stones
- gastrointestinal (GI) diseases
- heavy metal poisoning
- urinary tract problems
- is great for picky eaters
- a great “food” for modified fasting days
Where to Buy Raw Goat's Milk
I buy my dogs' goat milk through our local raw food co-op; it comes from a local farm in Lake Stevens, Washington. You can buy raw goat's milk from your local pet store; look for the following brands:
Should We Feed Kefir or Raw Goat's Milk to Dogs?
Personally, I believe both are beneficial for dogs, however, if I have to choose between raw goat's milk and kefir – I'd chose goat's milk because I can always buy grains and make kefir (eventually I'll figure it out).
At the moment, my dogs enjoy both kefir and raw goat's milk.
How I Feed Kefir to My Dogs
- I generally use kefir as a meal topper, pouring a line over my dogs' food before putting their dishes down.
- If one of my dogs is showing digestive issues (gas, diarrhea, loose stool) then I'll feed them kefir (or kefir mixed with raw goat's milk). I usually feed 1/4 to 1/2 cup.
How I Feed Raw Goat's Milk to My Dogs
- I prefer to feed raw goat's milk separately from my dogs' meals, so they mainly enjoy goat's milk once a week on their “fasting” day. If I have kefir too, I'll mix them together.
- If one of my dogs is showing digestive issues (gas, diarrhea, loose stool) then I'll feed them raw goat's milk (or raw goat's milk mixed with kefir). I usually feed 1/2 cup to 1 cup.
Modified Fasting Days
I fast my dogs every Thursday. Initially, I fed them raw goat's milk and/or kefir on these days because one of my dogs would get hunger pukes. However, now I usually do a gorge and fast (gorge these evening before, then fast the following day). If I forget to feed my dogs a larger meal Wednesday evening, then the dogs enjoy raw goat's milk on their fasting day.
On the modified fasting days, I'll feed my dogs kefir mixed with raw goat's milk (or just raw goat's milk). This gives their gut a break from digesting food while giving them a probiotic boost. On these days, I feed 3/4 cup to 1 cup to each dog per meal.
Read More About Raw Feeding
- 5 Reasons Why Commercial Raw Diets Aren't Balanced
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