I was introduced to kefir and raw goats milk when I first started feeding raw. People in raw feeding groups kept taking 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 goats milk – Answers Pet Food sells it – and how beneficial it is for dogs.
I could have Googled both kefir and raw goats 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 goats 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), 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. A couple of months ago, Sydney had a yeasty ear, I treated it with essential oils and added kefir to her diet for the week. She hasn't had an issue with her ears since.
Where to Buy Milk Kefir Grains
Kefir is new to me and other than local raw feeders, I only know one person who is familiar with kefir. She makes kefir milk at home and recommended Cultures for Health (the video above). You can order grains on Amazon.com.
- 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 at your local pet store. Look for the following brands:
And in some areas, you can buy plain kefir at a local, natural grocery store.
Benefits of Milk Kefir for Dogs
I learned first hand that kefir is a powerful addition to a dog's diet and placed an order for the milk kefir grains mentioned above. $20 for grains that can be used multiple times is more affordable than buying kefir at the pet store.
I'll be adding it to my dogs' diet, because:
- kefir kills yeast quickly
- kefir relieves gas
- kefir promotes healing in the body
- kefir is a natural probiotic
- kefir alleviates allergy symptoms
- kefir is a natural antibiotic and antifungal
I know plenty of people who make kefir successfully. I tried several times and never managed to make anything happen and I now buy kefir from Answers Pet Food. I'm not ready to give up yet and will be ordering kefir grains soon to give it another go.
Benefits of Raw Goats Milk for Dogs
Kefir can be made from raw goats milk, but it's not the same as raw goats milk. Both kefir and raw goats milk promote healthier digestion, beyond that, they're very different foods. I like to think that kefir is kind of like raw goats milk on steroids (or fermented raw goats milk).
Raw goats milk is unpasteurized milk from – can you guess? – goats. When people learn that I give my dogs goats milk, they often reply, “my dog is lactose intolerant and can't have goats milk.” My response is, “are you sure?”
Goats milk has lower lactose than raw cow milk, making it easier for dogs to digest. I give it to my dogs because they love it. I also give it to them, because raw goats milk helps with several chronic illnesses, like:
- Liver disease
- Heavy metal poisoning
- Kidney disease
- Kidney stones
- GI disease
- Poor digestion
Source: Dogs Naturally Magazine
Where to Buy Raw Goats 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 goats milk from your local pet store; look for the following brands:
Should We Give Kefir or Goats Milk to Dogs?
Today, I give my dogs both, alternating the two in their diet each week or so. I usually add it to their meals (as a meal topper) and sometimes I feed goats milk as a separate treat a few times a week. The amount depends on what else they're eating that day and if I'm fasting them. On fasting days, my boys get one cup each of raw goats milk; my girls get a 1/2 cup each.
I feed kefir as a meal topper, pouring a few tablespoons (I eyeball it) over their meals. I usually add kefir when one of my dogs has tummy issues and, in the past, I've given it to Sydney to help boost her immune system when she had yeasty ears. It's also great for when Rodrigo has itchy paws due to the season changes. I usually see improvement with allergy symptoms within 48 hours of adding kefir to their diet.
When it comes to dosages, I've found it easier to wing it rather than stick to specific dosages. It's food. My goal is to avoid overfeeding or adding too many calories, so the more goats milk I add to a meal, the less other foods will be in the dish. For instance, Rodrigo usually eats 1 pound per meal, when I feed him goats milk or kefir, I decrease the raw in his meal from 16 ounces to 13-14 ounces, and adding 2 ounces of raw goats milk or kefir.