A small black dog with its paw in its owner’s hand while the owner holds a coffee cup.

Welcome to “Can My Dog Eat That?,” our series that answers some obvious (and not-so-obvious) questions about what your dog can and can’t safely eat. Today we answer the question “Can dogs eat (or drink) beverages?” Read on!

Most dogs aren’t shy about trying out a new food, crunchy snack or drink. If the opportunity arises, like a full glass at perfect tongue height, they’re going to take advantage of it. So which beverages should you be concerned about if your dog does lap up a few mouthfuls? Or what about if they drink the whole cup?

The quick answer is that your dog really shouldn’t be drinking anything but water. It’s the healthiest drink for them, and it’s all they need to keep hydrated. But if they do get into one of your cups, there are some beverages that are more of a concern than others.

Can Dogs Drink Milk?

Maybe. Like all mammals, puppies start off life by drinking milk from their mom. During this time, they produce the enzyme lactase which helps to digest the lactose in milk. As the puppies get older and are weaned from their mother’s milk, they start to produce less lactase. Most adult dogs are lactose intolerant because they don’t produce much lactase anymore.

This means that your adult dog may not be able to digest cow’s milk properly and that can cause diarrhea and very stinky gas. You’ll soon know if your dog is lactose intolerant! A little bit of milk may be OK for some dogs, but make sure it’s plain milk. Watch out for potentially toxic additives, like chocolate or nutmeg, and some milk substitutes, like macadamia nut milk.

Can Dogs Drink Sports Drinks?

Water is better. If you’re going on a long hike on a hot day, you might take a sports drink with you to help replace some of the electrolytes you lose through sweating. While this could be a good option for you, it’s best to stick with a flask of clean, fresh water for your dog to stay hydrated. Sports drinks often contain sugar and sodium which can be unhealthy for your dog, especially when all they really need is water. It’s probably OK if your dog does drink some of the sports drink, but don’t make it a regular thing for them.

Can Dogs Drink Soda?

No. If a few drops of soda bubbles out of your can onto the floor and your dog laps it up, that’s probably OK. But you should not purposefully give your dog soda or let them lick up a whole soda-can spill because it can contain ingredients that are dangerous for dogs. Xylitol is commonly used in diet soda as an artificial sweetener — but it’s toxic for dogs. Regular sodas contain a bunch of sugar which, although not toxic, is not healthy for dogs to consume in large amounts. And any cola-based sodas are definitely out as they contain caffeine, which is also toxic to dogs (more on that in the coffee section).

Can Dogs Drink Coffee?

Nope. It doesn’t matter whether you’re an espresso drinker, love a good pumpkin-spice latte or  are obsessed with caramel frappé, you should not share your coffee with your dog. Dogs are more sensitive to caffeine than people and can suffer from caffeine poisoning, causing agitation, vomiting, panting, elevated blood pressure, tremors and worse. Depending on the size of your dog and how much caffeine they ingested, it can be fatal.

If your dog drank some of your coffee (or cola), contact your veterinarian, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (1-888-426-4435) or the Pet Poison Helpline (1-855-764-7661) immediately for advice. Make sure you keep the coffee pot out of reach of your dog and dispose of coffee grounds in a place that your dog can’t get to.

Can Dogs Drink Beer?

Beer, whiskey, wine: if it’s got alcohol in it, the answer is a hard no. Dogs can become intoxicated and experience ethanol poisoning, which causes symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination, difficulty breathing and seizures. Like most toxins, the severity of ethanol poisoning depends on how much ethanol was consumed (drink volume and alcohol percentage) and the size of your dog. Call your veterinarian or one of the animal poison centers listed above if your dog does drink an alcoholic beverage. And if you really want to share a brew with your canine buddy, try a specially made dog beer instead.

 

The bottom line is: water is the best drink for your dog. Try to keep that curious tongue out of your beverages. Plus, who wants dog slobber in their drink!

 

An interior graphic with text that reads ‘The verdict: Can my dog eat beverages? No. Water is best’.

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The information in this blog has been developed with our veterinarian and is designed to help educate pet parents. If you have questions or concerns about your pet's health or nutrition, please talk with your veterinarian.