Can Dogs Drink Ensure? Exploring the Safety and Alternatives

Humans find different ways to improve their health. Such an example is drinking the nutrition shake called Ensure. But can dogs drink Ensure and have the same benefits as humans?

Even though they can have it in small amounts, Ensure is not recommended for dogs. It is formulated for human nutritional needs and may contain ingredients that can harm dogs. Consult your vet for suitable dietary options to ensure your dog’s well-being. There are some alternatives to this drink.

What is Ensure and how is it intended for use?

Ensure is a liquid nutritional supplement that is made for human consumption. Being a supplement, it is only used as an addition to regular nutrition and not as a meal replacement.

The intended use of this supplement is to provide all the required nutrients for individuals that have a hard time doing that with their daily diets. Usually, it is used by people that suffer from some illness or are recovering from surgery.

What are the key ingredients and nutritional composition of Ensure?

The main ingredients of this nutritional drink include milk and soy proteins. The proteins included contain nine essential amino acids for humans. Besides protein, this drink also has high amounts of fats and carbohydrates.

Additionally, vitamins and minerals are included. This includes vitamins E, C, D3, K, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and zinc among others.

To make sure the drink tastes good flavors, stabilizers, and balancing agents are added. Sometimes, high amounts of sugar will be added to make the drink taste better.

What are the nutritional needs of dogs?

To know if Ensure can be given to dogs, you first need to know their nutritional needs. It’s important to note that different dogs have different dietary requirements. This is because dogs differ in age, breed, size, activity level, and overall health.

But speaking in broad terms, dog food should be low in grains and artificial ingredients. Instead, it should be high in protein, healthy fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.

What potential benefits does Ensure offer to dogs?

In certain situations, you can use Ensure for aiding dog health. But still, it should only be given in small amounts.

  • Supporting weight gain – Because it is filled with nutrients and calories, Ensure can be used for skinny underweight dogs to help them gain weight.
  • Helping dogs in recovery – Dogs that have been injured or had surgery recently can benefit from this drink. The fact that it comes in a liquid form is also great for dogs that can’t eat properly.
  • Making sick dogs eat – When feeling ill, some dogs will refuse to eat or have a decreased appetite. Adding little amounts of this drink can help them keep up with their calorie intake. But consultations with a vet should be done beforehand.

What are the drawbacks of using Ensure as a dietary supplement for dogs

When used in larger amounts, Ensure can cause many problems for dogs. This is because the drink is meant for people and not dogs.

Digestive issues

For some dogs with sensitive stomachs, Ensure can be the reason for digestive problems. This is accompanied by symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, and dehydration.

Some dogs are also lactose intolerant, and because Ensure is a milk product, it will cause severe problems with the dog’s digestive system.

Overeating and obesity

Even though dogs can drink Ensure for weight gain, some tend to overeat due to its liquid form. Eating too much can dilate the stomach, cause bloating, and even lead to volvulus, a life-threatening condition.

A long-term risk of overeating is obesity which happens because this drink is very high in calories. Then, obesity can lead to the dog developing cardiovascular problems and more.


To make it taste better, manufacturers put high amounts of sugar in this drink. Besides sugar, corn maltodextrin is also added. These two ingredients can spike blood sugar and in time lead to insulin resistance.

Diabetes is a chronic and serious disease that can cause additional complications in the body. Dr. L M Fleeman, in a study on managing diabetes in dogs, mentioned these common complications:

Evidence of acute or chronic pancreatitis occurs in about 40% of diabetic dogs. Blindness caused by cataract formation eventually occurs in the majority of diabetic dogs and is not dependent on glycemic control.

Allergic reactions

There are dogs that are very sensitive to some allergens and can experience pretty severe reactions if exposed. Ensure contains soy protein, which is a known allergen for dogs.

Dogs that suffer from an allergic reaction will experience itching, rashes, vomiting, nausea, and even passing out. Luckily, food allergies are not very common in dogs. “Food allergies affect just 0.2 percent of dogs and 0.1 percent of cats, according to the 2018 State of Pet Health Report from Banfield Pet Hospital.”, says Dr. Katie Burns from the American Veterinary Medical Association.

What are the alternatives to Ensure for ensuring a well-balanced diet for dogs?

If you want to get your dog’s weight up, there are other natural ways to do so. Feeding more calories with healthy food can work perfectly. Shredded meat, pumpkin puree, and bone broth are great and nutritious healthy options. Pumpkin also helps dogs with diarrhea, so it’s great for dogs that have digestive issues. 

Using wet dog food will also help the dog ingest more calories during its daily meals. You can also use high-calorie dog treats to increase the calorie intake of your pup while stimulating its taste buds. Keeping dogs hydrated is also important.

Are there specific dog-friendly nutrition drinks or liquid supplements available?

There are some brands that make similar drinks to Ensure but for dogs. Such an option is a liquid food supplement called DogSure. It can be used for adult and senior dogs to provide vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.

Royal Canin also has a line of liquid diets made for dogs. And they offer a few different options that you can choose from. Just make sure you pick the right one according to your dog’s age, size, and breed.

How to safely incorporate nutritional supplements for dogs

Before you start introducing some supplement, or a diet change to your dog, the best thing you can do is to consult your vet. The vet will help asses your dog’s individual needs and provide tailored recommendations.

To safely introduce a supplement, you will need to do it gradually and over time. First, include smaller amounts and monitor the dog for any reactions. If no adverse reactions occur, continue adding higher amounts. If side effects do occur, discontinue use and check-up with your vet for further instructions.

Make sure your dog listens to you while doing this. If not, it is at risk of overeating and exposing itself to further complications.

So can dogs drink Ensure?

While Ensure is a popular nutritional supplement for humans, it is not recommended for direct consumption by dogs. Dogs have specific dietary needs that differ from humans and Ensure does not provide a comprehensive and balanced nutritional profile tailored to those needs.

Consuming this drink can cause some problems for dogs like obesity, diabetes, and digestive issues. Dogs that are allergic to soy can also experience an allergic reaction. Dogs with lactose intolerance face similar concerns. 

For optimum nutrition, it’s advisable to select high-quality dog food designed to meet their specific needs. Also, it’s a good idea to seek personalized advice from a vet to ensure your dog stays healthy and happy through proper nourishment.


Is it safe to give Ensure to puppies?

No, Ensure is not suitable for puppies. Puppies have specific dietary requirements during their growth stages, and their diet should consist of high-quality puppy food formulated to meet their unique needs.

Are there any Ensure flavors that are better suited for dogs?

There are Ensure formulas made with chocolate and strawberry, and those are prohibited for dogs due to their toxicity. If you do decide to give your dog Ensure, pick the generic kind with no flavor.

How often can I give Ensure to my dog?

Because dogs can drink Ensure in small amounts, you can still give it but during a short period and in a controlled environment. Listen to the advice from your vet if you plan to do this.

Can dogs drink Pediasure?

The drink for children called Pediasure is generally safe for dogs to drink in controlled amounts. However, this drink contains a lot of salt and sugar which can cause serious problems for dogs.

More dog nutrition resources

Here are a few other resources talking about giving certain foods to dogs and the effect they have on their health.

You can find a lot more information on the types of food you can feed your dog on our site Dogisa!

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