If you’ve ever cut down a slice of cheese and noticed Fido longingly eyeing your slice, you’ve probably wondered if dogs can eat cheese? Or maybe you simply want to know if cheese is bad for dogs? We know that it is a nutritious snack for humans; however, can it also benefit your furry friend?
Well, the short answer is that dogs can, in fact, eat cheese. It’s often a great training tool as well, especially for puppies. However, you should be aware that whether or not your dog can eat cheese will depend on their tolerance of cheese. Some dogs can tolerate it, and others may not be able to.
When Can Dogs Eat Cheese?
As long as your dog doesn’t show signs of dairy intolerance, a little cheese here and there will serve as a healthy treat and will not harm your furry friend. However, cheese is not toxic to dogs, but simply because you can feed it to your best friend doesn’t mean that there aren’t any precautions to take.
So before you go slicing off chunks of cheese to feed Fido, hold that knife – because there are a couple of factors to consider, such as your dog’s weight and digestive health, general health, and the types of cheese that are safe for him.
Should Your Dog Be Eating Cheese?
Cheese is considered a healthy treat, packed with proteins, vitamins A and B, and essential fatty acids. However, they can be high in calories. So while you can feed your dog cheese, do not overfeed and try to offer a variety of different treats.
Plain yogurt and cottage cheese are generally safe for dogs. So instead of getting carried away by your dog’s puppy eyes, stick to your guns about what’s best for him.
To make sure that your dog can handle small amounts of dairy before committing to feeding them any cheesy snacks, start by introducing small amounts of cheese to his diet gradually. Therefore, if the cheese is causing any type of bowel changes or giving him an upset stomach, you will be able to identify the culprit.
Lactose Intolerance in Dogs
Some dogs are incapable of digesting lactose, just like humans. Lactose is a sugar that is found in dairy, and lactose intolerance in dogs can either be mild or severe. However, in the event that your dog cannot tolerate lactose, you will definitely know.
But if you’ve never fed your dog cheese before, proceed with caution. Test a small amount of cheese first and wait for a reaction.
Your dog may show signs of an allergic reaction, and if this is the case, stop feeding them any dairy products immediately until you can determine if it was the cheese that caused the reaction. A consultation with your vet can also be extremely helpful and may even avoid dangerous reactions.
Is Cheese Bad for Dogs?
While cheese differently does have some potential benefits for your dog, it can also cause a range of health issues, including pancreatitis and obesity.
According to the ASPCA, dogs do not possess an adequate amount of lactase, so milk and other dairy products may cause him diarrhea and significant digestive upset. Lactase is the enzyme that breaks down lactose. So it’s not recommended to feed your dog cheese regularly or frequently. And while it may seem like a fairly innocent treat, it can cause your dog serious tummy trouble.
In addition to the issue of lactose, cheese is also high in fat content. So giving this treat to them on a regular basis can lead to an unhealthy amount of weight gain and, ultimately, obesity, which can lead to further health complications.
Eating cheese may also lead to pancreatitis in your dog, especially when it comes to breeds that are most susceptible to the disease. The most vulnerable breeds include Cocker Spaniels and Schnauzers. Finally, when dogs consume foods that are high in fat, it could lead to potentially fatal illnesses because the pancreas cannot handle that level of fats.
So basically, what we’re saying is that if your dog’s system can handle cheese, offer a tiny piece to him occasionally. However, don’t make it a habit, and if he shows any signs of intolerance, immediately discontinue the cheesy treats and consult with your vet.
Types of Cheese that are Safe for Dogs
The basic cheeses that are usually found in the house are safe for your dog to eat, provided it is done in moderation. Mozzarella tends to have high-fat content, and so do a lot of other soft cheeses. If you would like to share a piece with your pooch now and then, try to get low-fat cheese which has a lower fat content.
Low-sodium cottage cheese
Low-sodium cottage cheese can be an occasional excellent addition to your dog’s diet, provided it is low in salt. Cottage cheese also contains a good level of calcium, vitamins, proteins, and probiotics as well. Probiotics are helpful for soothing a dog’s upset stomach and are available in low-fat varieties for pet owners who are concerned about their dog’s weight.
Low-fat cream cheese
Feeding your dog plain cream cheese in small amounts is okay. Cream cheese is, however, rich, fatty, and high in calories, so you should proceed with caution. Ideally, when purchasing cheese, go for low-fat varieties. Also, stick to the plain cream cheese as flavored ones can contain herbs and garlic, which are not good for dogs. In fact, ingredients such as garlic and onions are toxic to your pet.
Types of Cheese that are Bad for Dogs
Perhaps one of the main cheeses to avoid altogether is Blue cheese. In fact, any cheese that is ripe and moldy should be avoided like the plague. This is because when blue cheese ripens, a mycotoxin known as Roquefortine C is produced by the mold inside the cheese. This substance should be avoided altogether since it is toxic to dogs.
Avoiding all blue and moldy cheeses is the best way to make sure that your dog never ingests this harmful substance. However, in the event that he accidentally ingests a small amount, it should be fine, but keep a close eye on your dog for the next couple of hours after he has consumed the cheese, and if you notice any diarrhea, seizures, or vomiting, consult your vet immediately.
The Benefits of Cheese for Dogs
Aside from cheese being a tasty morsel, it’s packed full of calcium, protein, zinc, phosphorus as well as plenty of vitamins. However, these are nutritional benefits for humans, and what’s good for you is not necessarily good for your dog.
However, this doesn’t mean that cheese doesn’t have benefits for Fido as well. One of the benefits of cheese for dogs is that’s it’s a handy training tool. The same way that we cannot resist these tasty morsels is the same way that your furry friend feels about the food. It can also help to masque medicine in the event that you’re struggling to get your pup to take his medication.
How Much Cheese Should You Feed Your Dog?
The answer will depend on how well your dog handles cheese, the size of your dog, and his overall diet. However, here are some things to consider before feeding your dog cheese.
Small bits of mozzarella and cheddar are great treats for your dog when training or as an occasional reward for your furry friend.
Adding a little cottage cheese to your dog’s food occasionally can give it more flavor and also make it appealing or appetizing for your pet.
You can also opt to serve a small amount of cottage cheese on its own as an occasional treat or reward for learning new tricks etc.
When your dog is being difficult about taking his medication, use some cheese to cover the pill, and mask the medication.
Ultimately, the best piece of advice when feeding your dog cheese is to practice it in moderation.
The Bottom Line
So we’ve established that dogs can eat cheese, including mozzarella, cheddar, and cottage cheese. However, cottage cheese needs to be plain and unseasoned. Cheese is also fattening as it is tasty, so the key to feeding your dog cheese is moderation. Also, you need to establish whether your dog is lactose intolerant or not before serving him cheesy treats.
In the event that you are serving your dog any type of medication besides antibiotics, you can hide it in a tiny piece of cheese so that your dog will take it without giving you any trouble.
Ultimately, remember that your dog’s best interests always take priority, even over his puppy dog eyes. So as long as you are responsible for your cheese serving endeavors, your dog should be just fine.
Learn More: Dog Vomiting
Shawn Manaher is a serial entrepreneur but when he isn’t working, he loves dogs. He’s owned different pets over the years, and always gives a part of his heart to each pet.