Cheese is undeniably one of the most adored human foods, and we’re not saying that in the spirit of being cheesy. That’s simply the truth.
In fact, its smell alone is too sinful that it could unleash the glutton in each one of us. And no wonder why even our canine companions love cheese so much. Yes, dogs find cheese irresistible, too. But, can dogs eat cheese?
Can Dogs Eat Cheese?
The short answer is yes, dogs can eat cheese. However, just like with other human foods that we occasionally add into our dog’s diet, there’s always a catch. Most dogs can handle cheese very well, but some can’t even in small amounts.
Hence, there are a few things to remember before you start slicing small cubes of cheese for your pup.
To start, you have to pay attention to your dog’s health, especially his tolerance to dairy products, his current weight, digestive health, allergies, and any underlying health problems that he may have.
The Benefits of Cheese
Cheese is a many-splendored food. From its taste, aroma, texture, and nutritional benefits, cheese doesn’t disappoint.
It is loaded with essential nutrients, including proteins, vitamin A, B-complex vitamins, calcium, essential fatty acids, phosphorus, and zinc.
However, while we humans can enjoy the positive effects of these nutrients, our dogs cannot. Our internal makeup differs from that of a dog, as such, cheese won’t necessarily provide them with the nutritional benefits that they need.
Is Cheese Bad for Dogs?
Cheese is not toxic to dogs, so, it’s generally safe to give your pup a small cube of cheese as an occasional treat. You should also be mindful that many kinds of cheese have high-fat content and high sodium content.
And we know for a fact that too much of these in your dog’s diet can lead to unhealthy weight gain and several other health issues, such as pancreatitis, sodium toxicity, and kidney problems to name a few.
Symptoms of sodium toxicity that you should watch out for include extreme thirst, vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, seizures, and body weakness.
If not addressed immediately, it can lead to more serious problems such as potential injury to the kidneys, coma, and even death.
When Is Cheese Good for Dogs?
Not all dogs love cheese and can handle its effects, that’s why it’s always best to practice moderation in giving this treat to your pup.
And if your canine buddy can handle cheese very well, you can also use it as a reward during his training. In fact, a lot of trainers use it for treats-motivated dogs.
Also, if you are having a hard time giving your dog his medicines, you can use cheese to hide their taste and disguise them as treats.
By using cheese to conceal pills (except for antibiotics), you can successfully give him his needed dose while also allowing him to enjoy his favorite snack.
At times, some dogs also hate munching on their prescription recovery dog food. If this is the case with your dog, then, try adding grated cheese as toppings to make it more palatable for your pooch.
But of course, don’t forget to ask for your vet’s approval and recommendation before doing this because like what was said earlier, cheese can also cause some health issues to dogs. As such, when it is given in excess, it might just exacerbate your pup’s condition.
Lactose Intolerance in Dogs
Dairy can be tricky for dogs. Just like us, humans, some dogs are lactose intolerant or they can’t digest lactose effectively.
This is because dogs do not have a significant amount of lactase, the enzyme responsible for breaking down lactose from milk and other dairy-based products.
Hence, while cheese contains less lactose than whole milk, those with severe lactose intolerance may still experience adverse reactions even in small amounts.
Every time your dog eats products that contain milk or every time he drinks milk, he can have diarrhea and other signs of stomach upset.
So, be cautious especially if your dog has never eaten cheese before. If he exhibits untoward reactions after eating a small amount for the first time, it’s best to never give him cheese or any dairy products again.
Other Health Issues When Feeding Your Dog Cheese
Aside from experiencing allergic reactions and stomach upset from lactose intolerance, most cheeses contain a high amount of fat, and cheese, in general, is high in calories.
Dogs that consume high-calorie and high fat foods regularly are more at risk for obesity, and weight-related illnesses.
Some dog breeds such as cocker spaniels and schnauzers are also more prone to getting pancreatitis. This condition is a serious and life-threatening medical disorder that develops when dogs eat high-fat foods that only add unnecessary stress on the pancreas.
In addition to the problems presented by the high calorie and high fat content, other cheeses also contain herbs and ingredients that can be toxic to dogs, such as garlic, onions, and chives.
Even a small percentage of these spices and seasonings can cause serious reactions in dogs way beyond a mild case of an upset stomach.
Which Types of Cheese Can Dogs Eat?
When feeding your pup cheese, it’s obvious that you should stay away from those that contain high amounts of fat, such as cottage cheese, especially if your dog is already overweight.
On the other hand, some brands offer low-fat varieties of cottage cheese, so you can also go for those types.
As long as your dog is eating cottage cheese that is low in salt, then, it can be an excellent addition to your dog’s diet in moderation. Cottage cheese contains calcium and vitamins, as well as a good level of protein and probiotics.
Soft cheeses, which are the ones often found in the households are also safe for dogs to eat in small amounts. These low-fat cheeses include mozzarella cheese, young cheddar cheese, soft goat cheese, and string cheese.
Aged cheese like parmesan, cheddar, and Swiss cheese also contains lower lactose than full-fat mozzarella cheese. Hence, these varieties are less likely to cause intestinal upset to your dog.
As for cream cheese, you can also give it to your pup in moderation. And as always, go for low-fat plain cream cheese. Make sure that it is plain because other types contain ingredients that can be toxic to your dog such as garlic and onions.
Hence, it’s best to always read the nutritional label and at least read the name of the cheese. If it has garlic, then, the outer label will also say “garlic cream cheese.” If it does, then, move to other options right away.
Hard aged cheeses are also a no-no for dogs as these contain high amounts of sodium that can only put your dog at risk for sodium poisoning.
Although most dogs will be able to drink enough water to dilute the salt that they consume, it’s still safer to just simply stay away from these kinds of cheese.
Finally, you should never give your dog blue cheese because when they are ripening, blue cheeses produce a substance called Roquefortine. This is a type of mycotoxin, and if ingested, it can be very toxic for dogs even in small quantities.
Overall, it really depends on how much cheese you feed your dog, and how much fat and lactose he can tolerate.
Cottage cheese can be a great option depending on the variety and depending on your dog’s health, as this type of cheese contains lower sodium, very little lactose compared to the other types, and it is also available in low-fat varieties.
Plain yogurt is also another healthy alternative to cheese if he is craving something that tastes similar to cheese and/or milk.
What kind of cheese can dogs eat?
Yes, your dog can eat cheese, including cheddar, mozzarella and cottage cheese. Because cheese is as fattening as it is tasty, moderation is key. Make sure your dog isn't lactose intolerant before you start giving cheese as treats. Cheese is great to hide medications in, but not antibiotics!
How much cheese can you give a dog?
1 ounce of most cheeses — one slice or a 1-inch cube or one string cheese — equals 90 calories, which is way too much for a small dog. Dog treats should account for no more than 10 percent of our pets' daily calorie intake.
Can dogs have American cheese?
Dogs can eat American cheese, but it should be given to them in very minimal quantities. This cheese product contains additives like whey, emulsifiers, fats, and preservatives that while consumed by dogs in very minimal quantities shouldn't cause any damage.
What Cheese Can dogs not eat?
Make sure to stay away from cheese like blue cheese and Roquefort. Not only do these cheeses have high fat content, but when they get super ripe, they can produce roquefortine, which is potentially lethal for dogs to consume. Also, stay away from cheese with herbs and garlic like Havarti or cream cheese.
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