We have all had our dogs break out the puppy dog eyes as we snack on some chips or tacos. Our dogs are smart enough to know that the power of the puppy dog eyes is hard to resist.
But what can happen if and when we do give in? Will cheddar chips with some sour cream and onion dip really harm your dog? What if the dog accidentally consumes sour cream? Find out as we discuss sour cream and its effect on dogs.
Can Dogs Eat Sour Cream or is it Toxic to Them?
So can dogs eat sour cream? The short answer is yes. You can give your dog sour cream as it is not toxic to dogs. Dogs can safely eat sour cream occasionally in small amounts. However, many dogs are lactose intolerant, and letting dogs eat sour cream or certain human foods can give them loose stools, gassy tummies, diarrhea, or cause vomiting.
According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), dairy products are some of the leading causes of food intolerances in dogs. Certain dairy products may be much easier tolerated by some dogs compared to straight cow’s milk.
If your dog has pancreatitis or other conditions that require her to be on a low-fat diet, then even small amounts of sour cream would be a bad idea as it is quite high in fat. Unless your dog has such health issues, there is no need to worry if your dog ate sour cream accidentally.
How to Tell if Your Dog Is Lactose Intolerant
Every dog has a different tolerance level for certain types of foods. The same is true for lactose and many dogs develop lactose intolerance upon reaching adulthood. While some are able to tolerate sour cream or enjoy the occasional treat of cheese or other creamy treats, others may not do so well even with small servings. The severity of symptoms also varies.
If you have a sensitive dog or one with a sensitive stomach, sour cream may not be the best treat to share with her. We recommend consulting your vet if you are not sure of how certain foods can affect your pup.
Here are some of the symptoms of lactose intolerance in dogs:
- Loose stools
- Abdominal pain
A lactose intolerant dog would show some of these symptoms after ingesting just a small amount of dairy products such as sour cream, milk, or yogurt. However, even those who can tolerate dairy or milk products can have these symptoms if given too much sour cream or if they accidentally ate a large amount.
Sour Cream Nutrition Facts
Sour cream is made by fermenting the cream from milk with lactic acid bacteria. Some direct-set sour creams are made using the combination of lactic acid, citric acid, and acetic acid or acetic acid bacteria to create a different flavor profile.
Unlike yogurt, which is another fermented dairy product, sour cream is not meant to be consumed in large quantities even by humans. It is often used as a dip or condiment to enhance dishes.
The usually high-fat and high-calorie condiment also comes in low-fat and non-fat varieties. Like plain sour cream, these are types of sour cream safe to give to dogs in small amounts. However, some form of starch is added to fat-free or low-fat sour cream to help maintain a thick consistency despite the reduced fat content. While this lowers the fat, it does add to its carb content.
Here are the nutrients found in two tablespoons of plain sour cream:
- Calories: 59
- Total fat: 5.8 grams
- Saturated fat: 3 grams
- Carbs: 1.3 grams
- Protein: 0.7 grams
- Calcium: 3% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Phosphorus: 3% of the DV
- Potassium: 1% of the DV
- Magnesium: 1% of the DV
- Vitamin A: 4% of the DV
- Vitamin B2 (riboflavin): 4% of the DV
- Vitamin B12: 3% of the DV
- Choline: 1% of the DV
While the high fat content of sour cream may somewhat help humans in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, D, E, and K, dogs are better off getting healthy fats from high-quality sources such as salmon oil, fish oil, chicken fat, and others.
These fat sources are rich in omega 3 and 6 fatty acids that are essential to many aspects of dogs’ health such as heart, brain, skin, and coat health. They can also be found in high-quality dog food.
Downsides of Feeding Your Dog Sour Cream
Sour cream may be safe for dogs and not necessarily toxic, however, there are still some downsides to picking this creamy condiment as your pup’s treat.
Sour Cream May Cause Gastrointestinal Issues
One of the most common effects of feeding your dog sour cream, milk, ice cream, and other dairy products is gastrointestinal issues/ upset stomach. The lactose present in sour cream can cause digestive system issues such as diarrhea or vomiting for lactose-intolerant dogs.
As previously discussed, gas, abdominal pain, and loose stools can also be caused when you feed sour cream to lactose tolerant pups when eaten in larger portions.
Lactose is not the only component of sour cream that can give your pup loose stools or diarrhea. Its high fat content is also one of the major contributors to these symptoms.
A huge part of the fat in sour cream comes from saturated fat. While saturated fats don’t affect dogs’ hearts and arteries as much as they affect humans, some pups don’t tolerate high-fat foods well and get loose stools or diarrhea as a result.
High Fat and Calories in Sour Cream Can Contribute to Obesity
The high fat content of sour cream means that it is also high in calories. While an occasional teaspoon of organic sour cream may be fine for healthy dogs, the same may not be said for those with pancreatitis, obese dogs or those in need of weight management. Excess fat can aggravate their health issues.
The high calories in sour cream can contribute to unhealthy weight gain in dogs if given to them regularly. Dogs are not able to eat too much of high-fat foods like sour cream without taking in a high load of calories as well. This makes any high-fat food less than ideal as regular components of your dog’s diet, especially if they have lower activity levels.
Healthy, highly active dogs such as puppies, working dogs, and sporting dogs can get away with more fat in their daily food intake. These dogs require a higher fat intake to fuel their high energy levels. A working or athlete dog eats a specialized high-protein and high-fat diet to meet its energy demands. It is quite different from what an average non-working adult dog eats.
Are There Any Nutritional Benefits To Feeding Sour Cream to Dogs?
So can feeding dogs sour cream benefit them at all? The answer is it has very minimal health benefits. Some sour creams may have live probiotics added back in by the manufacturer. These live microorganisms help give dogs a healthier gut microbiome. This helps improve digestion as well as the body's ability to absorb nutrients. We recommend giving yogurt instead of sour cream for this purpose.
That said, some dogs can benefit from an additional fat source. The smooth, creamy texture of sour cream can entice some very fussy dogs to eat, not to mention more fat also means more flavor. This can also help encourage a sick dog with a weakened appetite to eat. Dogs who need to gain weight can also benefit from a bit of sour cream.
Aside from highly active dogs, nursing dogs and underweight ones can also benefit from a bit more fat in their diet.
My Dog Is Not Lactose Intolerant. Can I Share Chips with Sour Cream and Onion Dip with Her?
It is highly recommended not to give your dog sour cream and onion dip despite regular sour cream being relatively safe and non-toxic to dogs. Unlike regular sour cream, chip dips are usually made with a lot of flavoring such as onion powder. Onion-based food products such as onion powder and onion chips contain chemicals that can damage the red blood cells of dogs.
Another reason not to feed dogs chips and dips is their sodium content and the presence of artificial additives. They can be really high in sodium and possibly artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives that are not beneficial to dogs’ health.
The same is true for cheddar chips, onion chips, and other junk food for that matter. Giving them regular access to such highly processed and high-sodium foods can affect various aspects of your dogs’ health, such as their urinary or renal health.
How Much Sour Cream Is Safe?
If your dog does not have lactose intolerance or does not need to be on a low-fat diet, eating about a teaspoon to a tablespoon of sour cream should be fine a couple of times a week.
A tablespoon or less can be safely mixed with dog food or used as a topper and served to dogs. A healthy dog with no lactose intolerance should be able to tolerate a small amount of sour cream safely.
Better Alternatives to Sour Cream
Lactose-free sour cream or even those with less lactose do exist in the market. However, if your dog is fond of creamy, lickable treats, or maybe requires a tasty pill camouflage, there are a number of healthier foods that you can indulge your pup in.
Yogurt is a fermented dairy product that is a much healthier alternative to sour cream. It is lower in fat and higher in protein. It is also high in calcium which can benefit dogs’ bone, teeth, and muscle health.
Another benefit of giving plain yogurt to dogs instead of sour cream is its probiotic content. Probiotics promote the growth of good bacteria in the gut. Having a healthy intestinal flora improves digestion, and stool quality, and aids the absorption of nutrients.
You can give your pups plain greek or plain low-fat yogurt as a tasty treat. Avoid yogurt that are flavored as they usually have a high sugar content or may contain artificial flavors. Never buy yogurt that contains any artificial sweeteners such as xylitol or aspartame. These artificial sweeteners are toxic to dogs. They are commonly found in food with sugar-free claims. Avoid giving chocolate, mocha, or coffee-flavored ones as well.
These days, you can buy yogurt made specifically for dogs, which is typically lactose-free. They come in different forms and flavors as well. You can buy ready-to-eat yogurt, as well as freeze-dried yogurt powder that just needs water and some mixing.
During hot summer days, you can make tasty and healthy cooling treats for your dog. Simply mix some plain yogurt with some chopped ripe bananas, apples, or other fruits that are safe for dogs. Pour them into an ice cube tray or popsicle mold of your choice and freeze. After several hours, your dog can be treated to a pupsicle made just for her.
You can also switch up flavors to give your dog variety. Adding peanut butter, mashed berries, or a small amount of honey can add flavor to your pupsicles. However, do not add honey if you will be giving the frozen treat to a puppy.
An alternative to plain or plain greek yogurt is plain unsweetened coconut yogurt. Non-dairy treats such as coconut yogurt have many benefits for dogs. Coconut has essential fatty acids that are beneficial to dogs’ skin and coat health.
Not all cheeses are created equal. Out of all the cheese varieties, cottage cheese would be the safest for dogs. Lower in fat and sodium, this type of cheese is less likely to contribute to weight gain or obesity in dogs. Not to mention, it is similar in texture to sour cream. Dogs who love eating sour cream may actually like cottage cheese better.
Cottage cheese is also lower in lactose compared to sour cream, so a lot of dogs can enjoy this creamy cheese without getting tummy aches, gas, loose stools, and other gastrointestinal issues caused by eating sour cream.
Dog owners can use this cottage cheese to hide pills or even as a meal topper in small amounts to help stimulate the appetite of a picky pup.
Doggy Ice Cream
Your canine companions probably sit by your side while you treat yourself to some ice cream. And while a few licks of non-chocolate or non-coffee flavored ice cream are fine for healthy dogs once in a while, ice cream is simply too high in sugar to be given to dogs as a regular treat.
Fortunately, pet parents can now buy ice cream made especially for dogs. Doggy ice creams come in many flavors. Because many dogs find it difficult to digest dairy, these special ice creams are usually made to be lactose-free or at least contain less lactose than regular cream.
Dog dairy products like doggy ice creams are also made with very few ingredients. They do not contain added sugars and normally don’t have artificial flavors.
Just like yogurt for dogs, you can easily get doggy ice cream in ready-to-mix powder forms. Simply add water, mix, and freeze. Some specialty pet stores also sell ready-to-eat ice cream just for pups.
Another rich and lickable treat that is healthier for dogs than sour cream is peanut butter. Most dogs just love licking peanut butter off a spoon or their toys. It is high in protein, healthy fats, vitamins B, E, and niacin.
To eliminate guesswork on which would be safest for your dog, get peanut butter that is made specifically for dogs. Doggy peanut butters contain natural peanut butter that is free from added sugars, salt, and other additives.
If you don’t have doggy peanut butter, you can give your dog some of the kind that is made for humans. Pick a natural peanut butter that is not too high in sugar. Do not give your dog peanut butter that has artificial sweeteners such as xylitol as it is toxic to dogs.
Mousse-type/ Lickable Dog Treats
If your dog is a fan of the smooth and creamy taste and texture of sour cream, he or she will probably love the soft mousse treats available on the market today. Similar to mousse-type cat treats that come in small sachets, these dog treats are made to be much softer and smoother than pate types of wet dog food.
Because of the soft and easy-to-chew texture, these lickable treats are popular among puppies and senior pups who no longer have all of their teeth. They come in an array of flavors that dogs of all ages are sure to enjoy.
Made especially for dogs, these highly palatable often contain meat such as chicken, fish, or beef which are all great sources of protein for dogs. The savory flavors of these animal proteins are also what entices the dogs to beg for these soft, hydrating treats. Dogs will probably like these better than sour cream.