When it comes to your dog’s overall well being, knowing what foods you can and can’t feed them is extremely important. And I see it time and time again, just with a little bit of research dog owners come across so many foods they had no idea could be very harmful for their dog’s health.
Generally, because these foods are okay and “healthy” for humans to eat, dog owners assume that’s the same case for their dogs, a misconception which couldn’t be farther from the truth.
But, what about cheese?
You may be thinking about giving your dog some human food that contains cheese as part of the ingredients, thinking about putting together a treat for your dog from a recipe you came across online that contains cheese, or you’re considering giving your dog cheese on its own.
Whatever the case may be, you and I might love to eat cheese, and your dog most probably loves to eat cheese as well and will gladly do so when given the chance to, but can dogs eat cheese? Is cheese safe for your dog to eat?
Let’s have a look.
Can Dogs Have Cheese?
Generally speaking, YES your dog can safely eat cheese in moderation, but there are some things you should know about.
The Issue Of Cheese And Lactose Intolerance
One thing you should be aware of is that dogs, like us human beings, can experience lactose intolerance.
The reason why this happens is because most dogs lack the enzyme called lactase, which is responsible for breaking down and digesting the sugar called lactose in cheese and dairy products.
However, and since not all dogs out there are lactose intolerant to the same extent (some are more than others), this is where you have to chime in and see to which extent your dog can tolerate lactose.
This is why you should always look at how your dog reacts to eating small amounts of cheese to determine whether they have lactose intolerance or not.
A Good Way To Approach This
If you feed your dog small amounts of cheese and they don’t show any problematic health signs, then you’re clear to give them some cheese every now and then as a well deserved treat.
However, if your dog shows health issues after eating even the smallest amount of cheese, then unfortunately you shouldn’t be giving them cheese anymore from now on, or you could try to feed them cheese that’s lactose-free as a last option resort and see how they react to that.
Even better yet, if you can give your dog cheese low in fat and lactose, that would be the best and safest way to go. There are many brands out there that manufacture cheese with much less lactose levels than you would usually find.
The lower the levels of lactose in cheese (or any other dairy product), the safer and easier it is for your dog to digest them successfully.
Some dogs have absolutely no problems when it comes to digesting dairy products, while others just can’t get their digestive system to process such foods, due to the difference in lactose intolerance between dogs.
As long as your dog isn’t lactose intolerant, you’re good to go with feeding them cheese.
If you’ve ever noticed that your dog suddenly gets gas or diarrhea after consuming dairy products, then chances are your dog is lactose intolerant and you shouldn’t be feeding them cheese (or any other dairy product for that matter).
A Quick Note About Sodium In Cheese
You should also make sure that any cheese you feed to your dog is the lowest it can be in sodium amounts, because if the cheese is high in sodium, it can cause toxicity in your dog’s body.
Why Is Cheese Good For Dogs?
- Is an excellent source of protein
- Provices essential vitamins and minerals
- Is rich in calcium
- Is rich in Vitamin A,
- Is rich in B-complex vitamins
- Is rich in essential fatty acids.l
Can Dogs Eat Too Much Cheese?
As we talked about above, no two dogs are similar to each other when it comes to how well they can tolerate dairy products.
Some dogs may tolerate eating dairy products very well and can eat a whole lot of them before anything wrong happens, while other dogs will start to show sickness signs after the slightest amounts of dairy.
If you feed your dog more dairy (and they get more lactose in the process) than their bodies can tolerate, your dog will get diarrhea, flatulence, bloating, constipation and stomach upset.
So, moderation is key when it comes to feeding your dog cheese, because over-consumption of cheese can lead to a large number of digestive problems that you and your dog are better off without.
Why You Don’t Want To Overfeed Your Dog Cheese
Even if your dog can tolerate those high levels of dairy, over-feeding them cheese is not something you’re going to want to do.
First off, and while you may think that feeding them a whole lot of cheese would do them good because of all the extra protein intake they’re getting, that’s not the case.
Your dog should already be getting more than enough protein from the dog food you’re feeding them, and if you’re not feeding them enough dog food that was formulated for their exact needs, then nothing else you feed them will be able to properly substitute for that, even if you fed them all the cheese there is in the world.
Or, you may think that you’ll be strengthening your dog’s bones by giving them all that extra calcium from cheese, but again, it doesn’t work that way.
Your dog should also be getting all their nutrients from the dog food that was specifically produced for them.
Human foods are for you and I to meet our nutritional needs with, while dog food should be the only thing you’re ever looking to meet your dog’s nutritional need with because it’s the only thing that can ever get the job done correctly to date.
Making A Habit Out Of This
Not only is cheese a food that shouldn’t make up a large portion of your dog’s diet, simply because it’s not a food that your dog’s body really needs, but if you make a habit out of feeding your dog cheese more frequently than you should, then you’ll be training your dog to expect you to feed them cheese just as frequently.
If they’re trained to expect you to feed them cheese often and you suddenly cut down on the amount of cheese you give them, expect a whole world of behavioral problems to come your way – which is just your dog’s way of telling you “hey, you made me love all this cheese and now you’re not giving it to me anymore?! No way, jose!”.
There are much better food options you could give your dog for treats, with a plethora of options coming from fruits and vegetables alone, so why go and ruin things with cheese?
A good rule of thumb for you to follow if you want to give your dog some cheese as a snack, treat or a reward is that for every 10 pounds of your dog’s weight, they’re allowed to eat 25-30 calories worth of cheese a day.
This is a very good benchmark for you to make sure you’re not going overboard with all of this.
How Can Dogs Eat Cheese?
The Medication Technique
If you’ve ever experimented with giving your dog peanut butter, then chances are that you’ve tried to “cheat” your dog at least once by wrapping up some medication they had to take with some peanut butter and then giving it to them so they swallow it, all while them not having a single clue that what they’re really gulping down is medication with just a thin coat of peanut butter.
Well, that’s not really “cheating” your dog, as all you’re doing is helping them complete a task they were having a very hard time doing, and that’s the exact same thing you can use cheese for in order to achieve.
Because cheese tastes so delicious, your dog will gladly swallow any medication you wrap inside cheese without thinking twice about it.
Frequency, Once More, Is Everything
But, make sure to save this trick only for when you need it most, i.e only for the veterinary prescribed medicine that your dog gives you the hardest of times taking in.
If you use it too often, that will have us go back to the section above where we talked about how giving your dog cheese too often will develop an expectation in your dog for cheese on a constant basis.
Important Note When Giving Cheese With Medication
Also, even when it comes to giving your dog medication wrapped inside of cheese, you have to be very careful about something.
If you give your dog certain medications along with dairy, the absorption capabilities of your dog’s body for these specific medications takes a great hit and slows down big time.
This is why in case your dog is giving you a hard time swallowing a certain medication of theirs and you’re thinking about wrapping it up in cheese to make things easier, you must ask your veterinarian first if doing this will affect your dog’s ability to absorb the specific medication you’re giving them or not.
The Dog Food Mix
Or, other dog owners prefer to add in a little bit of cheese to whatever dog food their dog is already having in their bowl, as with certain dog food recipes, cheese can make an excellent and very much appreciated addition as far as taste is concerned.
A Note About Cottage Cheese
If you insist on feeding your dog cheese from time to time as a treat or a reward, then probably the best variety you could feed your dog is cottage cheese.
Not only is it lowest in lactose levels among the majority (if not all) other cheese varieties out there, but it’s also very low in fat and sodium – which translates to win, win and win, respectively.
Just remember to look for all of the characteristics we talked about above, and you’ll be good to go.
Cheese Varieties Bad For Dogs
Some of the most common forms of cheese you should avoid feeding your dog are Swiss cheese (often eaten in the combination of Swiss cheese and crackers, both of which make a recipe for disaster if your dog were to get their paws on ’em), cheese varieties that you find on pizzas (such as Mozzarella cheese that’s very high in sodium and fat – again, a recipe for disaster), cream cheese (due to the million and one additives found in practically every product there is), Macaroni & cheese, Parmesan cheese, blue cheese, cheddar cheese, cheese-balls, feta cheese, cheese curls, etc .. you get the idea.
Is Goat Cheese Good For Dogs?
Since we’ve previously talked a lot about the advantages of giving your dog goat milk (as opposed to other forms of milk) when you’re looking for the best kind of milk to give to Fido, we thought it’s only fair to also talk a bit about giving your dog goat cheese.
Just like goat milk is an excellent choice of milk for anyone looking to go low-lactose, higher-calcium and more-nutritious with their dog’s milk, goat cheese is also up there with cheddar cheese in terms of being miles ahead of the competition.