There are very few food items dogs turn their noses away from. And if you aren’t careful, you can end up slipping them with something that can give them more than just a tummy ache. With that, it’s important that you pay close attention to everything you’re giving your dog.
So, can dogs eat cheese?
The answer is yes, but there’s a catch.
Dogs and Lactose Intolerance
Lactose intolerance isn’t just limited to humans. There are also dogs who don’t have the capability to properly digest lactose. It’s a sugar that’s typically found in dairy products, just like cheese.
So, how do you know if your dog has it?
The most common symptom you’ll notice in dogs with lactose intolerance is gas after drinking milk. He’ll experience abdominal pain, loose stools, bloating, stomach upset, and diarrhoea even when he only consumed a very small amount of milk.
If your dog develops those signs after drinking milk, don’t feed your dog with cheese.
Additionally, if you see signs of allergy, don’t feed your dog with anything dairy. Bring him to his vet to prevent dangerous complications.
Now, if you really can’t resist feeding your dog with cheese, make sure that you pick the good ones.
The Right Types of Cheese for Your Dog
Even if your dog doesn’t have lactose intolerance, he can still experience intestinal upset when fed with fatty, rich cheeses or those that have herbs or garlic.
So, to ensure that you don’t harm your dog’s stomach, choose low-fat cheeses. Good examples include mozzarella and cottage cheese.
Swiss, parmesan, and cheddar are great options as well. They have very little lactose so they shouldn’t cause too much stomach issues in your dog.
One caveat, though.
Dogs have different reactions to food. So, while those types of cheese have very little lactose content, it doesn’t mean that they won’t cause any reaction at all.
You have to closely observe your dog after giving him cheese.
If you notice that he’s having gas and or any allergic reaction, find another type or just don’t give any cheese at all.
As much as possible, pick brands that don’t have a lot of sodium and fat. Such brands don’t just reduce the risk of intestinal upset but they can also lower the risk of obesity in your dogs.
Now, as for other types of cheese you want to avoid, here’s a quick list you can refer to:
Blue cheese and French cheeses- These types are loaded with fat and sodium. Additionally, blue cheese, once it gets super ripe, can produce a potentially lethal toxin to dogs known as roquefortine.
Goat cheese and feta cheese- These two have really high saturated fat levels. In fact, they have the highest among other cheese types. Once they get introduced to your dog’s diet, there’s a good chance that he’ll end up with life-threatening conditions, like pancreatitis.
Cheese with flavorings- They are typically made with additives that can be dangerous to your dog.
Why Should Dogs Eat Cheese?
By now, you’re probably wondering why should give dogs cheese in the first place.
The truth is that while cheese often causes stomach upsets in dogs, it’s still a good source of protein and calcium. These two are essential in making sure your dog has healthy bones and that its body is able to repair muscles and tissues.
Apart from that, cheese also has a good amount of B-complex which are vitamins that optimize your dog’s ability to absorb nutrients from the food he eats. It also has vitamin A for great eyesight.
And you know what else?
Cheese actually makes a great treat during training. It also provides a good way of concealing pills or medication for when your dog is sick.
However, before you actually do that, make sure that you consult a vet first. Ask about any risks associated with giving your dog cheese and how it can affect his existing health issues.
High blood pressure, for example, can worsen when you feed your dog with cheese loaded with salt. The same can happen if your dog is struggling with obesity and kidney stones.
Giving Cheese to Puppies
Frankly, there’s nothing wrong with giving puppies cheese. However, since they have a more sensitive gut than older dogs, make sure to exercise caution when giving cheese for the first time.
Introduce cheese into your puppy’s diet slowly and closely observe for any changes or reactions. If he reacts negatively, be quick in withdrawing the food from his diet.
How Often to Feed Cheese to Dogs
You can let your dog eat cheese every single day. That is if he isn’t responding badly to it and that you’re simply giving him cheese in small portions.
Also, you have to be careful about “cravings”. When you give your dog too much cheese, he’ll develop a constant craving for it which won’t be a great thing.
With that, if you are planning on adding cheese to your dog’s diet, always keep it away and out of your dog’s reach.
Now, if your dog happens to find where you’re hiding your cheese and ate a lot of it, call his vet if he has lactose intolerance. Otherwise, just closely observe for any negative reactions.
Here’s the thing:
Even if your dog isn’t lactose intolerant, he might still exhibit the same symptoms if he ate too much of it.
So, don’t give your dog any cheese for the next 3 weeks. After that, you can resume giving cheese but be sure that it’s in very small quantities.
If your dog ate cheese with garlic, onions or raisins, take him to the vet right away. Such ingredients are toxic to dogs and prompt intervention is essential to avoid life-threatening complications.
Can dogs eat cheese?
Just make sure that you give your dog the right type of cheese in very small quantities. Also, be thorough in assessing your dog’s existing health condition before you introduce cheese into his diet.
Make sure that your dog isn’t lactose intolerant and that he’s not struggling with obesity, hypertension or allergy to dairy products.
If you want to read more about what dogs can eat then check out our food and treats section.