It’s hard to imagine a world without cheese. This dairy product has existed for thousands of years and has become an essential ingredient in countless cuisines and recipes. But it's not just us humans who cannot get enough of cheese, our dogs also love this delicious treat.
Now, as a concerned pet owner, you might wonder whether it’s safe to feed cheese to your dog. The good news is dogs can eat cheese in small amounts. But there are some other factors that you’d need to consider, like your dog’s health condition and the type of cheese (some types of cheese are not safe for dogs).
We have a lot of ground to cover, so let’s first start by discussing why you should incorporate this delicious treat into your dog’s diet.
3 Incredible Health Benefits of Cheese For Your Dog
Below we discussed the top three health benefits of feeding cheese to a dog.
1. Can Support Strong Bones
Cheese has high calcium content that can contribute to your dog’s healthy bone development. It’s an essential mineral that also supports many critical bodily functions like digestion, muscle movement, nerve function, and heart health.
2. Provides Protein & Other Nutrients
Cheese is a good source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and a powerful antioxidant called glutathione. It also contains small amounts of nutrients like vitamins A, B12, K, phosphorus, and zinc.
All this goodness combined makes cheese an excellent treat option for training dogs.
3. Might Help Improve Dental Health
Incorporating cheese into your dog’s diet can help reduce cavities and promote dental health. Chewing cheese can also stimulates saliva flow in your dog’s mouth and help slow down acid formation in plaque, and increases the rate of sugar clearance.
What Kind of Cheese Can Dogs Eat?
While there are so many different kinds of cheese available in the market, not all of them are safe and healthy for your dog. Below are a few things that’ll help you decide which type of cheese to feed your pup.
Stick to Low-Fat Cheese
Low-fat cheese like mozzarella, cottage cheese, ricotta, cheddar, and Swiss cheese are all good options for dogs. Cottage cheese, however, is the best option for your pup as it’s not only low-fat but also contains less sodium and lactose.
Many vets also recommend feeding cottage cheese mixed with white rice to dogs when they have diarrhea.
Say No to High-Fat Cheese
High-fat cheese like goat cheese, feta, and brie are safe but unhealthy for dogs. If they accidentally eat a small slice of any of these cheeses, they’ll be okay, but there’s a chance it’ll upset their stomach.
Also, in the long run, high-fat cheese can lead to weight gain, pancreatitis, and other health complications.
Avoid Blue Cheese
Blue cheese like Danish Blue, Roquefort, gorgonzola, and stilton are a big NO for dogs. It’s because these cheeses are made using a fungus that also produces roquefortine C. This substance can cause food poisoning and seizures in dogs.
But if your dog accidentally eats a small slice of blue cheese, you shouldn’t panic. In most cases, a small amount doesn’t cause any adverse reaction. Just keep an eye out for any unusual behavior or stomach problems. Take them to a veterinarian as soon as you notice signs of food poisoning or seizures.
Read the Ingredients
It’s always advised to read the ingredients of any food item you buy for your dog. Some manufacturers add flavorings, sweeteners, and ingredients like chives, garlic, and onion to the cheese. These things are toxic for a dog.
Even spicy cheese that contains seasonings can be harmful to your dog’s health.
How to Feed Cheese to a Dog?
Most dogs love the smell, taste, and texture of cheese. That’s why pet owners use it to conceal medicines for their pups. You can also use a slice of cheese as a high-value reward.
The important thing is to use cheese as a treat that your dog eats occasionally. It’s best to consult with your veterinarian to figure out the exact amount and type of cheese to feed your dog. They’ll be able to better advise you based on your dog’s health condition, weight, age, and activity level.
Lactose Intolerance in Dogs
Dogs, like humans, can be lactose intolerant. If you don’t already know, lactose is a type of sugar found in milk products. It’s broken down inside the body with the help of an enzyme called lactase. But if the body has a lactase deficiency, it fails to break down the lactose, and your dog becomes lactose intolerant.
Cheese contains less lactose than whole milk, but it can still cause an adverse reaction in dogs with severe intolerance. Thus it’s best to start by feeding a small amount of cheese to your dog and monitor their reaction for the first 24-48 hours.
Look out for the following signs of lactose intolerance:
- Upset stomach or diarrhea
- Abdominal pain
- Dehydration or excessive thirst
- Loss of appetite
If your dog exhibits any of these signs of lactose intolerance, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Precautions While Feeding Cheese to a Dog
Cheese is a healthy and delicious treat for your dog. But apart from various nutrients and protein, cheese also has high sodium and fat content. Thus you need to be extremely careful of the portion sizes, as a large intake of cheese can lead to weight gain, obesity, high blood pressure, pancreatitis, and other health problems.
It would be ideal to feed only a couple of small slices of cheese to your dog occasionally. But if your dog is eating cheese for the first time, start with just one slice and watch out for any signs of lactose intolerance or dairy sensitivity.
Furthermore, if your dog is overweight or has any pre-existing health problem, consult a veterinarian before feeding them cheese.
Cheese is a calcium-rich treat for dogs. It also contains protein, nutrients, and antioxidants that perfectly supplement their diet. But remember, in large quantities, cheese can also lead to weight gain, upset stomach, and other health complications.
Try to stick to a few small slices or consult your veterinarian to determine the right amount of cheese to feed your dog.
Let’s answer some frequently asked questions about feeding cheese to a dog.
1. Is cheese safe for dogs?
Yes, cheese is safe for dogs in small quantities. You can use it as a training treat, food topper, or to conceal medicines.
2. Can a dog eat cream cheese?
Dogs can eat small amounts of cream cheese. But, in the long run, cream cheese is not a healthy option as it has high-fat content. It can lead to gastrointestinal upset, weight gain, pancreatitis, and other health conditions.
3. Can a dog eat mac and cheese?
No, you shouldn’t feed mac and cheese to your dog. This dish has a very high-fat content that can lead to many digestive issues.
4. Can a dog with pancreatitis eat cheese?
The high-fat content of cheese can cause problems for dogs with pancreatitis. It’s further recommended to consult with a veterinarian before making changes to your dog’s diet if they’re suffering from any prior health conditions.