Should You Let Your Dog Eat Cheese?
A veterinarian explains which cheeses are safe to feed, which to avoid, and how dairy fits into your dog’s overall nutrition.
Whether you're inhaling a slice of pizza or snacking on a few cubes of cheddar, it's likely your pooch has his eyes set on your cheesy snack, insisting that sharing is caring.
As your furry pal continues to stare, you may wonder, 'Can dogs eat cheese?'
They sure can! But like any other treat, it's best in moderation and should be avoided if it poses problems for your pup.
Is Cheese Good for Dogs?
Cheese is a food rich in nutrients, like vitamins A, B-12, K-2, as well as omega-3 fatty acids. For us humans, it's a great way to meet our daily intake of calcium, protein, and fat.
And while we—along with our dogs—all know cheese tastes good, is it good for dogs to eat?
"A small amount of cheese usually is OK for most dogs, but it is probably safest to avoid cheese due to potential (G.I.) upset," says Laura Robinson, DVM and veterinary advisor to Pawp. "Pets do not have as much lactase—an enzyme that helps digest dairy products—as we do. Therefore, lactose-containing food can cause diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and low appetite."
It is best to consult with your veterinarian to learn if your dog is able to safely eat cheese and how much is a safe amount based on your dog's size, breed, and other health factors.
What Types of Cheese Are Safe for Dogs?
Cheese comes in all different shapes, textures, colors, and even ages. With so many options, it can be stressful to decipher which cheeses are safe to feed your dog.
In addition to low levels of lactose, Robinson says cheeses that contain low fat are safer bets to feed your dogs compared to your typical cheeses. Here are just a few smarter choices if you're going to feed your dog cheese.
A low-fat cottage cheese is a healthy choice to feed Fido since it has little lactose compared to most other kinds. It also is a great source of protein and calcium.
Wondering if you could share your string cheese with your dog? We've got some good news! Mozzarella is another safe option to give your pup since it's lower in fat and sodium compared to average cheeses.
If Swiss cheese is a favorite that has you saying "holey moley," you'll be pleased to know it's safe to feed your four-legged pal since it's low in lactose.
Known as one of the most popular cheeses, cheddar cheese is a good option to consider giving your dog since it is also a cheese that has little lactose.
Cheeses To Avoid Giving Your Dog
There are particular cheeses that are safe to give your dog, but on the other paw, there are others that are an absolute no-no. The older, moldier, and herbier the cheese, the more it should be avoided.
Cheeses With Herbs, Garlic, and Other Seasonings
"Cheese with herbs and vegetables, such as chives or garlic are toxic to dogs," Robinson says. "Garlic and chives can damage your dog's red blood cells and can cause severe health problems."
Goat's milk contains much more lactose than cow's milk, making it a high-lactose and high-fat cheese that should be avoided.
Similar to goat cheese, brie has high levels of lactose and fat. It is a rich cheese that will likely upset your dog's stomach.
Another cheese that should be skipped—feta. This cheese is not only high in lactose and fat, but it's also high in sodium.
How Much Is Too Much Cheese?
We humans can eat cheese all day, every day. (Assuming we're not lactose intolerant.) But when is it time to say, "Hold the cheese, please" when it comes to your canine companion?
"Your dog should get no more than a few small bites of cheese each day," Robinson says.
"In general, any food separate from your dog's normal food should not account for more than 10 percent of their calories per day," Robinson recommends.
Using Cheese To Help Your Dog Take Medicine
Does your dog dread taking his medicine? Make it a more pleasant experience for you and your pup with some cheese!
Robinson recommends to "pick a low-fat cheese … the softer and more malleable, the better so you can place the pill inside the cheese. Then, squish the cheese around the pill so your dog cannot smell it or see it."
She adds, "It is sometimes best to give your dog cheese without the treat first, and then the second bite, give it with the cheese so they are less suspicious once they've had the first one without the medication."