Can Dogs Eat Cheese? The Cheesy Truth About Feeding Dogs Dairy

Can Dogs Eat Cheese? The Cheesy Truth About Feeding Dogs Dairy

For many of us, cheese is an irresistible treat - whether it's melted over nachos, grated onto pasta, or simply enjoyed on its own with some crackers. But what about our furry canine companions? Can dogs eat cheese too, or should this dairy delight be kept out of their reach?

The good news is that cheese can dogs eat cheese in moderation as an occasional snack. However, there are some important caveats to keep in mind when it comes to feeding your pup cheese or other dairy products. Let's take a closer look at the keys to letting your dog indulge in a bit of cheesy goodness.

Is Cheese Good for Dogs?

While cheese isn't necessarily good or bad for dogs, it isn't a required part of their diet either. Cheese can dog eat cheese safely in small amounts, but experts don't recommend making it a regular part of their meals.

The main concern with cheese for dogs is that many canines have difficulty digesting lactose, the natural sugar found in dairy products. Like many mammals, dogs lose their ability to produce lactase (the enzyme that breaks down lactose) after being weaned from their mother's milk as puppies.

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This means that eating too much cheese or other dairy can potentially lead to gastrointestinal upset like gas, diarrhea, or vomiting in lactose-intolerant dogs. Low-fat cheeses tend to have less lactose than higher fat varieties, so harder cheeses like parmesan may be a bit easier to digest.

Cheese is also high in fat and calories, which could contribute to weight gain and obesity if dogs overindulge. Obesity opens the door to a host of other health issues for our furry friends. So moderation is key when letting dogs have cheese as an occasional treat.

The Benefits of Cheese for Dogs

Despite the potential for lactose intolerance, cheese can provide some benefits for dogs when fed in appropriate amounts:

  • Protein - Cheese is a good source of protein for building and repairing muscles and tissues.
  • Calcium - Many cheeses are high in calcium for strong bones and teeth.
  • Fatty Acids - The fats in cheese provide essential fatty acids that support skin, coat, and overall health.
  • B-Complex Vitamins - Cheese contains B vitamins like riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin B12.

So while cheese shouldn't necessarily become a dog's main source of nutrients, it can add some nutritional value to their diet when given as a treat. The key is keeping portions small to avoid digestive distress or unhealthy weight gain.

Types of Cheese for Dogs

If you've decided to let your pup indulge in some cheese, you may be wondering about the best cheese for dogs. Here are some guidelines on dog-friendly cheese varieties:

Cottage cheese - The soft, low-fat curds are often easier on doggy tummies than harder aged cheeses. Look for no-salt-added varieties.

Mozzarella - Another low-fat cheese that tends to be lower in lactose and sodium than other varieties.

Cheddar and Swiss - Harder, aged cheeses that are lower in lactose. Go for low-fat versions in small portions.

Parmesan - This hard, dry cheese has virtually no lactose, making it potentially one of the easiest types for dogs to digest. Use it to add flavor to homemade dog treats in moderation.

You'll want to avoid highly processed cheeses like cheese whiz or cheese spreads, as these tend to have lots of added fats, preservatives, and sodium that can be unhealthy for pups. Stick to natural, fresh cheese varieties whenever possible.

How Much Cheese Can I Give My Dog?

So can we give cheese to dogs? And if so, how much is okay? Here are some general guidelines from vets on appropriate cheese portions for our canine companions:

Small dogs (under 20 lbs) - No more than 1/2 oz cheese per day, used as a treat.

Medium dogs (20-50 lbs) - Up to 1 oz cheese per day.

Large dogs (over 50 lbs) - No more than 1-2 oz cheese daily, maximum.

Keep in mind that these are just general recommendations. Every dog's nutritional needs and lactose tolerance levels will be a bit different. Introduce cheese slowly in small amounts and monitor for any potential digestive upset like gas, loose stools, or vomiting.

If cheese doesn't seem to agree with your pup's system, it's best to avoid it going forward. You should always check with your vet before making any significant changes to your dog's diet as well, especially for dogs with specific health conditions.

Safe Ways to Feed Cheese to Dogs

When it comes to feeding cheese to dogs, there are some simple precautions to keep in mind:

Never feed your dog moldy or spoiled cheese, as it could make them sick. Stick to fresh varieties.

Cheese can be a choking hazard, so provide it in small bite-sized pieces rather than wedges or blocks they may try to swallow whole.

Consider lower-fat cheese varieties to avoid excess calories that could lead to weight gain.

Don't let your dog have too much salty human food like cheese and jerky. Excess salt can be dehydrating and hard on their kidneys.

You can use small cubes or shreds of dog-friendly cheese as training treats, mix it into their regular kibble as a meal topper, or add a bit to homemade dog treats for some extra protein and flavor. With a bit of common sense, cheese can make a tasty occasional addition to your pup's diet.

The Verdict - Is Cheese Good for Dogs?

So is cheese good for dogs in the end? The verdict is that cheese can be a safe indulgence for most healthy dogs when given in moderation and appropriate portion sizes. While not a required part of their diet, cheese can provide some nutritional benefits in small amounts.

However, some dogs may be more lactose intolerant than others, so it's important to monitor for any digestive issues after introducing cheese as a treat. Lower-fat, less processed cheeses like cottage cheese, mozzarella, and parmesan tend to be easiest to digest.

As with any human food, cheese should only make up a small percentage of your dog's overall diet and calories. Focus on providing a balanced, complete canine-formulated diet as their main source of nutrition, and use cheese simply as an occasional bonus treat - not as a significant part of their daily meals.

With some common sense precautions, letting your dog indulge in a bit of cheese every now and then can be a fun way to show them some love and share a delicious snack together. Just don't go overboard - for your pup's waistline and digestive health!