Welcome To Our Complete Guide To Cheese For Dogs! Can Dogs Eat Cheese? What Types Of Cheese Are Safe, And In What Quantities? Let’s Find Out!
It can be really tough to know what’s okay to give to our dogs.
After all, nutritious foods for us can sometimes have unpleasant consequences for our furry friends.
So, can my dog eat cheese?
And if so, how much and which varieties?
In this article we’ll find out if cheese is safe for your dog and how different types might affect them.
Can dogs eat cheese?
Can dogs eat cheese? Yes, most of them can!
Cheese is a staple food item around the world, produced from fermented milk.
Originally invented as a way of keeping milk edible for longer, it’s now a favorite part of many of our diets.
And if we eat a food, you can be confident that sooner or later we’ll try giving it to our dogs.
Although many people believe cheese can be harmful, the truth is that most dogs can eat cheese.
Dogs and cheese have a great relationship in many homes.
If your dog is lactose intolerant or allergic to milk, however, cheese might not be the best choice.
It’s best to introduce new foods slowly. Then if your dog reacts badly, you can speak to your vet and potentially remove it from their diet.
As long as they don’t react badly, there is no reason not to give your dog cheese on occasions.
It shouldn’t make up the bulk of you furry friends dinner, but it will work great as a treat!
But why the moderation? And is there a difference between the types of cheese?
Let’s look into it a bit further.
Is cheese bad for dogs?
Many advocates against cheese point out its high fat content as a negative.
Science, however, has moved on from the idea that fat is instrumental to weight gain.
Dogs are, evolutionarily speaking, quite recently descended from wolves. The vast majority of a wolves’ energy comes from fat and protein. Therefore, your dog should not be negatively affected by extra fat in their diet.
The main concerns with cheese are it’s potentially high sodium, and lactose content.
Cheeses, and cheese-based products, are usually produced with humans in mind.We love the taste of salt, and so it often makes it’s way into cheese.
Giving high amounts of sodium to your dog can give it high blood pressure, which unfortunately could eventually lead to organ damage.
You should always check the nutritional facts on the back of the packaging. Make sure the cheese you give your dog has as little sodium as possible.
So what about the lactose? Is cheese ok for dogs? And what about allergies?
Are dogs allergic to cheese?
The carbohydrate lactose is found in all kinds of dairy, along with several different proteins that could potentially cause an issue.
Some dogs are completely lactose intolerant, and some dogs are allergic to the proteins in cows’ milk.
These dogs should not be given cheese.
Dogs can also develop allergies later in life, so you should always keep an eye out for any change in behavior.
So what about non-lactose intolerant dogs?
Lactase is a naturally occurring enzyme that allows young mammals (including dogs and humans) to effectively digest lactose. Most adult mammals don’t produce much lactase at all. This is because they can usually find their own food, and therefore they don’t need milk.
So why can we, as humans, drink milk and eat cheese without any trouble?
The answer is that humans are quite unique in producing plenty of lactase into adulthood, unlike most mammals.
Given the above, should dogs eat cheese?
Well, dogs should certainly not be drinking large quantities of milk. Cheese, however, is typically much lower in lactose. Cheese in small enough quantities should be fine as a treat, but probably not as a meal.
Is cheese good for dogs?
Cheese will give your dog some of the dietary calcium its bones need to grow. It’s also packed with fat.
Fat will help your dog to absorb vitamins in the other foods they eat, and provide them with the energy they need.
Cheese also contains a surprising variety of vitamins. It really could have health benefits when added to your dogs diet in small amounts.
Can puppies eat cheese?
Can dogs eat cheese when they’re young?
Puppies can have quite sensitive guts, especially when recently weaned from their mother. It’s important not stress them out with too much new food.
There’s no reason why cheese would be inherently bad for your new puppy, but it’s always worth exercising caution.
Introduce any new food to your pup slowly, and watch for any changes.
If your puppy reacts badly to any new food you provide for it, immediately withdraw the new food from his diet and speak to your vet.
Can dogs eat cheese as training treats?
Using cheese for dog’s training treats can work wonderfully.
It was a particular favorite for many of the dogs I grew up with.
We also used it to disguise medicine from the vet by burying the pill inside the cheese!
Whether it will work for you depends on whether your dog likes it.
It’s usually a winner; I’ve never met a dog that didn’t like cheese.
The extra fat should make it a special treat, and super rewarding for training.
Can dogs eat cheddar cheese?
Cheddar is one of the most popular cheeses. Plenty of us have it in our homes, so it’s really convenient to use as a training treat.
Hard cheeses tend to have salt in them because it’s usually used as a preservative. With that being said, it’s still a relatively low amount.
If you’re using small amounts of cheese as a training aid, this shouldn’t cause any problems.
Can dogs eat cottage cheese?
Can dogs have cottage cheese? Yes, in moderation.
Cottage cheese is an unpressed cheese that has a gloopy, yoghurt-like consistency.
Cottage cheese is also what is known as an unripened cheese, so less of the lactose has been converted by the fermentation process.
Lactose, as we’ve mentioned, can be the cause of stomach upsets in dogs. So, can dogs eat cottage cheese?
While normal cottage cheese for dogs should be okay in small amounts, some products may be cut with milk. The addition of fresh milk raises the lactose considerably and could upset your dog’s stomach.
You should always check the packaging to find out the lactose content so that you’re sure what you’re giving to dog is okay.
But, is cottage cheese good for dogs? Cottage cheese typically contains less sodium than harder cheeses, so this is a big plus. It seems to be quite easy on dog’s stomachs, in the right conditions. A study on treating colitis in dogs used a diet that contained cottage cheese (among other things) and it resulted in no noticeable negative effects.
Unfortunately cottage cheese is much messier than other cheeses.
This could make it difficult to dish out in treat sized portions, unless you want to feed your dog from a spoon. This, coupled with the risk of cottage cheese cut with milk, might rule this one out for you.
Can dogs eat cream cheese?
Cream cheese is another unripened cheese that has a very high lactose content.
As the name suggests, it contains cream, which contributes to this high content of lactose.
It’s probably best to steer clear of this one.
It’s messy like cottage cheese, and could upset your dog’s stomach.
Can dogs eat string cheese?
String cheese is usually just mozzarella that’s been manipulated so that the proteins in the cheese are in straight lines.
This causes the tearing effect associated with this type of snack-cheese.
Nutritionally, string cheese, or mozzarella for that matter, doesn’t contain a huge amount of salt or lactose.
The only foreseeable trouble with this type of cheese is that the stringiness could potentially cause your dog to have trouble swallowing, making it a choking hazard.
This would, however, be easily solved by cutting or breaking the cheese into tiny chunks.
Can dogs eat Swiss cheese?
Swiss cheese has a nutty taste, and is very nutritionally similar to cheddar.
The recognizable holes are formed by gas bubbles during fermentation, let off by the bacteria as the cheese ages.
The lactose content in this cheese is quite low, and it can be approached with relative safety.
Treat it as you would cheddar cheese, and you should be absolutely fine.
Can dogs eat parmesan cheese?
Parmesan is a hard, crumbly cheese with a pungent odor. It’s low in lactose, like other hard cheeses. However, it’s unfortunately typically very high in salt, so we wouldn’t recommend giving it to your dog.
Dogs have a much more powerful sense of smell than us, so it’s quite possible parmesans odor would put them off anyway (or it could entice them even more!)
We’ve talked exclusively about cheeses made using cows milk, but these aren’t the only types of cheese available. Lets look at whether goats cheese would be appropriate for a dog.
Can dogs eat goat cheese?
Can dogs eat cheese made from goats’ milk?
A study published in the journal of biological chemistry found that goats milk generally contains very slightly more lactose than cows milk.
The same is true for goats cheese, so you should approach it with the same caution you use for other dairy products.
Goats cheese is usually quite expensive anyway, and it’s also a little more difficult to get hold of than cows milk cheese.
Can dogs have cheese every day?
Are dogs allowed cheese every day? Absolutely! Providing your dog doesn’t respond badly, and it’s used as a treat or in small portions, there’s no reason why not. Introduce cheese slowly and make sure the your dog isn’t responding badly.
Can dogs eat cheese safely?
So, the most important question is, ‘Can I give my dog cheese?’
Well, it depends on your dog. If you’re already aware of your dog’s lactose intolerance or a milk allergy, it’s best to steer well clear.
Otherwise, introduce it slowly and see how it goes!
Cheddar and Swiss cheeses are the best types to try.
Every dog I’ve ever met has loved cheese, so yours might too!
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References & Further Reading
- Lactose, Fat and protein in milk of various animals O. Folin, W. Denis, and A. S. Minot
- The molecular basis of lactose intolerance A. K. Cambell, J. P. Waud, S. B. Matthews
- Intestinal effects of mannanoligosaccharides, transgalactooligosacchrides, Lactose and lactulose in dogs J Zentek, B Marquat, T Piertzrak
- Hypolactasia and lactase persistence historical review and the terminology T. Sahi
- Dog nutrition tips ASPCA
- Effects of dietary carbohydrate fat and protein on growth body composition and blood metabolite levels in the dog. D. R. Romos, P. S. Belo, M. R. Bennick, W. G. Bergen, G. A. Leveille
- Food allergy in dogs S. D. White
- Cheddar cheese USDA Food composition database
- Cottage cheese USDA Food composition database
- Millers cheese 100% natural light mozzarella string cheese USDA Food Composition database
- Taglio parmesan cheese USDA Food composition database
- Lactose intolerance Nutrition australia
- Cheese an overview P. F. Fox
- Salt in cheese: Physical, Chemical and biological aspects
- Nutritional management of idiopathic chronic colitis in the dog R. W. Nelson (DVM), L. J. Stockley (DVM), E. Kazacos (DVM) PHD
- Structure and rheology of string cheese S. Tayena, T. Izutsu, T. Kimura, T. Shiyoa
- Baroreceptor reflex effects on transient and steady-state hemodynamics of salt-loading hypertension in dogs. A. W. Cowley, A. C. Guyton