Dogs, for the most part, love cheese. It is a very fragrant and flavorful food, and a dog tends to follow his nose. If you are snacking on some, you may find your pooch sitting very close to you, giving a long stare clearly hoping you will offer him some or perhaps drop some that he can rescue from the floor. Cheese is a great source for protein and several vitamins and minerals. It comes in various blends, consistencies and flavors to please every palate. Your dog may even have a preference for one over another just as humans do. If your dog is a cheese lover, seize this opportunity to use cheese as a way to reward him or provide a treat. While cheese is not toxic for dogs, it is important to know that some types may be better than others for dogs and that it should not become a main source of nutrients in his diet.
The Root of the Behavior
Cheese is eaten around the world and is simply fermented milk. It was originally created as a way to make milk last longer before turning sour; it is now a favorite part of many diets around the world. Dogs are no exception in their love and appreciation of cheese. If cheese is a part of your diet, you can bet your pooch will have a hankering as well once he gets a whiff of your creamy treat. Cheese can be a great source or protein for your pooch. It also contains essential fatty acids, B-complex vitamins, calcium and vitamin A. His coat, bones, muscles and teeth will all benefit from him consuming cheese. Cheese can be tangy, creamy and is consumed easily. It comes in wheels, blocks, and processed as individual slices. It also comes creamier in the form of cottage cheese and cream cheese. Cheese can be used as a high-value treat when trying to train your pooch. But note it will only remain as a high value if it is given sparingly. It is also a great way to hide pills if your dog requires medication.
Cheese is high in fat, and while most of your pet’s calories should come from fat and protein, cheese should not be the main source of fat in his diet. In addition, cheese is high in sodium, which is not good in high quantities for dogs. A diet high in sodium could later lead to high blood pressure, heart disease and organ damage. When looking for a cheese to feed your dog, look for ones that are lower in fat and sodium. Cottage cheese and mozzarella are both great options and can be given to your pet on a daily basis in small to moderate quantities based on the size of your pooch. Cheese also contains the carbohydrate lactose, which can be difficult to digest for some dogs. It is important to monitor your pup’s reaction to ingesting cheese as it could cause him stomach discomfort and constipation. Some dogs are even allergic to the protein in dairy so it is vital to start slowly and note and changes in his behavior, if he is vomiting or straining to have a bowel movement or has diarrhea. Speak with your vet about his diet as well, and let the vet know if cheese seems to be an issue.
Encouraging the Behavior
Because there are so many cheeses on the market it may be difficult to choose which ones to offer to your pet. Cheddar is a very popular blend for both humans and dogs. It is a harder cheese so make sure to note the sodium content, but also know that it is a great density for hiding medication. Swiss cheese is similar to cheddar in its nutritional value and some dogs prefer its nutty taste. Cottage cheese, an un-pressed and unripened cheese, is lower in lactose because less is converted in the fermentation process. It is also lower in sodium. Make sure, however, that it has not been made creamier by the addition of milk as that would increase the lactose content.
Cream cheese, because of its high milk content, should probably be avoided. Parmesan is very low in sodium, however its scent can be quite strong and may have your pooch turning up his snout. There are several types of cheeses that are best to avoid, even if your pet is going gaga over its scent and texture. Roquefort, Blue and most French cheeses are very high in fat and sodium. They also have the potential, when super ripe, to produce roquefortine which could be a lethal toxin for dogs. Other cheeses such as Brie, goat and feta are exceedingly high in fat. Quantities of high saturated fat in a dog’s diet could lead to a serious and at times life threating condition called pancreatitis. Also avoid cheeses that have added flavorings, herbs, or garlic, as the additives can be dangerous. Garlic and onions are known toxins for dogs and are often found in such cheese blends and types such as Havarti cheese.
Other Solutions and Considerations
Puppies have sensitive digestive systems, especially when just weaning from their mothers. It is important to keep puppies on a special juvenile diet for as long as possible. You can slowly introduce cheese in small quantities to ensure it does not cause him any distress. If you see a problem, talk to your veterinarian immediately. If lactose is your dog’s issue, you can try Colby and Monterey Jack in addition to Swiss to see if they work better for his digestion. If you get the go ahead from your vet, you can use it as a high-reward treat. You can discuss ways in which to incorporate cheese into your training with a professional dog trainer. A high-reward treat is a treat that he does not get often and has to work very hard to get. By keeping cheese to a minimum you can ensure that when you bring it out, your dog will be more apt to obey.
Both owners and their pets enjoy cheese around the world. With so many options, it can be interesting to see which one your pet prefers. Introduce cheeses slowly, and use them as a reward and to hide medication when necessary. While cheese is full of essential vitamins and proteins, some contain high levels of saturated fat and sodium, which can be dangerous. Other cheeses have higher levels of lactose, and the sugar can be hard for dogs to digest. And many forms can ripen into levels that are toxic or have added ingredients that are toxic to your pooch. Talk with your veterinarian or dog trainer if you have questions about how to safely introduce this yummy treat into your pet’s diet and training schedule.