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4 min read

Can Dogs Eat Cheese?


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Updated: 7/14/2021
Did you catch your dog eyeing your pizza slice as you ate? Or maybe they show up in the kitchen with a wagging tail whenever you cut up some cheese for a snack. Who doesn’t love the stringy, melty, creamy pawsomeness of cheese?

If you share any foods with your dog, you may be wondering if cheese is safe for your furry pal to eat. The simple answer is YES, dogs can eat cheese! But there are some factors to consider before adding cheese into your dog’s diet. In this guide, we’ll talk about the benefits and troubles with cheese to help you decide if this food is right for your pooch.

Why Cheese is Puptastic!

Often used for giving medications, cheese makes the pawfect pill carrier for finicky dogs. Smeared inside a toy like a Kong, cheese can entertain a dog while it’s being groomed, or even settle them down in cases of separation anxiety. And trainers often use cheese as a high-value treat during training sessions, as most dogs find it irresistible!

Cheese isn’t only super delicious- it’s also full of a lot of good nutrients, including:

And some cheeses even contain beneficial bacteria, such as Bifidobacterium longum in Queso Blanco, that can aid in your dog’s digestion and immune response! 

Are All Cheeses Safe for Dogs?

While it’s true that cheese is a fan favorite for most canines, and that it contains healthy nutrients, dogs still shouldn’t be eating a lot of it. This yummy dairy product also contains a lot of lactose, which can be problematic for our furry furiends. After dogs are weaned, they lack a significant amount of the enzyme lactase that breaks it down, which means that the more lactose a cheese has, the harder it is for any adult dog to digest. And if your dog is lactose intolerant, cheese can cause diarrhea, bloating and gas, and even vomiting.

Some cheeses like pupular Swiss, cheddar and Colby contain high amounts of fat which can cause pancreatitis, weight gain and obesity if fed regularly. Many processed cheeses, string cheese, and aged cheeses also feature a lot of salt.

However, the cheese you should always say no to is blue cheese. In the right conditions, blue cheese can produce a mycotoxin called roquefortine C that can be a danger for our puppers. Consuming this toxin can cause diarrhea, vomiting, pain, and even tremors and seizures!

You’ll also want to watch out for cheeses that contain additives, such as chives, onions, or garlic. While delicious, these herbs can be toxic for dogs, and should always be avoided.

So, what cheeses are the safest for dogs to eat? Low-fat cheeses are best, such as low-fat mozzarella. Cottage cheese is also low in fat, and it’s lower in lactose than many other cheeses too!  

Can All Dogs Eat Cheese?

We’ve looked at different kinds of cheeses and how they are better or worse to feed your dog, but does your dog’s health make a difference? It certainly does! While healthy dogs are more likely to tolerate the components of cheese in small amounts, there are some pups who just shouldn’t be indulging in cheese at all. These include:

  • Lactose intolerant or lactose sensitive dogs
  • Overweight dogs, or dogs who need to limit their fat consumption
  • Dogs on antibiotics, as the calcium in cheese can interfere with their absorption
  • Dogs with sensitive stomachs
  • Dogs with kidney disease, heart disease, or high blood pressure who need to limit their salt intake
  • Dogs who are in danger of dehydration

If you’ve got a four-legged bestie who should steer clear of cheese, try using chicken, tuna or ham chunks as high-value treats, or even homemade peanut butter treats!

Tips for Feeding Your Dog Cheese

Most healthy dogs can tolerate small amounts of safe cheeses, but there are certainly exceptions to the rule. For quick reference, here are some tips to help you keep your pup feeling great while enjoying this delightful food.

  • Introduce cheese slowly. Giving your dog just a taste of cheese will help their bodies to digest it and reduce stomach upset, and could alert you to any potential problems before your dog eats an unhealthy amount.
  • Watch for dietary side effects. Monitor your dog for any signs they are having trouble processing cheese. These can include diarrhea, vomiting, gas, excessive drooling, or a reduction or loss of appetite. If these symptoms exceed 24 hours, call your veterinarian.   
  • Moderation is important. Due to the lactose, high fat and salt content of cheese, it’s best to limit your dog to cheese treats that equal no more than 10% of their calorie intake for each day. Using cheese as a high value treat once in a while is safe for most healthy dogs.
  • Choose low-fat cheeses. Low-fat mozzarella, cottage cheese and even soft goat cheeses are the best cheeses for pups to consume.
  • Avoid blue cheeses. Eliminate any possibility of mycotoxin poisoning by keeping blue cheeses, such as stilton, out of your dog’s diet.
  • Avoid cheese additives. Be sure the cheese you feed your dog is free of herbs and other flavored ingredients to reduce any possible toxic effects.
  • Talk with vet about medical issues. If your dog has a medical condition that could make cheese unsafe for them, be sure to discuss with your veterinarian if it’s alright to include it in their diet.

While cheese is sure to get your pup’s tail swinging, it should only be added to a high-quality and nutritionally complete diet as an occasional treat. As long as you moderate how much they eat, cheese can be an excellent training motivator, a tasty distraction, or just a fun treat for your canine pal. Enjoy!

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© 2024 Wag Labs, Inc. All rights reserved.