Does your furry friend love cheese?
The answer is probably a resounding YES! But do you know if all cheeses are safe for your four-legged friend?
And how much of a good thing is too much?
I'm going to answer these questions and more so you can safely share your love a cheese (you do love cheese as much as I do, right!) with your furry friend!
Keep reading to learn what happens when a dog eats cheese...
Is Cheese Poisonous to Dogs?
In general, cheese is not poisonous to dogs, and is a safe and healthy treat when given in moderation.
Can Dogs Eat Blue Cheese (Stilton)?
The only overall unsafe cheese for dogs to consume is blue cheeses such as stilton.
The fungus used to make these cheeses produces a substance called roquefortine C, which dogs can be sensitive to, causing vomiting, diarrhea, high temperatures and even seizures.
These risks increase the higher the amount of cheese is eaten.
Call your vet if your dog has ingested any blue cheese.
Some cheeses also have added ingredients that can cause your dog harm, such as onion, garlic, raisins, macadamia nuts, grapes or avocado – all of which can be toxic for your dog.
In addition, some dogs are lactose intolerant, so eating even small amounts of plain cheese, milk or dairy products can lead to diarrhea and/or vomiting – which is no fun for your friend to go through, and no fun for you to clean up.
Can Dogs Have Feta Cheese?
Feta and mozzarella cheese have higher lactose content - although still not enough to cause adverse reactions in a typical, healthy dog.
This isn’t so much that dairy is toxic, it’s that dogs do not have the digestive enzymes necessary to process it the way humans do.
If you are unsure if your dog has a lactose intolerance, only give tiny amounts of dairy as a test and see if he experiences any adverse side effects.
If there are no bad reactions, then your dog is probably in the clear to enjoy this tasty treat from time to time.
It shouldn’t be more than a treat, though. Cheese can’t replace the nutritional profile of their regular dog food.
Is It Okay for Dogs to Eat Cheese?
Most dogs love all things dairy – from ice cream to yogurt to cheese.
This makes cheese an ideal option for a high-value reward when training your pet.
It’s also a great way to hide any medications he or she needs to take!
But, even though dairy products are not toxic to dogs, they are not necessary in their diet and may cause undue discomfort, so a treat a day is plenty for your friend.
While some people claim cheese is bad for dogs because of its high fat content, science does not back up that theory.
Dogs are not negatively affected by extra fat in their diet. In fact, they need fat and protein for energy.
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And cheese can provide valuable nutrients to your dog, including high-quality protein, calcium, essential fatty acids, vitamin B12, vitamin A, phosphorus and zinc.
So, it’s not all bad! The main concerns with cheese, however, are its potentially high sodium levels and lactose content.
As mentioned above, some dogs are lactose intolerant.
While most cheeses are relatively low in lactose – typically much lower than regular milk – signs of intolerance can be seen even with small amounts of cheese.
Gastrointestinal distress is the most common sign of lactose intolerance in dogs, including abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
If your dog is lactose intolerant, you might also see her drinking excessive amounts of water, since diarrhea and vomiting can cause dehydration and consequent thirst.
Cow’s milk has a different lactose content than other animal’s milk, so while cow’s milk cheese might not be a good fit, goat’s cheese might produce no bad reaction.
And different dairy products can affect different dogs in different ways. Some dogs will experience constipation after eating cheese.
Feeding your dog yogurt – with gut-healthy probiotics – might actually help with other adverse health symptoms.
Some types of cheese, such as cottage cheese are lighter and easier to digest, while cream cheese is richer and can be harder for your dog’s tummy to handle.
It’s also important to note that dogs can develop allergies and intolerances later in life, so you should always keep an eye out for a change in your dog’s behavior and pay attention to what they’re ingesting.
If your dog is okay eating small amounts of lactose, though, all that is not an issue.
That leaves the sodium content to watch out for.
People love the taste of salt, so salt often makes its way into cheese for flavoring and as a preservative.
But dogs can’t process salt as easily as humans can, which can lead to dehydration, dizziness and vomiting for your furry friend.
Giving high amounts of sodium to your dog can also cause high blood pressure, which can possibly lead to organ damage.
Check the nutritional facts and give your dog cheese that has as little sodium as possible.
It’s important to note, though, that if your dog has been diagnosed with pancreatitis, you should not let him or her eat cheese.
The fat content of this human food can put his pancreas under too much stress to produce fat-digesting enzymes.
Also, if your dog is overweight and your veterinarian would like them to lose weight, it’s best to avoid the extra fat in cheese.
Pet obesity is a widespread issue, and since cheese is not needed to obtain the proper nutrient content your dog needs, getting your dog to a healthy weight is more important than treating them with cheese.
Can Puppies Eat Cheese?
As with older dogs, cheese is generally safe to offer as a treat to your young puppy.
Although, keep in mind that puppies do have much more sensitive tummies, so it’s important not to stress them out with too much new food.
Exercise caution, introduce any new food to your young dog slowly, and watch for any changes.
As with an older dog, if you notice any changes in behavior or adverse reactions, immediately withdraw the new food from his diet.
Can a Dog Eat Cheddar Cheese?
So, as long as your dog is not lactose intolerant, cheddar cheese is a good go-to treat!
Cottage cheese is another one of the “best” cheeses for adult dogs, thanks to its high calcium content and comparatively lower calories.
Cheddar is one of the most popular cheeses here in the U.S.
Most homes are stocked with cheddar cheese on a daily basis, so it can be a convenient treat to use for training or just because.
And though hard cheeses tend to have salt as a preservative, cheddar contains a relatively small amount.
Swiss and parmesan cheeses are also of the “better” variety with low levels of lactose.
Again, it’s important to check sodium content, and err on the side of caution.
If you know you’re purchasing cheese specifically to use as a training treat for your dog, look for the lowest sodium amounts possible.
Varieties that might not be that great to treat your dog to include cream cheese and Havarti.
The higher fat content of cream cheese is harder to digest, but these cheeses are also commonly flavored with ingredients that are unsafe for dogs, including garlic and onions.
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My Dog Ate a Lot of Cheese - Now What?
If your dog manages to eat your entire stash of cheese, he or she may vomit.
The smaller the dog, the more at risk of getting sick – and if you’re worried about your small dog or puppy’s behavior, please call your veterinarian.
They may want you to come in to induce vomiting.
Just take note of your dog’s symptoms and provide plenty of water to offset any dehydration that might occur from an upset tummy, diarrhea and vomiting.
And be ready to let your dog outside at any minute.
You may also want to provide bland food the rest of the day (and possibly the next).
Offer rice with plain chicken or beef in small quantities instead of his normal food, until he seems like his normal self again.
If the diarrhea does not go away by the third day, or if your dog is lethargic, you need to take your dog to your vet for an exam.
Eating high amounts of high fat cheese can lead to pancreatitis, which is a serious condition for your pet.
Also, if you suspect your friend ate a lot of blue cheese, or cheese flavored with toxic ingredients (onions, garlic) call your veterinarian right away to ask if you should bring him in to be seen or what other symptoms to watch out for.
Remember, blue cheese can cause high temperatures and even seizures.
So, Can Dogs Have Cheese Everyday?
Yes – in moderation! Most dogs absolutely love cheese – and your furry friend probably does, too.
As long as your dog doesn’t respond badly, and it’s used as a treat here and there, there’s no reason to not let them have cheese every day.
Opt for a low or reduced fat variety, don’t overfeed, and introduce it slowly to make sure your dog doesn’t experience any bad reactions.
And then watch him savor in its deliciousness when you give him his daily treat.