- Not a substitute for professional veterinary help.
Yogurt is rich in the calcium and protein that do a body good. But if that body is a canine one that has trouble digesting lactose, you might want to think twice before offering them this creamy treat.
Can My Dog Eat Plain Yogurt?
Maybe. Plain yogurt is non-toxic for dogs and can contain useful gut-supporting probiotics, the live cultures of bacteria, as well as plenty of protein and calcium. However, because some dogs aren’t able to easily digest lactose after puppyhood, yogurt may cause gas, diarrhea or vomiting.in those with more sensitive stomachs.
Is Plain Yogurt Good For Dogs?
With the exception of its high lactose content, plain yogurt contains a variety of beneficial nutrients for dogs. In each 1/4 cup of plain yogurt there is 100mg of calcium. This bone-building mineral also helps to keep the heart, muscles and nerves functioning properly.
A 1/4 cup of plain yogurt also contains approximately two grams of protein, a nutrient that supports muscles, bones and tissues. Additionally, protein assists in the digestion of food, hormone regulation and the production of new cells.
Potassium is another important nutrient found in plain yogurt. This mineral acts as an electrolyte which conducts electrical impulses in the body and serves a variety of essential functions including: the absorption of fluids, the maintenance of a healthy cardiac rhythm and the regulation of nerve impulses and muscle contractions.
Are The Probiotics In Yogurt Good For Dogs?
Some plain yogurts contain active or live bacteria cultures called probiotics. This “good bacteria” is found naturally in a dog’s body. But diet, illness, or the use of antibiotics can cause good bacteria to decrease in a dog’s body, throwing the balance between “good” and “bad” bacteria in the gut out of whack. Eating foods that contain probiotics can help to rebalance a dog’s digestive system and replace lost “good bacteria.” This can be especially helpful after a dog has undergone a round of antibiotic treatment.
In addition to supporting digestive health, probiotics help to metabolize sugars from carbohydrates like grains and starches. These sugars are prime food for candida, yeast that can lead to infections in a dog’s skin, ears, eyes, bladder or urinary tract. Feeding your dog probiotics regularly can help to keep candida in check and prevent yeast infections from erupting.
Even if your dog struggles to digest lactose, you don’t have to abandon the benefits of probiotics altogether. The “good bacteria” is also available in daily canine supplement formulas such as Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Supplements FortiFlora.
Why Shouldn’t Some Dogs Eat Plain Yogurt?
Although plain yogurt is not toxic for dogs, some will have trouble digesting yogurt due to its high lactose content. Just like lactose intolerance in humans, a lactose intolerant dog that eats lactose rich foods is likely to suffer from an upset stomach and gas, as well as diarrhea and vomiting.
Unfortunately, the only way to know if your dog can tolerate lactose is to feed them foods containing it. To keep your dog from getting sick, start by offering them a spoonful of plain yogurt. If they don’t develop symptoms of gastrointestinal distress in the next 12 to 24 hours, try feeding them a slightly larger portion.
What Else Should I Consider Before Feeding My Dog Plain Yogurt?
Plain yogurt is sold in a variety of forms and some are more dangerous for your dog than others. First and foremost, the yogurt you serve your dog should not contain any artificial sweeteners or flavors. It’s especially important to look out for xylitol on the list of ingredients. This “sugar alcohol” is extremely toxic to dogs and eating even small amounts can lead to hypoglycemia, seizures, liver failure and even death.
Like most dairy products, plain yogurt is also high in fat. Eating too much fat can leave a dog with an upset stomach or lead to pancreatitis, a potentially fatal disease that prevents the body from properly breaking down nutrients. Feeding your dog yogurt in moderation can help to prevent these issues from developing.
How Much Yogurt Can I Feed My Dog?
Even if your dog has no trouble digesting lactose, it’s still best not to feed them too much. Depending on the dog, this may mean offering plain yogurt as an occasional treat or including it in their daily diet. While how much you can feed your dog depends on their size, weight and activity level, a good rule of thumb is to make sure yogurt never makes up more than 10% of their daily diet.
Because of it’s creamy consistency, one of the best ways to add probiotic-rich yogurt to your dog’s diet is to mix a spoonful or two into their regular meals. You can also freeze small scoops of plain yogurt in an ice cube tray to offer them on hot days. For even tastier pupsicles, try mixing in blueberries, bananas or peanut butter before freezing.
For More Information
We have tons of articles about which foods are safe or dangerous for your dog, including various cereals, fruits, and snacks. You might also be interested in “Can My Dog Eat Dairy?”