- Not a substitute for professional veterinary help.
Can dogs eat cheese? Our furry companions would, of course, give an enthusiastic yes. And while cheese is not toxic to dogs, a simple yes doesn’t quite cover the canine relationship with cheese.
Who doesn’t love a good sharp or stinky fromage? Certainly not us! But does this mean it’s fair game for your Staffie or chihuahua? It depends on a couple of factors.
Lactose intolerance in dogs
Just like humans, some dogs are incapable of digesting lactose, a sugar found in dairy. Also like humans, lactose intolerance in dogs can be very mild or severe. Trust us, if your dog can’t tolerate dairy, you’ll know. If you’ve never fed your dog milk or cheese before, caution is best. Test with a small amount of cheese first, lest you face the stinky wrath of a dog’s upset belly—which, trust us, no one wants to deal with.
If your dog begins showing signs that they’re having an allergic reaction, stop feeding them anything dairy until you can determine if it really was the cheese that caused the reaction. A consultation with your vet may also be in order to avoid any dangerous reactions.
Can my dog eat cheddar cheese? Mozzarella?
Aged cheeses like cheddar, parmesan, and Swiss contain very little lactose, and therefore shouldn’t cause as much stomach upset as, say, full-fat mozzarella. It really depends on your dog, and how much cheese you’re giving them throughout the day. If you notice that your dog has gas after you give them cheese (believe us, you’ll know), you may want to find an alternative. If you find that it only happened after they ate that lovely cheesecake you left on the counter, it may be all right to test out a small chunk of cheddar or other low lactose cheese.
What about cottage cheese?
Cottage cheese is fermented and can be considered to be a lower lactose food. (Though it’s often mixed with additional milk products, so pay attention to the label on the kind you purchase.) Its bland flavour makes it an ideal food for dogs rebounding from a sick stomach. Plus, it’s high in calcium and protein. It’s also high in fat and calories, so share sparingly or avoid sharing cottage or any kind of cheese if your dog is carrying a few extra pounds.
Most dogs can eat cheese. Should they?
While cheese can be a healthy, protein-packed treat with Vitamin A, B-complex vitamins, and essential fatty acids, it can pack a caloric punch. Avoid overfeeding and try to vary treats. Things that are generally safe for canines include cottage cheese and plain yogurt. Despite your dog’s sad doe eyes, you definitely know what’s best. Again, be sure to confirm your dog can handle even small amounts of dairy before committing to feeding him or her cheesy treats.
Wikipedia has a handy guide available here on the amount of lactose found in common dairy products.
Cheese, dogs, and medicine
Have a fussy dog that won’t take his pills? Cheese is widely recognised as a way to camouflage medication, excluding antibiotics. Very much like humans, dogs find cheese irresistible, making it a fail-safe method of ingestion.
In addition, blending equal parts cottage cheese and cooked white rice together can help your dog recover from a touchy stomach. Cheese can also be helpful to liven up prescription food if your dog isn’t showing interest. (Please check with your vet to make sure this is a good idea. Some prescription diets depend on strict compliance to work.)
How much cheese should you feed your dog? The answer, of course, depends on the size of your dog, how well your dog handles cheese, and their overall diet. That said, some ideas are:
- Small bits of cheddar or mozzarella can be helpful when training or as an occasional reward.
- Add a little cottage cheese to your dog’s usual food.
- Serve a small amount of cottage cheese on its own as an occasional treat.
- When administering non-antibiotic pills, use just enough cheese to cover the pill.
- Treats are meant as an occasional food. Practice moderation when feeding your dog dairy products.
The Bottom Line
- Yes, your dog can eat cheese, including cheddar, mozzarella and cottage cheese.
- Because cheese is as fattening as it is tasty, moderation is key.
- Make sure your dog isn’t lactose intolerant before you start giving cheese as treats.
- Cheese is great to hide medications in, but not antibiotics!
Essentially, as long as you’re responsible in your cheese purveying, you should be good as gold.
For more information
We’ve got loads of articles about which foods are safe or dangerous for your dog, from common snacks to fruits. You can read about more surprisingly dangerous foods for dogs, 11 Fruits & Veggies That Are Good for Dogs, and find out which spices and seasonings are good for dogs, and which should be avoided.