🐶 SPRING SALE | DISCOUNTS APPLIED | FREE SHIPPING ON ALL BUNDLES

Shop

8.3k+ happy doggos

180 days guarantee

Bestseller

CBD Full-Spectrum (1,000mg) Happy-Furever™ Oil

CBD Full-Spectrum (600mg) Happy-Furever™ Chews

Jumbo CBD Full-Spectrum (1,200mg) Happy-Furever™ Chews

Can Dogs Eat Cheese? The Cheesy Debate

Written by: Dr. Athena Gaffud

|

|

Time to read 7 min

The great cheese debate has sparked many discussions among dog owners and veterinarians alike. Some argue that dogs can safely enjoy a slice of cheese in moderation, while others maintain that it can lead to health issues like lactose intolerance or weight gain. With so many conflicting opinions, it can be challenging to separate fact from fiction.

Nutritional Value of Cheese for Dogs

a block of cheese

Cheese is a dairy product made from the milk of cows, goats, or sheep. According to usdairy.com , “Natural cheese is produced using four key components. These include milk, salt, an enzyme called rennet, and "good bacteria." With these four ingredients, cheesemakers can create a base recipe. They can then alter the recipe by incorporating additional elements to produce the various types of cheese that we enjoy today.” It comes in various types, such as cheddar, mozzarella, and Swiss, each with its unique flavor and texture. But what makes cheese appealing to humans and potentially dogs? Well, cheese is not only delicious but also a good source of essential nutrients.

One of the main nutritional benefits of cheese is its high protein content (Garone, S. & Syn, M., 2022). Protein is crucial for dogs as it plays a vital role in muscle development, immune function, and overall growth. Cheese also contains important vitamins and minerals, including calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin B12. These nutrients contribute to healthy bones, teeth, and a well-functioning nervous system.

However, it's important to note that cheese is also high in fat, calories, and sodium (Butler, N., 2017). While dogs need some fat in their diet for energy, too much can lead to obesity and related health issues. Therefore, it's crucial to consider portion control and moderation when feeding cheese to your furry friend.

Potential Health Risks of Feeding Cheese to Dogs

a cheese given to a dog

While cheese can provide some nutritional benefits, it's essential to be aware of potential health risks associated with feeding it to dogs. One of the primary concern is lactose intolerance (Mitchell, S., 2022). Like some humans, dogs can also be lactose intolerant, meaning they lack the enzyme necessary to digest lactose, the sugar present in milk and dairy products.

Feeding cheese to lactose-intolerant dogs can lead to gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea, gas, and stomach upset. If you notice any of these symptoms after your dog consumes cheese, it may be an indication of lactose intolerance. In such cases, it's best to avoid feeding cheese or any dairy products to your furry friend. Read more about “CBD for your Dog's Upset Stomach”.

Another concern is the high fat content in cheese (Evans, J. & Lesser, J., 2022). While dogs require some fat in their diet, excess fat can lead to obesity, pancreatitis, and other health problems. Additionally, certain types of cheeses, such as those high in sodium or those containing additives like garlic or onions, can be toxic to dogs. It's crucial to read labels carefully and avoid feeding your dog cheeses that may have harmful ingredients.

Moderation is Key: Safe Ways to Feed Cheese to Dogs

Slicing Cheese on Chopping Board

While there are potential risks associated with feeding cheese to dogs, it can still be enjoyed in moderation by dogs without lactose intolerance or other health issues. To ensure safe consumption, here are some tips to keep in mind:

Portion control

Cheese should only be given as an occasional treat and not as a staple in your dog's diet. Limit the amount based on your dog's size, weight, and overall calorie needs.

Choose low-fat option

Opt for low-fat or reduced-fat cheeses to minimize the risk of weight gain and other health issues. Cottage cheese and mozzarella are often considered healthier choices (Mitchell, S., 2022).

Monitor for adverse reactions

Pay attention to how your dog reacts after consuming cheese. If you notice any digestive upset or allergic reactions, it's best to avoid cheese altogether and consult your veterinarian.

Incorporate cheese into training

Cheese can be a useful tool for training purposes. Use small, bite-sized pieces of cheese as rewards for good behavior or during training sessions. This way, you can control the amount given and ensure your dog doesn't overindulge.

Remember, moderation is key when it comes to feeding cheese to dogs. It's essential to consider your dog's individual needs, dietary restrictions, and overall health before incorporating cheese into their diet.

Alternative Options: Healthy Snacks for Dogs

dog eating vegetables

If you're concerned about the potential risks of feeding cheese to your dog or if they have specific dietary restrictions, there are plenty of alternative options for healthy and tasty snacks. Here are some ideas to consider:

Fruits and vegetables

Choosing the best diet for dogs with liver disease involves selecting foods that are easy to digest, low in copper and additives, and rich in essential nutrients. A well-balanced diet tailored to liver health can support recovery and management.

One essential consideration for developing a diet plan for dogs with liver issues is to ensure adequate protein intake while monitoring sources high in copper content.

Incorporating holistic medicine principles into the diet, such as using cooling foods or herbs like mung beans, may help support overall liver function (Watanabe, H., et al., 2019) .

Lean proteins

Cooked lean meats such as chicken, turkey, or fish can be a great source of protein for dogs. Ensure they are boneless, skinless, and free from seasonings or additives.

Dog-friendly treats

There are numerous commercially available treats specifically formulated for dogs. Look for products made with high-quality ingredients and without any harmful additives such as CBD Full-Spectrum Happy-Furever Chews.

Homemade snacks

If you enjoy baking, you can make your own dog treats using dog-friendly ingredients like whole wheat flour, peanut butter, and pumpkin puree. Just be sure to avoid using any ingredients that may be toxic to dogs.

By exploring these alternative options, you can provide dogs with a variety of healthy and safe snacks that cater to their specific needs and dietary requirements.

The Importance of Consulting with a Veterinarian

A Dog Having a Medical Check Up

While this article provides general guidelines and information about feeding cheese to dogs, it's crucial to consult with a veterinarian before making any significant changes to a dog's diet. A veterinarian can assess a dog's individual needs, health conditions, and potential dietary restrictions to provide tailored advice.

A veterinarian can also help identify any underlying health issues that may be exacerbated by cheese consumption or recommend suitable alternatives based on your dog's specific dietary requirements. Veterinarians have the expertise and knowledge to guide pet owners in making the best decisions for a dog's health and well-being.

Popular Myths and Misconceptions about Dogs and Cheese

a dog on the table with cheese

 

One common myth is that all dogs are lactose intolerant and should avoid dairy products like cheese altogether. While it is true that some dogs are lactose intolerant, not all dogs share the same sensitivity to lactose.

Just like humans, some dogs can digest lactose without any issues, while others may experience gastrointestinal discomfort. The key is to monitor your dog's response to cheese and adjust accordingly.

Another misconception is that cheese is a healthy and nutritious treat for dogs. While cheese does contain beneficial nutrients such as protein and calcium, it is also high in fat and calories (Butler, N., 2017).

Dogs have different dietary requirements than humans, and excessive consumption of cheese can lead to weight gain and other health problems. It's important to consider the nutritional content of cheese and incorporate it into your dog's diet in moderation.

 

Furthermore, some dog owners believe that cheese is an effective solution for preventing or masking the taste of medication. While it may be tempting to wrap a pill in a slice of cheese to entice your dog to take it, this method is not recommended. 

Cheese can be easily manipulated or consumed without the medication, leaving the dog untreated. It's best to consult with your veterinarian for alternative methods of administering medication to ensure your dog receives the proper dosage.

Now that we've debunked some common myths and misconceptions, let's explore cheese substitutes for lactose-intolerant dogs and how to strike a balance between indulgence and health for dogs.

Cheese Substitutes for Lactose-intolerant Dogs

lactose- free cheese

Lactose-free cheese

For dogs that are lactose intolerant or have difficulty digesting cheese, there are several cheese substitutes available that can still provide a tasty treat without the digestive upset. One popular option is lactose-free cheese, which is made by removing the lactose from regular cheese. This type of cheese can be found in specialty pet stores or online. It offers a similar taste and texture to regular cheese, making it a suitable alternative for lactose-intolerant dogs.

Non-dairy alternatives

Another option is to explore non-dairy alternatives such as vegan cheese or nutritional yeast. Vegan cheese is typically made from plant-based ingredients and can be found in health food stores. Nutritional yeast, on the other hand, is a deactivated yeast that has a cheesy flavor and is often used as a topping or seasoning. Both vegan cheese and nutritional yeast can be sprinkled over your dog's food or used as a training treat.

When introducing any new food or treat to your dog's diet, it's important to do so gradually and monitor their response. Some dogs may have allergies or sensitivities to specific ingredients, even in cheese substitutes. Always read the ingredient list and consult with a veterinarian if you have any concerns.

In conclusion, the great cheese debate among dog owners and veterinarians is multifaceted. While cheese can be enjoyed by some dogs without any issues, it can also lead to health problems such as lactose intolerance and weight gain in others. It's crucial to understand your dog's individual tolerance and take into account their nutritional needs.

Dr. Athena Gaffud, DVM

Author: Dr. Athena Gaffud

Dr. Athena is a seasoned, board-certified veterinarian with comprehensive expertise in general practice, veterinary medicine, laboratory operations, and veterinary writing. She is passionate about animals and holistic health. 

Products Featured In This Blog

Related Readings