Can dogs eat yogurt?

Is Yogurt Safe for Dogs?

Written by: Dr. Athena Gaffud



Time to read 7 min

Yogurt is a dairy product made by fermenting milk with specific bacteria cultures, primarily Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. This fermentation process causes the milk to thicken and develop a tangy flavor. 

Yogurt is often consumed by humans as a snack or breakfast and enjoyed plain or flavored with various fruits, sweeteners, or other ingredients. It's also a good source of protein, calcium, and probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria that support digestive health.

What Types of Yogurt Are Safe for Dogs?

Plain yogurt is generally a safe and healthy option for dogs. It is important to avoid flavored yogurts that contain added sugars, artificial sweeteners, or other ingredients that are harmful to dogs. Understanding what type1 s of yogurt are safe for dogs is essential for pet owners to make informed decisions about their dog's diet.

Greek yogurt is another popular choice among pet owners due to its higher protein content and probiotic benefits. According to (USDA Food Data Central (2022), Greek Yogurt has 8.78 grams of protein per 100-gram serving. “Greek yogurt fermented with probiotic lactic acid bacteria (LAB) showed superior physicochemical properties and enhanced microbial safety, reducing enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) population,” (Yang, S., & Yoon, K., 2022).

For dogs with lactose intolerance, it is crucial to opt for lactose-free yogurt or consult with a veterinarian before incorporating any dairy products into their diet.

Is Plain Yogurt Recommended for Dogs?

plain yogurt

Plain yogurt is often recommended for dogs due to its simplicity and beneficial nutrients that support a dog's overall health. “Plain yogurt has a lower glycemic index than sweetened yogurts, due to its higher protein-to-carbohydrate ratio,” (Wolever, T., 2017).

One of the main reasons why plain yogurt is beneficial for dogs is because it is a great source of probiotics, which are healthy bacteria that help improve digestion and strengthen the immune system in canines.

Plain yogurt is rich in calcium and potassium (USDA FDC, 2022), which is essential for maintaining strong bones and teeth in dogs. It is important, however, to feed plain yogurt to dogs in moderation, as too much dairy can lead to digestive issues such as diarrhea due to lactose intolerance.

Can Dogs Eat Flavored Yogurt?

flavored yogurt

While dogs may enjoy flavored yogurt, it is important to be cautious as some flavored yogurts contain added sugars and artificial sweeteners that are harmful to canine health.

These ingredients, such as xylitol, chocolate, and macadamia nuts, are toxic to dogs and lead to serious health issues if consumed. The high-fat content in certain flavored yogurts causes digestive upset and even pancreatitis in dogs.

Pet owners should read the labels carefully and opt for plain, unsweetened yogurt for pets. Consulting a veterinarian before introducing new food into a dog's diet is advisable to ensure their well-being and avoid unnecessary health risks.

What Are the Health Benefits of Yogurt for Dogs?

yogurt on bowl

Yogurt offers several health benefits for dogs, ranging from supporting gut health with probiotics to providing essential nutrients like calcium and protein for overall well-being.

Probiotics for Gut Health

Yogurt with probiotics can promote gut health in dogs by fostering a healthy balance of beneficial bacteria. It aids digestion, prevents digestive issues like diarrhea, and promotes better nutrient absorption. Read “Decoding Dog Black Poop”.

Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are commonly found in many probiotic supplements designed for pets. “Probiotics improve canine health and immunity by promoting feed intake, weight gain, and regulating gut microbiota, with elderly dogs showing the strongest response,” (Xu, H., et al., 2019).

Calcium for Strong Bones

Yogurt is rich in calcium and helps dogs maintain strong bones and teeth, promoting their overall mobility and skeletal structure. It plays a crucial role in building and maintaining healthy bones and teeth, preventing conditions like osteoporosis and fractures.

By providing a good source of calcium, yogurt can contribute to improved bone density and dental strength, which are vital for ensuring the dog's musculoskeletal health and overall well-being.

Protein for Muscle Development

Yogurt is good for dogs' muscles. It has protein that helps with muscle development, repair, and growth. It also contains calcium that supports bone health and muscle contraction. By giving yogurt to dogs, they can have better strength, agility, and physical performance. For other protein-rich food, read “Learn About The Benefits Of Organ Meats For Dogs.”

What Are the Risks of Feeding Yogurt to Dogs?

a hand holding bowl of yogurt

While yogurt can offer health benefits, there are risks associated with feeding it to dogs, such as lactose intolerance, high sugar content, and added harmful ingredients.

Lactose Intolerance

Dogs with lactose intolerance experience digestive upset when consuming yogurt, as they lack the necessary enzymes like lactase to break down lactose effectively.

Without sufficient levels of lactase, the primary enzyme responsible for breaking down lactose, dogs struggle to digest dairy products properly. This can lead to symptoms such as bloating, gas, diarrhea, and general discomfort. Read “Can Dogs Eat Cheese? The Cheesy Debate”.

For dogs with lactose intolerance, dairy products like yogurt trigger various digestive issues due to the incomplete digestion of lactose. This process disrupts the balance of gut bacteria, causing further gastrointestinal distress.

High Sugar Content

Yogurts with high sugar content pose risks to dogs, as excessive sugar intake leads to weight gain, dental problems, and potential health issues like diabetes.

When consumed by dogs, yogurt high in sugar contributes to an array of health concerns. The increased calories from the sugar lead to weight gain, putting stress on their joints and overall well-being. The high sugar content is detrimental to their dental hygiene, promoting the growth of harmful bacteria that result in cavities and gum disease. In the long run, regular consumption of sugary yogurt heightens the risk of obesity-related problems in dogs, such as heart disease and diabetes.

Added Ingredients

Added ingredients in flavored yogurts pose dangers to dogs, especially artificial sweeteners like xylitol which are toxic to canine health.

Xylitol, a common sweetener used in human foods, leads to a rapid release of insulin in dogs, causing a drastic drop in blood sugar levels and potentially leading to seizures or even liver failure. “Xylitol toxicosis in dogs can cause severe hypoglycemia and potentially lead to hepatic failure and coagulopathies, with a good prognosis for recovery with prompt and aggressive veterinary care,” (Murphy, L., & Coleman, A., 2012).

Artificial sweeteners, colorings, and preservatives found in flavored yogurts are not suitable for canine consumption. Regularly exposing dogs to such additives results in digestive issues, allergic reactions, and long-term health complications.

How Much Yogurt Can Dogs Eat?

When it comes to feeding dogs yogurt, it's important to keep portion control in mind. Yogurt is a healthy addition to a dog's diet, but too much of it leads to digestive issues. It's recommended to consult with a veterinarian to determine the right amount of yogurt based on a dog's individual needs. Yogurt should be given as a treat rather than a daily staple.

What is the Recommended Serving Size for Dogs?

The recommended serving size of yogurt for dogs varies based on their size, weight, and individual dietary needs, with most veterinarians suggesting moderation and portion control.

Smaller breeds typically require less yogurt compared to larger breeds.

  • For small breeds, such as Chihuahuas or Pomeranians, a spoonful or two a couple of times a week might suffice.

  • Medium-sized breeds, like Beagles or Cocker Spaniels, typically enjoy a bit more, up to 1-2 tablespoons every few days.

  • Larger breeds, such as Labradors or German Shepherds, handle a few spoonfuls daily if it complements their overall diet and health status.

Always consult your veterinarian for precise serving size recommendations tailored to your dog's specific health conditions.

How Often Can Dogs Eat Yogurt?

The frequency of yogurt consumption for dogs should be in moderation, with many veterinarians recommending occasional servings as a treat rather than a daily meal supplement.

It should not be the main component of their diet. A small spoonful of plain, unsweetened yogurt can be a delightful addition to their meals now and then. Too much yogurt leads to digestive upset in some dogs, especially those who are lactose intolerant. Read “Remedies to Soothe Your Dog's Upset Stomach.”

How to Safely Feed Yogurt to Dogs?

  • Introduce Gradually

  • Choose Plain, Low-fat Yogurt

  • Avoid Artificial Sweeteners

  • Watch for Allergic Reactions

Frequently Asked Questions

Can dogs eat yogurt?

Yes, dogs can eat yogurt in moderation. It is a healthy and tasty treat for your furry friend.

Why is yogurt safe for dogs to eat?

Yogurt is safe for dogs to eat because it is packed with nutrients such as protein, calcium, and probiotics.

Can yogurt be harmful to dogs?

Yes, if given in large amounts or if your dog is lactose intolerant, yogurt causes digestive issues such as diarrhea and gas.

Is it okay to feed my dog flavored yogurt?

No, it is not recommended to give your dog flavored yogurt as it can contain added sugars and artificial sweeteners that can be harmful to their health.

How should I serve yogurt to my dog?

Plain, unsweetened yogurt is the best option for dogs. You can mix it with their regular food or serve it as a frozen treat on a hot day.

Are there any health benefits of giving my dog yogurt?

Yes, yogurt promotes a healthy digestive system and boosts the immune system in dogs due to its probiotic content.

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. 

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