Your pooch is eyeing you with great interest as you munch on a yummy piece of cheese. You wonder, is it okay to give my pup a taste? In short, yes, most dogs can eat cheese. And an occasional cheese treat is fine. It could even be argued that cheese, in moderation, could have some benefits, as it’s packed with protein and certain vitamins and minerals, like calcium.

There are considerations, however, that pet owners should be aware of when they’re thinking of doling out some cheese treats to their furry friends. 

Feeding your dog cheese and dairy should be fine, as long as they aren’t lactose intolerant

While most dogs are just fine if they eat cheese, it’s important to consider if they should eat cheese. If your pup is lactose intolerant, for instance, then they definitely shouldn’t eat cheese.

There are also a few other factors to consider when deciding whether or not it’s okay for your pup to indulge in some cheese now and then, like their weight, digestive health, and overall health. For instance, cheese shouldn’t be fed to overweight dogs or those with digestive issues such as pancreatitis or kidney problems. Feeding a dog with health issues cheese might exacerbate their issues. 

The type of cheese is also an important consideration, but we’ll dive into that further soon.

Signs your dog is lactose intolerant

Can dogs be lactose intolerant? Yes, some are. Like humans, some dogs can’t properly digest the sugar found in dairy known as lactose. Even though cheese contains less lactose than whole milk, it may still cause lactose intolerance in sensitive pups. Here are the top symptoms of lactose intolerance in dogs:

  • Gas
  • Diarrhea or loose stools
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting

Things to consider when feeding your dog cheese

Hands down: when your dog shows symptoms of lactose intolerance, refrain from feeding your pup cheese. If you haven’t yet fed your dog cheese and want to give it a try, use caution. Start by feeding a very small amount of cheese and watch for any adverse reactions.

Consider the type of cheese

Some cheeses have much less lactose than others. Aged cheeses like cheddar and parmesan, for instance, have the least amount of lactose. Whereas full-fat cheeses made of whole milk have the highest amount of lactose.

- Can dogs eat cottage cheese?

Cottage cheese is a good option for dogs. Compared to other varieties of cheese, it is lower in lactose, fat, and sodium. However, some manufacturers add additional milk products to cottage cheese, so make sure to read the label before dishing some up to your pooch.

- Can dogs eat cream cheese?

Cream cheese tends to be high in fat and calories, so it’s not the best option for most dogs. Many varieties of cream cheese also have additional ingredients that are toxic to dogs. These include onions, garlic, and chives.

- Can dogs eat blue cheese?

Don’t ever feed your pup blue cheese. The fungus used to make blue cheese can create a fungal substance known as roquefortine C. Dogs can be highly sensitive to this fungus. Pups who ingest the substance experience vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and high temperatures.

- Can dogs eat cheddar cheese? How about mozzarella? 

Two of the best cheese choices for dogs are aged cheddar and low-fat or non-fat mozzarella. These tend to be the lowest in lactose because they’re not made with whole milk.

Consider how much cheese you’re feeding your dog

Even if your dog has no health problems that cheese would exacerbate, it’s often best to feed cheese in moderation. Keep an eye on just how much cheese you’re feeding your furry friend. That way you won’t overdo it and cause your pup to have health issues associated with the high fat in cheese.

Consider using cheese to camouflage medicine 

One of the top reasons to feed dogs cheese is to hide medicine. Your pup will likely wolf down a tasty piece of cheese into which you’ve stuck a not-so-tasty medicine. If you have difficulty getting your pooch to take medicine and they aren’t lactose intolerant, save the cheese for when you want to dispense medication. Cheese should not be used to administer antibiotics.

Okay, so dogs can mostly eat cheese safely. But should they? 

For your pet’s wellbeing, it’s often a good idea to use caution when feeding dairy. For dogs with weight or other health issues, like kidney disease or pancreatitis, it’s best to steer clear of dairy and focus on alternative healthy treats like certain veggies and fruits. Also consider that once you start giving cheese to your dog, your furry friend is likely to become persistent (read: annoying) about begging for more.

The best way to ensure your dog is receiving the proper nutrients is to provide them with a healthy and balanced diet, as you’ll find at Puppo.