For many people, there’s nothing better than a big, warm slice of cheesy pizza. Or a bowl of spaghetti bolognese topped with a mountain of parmesan. Or even a simple toasted cheese sandwich, for that matter. Well, chances are your pup has shown more than a little interest in that delicious yellow goodness, and you’ve probably been left wondering if you can (and should) share. So, can dogs eat cheese? Let’s find out once and for all.
Can dogs eat cheese?
Yes, dogs can eat some types of cheese – in moderation. In small doses, a bit of cheese can be beneficial to our furry friends, just like it can be to us humans. Cheese contains decent amounts of protein, calcium, vitamin A, essential fatty acids, and B-complex vitamins. That said, your dog should be getting these essential nutrients anyway as long as their diet is filled with healthy, high-quality pet food.
It’s important to note, however, that some dogs (like some humans) are lactose intolerant. It’s true that cheese doesn’t contain nearly as much lactose as, say, a glass of cow’s milk, but to those with severe dairy sensitivities, it can still trigger a reaction. Symptoms of lactose intolerance in dogs are much like those in humans – diarrhea, gas, vomiting, bloating, and appetite loss. It’s worth keeping an eye out for these signs after your pup ingests dairy.
Likewise, dogs who are obese or have kidney problems should also avoid cheese due to its high fat content.
What cheeses are bad for dogs?
Though dogs can eat cheese, there are certain caveats. Although cheese is non-toxic to dogs (barring any allergies), some types are not suitable.
One type of cheese that dogs should absolutely not eat is blue cheese. The fungus that grows in blue cheeses like Stilton, Gorgonzola, and Roquefort can produce a toxic compound called roquefortine C. This compound can be highly dangerous to dogs, particularly if consumed in large amounts.
If you suspect your dog has eaten blue cheese, look out for the following signs. If you spot any of them, contact your vet immediately.
- High temperature
It’s also important to keep your dog away from cheeses with other additions that may be toxic to them. That means any cheese that contains pooch-unfriendly ingredients like garlic, onion, or raisins.
What cheeses are safe for dogs?
So now that we know that dogs can eat cheese, the question becomes, “should dogs eat cheese?” While blue cheese is definitely not good for dogs, other types of cheese are perfectly safe in small portions.
Common soft cheeses like mozzarella, mild cheddar, and string cheese are safe for pups in moderation. These cheeses can tend to be higher in fat, so you can always opt for a low-fat version instead to keep your pooch at a healthy weight.
Salt-reduced cottage cheese can be a fantastic addition to your doggo’s diet – albeit an occasional one. High-quality cottage cheese contains probiotics, is high in protein and calcium, and lower in fat than other types of cheese.
Plain, low-fat cream cheese, though still rather fatty and high in calories, is also safe for canine consumption. Like the other cheeses in the “safe” list, moderation is key. One thing to avoid is cream cheese with extra bits like onion, garlic, and chives – all of these are dangerous to dogs.
How often can dogs eat cheese?
We’ve thrown around the terms “moderation” and “small amounts” quite a lot in this article. But just how small an amount are we talking? And more importantly, how much cheese is too much for your furry friend?
Well, suffice to say you’re not going to be inviting Rex to partake in that decadent cheeseboard you’ve arranged. Even a small amount of cheese for humans might be a little too much for your pup. Cheese can be very high in calories, so try to stick to as small an amount as possible. A one-centimetre cube or thin slice will be more than enough for most dogs – particularly little ones.
For dogs who are particularly food-motivated (and who might not have “moderation” in their vocabulary), a comprehensive pet insurance policy can give you some added peace of mind should they get stuck into the mozzarella when you’re not looking.
Not only should you limit how much cheese your dog enjoys, but you should try not to make it a part of their regular diet. Instead, think of cheese as you would any other dog treat. It can be a useful tool in training, but it shouldn’t be a regular addition to their breakfast or dinner.
If your four-legged friend has a particular love for cheese, you may be tempted to use it to hide medication. In most cases, this is fine, but there is one thing to keep in mind. Any type of dairy can reduce the absorption of antibiotics, so for these types of medicines, stick with one of their other favourite treats.
How to feed your dog cheese safely
Now that we know the answer to the question, “can dogs eat cheese?” is “yes”, it’s important to remember a few things before you go forth and share that last bit of your ham and cheese jaffle. So let’s recap:
- Not all cheeses are safe for dogs. Blue cheese and any cheese that contains dog-unfriendly ingredients to dogs should be avoided
- Some dogs shouldn’t eat cheese at all. Dogs with lactose intolerance, obesity, or kidney issues should not eat any cheese
- Moderation is key. The smaller the dog, the smaller the amount of cheese they should have. Larger puppers can handle a tiny bit more, but it’s better to err on the side of caution with small portions as an occasional treat
- Do not use cheese to conceal antibiotics. Cheese can be used to help some medications go down, but antibiotics actually become less effective when consumed with dairy