Dog Food

Can Dogs Eat Cheese

can dogs eat cheese

Today’s question: can dogs eat cheese? Is cheese good or bad for dogs? Scroll down for detailed answers.

Dairy products are a popular food item that has become a staple in the American diet.  The most popular dairy items are milk and cheese.  All mammals drink milk. Milk is the primary source of nutrients for all infant mammals. The fact that we drink milk is the defining feature of being a mammal. It’s the first thing to pass our lips, providing us with the essential fats, calories, vitamins and proteins we need at a developmental stage. We literally would not survive without milk. Milk from a cow is a natural and excellent source of calcium. Cow’s milk also provides us with vitamin D and potassium, whilst being a complete protein source on top of that. Milk may also come from a goat, from almonds, or coconuts.  The variety of milk varies as much as the tastes and textures.

The list of reasons for drinking milk, nutritionally or otherwise, is endless when we consider the benefits for human consumption. The liquid form of milk can be drank, added to cereals and soups, or used in preparing other foods.  Powdered milk and milk substitutes are often used in place of liquid milk forms by those with intolerance.  We use cow and goat milk for the production of other food types, the most obvious, and delicious, being cheese. Many humans enjoy cheese, despite its high fat content. Can the same be said for dogs? Can dogs eat cheese?

can dogs eat cheese

Can Dogs Eat Cheese?

Yes, dogs can eat cheese occasionally and in moderation.

When it comes to actively feeding our dogs the milk-based food sources that we ourselves consume, feeding dog’s human food is best only in moderation. If you feel the need to give your dog milk, try offering doses of milk in small doses until tolerance is raised for the food.  Small doses will also allow you to monitor for any potential side effects that may occur with your pup.

Offering a puppy milk might be beneficial for the puppy that is without a mother to drink from.  But again, offering of milk outside of mothers milk should be done so only in moderation, and on a trial and error basis. Milk certainly will not kill them, but particular dogs may show signs of abdominal distress, such as vomiting or diarrhea. If this is the case, it’s probably a good idea to find other resources of nutrients in your dog’s diet rather than milk or cheese.

Most dogs love cheese, but this of course does not mean that offering cheese is okay for them to eat it regularly. Dogs will eat almost anything, regardless of whether or not the food is good for them. A lot of owners will give their dog a treat as a reward, which is a natural part of dog ownership. This treat often comes in the form of a small piece of delicious cheese. Cheese can be a nice reward for your dog, but as with most things, it should be kept moderate and given occasionally. Over indulgence in certain foods that are not natural to the canine diet will often set a pretense for what is considered normal by your dog.

If a dog begins to think that cheese is normal and routine, you will find the dog develops terrible eating habits which are difficult to break.  The worst of which may be going on a hunger strike and refusing to eat dog food unless cheese is fed as well.  Dogs are often like children, putting to get their way and looking sad in an effort to make you feel guilty.  More than one dog has refused to eat often enough that the special treat was given, and the dog won the battle.  This only reinforces the bad behavior mindset and poor eating habits.  Be aware of the lessons you are teaching your dog when offering cheese!

Great For Hiding The Medicine

While cheese may pose some health benefits, such as high calcium content, it is best to be used tactically. High calcium content can be offset by the other nutritional benefits offered to the dog.  The bad can also be offset by the fact most dogs will do anything to eat cheese, making cheese a good bartering tool for vet visits, grooming, and staying home alone without issue.

The best use of cheese when it comes to dogs is using the cheese to disguise medicine.  A cleverly placed pill wrapped in cheese or put in the middle of a cheese cube, may be gulped down so fast by your dog that there is no chance of the pup spitting the pill on the floor.  When trying to get your dog to consume some medicine, keep in mind the dog will not usually take a pill easily but will more often than not wolf down some cheese.  Use this fact to your advantage and hide the medicine in piece of cheese (or stick of cheese) as a means of getting medicine into your dog’s system.

Check For Dairy Intolerance

But before you even consider feeding your dog cheese, you need to know if they have any sort of dairy intolerance. Many dogs, you will find, do suffer from a dairy intolerance, which can make them quite ill. Just as humans can have stomach upset deriving from lactose, the stomach of a dog may have a tough time digesting the milk from another mammal as well.  Dairy intolerance can be painful to your pooch and they are unaware the pain will pass, making gas pain that much more unbearable.

Dogs with intolerance to dairy products like cheese may suffer from short-term digestive issues like diarrhea, flatulence, and various bowel complications. So it is best to consult your vet before thinking about offering over some Brie or mature cheddar to your dog. In fact, any food being introduced for the first time, but with added emphasis on dairy, should be done so with caution and permission from your local veterinarian.

Disadvantage Of Cheese

Because of the high fat content, cheese may be difficult for dogs to digest. With the difficulty in digesting a piece of cheese, even more difficulty will be had if given multiple servings.  Too much cheese in one sitting will inevitably result in a nasty bout of diarrhea. Because dogs do not have lactase, the digestive enzyme, it is possible that they will be lactose intolerant, which will then pose problems for a lactose intolerant dog.  Whether you offer your dog too much cheese, a child feeds your dog ‘being helpful’, or the dog finds a cheese plate and helps him/herself to the plate when unsupervised, dog’s need to be watched and cared for in the event excess cheese was ingested.

Any unusual behavior after a cheesy snack should be carefully noted and reported to your vet. If intolerance seems to occur in this case, consider avoiding cheese as a future tactic for getting your dog to eat medicine. There are plenty of other tasty treats to get your dog to eat that pesky pill you were hiding in the food. If you do see signs of relative distress after cheese consumption, do not worry; cheese is not toxic and will not pose long-term health problems. Just take it as a sign not to feed your dog cheese again.  After your dog passes the cheese in his/her system, the stomach should recover and begin to feel better over time.  Your dog may take this pain as a lesson not to over indulge in cheesy snacks!

A number of problems will arise if you form a habit of feeding your dog cheese on a regular basis. For one, the dog will begin to gain weight at an alarming rate. Cheese is a highly fatty food and not a natural nutritional source to canines. Also, because of how tasty it is, if your dog develops a taste for fine cheeses such as Camembert, Port Salut or Stilton, they are going to become divas and picky eaters. Soon you’ll find them with a glass of fine aged red, raiding your cheese selection in the depths of the night. And who knows where it will go from there.

Snacks like cheese should be kept as spontaneous “treats” used to get what we, the humans, want, like good behavior or medication consumption. Cheese is not a staple of your decadent dog’s diet, yet a vehicle in which to get medicine into their bodies without holding them down and prying their slimy mouths open. Dogs really do not require much variety in their diet, which makes cheese a completely unnecessary food source for canines. Even the health benefits of cheese can be found in more savory places; protein, vitamins C and D and natural fatty acids can all be found in regular dog foods, which are tailored to the canine diet.

Leaving a dog to a plain, kibble based diet might seem boring, but dogs are much more suited to their plain, dull, but high quality dog food. The specially formulated dog food kibble provides them with all the nutrients and minerals they need, without the risk of forming bad eating habits or consuming overly fatty foods.  Dogs survived a great number of years in the wild without ever having had cheese, therefore, it is safe to say, a standard diet will not kill your dog, while offering human food might.

Whilst dairy produce are certainly not going to kill your dog, they may upset your pup to some degree. Lactose, found in milk, passes through their GI tracts and into their colons undigested. This undigested sugar draws water into the colon, resulting in diarrhea. The fermentation of bacteria in their colon may result in flatulence and discomfort, so it’s better not to risk these things and just avoid giving your dog cheese and other dairy-based foods.  Besides the mess that the intolerance will create, the gas is in the GI tract is painful and uncomfortable and may cause unneeded stress on your pampered pooch.

Unless your dog is actually lactose intolerant, a chuck of cheese here and there should not pose any problems. Offering a grown dog (in particular) cheese on a regular basis is definitely a bad idea.

Conclusion

Cheese may seem to be a great idea to give to a dog.  Cheese is natural, chewy, a good texture, and full of vitamins.  Cheese is often considered to be a whole food.  What’s not to like? Realistically though, there is no need to feed your dog cheese of any kind. Cheese may be natural to a human diet but it is not natural to a canine diet.  All of the nutritional benefits found in cheese can also be found in food sources that are natural to a dog’s diet, such as meats and vegetables, which contain less saturated fat, but more fats that are natural for dog consumption. Meats and vegetables also run a lower risk of causing extreme stomach upset and pain your dog.

Cheese has a very high saturated fat content that will only pose problems for your dog. Any high quality dog food will contain the right levels of protein, minerals and fats and will have been tailored to the correct levels to suit your dog’s age, breed and size. In the event you want more nutrients in the diet of your dog, add a supplement approved by your veterinarian rather than offering cheese whenever the dog asks.

A dog’s diet does not need the variety that a human’s diet does, and dogs do not have the boredom with food, textures, and tastes that an over stimulated mind of a human may.  Offering too much variety in food choices can lead to problems in your dog’s health, well being, and mannerisms. You may develop bad eating habits in your dog, who believes cheese is now a staple in his diet. You may also be slowly poisoning the dog as well, so think long and hard before you decide to start feeding your dog cheese as a snack.

 

References:

http://www.akc.org/content/health/articles/can-dogs-eat-cheese/

https://www.vetinfo.com/is-it-safe-for-dogs-to-eat-cheese.html

http://petcha.com/pet_care/can-dogs-eat-cheese/

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