Most dogs do not think for a minute to discriminate between the human foods they can or cannot eat, especially if it is sitting so close to their nose on the counter. Yet, there are plenty of foods that are not safe for dogs to munch on, no matter how yummy they look or how fragrant they smell. Thankfully, they have their dedicated dog owners to help them discern which foods are safe to ingest.
In this article, we will explore the question of dogs and cheese. Can dogs eat cheese, or is this a delicacy reserved only for their human companions?
The Short Answer is Yes
Yes. Your dog can enjoy cheese with you, though you should probably keep the wine to yourself.
Overall, cheese is a healthy snack for your dog when given in moderate quantities. It is high in fat, and low in lactose compared with whole milk, so for most dogs, it agrees well with their stomach. The main problem when it comes to cheese and dogs is the type of cheese your dog is fed and/or whether or not your dog is lactose intolerant.
What Is Cheese?
Cheese is essentially fermented milk, aged for varying periods of time to create the distinct textures and flavors we have become familiar with such as blue cheese, brie cheese, gouda cheese, and cheddar, amongst many others. It is a food enjoyed worldwide, originally created to extend the lifespan of milk. Now, it is a staple food in many homes, meaning that it is often on your plate when your dog comes begging for food. But, before you hand it over to your dog, you need to be aware of something called lactose intolerance.
What is Lactose and Lactose Intolerance?
In mammalian milk, the primary sugar is called lactose. Newborns produce an enzyme called lactase, which allows their body to break down the lactose to absorb the nutrients they need to survive. As they begin to grow older, their body cuts production to lactase, which makes it much harder for them to digest milk. In other words, this is lactose intolerance. Interestingly, though, some dogs (and humans) have developed “lactase persistence”, or continued production of the lactase enzyme, enabling them to digest milk products such as cheese.
Lactose Intolerance Symptoms
What Kind of Cheese Can I Give My Dog?
Here are a few pointers to keep in mind when giving your dog cheese. Remember, this is ONLY for dogs who are able to digest cheese, NOT for dogs who are lactose intolerant.
- Veterinarians recommend feeding dogs low-fat cheeses such as cottage cheese, mozzarella, or goat cheese
- Avoid high sodium cheeses such as feta, halloumi, and blue cheese
- Cow’s milk is higher in lactose than other cheeses, making it harder for dogs to digest. Look into alternative cheeses such as sheep’s milk or goat’s milk
- If you feed your dog cheese, make sure it is plain. Cheese mixed with garlic, tomatoes, or other herbs/vegetables can often cause bloating and digestive issues for dogs
Other Dog-Approved People Food
- Peanut Butter – Raw, unsalted peanut butter is a sweet treat for doggies. It is packed with protein, vitamin B, niacin, and vitamin E. Slather it on a dog bone, or if you want a laugh, give your dog peanut butter straight from the spoon and watch him smack his lips and he tries to get it down. Make sure his water bowl is full!
- Chicken – This is a good, healthy, protein-packed snack to give your dog, and a safe food to toss down from the dinner plate.
- Carrots – Carrots are high in Vitamin A and help with dog’s teeth health.
- Yogurt –Yogurt, especially kinds with probiotics inside, can be great for your dog’s digestion. It is also high in protein and calcium. Again, make sure your dog is not lactose intolerant.
- Salmon – Good source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which support healthy brain and heart functioning and keep your dog’s coat shiny
- Apples – Good source of fiber and vitamin A/C
- Oatmeal – Good source of fiber; alternative to other grains
Note: All human foods given to dogs should NOT be sweetened with artificial sweeteners and the sugar should be minimal.