Oh, cheese. It’s creamy, gooey, and it goes well with everything. While your dog doesn’t ask you for a oozing grilled cheese sandwich, they have surely spent plenty of time staring at you longingly as you eat something cheesy. Are you guilty of slipping your dog a few cubes of cheese under the table? Not to worry; you aren’t causing any harm.
Is Cheese Safe for Dogs to Eat?
Yes, cheese is okay for dogs to eat–on occasion. There’s nothing in normal cheese that’s dangerous to dogs. Cheese is filled with minerals and vitamins. The essential fatty acids are good for their skin and coat. Research shows that fatty acids are good for inflammation and fighting allergies. If your vet has decided your dog needs additional fatty acids in his diet, cheese is not the best way to go. Your vet can advise you on the best ways to administer these fatty acids. The amount of cheese a dog would have to eat to get a good amount of fatty acids would definitely give them diarrhea.
A copious amount of cheese would give your dog some digestive upset. If they happen to get into a block of cheese and consume most of it, you’ll have to be prepared for the ensuing GI upset, which could be quite explosive.
Cheese Can Trigger Lactose Allergies in Dogs:
Like humans, dogs can be lactose intolerant. You won’t know that your dog has lactose intolerance until they eat dairy, unfortunately. Some dogs will react with just a few bites while others need significantly more dairy to show any symptoms. Symptoms include bloating, nausea, diarrhea, gas, and abdominal discomfort. Lactose intolerant dogs actually lack an enzyme that properly digests the sugars found in dairy. Cheese most often causes constipation instead of diarrhea in these dogs.
You shouldn’t give your dog cheese if they’re already overweight or have had a weight problem in the past. Cheese has enough fat in it that it can quickly bring up a dog’s weight if it’s given frequently. Cheese is best suited to dogs who are already at a healthy weight and lead an active lifestyle.
Cheese is Great to Hide Medications
Some dogs might need an extra tasty snack to encourage them to eat a prescription diet or some type of medication. While they’re all too eager to eat that nondescript wad of trash at the park, your dog might refuse any type of medication you try to trick them into eating. Cheese is a great way to hide any pills you’re trying to get down your dog. Just put the pill in the middle of the cheese and ball it up around the pill and most dogs will suck it right down.
If you’re trying to entice your dog to eat a new diet or they’re recovering from an illness and their appetite isn’t quite back yet, you can safely add cottage cheese to their feed to entice them to eat it. A few tablespoons mixed into the food is all you need to get them to at least taste their new food and convince them to eat a full meal.
Don’t Spoil Your Dog Rotten
Dogs go nuts for cheese. They’re notorious for turning up their nose at their normal diet if they keep getting table scraps. This is especially true for dogs who get cheese regularly. Eventually they will come to expect the cheese and refuse to eat their daily diet or forego healthier treat options you offer. If your dog is on a daily medication long-term, then you should switch up what you use to get them to take their pill so they don’t come to expect cheese regularly.
Cheeses to Avoid Feeding Your Dog
It’s best to avoid feeding your dog fancy cheeses. Some cheese has been made with additional ingredients like onions and garlic, both of which are toxic to dogs. Try to stick to cheddar cheese to avoid inadvertently giving your dog something that could make them sick.
If you want to give your dog cheese, that’s absolutely fine. You should just make sure you’re using moderation and careful discretion in when they’re getting it and how much they’re getting. Remember that moderation is just as necessary in a dog’s diet as it is in yours!