When dog owners ask about what treats they can give to their dogs, one of the foods that are always included in their list is cheese. But then, if you’re also going to ask them about the kinds of human foods that we should never give to dogs, dairy products (cheese included) are also cited. So what gives? Is it really safe to give dogs cheese? Can dogs eat mozzarella cheese or any other kind of cheese for that matter?
Can You Give Your Dog Cheese?
The answer to this is pretty simple. Yes, dogs can be given cheese but only in moderation and only as a treat; but not as an important part of its main meal.
There’s always the question of the kind of cheese that you are going to give. For instance, as a general rule, you don’t want to give your dog blue cheese as this is usually cultured with the aid of a fungus that produces roquefortine C. Some dogs have been shown to be especially sensitive to roquefortine C that they experience severe vomiting, fever, diarrhea, and even seizures.
Cheeses that have very high fat content such as cream cheese, cheddar cheese, Swiss cheese, and processed American cheese are also not supposed to be given to dogs especially those that have been diagnosed with pancreatitis, heart disease, or even high blood pressure. So if you’re asking can dogs eat cheddar cheese, then you already know the answer. If your dog doesn’t have these conditions, giving it these types of cheeses in moderation is generally okay. This is especially true if they are lactose-intolerant since these cheeses have low lactose levels.
You will also have to be careful about certain processed cheeses that incorporate spices and other ingredients that may be harmful to your pet. Can dogs eat cheese sticks then? Well you’ve just got to be sure it doesn’t contain garlic, onion, and all the other spices and ingredients that you shouldn’t be giving to your pet.
If you’re really intent on giving cheese to your pet as a treat, you’ll have a better chance with cottage cheese. Get the non-fat cottage cheese to make sure you’re not feeding it dangerous fat. However, if you want to add a little fat in your dog’s cheesy treat, you can always go for low-fat cottage cheese. If you’re feeling lucky and would like to indulge your dog, you can try parmesan cheese toppings or even ricotta cheese. These have low-calorie and low-fat content, but are definitely rich in calcium.
Benefits of Cheese for Dogs
Feeding your dog the right type of cheese not only ensures that it will not experience any health problem associated with the consumption of such human food, but also provide a number of benefits that can include the following:
- Stronger Bones
When it comes to calcium, cheese happens to be one of the planet’s best sources. This mineral is one of the most important substances for bone health. It provides the necessary materials needed by the bones to become dense and compact, giving it structural rigidity, and help in supporting the weight of the dog’s body. This also allows dogs to move as freely as they possibly can.
- Improved Immune System
In addition to calcium, cheese is also rich in proteins, vitamin A, and essential fatty acids all of which can play a role in improving the dog’s immune system. Proteins, for example, are important in the production of cells in the immune system that fight infections and agents that cause inflammation. The same is true for the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of both essential fatty acids and vitamin A. Improving the immune system of your dog means lowered risk of infections and other health conditions where immunity plays a major role.
- More Energy
Depending on the cheese that you give to your pet, this food can provide a concentrated form of energy through the fat that it contains. It may also have lactose, a form of sugar, which can provide a ready source of energy for your dog. However, it is the fat content in cheese that can give your dog longer-lasting energy. This can be especially useful in dogs that lead a very active lifestyle or those that are trained for moderate to heavy work.
- Motivates Dogs during Training
We strongly advocate the use of positive reinforcement when it comes to training dogs. In this regard, giving low-fat, high-protein, low-lactose cheese to your pet as a treat will surely make training more fun, interesting, and very rewarding for your dog. It learns to associate the commands or tricks that you are teaching it with the delivery of the yummy treat that is cheese.
- Easier Administration of Medications
It’s never easy to administer medications to dogs especially those that come in tablet or pill form. If you don’t have a fancy pill pocket, you don’t have to worry as cheese can be a very good substitute. Since cheese is soft, you can easily envelop the medication with cheese. Your dog will never know that there’s medicine inside.
Types of Dogs that Should Never Be Given Cheese
In general, healthy dogs can be safely given cheese provided it is the right type and given only in relatively small amounts and only occasionally. However, cheese should never be given to the following types of dogs, unless your vet says otherwise.
Some cheeses are high in fat which can further add to weight gain. If your dog is already having problems maintaining its ideal body weight, giving cheese that has a high fat content may not be a good idea. Choose cheese that comes with low fat instead.
- Diagnosed with kidney problems
There are cheeses that have excessively high salt content. Increased sodium can reduce overall kidney function by retaining more water in the body. This can lead to excess fluid in the blood which can increase blood pressure.
Cheeses that are high in lactose such as mozzarella and feta should never be given to dogs that are known to be lactose-intolerant. These can lead to a host of symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. A better choice will be goat cheese, parmesan, or Swiss. So, can dogs eat cheese pizza? Not if your dog is lactose-intolerant.
Cheese can be a very good treat for dogs. However, it is important to check with your veterinarian if it’s safe for your dog to receive such a treat.