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Why are some natural yogurts not beneficial to a pet’s health?

Black cat eating yogurt advice

Probiotic yogurts have been developed for humans, not dogs

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You may be tempted to feed your pet some yogurt, but scientifically it's not yet clear how good it is or isn't for them – and it could even be toxic.

By Dr Alice Watson MA VetMB MRCVS

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At the moment there aren’t any studies to suggest that natural yogurts are beneficial to your pet’s health. Indeed, some yogurts may actually be harmful to your pet’s digestive health, so always check the label. If you aren’t sure about an ingredient you should ask a vet.

What kind of yogurt is safe for dogs?

Yogurt is relatively high in calcium and protein, but if your dog is being fed a good commercial diet it should already be getting all the calcium and protein it needs from its diet. If you do decide to choose to feed yogurt to your dog, it is important to check the label to ensure that it does not contain the sweetener Xylitol. Xylitol is toxic to dogs and it causes the blood sugar levels to drop dangerously low. If you do decide to feed your dog yogurt, try to choose one that is relatively low in fat, unflavoured (plain) and does not contain too much sugar.

Talk to a vet online. Visit myfamilyvets.co.uk 

How much yogurt should I give my dog?

There is no evidence to give specific guidelines on how much yogurt should be fed, and it should not form a major part of the daily calorie intake. Giving too much yogurt may mean that your dog isn’t eating a balanced diet, it may cause a tummy upset and it may cause your dog to become overweight.

The amount of yogurt that your dog can have will depend on several things. A bigger, heavier dog will be able to eat more yogurt than a toy-breed dog. Other things to consider are how much other food your dog is getting, whether your dog is overweight and how active your dog is. It is also important to consider any underlying health issues, for example a high-fat yogurt would not be appropriate for a dog with pancreatitis.

Can I give my dog yogurt everyday?

While it is probably safe to give your dog yogurt everyday, it may be better reserved as an occasional tasty treat. This will make sure that your dog is getting a nutritionally balanced diet and is not prone to putting on weight.

What is a probiotic yogurt?

Probiotics are live bugs (microbes e.g. bacteria, yeast, viruses) that are proven to be beneficial to health when eaten. Probiotics work by providing ‘good’ bacteria that can grow and reduce the numbers of harmful bacteria (by outcompeting them). Most probiotic yogurts that you can find in the shops are designed for humans and have not been studied in dogs.

Can I give my dog probiotic yogurt?

Probiotic yogurts have been developed and studied for use in humans.  At present there is no evidence to suggest that these probiotic yogurts for humans have a probiotic effect on dogs.

Talk to a vet online. Visit myfamilyvets.co.uk 

Where can I get probiotic products for dogs?

It is possible to buy probiotic preparations such as pastes, capsules and powders from online shops or from a vet. It is important to choose a probiotic that has been proven to work on dogs, so try to choose a product that has been studied scientifically. If you are not sure what product to choose, this is something you can ask a vet to help you with.

When should I talk to a vet?

You should speak to a vet if you are wondering about what food to feed your dog, or whether a specific ingredient or item is safe to feed your dog. If you have any concerns about your pet’s health, you should speak to a vet.

What should I ask a vet about adding probiotics to my dog's diet?

If you are wondering about probiotics, you may wish to check with a vet whether a probiotic is appropriate for your pet. You may also like to find out which probiotic they recommend and what evidence there is to prove that it works.

Talk to a vet online. Visit myfamilyvets.co.uk 

Some links in this article will redirect you to My Family Vets website.

Ask for advice

Worried about your pet?

Speak to a qualified vet online, from the comfort of your home