Most of us like cheese, but is cheese good for dogs? Can dogs eat cheese without getting sick? Read on to find out everything there is to know...
Cheese is made by souring milk and adding an enzyme called rennet to solidify enzymes. Some say cheese was made by accident when milk was transported over long distances in the cow stomachs and became solid by the action of the enzymes still present in the stomachs.
It is the lactose in the milk that causes those of us with lactose intolerance to become sick, and it may have a similar effect on dogs with the condition. However, the worst thing about cheese in terms of our health is its high levels of fat and salt, and these two ingredients have an adverse effect on our canine pals too.
Read on to find out whether your dog can eat cheese without getting sick and why some cheeses are better than others.
Can dogs eat cheese as training treats?
Cheese is an excellent treat to increase your dog’s concentration when you are training her. If she knows she gets some cheese as a treat for doing well with her learning she may learn faster than normal.
Again, you should be aware that too much cheese makes her sick. Instead, cheese should be a special treat. Stick to normal dog treats for the majority of the training.
You can also wrap some medicines in cheese, especially pills that don’t taste very nice. The flavour of the cheese will mask the bitter taste of the pill.
When not to give your dog cheese?
The high fat content of cheese gives some vets cause for concern. A dog given a balanced diet of dog food and the occasional treat receives all of the calories she needs to maintain a healthy and active body.
Giving her cheese too regularly causes her to pile weight on. Although dogs gain most of their calories from fat and protein the additional fat is NOT needed!
So too are advocates of healthy canines concerned about the salt content of cheese. A study in 2012 suggested that a modest slice of cheese contains more salt than a packet of crisps.
Fact: A 20 gram lump of cheese contains 0.128 grams of salt, which is already in excess of the recommended daily allowance for dogs.
If she eats too much salt your dog gets seriously thirsty and too much cheese can lead to sodium poisoning, the symptoms of which are: vomiting, diarrhoea, depression, tremors and seizures.
Can puppies eat cheese?
To give a puppy cheese is not advisable. Wait until she is six months old or more before you add cheese to her list of treats. In the meantime stick to treats that are designed for puppies.
In truth, you should avoid giving a puppy any human food. Her digestive system is still growing and can be sensitive to new things.
If you absolutely have to give your puppy some cheese, give her a small dose to begin with and gauge the reaction of her digestive system.
Let’s have a look at various popular cheeses and their nutritional content in respect of a human diet. The ‘RDA’ percentage is the recommended amount of each macro-nutrient for a human.
Can dogs eat...cream cheese?
100 grams of cream cheese contains:
Protein = 6.2 g (RDA 12%)
Fat = 34 g (RDA 52%)
Salt = 0.31 g (RDA 14%)
Cream cheese tastes great and your dog will love it but there is little in it that benefits her. It is low in protein and reasonably high in fat so compared to something like cottage cheese it is a poor relation. It is also difficult to dish out onto a dog’s dinner or feed her. Cream cheese (as with the other cheeses) should not be given to a dog that is lactose intolerant.
Can dogs eat...cheddar cheese?
100 grams of hard cheddar cheese contains:
Protein = 24 g (RDA 48%)
Fat = 34 g (RDA 52%)
Salt = 0.64 g (RDA 28%)
Cheddar cheese is one type of cheese that is especially high in fat and salt. It is used as a way to deliver medicine, and it can easily be chopped up into small chunks to use as treats. Owners are advised not to feed their dogs too much cheddar cheese on a regular basis.
Can dogs eat...parmesan cheese?
100 grams of parmesan cheese contains:
Protein = 36 g (RDA 72%)
Fat = 26 g (RDA 40%)
Salt = 1.4 g (RDA 60%)
Parmesan cheese contains the highest amounts of fat and salt. To feed your dog a chunk of parmesan is not advisable even as a one-off because it makes her exceptionally thirsty and may even bring on vomiting and diarrhoea.
Can dogs eat...goat’s cheese?
100 grams of goat’s cheese contains:
Protein = 19 g (RDA 38%)
Fat = 21 g (RDA 32%)
Salt = 0.45 g (RDA 20%)
Goat’s cheese is another cheese which is high in salt but contains less fat than dairy cheese. Nevertheless you should avoid feeding your dog goat's cheese, especially if she is lactose intolerant. The lactose content of goat’s cheese is about the same as dairy cheese.
Can dogs eat...cottage cheese?
100 grams of cottage cheese contains:
Protein = 11 g (RDA 22%)
Fat = 4.3 g (RDA 7%)
Salt = 0.36 g (RDA 16%)
Cottage cheese is high in calcium and protein, so it is one of the better cheeses; it has the same blandness as rice so is sometimes considered as part of a diet during your dog’s rehabilitation from surgery or illness. However, avoid it if your dog has issues digesting dairy and do not give her too much on a regular basis.
What cheese is bad for dogs?
Roquefort and other blue cheeses contain roquefortine C: a substance produced by the respiration of the fungus needed to make the cheese. Dogs are sensitive to this substance and some can react violently to the chemical.
Dogs should not be given cheese every day. To do this would be irresponsible and pointless since there are hundreds of different dog treats on the market (including cheese-flavoured treats).
If you want to give some cheese to your dog you should wait for a special occasion and only do it if you are sure she is a) not lactose intolerant, b) not overweight and c) not suffering with an ailment that will be worsened by the addition of salts and fat. A well-balanced dog food gives your dog everything she needs to maintain a healthy body.