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The short answer is “yes,” but in moderation. Some dogs may have a sensitivity to cheese, so it is important to pay attention to how your pet responds when fed these products. While many cheeses are safe for dogs, some can make them very sick. As with all human foods, be sure to consult your veterinarian before feeding cheese to your pet.
Benefits of Cheese for Dogs:
- Rich in Nutrients. Cheese is high in protein and calcium, as well as vitamins A and B, all of which are beneficial to your pup.
- Probiotics. Cottage cheese is low in fat and very digestible, thanks to probiotics. It is often recommended by veterinarians as part of a bland diet, usually mixed with rice, when an animal is having gastrointestinal issues.
- Hiding Medication. The strong flavor of cheese can be a great way to hide the flavor of medication that you need to give your dog. Many dogs will gobble up a piece of cheese before they even realize you have slipped a pill inside.
- Training. Cheese is a great training tool for dogs. Many dogs find cheese irresistible, so using a small amount of cheese as a reward when training can help them learn and develop skills quickly.
Dangers of Cheese for Dogs:
- Gastrointestinal Upset. Just like humans, some dogs can be sensitive to lactose, which is the naturally occurring sugar in milk. This can cause GI problems, such as vomiting and diarrhea. Even if your pet isn’t lactose intolerant, too much cheese can cause an upset stomach. If you have concerns about your dog’s gastrointestinal response, contact your veterinarian immediately.
- High in Fat. While fat is an important part of any diet, too much can cause problems. Excessive fat in a dog’s diet can lead to obesity. Pancreatitis, a serious disease that can require hospitalization, is also a concern when feeding animals foods that are high in fat.
- High in Sodium. Cheese usually has added salt. Excessive sodium is dangerous to the health of all animals. It can also cause high blood pressure. Cheese should be avoided for animals with heart disease or kidney disease, since they’ll need to have a low sodium diet.
- Mycotoxin Poisoning. Blue cheese is created by adding a fungus to cheese that is safe to eat. When these cheeses become over-ripe, they produce a mycotoxin called Roquefortine. Roquefortine is life threatening when ingested by dogs and can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and seizures. Dogs showing these signs need immediate medical attention.
- Toxic Spices. Beware of cheese that have added flavors and spices. Onion and garlic are often added to flavored cheeses, and both can be toxic for dogs.
When giving your dog cheese, remember that it should be used only as an occasional treat. Pick cheeses that are low in fat and salt. Don’t give your dog large chunks of cheese to avoid any chance of choking. Instead, give them small pieces that are easily swallowed, in case your dog doesn’t chew in their excitement. If you have never given your dog cheese before, feed a small amount to start and make sure that it doesn’t cause any unfavorable reactions. Cheese can be a delicious treat that you and your dog can share, if served responsibly.