CAN DOGS EAT CHEESE?
Can dogs eat cheese? Yes indeed they can! But not all dogs and certainly not all cheeses. The correct amount of the correct cheese is a great treat for your dog but read on for some important guidance.
Most dogs love the smell and taste of cheese. It also has a wonderful texture that makes it easy to break and shape. This makes it very suitable and convenient for puppies and adult dogs alike, perhaps as a reward or a training treat.
What are the benefits of Cheese?
- Helps with bone density – cheese contains healthy amounts of protein, Calcium and Vitamin D which all contribute in the diet to bone mass and density. When consumed in sufficient quantities, particularly in adult and senior dogs, cheese can ward off Osteoporosis and brittle bones in your dog.
- Aids dental health – cheese and particularly Calcium has the same effect on teeth as bones not surprisingly. Cheese is also capable of reducing the acidity in the dog’s mouth and thus reduce the effects of dental erosion. Increased levels of saliva also helps to protect the teeth and reduce acidity levels in the mouth.
- High in calories and great for puppies – cheese is very high in calories and packs a punch with its calorie count. This makes it a perfect choice for developing puppies, dogs convalescing after illness and those which have difficulty maintaining a healthy weight. The counter of this is also obviously the case for those dogs which gain weight easily, so always feed it in a correct and measured portion size!
- High Calcium content for your dog’s health – Calcium not only aids bone health as discussed, cheese plays an important role in other aspects of your dog’s health. It aids muscular development and function. It also promotes a healthy nervous system and aids hormone balance in your dog.
- Cheese is packed with protein – your dog needs a steady supply of protein in it’s diet in order to grow, maintain and replenish damaged muscle. Your dog’s cells are continually dying and growing back and protein plays an active part in this cellular regeneration, particularly in the dogs muscular system. It also aids skin and fur health and assists the dog’s immune system.
- Cheese is high in Vitamin B12 – this benefits your dog in many ways. It aids the generation and maintenance of your pet’s red blood cells benefitting the respiratory system and ability to oxygenate the dog’s muscles. It prevents the onset of anaemia and further helps with neurological health.
- Cheese is abundant in the vitamin K2 – this is a mega vitamin and is the sister to vitamin K, a key in assisting the body to coagulate and clot the blood where necessary. K2 has a widespread interaction with other compounds and vitamins to fight against many common ailments.
Lactose Intolerance in Dogs
Just like their human counterparts, some dogs may be intolerant to Lactose. We have all heard of Lactose intolerance but what is it?
Lactose is a complex sugar molecule that is naturally present in milk. In order to digest it you require the presence of an enzyme in your body called lactase. This enables your body to divide the consumed lactose into two smaller simple sugar molecules called glucose and galactose. The smaller molecules can then individually be absorbed in the small intestine with no discomfort.
Just as for humans, an absence of the necessary enzyme renders your dog unable to efficiently digest and absorb lactose. The result is stomach pain and upset. This can build over time and assimilate in your dog. It is best to keep a keen eye on your pet when feeding cheese and as with all foods do not feed it to excess.
If you believe your dog may have an intolerance consult your vet to be safe.
Can puppies eat cheese?
Indeed, they can! Many puppies love cheese and it is a fantastic snack for dogs at an early life stage. Packed with all of the nutritional benefits that we have discussed. It is also great for puppies due to the high calorie and protein levels giving your pups the help they need to grow and develop in the early stages.
As with adult dogs, it is of the utmost importance to avoid stomach upsets in your pup so a little at a time is key. Always provide fresh water and supervise your puppies when eating or chewing.
Is all cheese safe for dogs?
No not all cheese is safe for dogs to eat. Blue cheeses should be avoided at all costs. These include :
- Saint Augur
- Other blue or veined cheese
These cheeses contain compounds such as Roquefortine C which are biproducts of the fungus used in the cheese production. These compounds are toxic to dogs in general and have the potential to cause the following:
- Temperature elevation
These dogs shouldn’t eat cheese …
If your dog is either overweight or has been diagnosed with Pancreatitis then the high fat cheeses should be avoided. Breeds prone to this disorder such as Schnauzers and Cocker Spaniels should take their cheese in very small amounts or not at all.
Mozzarella as a firm cheese and the soft Cottage cheese could be substituted as they are both lower in fat and salt and would therefore be more suitable in these situations. Cottage cheese also contains lower amounts of Lactose if your dog is borderline intolerant.
Beware of composite cheese products which are flavoured in any way. They could be high in salt and additives or worse could have members of the genus Allium mixed in with them. These include onions, chives and garlic which are all toxic to your pet canine.
If your dog has a history of or is suspected in having any kidney problems then the slightly elevated levels of salt in many cheeses would make it unsuitable for your pooch.
Can dogs eat cheese during pregnancy?
Due to its high calorific value, Calcium, protein and healthy fats, cheese makes a perfect addition to your dog’s food and meal plan prior to and after the birth of a litter. It can be a time when the mother has a small appetite and suffers extreme tiredness and during this period high calorie treats and nutrients can help boost energy levels and milk production.
This can boost her during a trying and stressed period and enable better mothering of the pups in the early stages when she is busy cleaning and feeding her litter.
Concluding: Can dogs eat cheese?
Using some common sense and knowing your pup, it is a wonderful tasty addition to the diet. Firm cheeses are a good starting point. Edam, Cheddar, Red Leicester, Emmental and Gouda are beautiful cheeses for you to perhaps share with your pet. Not too high in salt and sensible fat levels these are firm enough to be cut into cubes and carried.
They serve as great carriers for a worming tablet too if your dog is a little reluctant to take them. If you are in the habit of hiding your pet’s medication in chunks of cheese then beware that this is not a suitable practice for antibiotics. The cheese can inhibit its absorption in the gut and reduce its effectiveness.
As withy all dietary additions and treats it is recommended that no more than 10% of the dog’s calorific intake is provided in “extras” during the day. Always provide plenty of fresh water for your dog and monitor them when chewing or eating and should any symptoms present themselves then contact your vet at the earliest opportunity.