Can Dogs Eat Cheese?

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If you've ever quickly eaten a slice of cheese pizza while your dog longingly eyes your piece of pie, you might have been curious as to whether or not dogs can eat cheese. Maybe you're just curious if cheese is bad for dogs? Since the food can be a nourishing treat for humans, it makes sense to question whether it might also benefit your pet. Here's a breakdown of the pros and cons of sharing this snack with your dog.

The Benefits of Cheese

Cheese is packed with nutrients, including calcium, protein, phosphorus, zinc and vitamins A and B12. However, these are nutritional benefits for humans; what's good for you won't necessarily serve your dog's nutritional needs.

However, this doesn't mean that cheese doesn't have its benefits. One advantage of cheese for dogs is that it can be used as a handy training tool. Also, a tasty morsel of cheese can help mask medicine that you're struggling to get your pup to take.

Scruffy looking dog with head on table stares at plate with cheese.

Is Cheese Bad for Dogs?

So, can dogs eat cheese? Or is it always a no-no? While there are some potential benefits of sharing cheese with your dog, the truth is that it may also cause them a host of health issues, including obesity and pancreatitis.

According to the ASPCA, "because pets do not possess significant amounts of lactase (the enzyme that breaks down lactose in milk), milk and other dairy-based products cause them diarrhoea or other digestive upset." The takeaway: Don't give your dog cheese as part of their regular meal plan or as a frequent treat. While the food seems innocent, it could cause them major tummy trouble.

In addition to the issue of lactose, another problem with cheese for dogs is its high fat content. Feeding your dog fatty foods on a regular basis can lead them to gain an unhealthy amount of weight and can even cause obesity, which can in turn, lead to other health problems. According to the PDSA, eating cheese could trigger pancreatitis, especially for breeds that are prone to pancreatitis like schnauzers and Cocker Spaniels. Pancreatitis is a serious condition that often results in stomach upset, diarrhea and a painful belly, but some severe cases can result in death. 

What About Cottage Cheese & Other Types?

Not all cheeses are created equal. Low-fat cheeses, such as mozzarella, cottage cheese and soft goat cheese may be healthier options for your dog than those with higher fat content. If shopping for dog-healthy cheeses, also be sure to take a close look at the ingredients. Some cheeses contain herbs and vegetables, such as chives or garlic, both of which can be toxic to dogs.

Before deciding whether to give your dog an occasional cheese snack, consult your veterinarian. They'll be able to help you figure out if it's an appropriate treat and if so, what kind of cheese would be best for them. Always remember, that with any food separate from your dog's normal food — including dog treats — should never account for more than ten percent (10%) of your dog's daily caloric intake. Just like humans, too many calories can lead to weight gain, which can lead to a host of other health conditions.

Erin Ollila