Can Dogs Eat Cheese?

Dogs, Dogs Diet

Last Updated - December 12, 2023

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We as humans sure love eating cheese, and it can be hard to resist those puppy dog eyes from our furry friends. But as pet parents, we have to ask ourselves, can dogs eat cheese? Is cheese bad for dogs? The cheese itself isn't toxic to dogs, but it may not be a good idea to feed your dog cheese indiscriminately. Not all cheeses are the same, and not all dogs are either. Here are some things to keep in mind.

Yes, Dogs Can Eat Cheese!

Dogs can eat cheese, and it's a great option as a nourishing treat. Cheese is filled with many beneficial nutrients, such as protein, calcium, zinc, phosphorus, essential fatty acids, vitamin A and B complex vitamins. However, these are all nutrients a dog should be getting from their regular diet anyway, so it's not crucial to add cheese to their diet.

It's great to use cheese as a high-value reward training treat, as it will often motivate a dog even in the midst of lots of distractions. It's also handy to hide medications that your dog might otherwise reject - although antibiotics can bind to calcium and be harder to absorb. Most dogs love cheese and enjoy it as an occasional reward.

But Cheese Can Be Bad For YOUR Dog

Cheese may not be all that great for dogs. Cheese can be a health concern if eaten too much and put your dog at health risk:

Lactose Intolerant

Dogs can be lactose intolerant, just like humans. Lactose intolerance is an inability to digest lactose, which is a sugar that occurs naturally in milk and dairy products. Some dogs are more lactose intolerant than others, but all cases typically result in loose stool and bad gas. If you don't know how your dog is digesting lactose, it's best not to assume they can handle cheese. Offer a small amount of low-lactose cheese and keep an eye out for any dangerous reactions.

High Sodium

Cheese also can be harmful if eaten in large amounts. Cheese is high in sodium, which can lead to high blood pressure. And dogs with kidney disease should avoid cheese, as sodium levels can exacerbate kidney damage. It's important to practice moderation with cheese. As delicious as your dog thinks it is, it's not worth dealing with health issues later.

High Fat

Cheese also has a high-fat content. Overeating cheese can lead to weight gain, obesity, and pancreatitis. If you plan to feed cheese as a snack to your dog, avoid high-fat cheeses. Low-fat cheeses with low salt are always the best choice.

Which types of cheese can dogs eat?

Can Dogs Eat Cream Cheese?

Whether or not dogs can eat cream cheese will depend on the type. Since cream cheese is unripened, it has more lactose than other types of cheese. Cream cheese also contains cream, meaning that it has extra fat and lactose. It's best to avoid feeding cream cheese to your dog. If you must, be sure to choose a plain cream cheese, and avoid any options that have added chives, onions, or garlic.

Can Dogs Eat Cottage Cheese?

Cottage cheese is lower in sodium and fat, making it one of the dogs' more healthful cheese options. Its bland flavor makes it a great food option for dogs recovering from stomach upset. Low fat cottage cheese is a great option for smearing on any of the boredom-busting toys available.

Can Dogs Eat Blue Cheese?

Blue cheese, and any of the other "moldy" cheese types, contain a fungus that produces a substance called roquefortine C. This is toxic to dogs, causing diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and seizures. The risk of these symptoms is higher if your dog eats a large amount of cheese. If you notice any of these signs after feeding your dog blue cheese, take your dog to the vet immediately.

Best to avoid feeding blue cheese to your dog!

Can Dogs Eat Parmesan Cheese?

It's possible that your dog won't even consider eating parmesan cheese due to its sharp odor. While parmesan cheese is much lower in lactose than other types of cheeses, it is also much higher in sodium. Between the sodium and the smell, it's a poor choice for dogs.

Can Dogs Eat Swiss Cheese?

Swiss cheese is a ripened cheese with a lower lactose content than some other cheeses. And this makes swiss cheese a good choice for dogs, in moderation.

Can Dogs Eat String Cheese?

String cheese is mozzarella cheese that has been processed so that the proteins align, making it stringy. It has low levels of both salt and lactose, making it a great cheese option for dogs. However, the stringiness can make it difficult to swallow, especially for young puppies. String cheese also tends to have high-fat content. Be sure that you cut it into small, bite-sized pieces and go for a low-fat cheese option.

Can Dogs Eat Soft Goat Cheese?

Goat's milk contains more lactose than cow's milk, so any type of cheese made from goat's milk will have a higher level of lactose.

Some Ways To Serve Cheese To Your Dog

Cheese shouldn't ever be the main part of your dog's diet, as your dog's main diet consists of balanced dog food. But this doesn't mean you can't feed cheese as an occasional treat. Still, with the large variety of cheeses out there offering some nutritional benefits, you can have some fun feeding cheese to your dog. Here are some ideas.

  • Serve a small amount of low-fat cottage cheese alongside your dog's usual food serving, or combine them together.
  • Melt together a cheese sauce and pour a small amount over the hard kibble. This is particularly helpful for puppies that may struggle to digest kibble, as the sauce will soften it.
  • Slice up mozzarella, cheddar, Swiss, or string cheeses into small cubes and use them to help teach your dog a new skill.
  • Combine equal parts of cottage cheese and cooked white rice to help ease a dog's sick stomach.
  • Smear cottage cheese over a toy designed to slow down eating and relieve boredom.
  • Use cheese to conceal medication or add flavor to prescription food. However, check with your veterinarian first as some prescription diets depend on strict observance, with no added foods.

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About the Author

Doctor of veterinary medicine with extensive experience in animal welfare with a strong interest in feline medicine and plans to pursue ABVP-Feline specialty board certification. A key member of many local veterinary associations and avid reader of animal related science journals and studies.