It’s no secret that cheese is perhaps one of the most beloved, versatile and consumed of all the foods in the world, enjoyed in countless cultures and – of course – even across countless species.
Our beloved dogs certainly like to count themselves among that group, and because so many kinds of cheese boast such rich aromas and compelling flavours, pooches need next to no encouragement to get stuck in.
But when all is said and done, can dogs eat cheese, really – or is it doing them more harm than good?
Is cheese good for dogs?
In terms of taste, texture and all around nose appeal, dogs would likely tell us that cheese is definitely good for them, if they could!
However, as responsible dog owners, we each have a responsibility to know just what our dogs are enjoying as part of their diet – and whether it’s giving them the nutrition they deserve.
While cheese is unlikely to win an award for being the most healthy food for dogs – or for human beings, for that matter – there are definitely several perks to it beyond its flavour and moreish nature to consider.
For one thing, cheese is very rich in protein, and that’s always a wise element to include in your dog’s diet.
Protein helps reinforce and build muscles, but also keeps the fur and whiskers of your beloved dog looking clean, perky and fresh.
Protein is good for releasing energy in a healthy way, and it’ll work wonders for your dog when they exercise.
In fact, even if your dog is older and prefers to lounge his or her day away, protein can help to strengthen tired old muscles.
Cheese is also quite fatty though, and although this is often something to avoid in a dog’s diet, many experts and vets suggest cheese as a good way of building up some bulk on a dog who’s been under the weather or suffered a loss of appetite.
In fact, thanks once again the flavour and scent of cheese, it can be used to encourage dogs to eat if they’ve got bored of their same old meals day after day, or just seem disinterested in eating overall.
Of course, cheese is best used to complement a meal, rather than be the core component of it – dogs who overindulge in cheese might not feel very well, after all.
Dangers of cheese for dogs
One of the biggest dangers of dogs eating cheese is simply that they’ll become altogether too fond of it, and cajole their owner into handing over more.
It’s not always easy to say no to those big puppy dog eyes – and of course, some dogs are extra crafty, and simply go beg someone else in the family for what they want if one of their masters says no.
If a dog eats too much cheese, he or she is likely to feel pretty unwell, in much the same way a child might if they pigged out on ice cream to excess.
Tummy aches, gurgly belly sounds and a fair few whiffy smells coming from beneath the tail area can be expected from a dog who’s got an upset tummy from cheese.
Luckily, it’s not a very serious issue, unless they’re eating so much cheese this is more often the case than not.
If your dog seems to be responding quite often to cheese in a bad way, even to the extent of vomiting or making a mess when going for their toilet break, you might want to see if your vet can ascertain if there is an allergy or intolerance to lactose or other ingredients in cheese to consider.
Dogs who are lactose intolerant will have similar reactions of an upset tummy to other dairy products besides cheese
If you sense some common ground occurring between the food your dog eats and how frequently he or she seems to suffer a stomach ache, you might have found your culprit.
It’s important to note that certain blue cheese, or cheeses made with special kinds of mould as part of their makeup, should never be given to dogs.
Those kinds of moulds and substances are very bad for their digestion, and you might find your dog even iller than just an allergic reaction from cheese like that.
How much cheese can a dog eat daily?
If your they had his or her way, the amount of cheese a dog can eat per day would be as much as they thought they could reasonably get away with.
Dogs are just as inclined to favour cheese as people are, and are certainly of like mind with their masters in considering it something to include with as many meals as they can.
Yet cheese is best served up in cubes or slices, and certainly shouldn’t be handed out more than two or three a day at most.
If a dog gets too keen on cheese, he or she may well begin becoming more fussy about the other meals that are offered their way.
However you approach this, keep in mind that cheese shouldn’t be made into the central ingredient in any of your dog’s meals – it should rather be used to accent them at best.
Making sure that the fats and dairy content of cheese don’t overwhelm your dog’s system is very important, especially in quite young or old dogs.
Different breeds and sizes will likely react to eating cheese in different ways, so certainly use your better judgement here and divvy up the portions accordingly.
The best bet is not to consider cheese a daily treat for your dog, unless you’re intending to try and help him or her gain weight, but to instead keep it as what many experts call a high value treat.
In other words, when you’re really trying to motivate your dog to behave in his or her best way, or achieve a certain outcome in your training together, a chunk of cheese can prove incredibly motivating to your hound.
What to do if your dog eats cheese
However loving and loyal they may be, dogs have the most tenacious talent for making their own way to the food they’re quite convinced that they deserve.
Every dog owner has experienced the joys that come with finding out your dog has gone and eaten something they shouldn’t have – be it through sneaking into places they weren’t meant to go, or by begging treats of a well-meaning person around who didn’t know any better.
Nonetheless, dogs who eat cheese aren’t running any huge risks to their health in the long term – it all depends on the amount.
A few small scraps of cheese that fell on the floor when everyone was preparing dinner, for instance, are not going to do much harm.
Yet if your dog has somehow negotiated a block of cheese out of the refrigerators and is gulping it down in big snapping gobfuls, you’ve every right to feel a touch more concerned.
Although you’re likely pretty angry too, make sure your admonishment towards your dog doesn’t startle them too much – if a dog is eating a big chunk of food like a block of cheese, their risk of choking or eating too fast and causing themselves trouble is much higher.
If you know for a fact your dog is lactose intolerant, seek the help of your vet immediately, and possible try and induce vomiting in your dog yourself if you feel confident in doing so.
Your pet isn’t in a life or death situation, but certainly will be in pain if you don’t intervene.
Those without such intolerances and allergies will still find that eating too much cheese will cause their constitution to be tested though.
You can expect your dog to experience a very pronounced tummy ache, and it could well lead to vomiting if his or her system is feeling truly overloaded.
Remember, dairy and the kinds of fats found in cheese are quite a big deal for a dog’s digestive system to process, and sometimes their systems just give up and send it all back the way it entered.
Have some fresh water and maybe some dry food ready for our dog for when this happens – not as a reward, because your pet will definitely know they’ve misbehaved, and feel punished enough by the tummy upset.
Rather, it’s just a reminder that you have their best interests at heart.
Cheese, much likes dogs, comes in all shapes and sizes.
Almost every kind of cheese except those made with mould or blue colourations can be enjoyed by your dog, but remember that all treats like this should come in moderation.
Dogs often take to cheese very well, and they will certainly do their utmost to get a taste of it – which makes it a good incentive or reward for good behaviour, as long as you don’t overdo it.