Can Dogs Eat Cheese? Is Cheese Safe For Dogs?

Few things are more satisfying and delicious than cheese for us humans. Since our dogs so often show a special interest in it, we often wonder, is cheese safe for my pooch? The short answer is, yes, cheese is safe for most dogs. But you need to make sure your dog isn’t lactose intolerant, and it needs to be offered in moderation. We’ll discuss everything you need to know about feeding your pup cheese safely below.

Divider 8Why Would I Feed My Dog Cheese?

First, cheese is delicious, and we pretty much guarantee that your pooch will think so too. Meat and cheese are often the two kinds of food that dogs go crazy over most. Because cheese is so tasty, it can be a great treat for training or for spoiling your pup. Few things motivate our dogs to listen better than cheese!

Second, cheese is full of great nutrients including healthy fat, protein, vitamins, and calcium. In moderation, it can be a wonderful addition to your dog’s diet.

grated cheese
Featured Image Credit: Marco Verch Professional Photographer and Speaker, Flickr

Is Cheese Too Salty for Dogs?

There are a few reasons we suggest feeding your dog cheese in moderation, and one of the potential issues is the salt content. According to Pets WebMD, too much salt in your dog’s diet can lead to dehydration, sodium ion poisoning, and a slew of other digestive issues including vomiting and diarrhea.

Because many types of cheese have a lot of salt in them, it’s best to limit your pooch’s cheese intake to avoid complications. If you’re particularly worried about giving your dog too much salt, you can offer them cheese that is naturally lower in salt than others. Lower-sodium cheeses include cottage cheese, ricotta, parmesan, mozzarella, and swiss.

Is the Fat in Cheese Safe for Dogs?

Many people worry that the fat in cheese is unsafe for dogs. While there is quite a bit of fat in most cheeses, some fat in your dog’s diet is safe and necessary. Experts at PetMD maintain that fat isn’t a problem for dogs unless it’s eaten in excess, at which point it can cause weight gain and resulting joint issues.

Fat content is another reason cheese should only be given to your pup in moderation, as fat has more than double the calories per gram as protein and carbohydrates. It’s not that fat is unhealthy for your pooch, but rather it’s more calorically dense and therefore easier to cause uncharacteristic and unhealthy weight gain.

For this reason, you should limit your pup to a few small pieces of cheese a day sprinkled on their food or used as standalone treats.

beagle and cheese_igor normann_shutterstock
Credit: Igor Normann, Shutterstock

Aren’t Dogs Lactose Intolerant?

Many people believe that lactose intolerance is universal in the animal world and that dogs can’t digest lactose, the natural sugar in dairy products. However, according to the American Kennel Club, many dogs can process lactose normally just like we can.

If you are concerned with how your pup will process dairy, offer them a small amount of cheese and watch for any symptoms of lactose intolerance which include upset stomach, vomiting, discomfort, and diarrhea.

To be extra safe you can opt for a cheese that is naturally low in lactose. These include aged cheeses such as parmesan, cheddar, and swiss. No matter which cheese you offer your pup, you should still keep a close eye on them for any symptoms of digestive problems and consider taking them to the vet if they do experience issues.

dog looking at cheese
Image Credit: Izergil, Shutterstock

How Can I Serve My Dog Cheese?

As long as you’ve confirmed with your vet or can ensure that they can process lactose, giving your dog small bits of cheese is the best option. These can be little cubes or crumbles on their food or as a treat during training. Keep portions to a minimum — your pup only needs a small taste to enjoy it!

You can also use cheese as a cover for giving your dog medicine. When it’s time for their heartworm medicine or other pills, take just enough cheese to cover the pill, and smush the cheese around it. Your pup will be so excited to be getting a cheesy treat, they likely won’t even notice you’re sneaking in their medicine!

Divider 7The Bottom Line

Cheese is safe for most dogs in moderation. Some dogs are lactose intolerant, so when you do offer your pooch some cheese, you should watch for signs of an upset stomach or intestinal discomfort. If your pup processes cheese normally, feel free to give a few small bits of cheese to your furry friend each day as a part of their diet. Make sure not to overfeed your dog, as cheese is very high in calories and salt. While sodium and fat aren’t a problem in moderation, too much can lead to weight gain and other health problems.