Getting healthy goodness into the family can come from so many different kinds of food, that it can be confusing to try and keep up.
For the pet owners among us, that is especially true – not least since dogs have so many different dietary needs than we human beings.
A responsible dog owner always researches introducing new food to their pet’s eating habits. And with that being so, can dogs eat yogurt? What are the pros and cons? Let’s find out.
Is yogurt good for dogs?
It’s good to always double-check if what benefits us benefits our canine companions, but also to check those foods we as human beings have added extra things to enhance their flavor or make food last longer.
These are often the parts of food that pose the biggest risk for dogs and other pets – the additives that they’d not come across in the natural world.
With that in mind, it’s best to consider plain, unflavoured yogurt as the best bet when it comes to feeding yogurt to your dogs.
That’s because added sugars, flavorings and even sweeteners like the toxic xylitol can bring all sorts of health complications to your pet’s life.
Even as a treat, we want our dogs to enjoy all the benefits of yogurt without experiencing any nasty drawbacks that could come from additives – to say nothing of giving dogs too much sugar.
There are lots of things present in yogurt that are good for dogs, but please keep in mind that the lactose content of yogurt can make it tricky for dogs to digest.
Because of that, you’re wise to try and limit how much yogurt you give your pets, to avoid inducing any upset stomachs or other digestive difficulties.
However, yogurt is naturally enriched with both calcium and protein, both of which are as good for your dog as they would be for their human masters.
Calcium promotes solid bones and teeth, helping them not only to grow but also to remain strong against any knocks and bumps life might offer your pet along the way.
Strong bones often lead to a long and healthy life, and our more elderly pets also benefit from calcium because it reinforces their aging bones all the more.
Likewise, protein is important to dogs of all ages, from growing pooches whose muscles are just getting ever more powerful, to elder dogs who are seeking that extra strength they need to trot around and enjoy a healthy lifestyle without so many aches and pains.
Protein is superb for healing up injuries and empowering your pup to make the most of every day.
Yogurts are also often able to add some probiotic perks to your dog’s overall health and wellbeing, and also aids in digestion – although unfortunately not enough to offset the lactose content in yogurt overall.
That said, if you’re able to favor Greek yogurt for a dog or yogurts with lots of live cultures inside, you’ll find their lactose content tends to be lower than others you might find on the market.
Dangers of yogurt for dogs
While the advantages of giving your dog yogurt are plentiful, there are also a fair few risks to keep in mind.
Your dog’s digestive system is very different to your own, and they are capable of handling some kinds of food that no human could – but likewise, find much of what experts call ‘people food’ to be very difficult to deal with sometimes.
Many of the dangers of giving dogs yogurt come from its dairy and lactose content.
Beyond the age of being a puppy, dogs seriously slow down on the lactose and dairy front, eventually finding all such things quite difficult to digest and deal with day to day.
While not overly dangerous, you might find bouts of indigestion can occur in dogs eating yogurt, not to mention some vomiting, diarrhea and a few strange gurgling sounds coming from within them.
Embarrassingly enough, this can also give your pooch a nasty case of gas too, so watch out for that!
However, an added caveat to all this is that the dairy content of yogurts comes into your pet’s digestive system as fats that are rather difficult to break down.
While those worried about their dogs being underweight can indeed do well dishing out a little yogurt to help them bulk up, it also doesn’t take long for a healthy pup to pile on the pounds if they’re lapping up yogurt too often.
Over the long term, dogs with high levels of fat in their diets need to be extra careful.
Not only can it cause severe weight gain, ultimately leading to instances where obesity or even diabetes can become a much bigger risk, but it can also cause pancreatic complications.
Issues that arise with your dog’s pancreas can be dire, even life-threatening – but luckily, you’d need to be severely mistreating your pet and feeding them a very poor and fatty diet to run that risk.
How much yogurt can a dog eat daily?
Although there are health benefits like protein and calcium to be had in yogurt, by and large, your dog is able to gain these perks through eating things more regularly suited to them – without the complications that the lactose and dairy content of yogurt bring.
Because of that, yogurt should be a sparing treat or a dessert topper for your dog, and certainly not given in more than a teaspoon or so per day at the absolute most.
It’s best to treat yogurt as a very occasional treat for your pet, to avoid them expecting it or taking it for granted they’ll get it, as much as their healthy lifestyle overall.
Remember also that this is especially the case if the yogurt you’re giving your dog has got added sugars in it – and remember, the artificial sweetener xylitol should be avoided at all costs.
By no means ought yogurt be made the central focal point of any dog’s dinner – even if that dog is very elderly and has a poor appetite for most of anything else. It would, unfortunately, do far more harm than good.
It’s always a good idea to watch your dog closely whenever he or she tries something new – especially puppies and very young dogs, or small and sensitive breeds.
After introducing a small amount of yogurt to your dog’s day, watch for any signs of wind, indigestion or stomach upset.
If your dog shows any signs of this, it’s your cue to recognize you may have accidentally given him or her too much – or maybe that he or she is very lactose intolerant to all dairy overall.
What to do if your dog eats yogurt
Once dogs learn of a tasty new snack, you can bet your bottom dollar they’re going to use any means to get it if they want it.
Even the most well behaved, loyal and seemingly innocent dog will push his or her luck getting to some goodies from time to time.
However it thereby arises, you might find that you’ve caught your dog eating yogurt and are worried he or she has eaten far too much of it.
This is only an emergency if it’s a yogurt brand that you know is high in artificial flavors or preservatives – or more pressingly, xylitol, the sweetener that is most toxic to dogs, even fatal.
If you think this is the case, definitely contact your vet immediately.
If this is instead a more healthy probiotic yogurt that your dog has rather naughtily decided to help themselves to, first identify how and where your pet sourced this sneaky treat to ensure he or she isn’t able to get into places they shouldn’t in the future.
Work out how much yogurt has been eaten, and from there, plan to see if your dog is going to have an upset tummy.
If your dog has cleared out a whole multipack of yogurts, or several tubs of it, it’s wise to go to your vet and see if they can provide any comfort or medication to help a dog who’s likely to suffer quite the upset stomach going forward.
If not too much yogurt is consumed, you might just have a gassy, ashamed and bellyaching dog on your hands.
Give him or her lots of water, but also let them know that sneaking food like this is crossing a boundary. Help them recover – your dog will more than likely want to sleep off the discomfort of a tummy ache – and help your pooch never make this mistake again.
The protein, calcium, and probiotics in yogurt give some surprisingly strong health benefits to dogs if you feed it to them, but those are offset by a high amount of lactose, dairy and often sugar or flavorings.
As such, yogurt is best given very sparingly indeed to your dog, and certainly not as a regular part of a well-balanced diet.
Emily started this blog out of pure passion. She LOVES her 3 dogs; Chew Barka, Cooper & Nelson, and spends countless hours every day playing with them.
When she’s not nerding out on dogs, you’ll find her on a snowboard or in the kitchen baking chocolate brownies.
She’s been featured in PetAware, Dogtime, and ModernDog.