Can Dogs Eat Cheese: Cheese’s Nutritional Value as a Dog Food

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When it comes to the safety of feeding cheese to dogs, the answer is yes and no. Cheese can be beneficial in small amounts.

As a protein source, it provides essential nutrients to your pet. So, a few bites will not hurt your canine companion.

A Jack Russell Terrier looking at a piece of cheese
A Jack Russell wants a piece of cheese

However, there are also some health risks to consider before feeding your dog cheese on a regular basis. After all, it is high in fat, calories, and sodium.

Because of this, we can safely say that there are healthier protein sources than this for your pooch since this can do more harm than good if given excessively.

Keep reading to discover more about how to feed your dog cheese, as well as the various benefits and risks of adding cheese to your pet’s diet.

What are the Benefits of Cheese for Dogs?

Cheese can be a great addition to your dog’s diet. Delicious and nutritious, here are the benefits of cheese for your dog’s health.

  1. Cheese can help picky dogs finish their meal in no time: Cheese is tasty and appealing to dogs. In fact, most trainers often use it as a motivating reward. Hence, if your pooch is a picky eater, you may want to try giving them cheese as a treat or adding it to their kibble. 
  2. Cheese provides protein to your dog: 100 grams of cheddar cheese contains about 25g of protein that your dog needs to support strong muscles and for his overall health and wellbeing.
  3. Essential fatty acids in cheese keep your dog’s skin healthy: They are a great natural source of omega-3 fatty acids. These essential fatty acids help keep your dog’s skin healthy and their coat shiny.
  4. Cheese makes a great training treat for your dog: Cheese makes a surprisingly tasty treat that can readily be given out when training or rewarding your pet. Most dogs love the taste, and small blocks of cheese are easily transported. 
  5. Cheese can help your dog recover from illness: Cheese also helps to make the administration of medicine easier as pills can be hidden in a block of cheese. In addition, cottage cheese has been said to help settle an upset stomach. Cheese can also be used to make prescription diets more interesting and flavorful.

What nutrients in cheese are beneficial for dogs?

Cheese is a great source of vitamins and minerals for dogs. Here are some of the nutrients that your dog can get from cheese.

  • Vitamin A: Cheese has around 1002 IU of Vitamin A per 100 grams, which supports good eyesight and a healthy immune system.
  • Vitamin K: Full-fat varieties of soft cheeses contain the highest amount of Vitamin K2. You can find about 12 micrograms of Vitamin K2 in a 50g block of cheddar. We can thank this essential nutrient for helping dogs metabolize calcium into the bones efficiently and aiding in proper blood clotting.
  • Calcium: 100 grams of cheddar cheese also contains 721 mg of Calcium, which promotes optimal bone and teeth health.
  • Vitamin B12: 100 grams of cheddar cheese contains 0.8 µg of Vitamin B12. As Vitamin B12 is not produced naturally, it must be obtained through your dog’s diet. This vitamin is important for your dog’s cell growth, burning fat, and the healthy development of the brain and central nervous system.
  • Phosphorous: Most cheeses contain between 120 and 250 mg of phosphorus per ounce, which is critical for the strong bones, joints, and mobility of your dog.
  • Zinc: One ounce of Swiss cheese contains about 1.2mg of zinc. Zinc plays a role in many bodily functions, including metabolism, immunity, and growth for dogs. It also helps to protect against cell damage and is necessary for proper wound healing.

What are the Health Risks of Cheese for Dogs?

A black dog looking at cheese
Iris, a black doggo, wants to try various types of cheese – Image source

Despite the benefits of cheese, it should not become a staple part of your dog’s diet because it does carry some health risks. 

  • Weight gain: Cheese is high in fat and calories, which can lead to weight gain and obesity if fed in large quantities. In addition, cheese may also cause gastrointestinal issues like pancreatitis in some dogs. For these reasons, it’s important to feed your dog cheese in moderation and to choose a low-fat variety.
  • Difficulty with digestion: Some dogs may struggle to digest dairy products, cheese included. This could result in constipation or gastrointestinal distress, lethargy, weakness, and abdominal pain. 
  • Choking: One of the biggest risks associated with cheese is choking. Because cheese is soft and pliable, it can easily get stuck in a dog’s throat. If a large enough chunk is swallowed, it could even block the airway, making it difficult for the dog to breathe. 
  • Poisoning: Cheese can actually be poisonous for our furry friends. Moldy cheese varieties, like blue cheese, can even lead to poisoning. So if you’re looking for a healthy treat for your dog, you might want to steer clear of the cheese plate. Else, avoid giving your dog any cheese that is past its shelf life.

What’s in cheese that is harmful to dogs?

If you’re thinking of adding cheese to your pet’s diet, there are some substances that cheese includes that you need to be aware of before you get cooking. 

  • Lactose: Like all dairy products, cheese contains lactose. Dogs don’t have as much lactase in their bodies as humans do, which means they can’t digest lactose products or dairy as well as we do. Too much lactose can cause some pets to suffer from diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea.
  • Cholesterol: 100 grams of cheddar cheese contains 105 mg of cholesterol. That said, cholesterol doesn’t have the same effect on canines as it does on humans. While excess cheese in your dog’s diet may lead to weight gain, it isn’t likely to cause the same heart disease and cholesterol problems as it would for humans.

Are fatty cheeses bad for dogs’ health?

Yes, high-fat cheeses are not good for your dog. Let us take cheddar cheese, for example. There are 9 grams of fat in just 28 grams of cheddar cheese.

For overweight dogs or prone to weight gain, consuming fatty foods like cheese can lead to health problems such as obesity, joint pain, diabetes, and pancreatitis.

So, while a little bit of cheese may not hurt your dog, it’s best to avoid giving them too much. Instead, resort to healthier alternatives for a protein source.

Is There Any Dog Breed Allergic to Cheese?

A sick Labrador Retriever puppy
A sick Labrador pup

No, there is no specific dog breed that is allergic to cheese. However, some dogs may have an allergic reaction to cheese or dairy products.

Diary is one of the more common allergies amongst pets due to its protein and lactose content which dogs struggle to digest.

Dogs who exhibit allergic reactions to cheese may suffer from constipation as well as experience diarrhea, vomiting, and skin infections.

Every dog is different, and some may be more sensitive to cheese than others. As with any new food, it’s important to introduce cheese slowly to your dog and watch for any adverse reactions.

If your dog seems to be allergic to cheese or dairy, you should talk to your veterinarian about how to best manage their diet. 

What Happens If Dogs Eat Too Much Cheese?

Cheese is certainly not the best thing for them to overeat.

As mentioned, the most common health problem associated with cheese is weight gain, which can increase your dog’s risk of obesity.

This, then, can lead to various health problems, including joint pain, diabetes, and heart disease. 

Another potential danger of feeding your dog cheese is pancreatitis. This is a serious condition that occurs when the pancreas becomes inflamed.

Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and loss of appetite. In severe cases, it can even be fatal. 

How Should Dogs Eat Cheese?

An Australian Shepherd dog eating cheese
Whisky, an Aussie Shepherd, takes a bite of cheese – Image source

If you cannot help but share a little bit of cheese with your dog, keep it at a minimum and only occasionally.

Opt for low-fat cheeses with less sodium and fat content that won’t lead to problems like obesity.

Good options for pets include cottage cheese, mozzarella cheese, Swiss cheese, cheddar cheese, and other soft cheeses.

Also, look for plain cheese that doesn’t have added condiments, such as salt, herbs, or spices. 

Is Cheese a Good Treat for Dogs?

Yes, cheese can be used as a rewarding treat for your dog during training.

You can try cutting small blocks of cheese or even making shapes using a cookie cutter and using these as a reward for your dog instead of regular dog biscuits. 

When should dogs eat cheese?

There is no specific time, day, or occasion when cheese is best given to your dog.

However, if you want to try sharing cheese with your dog for the first time, you can turn it into a special occasion on 4 June, which is National Cheese Day!

With regards to that, avoid feeding your dog cheese from your plate, especially commercial ones.

The fats, seasoning, and salt content in these products can be bad for their health in large quantities.

Additionally, this can develop into a bad habit if your dog becomes used to receiving food from the table. 

When should dogs not eat cheese?

If your dog shows signs of weight issues, vulnerabilities to pancreatitis, and dairy intolerance, it might be best to avoid feeding your pet cheese.

What are the Food Recipes Made with Cheese for Dogs?

It might seem strange to make food recipes with cheese for dogs, but cheese can actually be a healthy and delicious treat for your pooch.

In moderation, cheese can provide your dog with protein, calcium, and other essential nutrients. Just make sure your vet approves of it. 

A good option is cottage cheese, which you can use as an ingredient in a homemade dog food recipe.

For example, you could mix cottage cheese with cooked rice and boiled chicken for a tasty and nutritious meal.

Just be sure to avoid giving your dog too much cheese, as it can cause an upset stomach.

What are the Types of Foods Made With Cheese?

A Goldendoodle puppy whose mouth is smeared with cheese
Maddie, a Goldendoodle pup, makes it evident that she likes cheese – Image source

Are you wondering if certain human foods made with cheese are safe for sharing with your dog?

Take a deeper look at the following food products made with cheese to see if your dog’s tummy will be happy with it.

1. Cheesecake

Cheesecake should not be given to dogs. While delicious for humans, this sweet treat is way too sugary for your dog.

Also, many cheesecakes contain artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives which can cause allergies in dogs.

2. Cheese Popcorn

Dogs can eat cheese and popcorn, so what about cheese popcorn? Although cheesy popcorn may be tasty, you should avoid feeding this to your dog.

The cheese flavor added to this popcorn is not actual cheese but a mix of salt, oils, flavorings, and milk products unsuitable for your dog.

3. Cheese Crackers

Cheese crackers are typically made with rice, corn, or wheat and so are safe for your pet to consume.

That said, your dog should only be given the rare cheese cracker on occasion.

These tasty treats are high in calories, salt, and dairy, so they are not good for your pet in large quantities. 

4. Cheese Curds

Cheese curds are the young curds of cheese, often cheddar. They are soft in texture, similar to cottage cheese.

Your dog can enjoy cheese curds in small amounts. They are a great source of protein and calcium and tend to contain less lactose.

5. Cheese Puffs

Commercially made cheese puffs will be full of fat and sugar and should be avoided.

If your dog consumes too much fat and sugar, he may experience diarrhea. In some cases, these may trigger symptoms of pancreatitis. 

6. Cheeseburgers

Believe it or not, your dog can eat cheeseburgers. Plain hamburger meat that doesn’t contain any added salt, garlic, onion, or spices, is a good source of protein for your pooch.

Add some cheese on top, and you have a delicious snack that even the pickiest of pups will love.

7. Cheese Balls

Dogs can eat cheese balls but only if served plain.

Cheese balls shouldn’t contain any added garlic or onion, which can be toxic for dogs, while dipping sauces like mustard, mayonnaise, and vinegar, are also not healthy choices for canines.

8. Cheese Sticks

Your dog can eat cheese sticks again if they aren’t made with any ingredients that pose danger to dogs, such as garlic, onions, and chives.

You should also avoid feeding your dog too many cheese sticks as the extra fat and calories can lead to several health issues such as obesity and heart disease.

9. Cheese Rind

It’s best to avoid feeding your dog cheese rind. Some cheese rinds contain mold, which can be toxic to your pet, while others include wax that your pet won’t be able to digest.

Soft cheese rinds, as you find on camembert or brie, can be fed to your dog but only in very small amounts. 

10. Mac and Cheese

Dogs can safely eat mac and cheese, although you should avoid feeding this to your pet too often.

Macaroni and Cheese don’t hold any true nutritional value for your pet.

Although tasty, they have a lot of fat which can cause numerous health issues for your dog. 

Is Cooked or Raw Cheese Better for Dogs?

Dogs can eat cheese as it is or cook it into a variety of delicious recipes. If cooked, it should be without added seasoning, herbs, and flavorings.

Also, it should have been allowed to cool completely to avoid burning your dog’s mouth.

Foods That Can Be Mixed with Cheese for Dogs

A Labrador Retriever puppy eating peanut butter
Tony, a fox red Lab pup, eats peanut butter off a spoon – Image source

You can share cheese with your dog as it is.

However, if you want to make his meals more yummy and appealing, it’s best to mix them with other dog-friendly food when preparing his food bowl.

With the list below, you can check which food will do the trick! 

1. Eggs

One popular option is to mix cheese with egg, which is safe for your dog.

This combination provides a high-quality protein source for your dog, as well as a good amount of essential fatty acids.

If you want to spoil your dog occasionally, you can add this combo as a topper over his kibble.

2. Bread

Rice is completely safe for your dog to eat, and a cheese and bread mixture can make a great topper for your dog’s kibble.

You preferably want to look for brown bread, which offers your dog more fiber and complex carbohydrates for their diet and is more nutritious than refined white bread.

3. Peanut Butter

Dogs can safely eat small amounts of peanut butter with cheese as a treat.

However, choosing a peanut butter that doesn’t contain xylitol is important, as this sweetener can be toxic to dogs. 

In addition, peanut butter with cheese can be high in fat and calories, so it’s best to limit treats to less than 10% of your dog’s daily diet.

4. Bacon Rolls

Bacon rolls are a popular snack for humans. However, these are very high in both fat and salt, which is not ideal for pets.

Most bacon roll recipes include onion, butter, as well as spices such as garlic powder and pepper, which are all dangerous for your pooch.

Bacon is also loaded with fat and salt, which is unhealthy for canines. Hence, opt for a better option.

5. Popcorn

Plain, air-popped popcorn is okay for your dog to eat and, like cheese, makes a great training treat.

Do, however, stay away from buttered popcorn or cheese-flavored popcorn containing chemicals your dog shouldn’t consume. 

Types of Cheese That Can Be Given to Dogs

A Scottish Terrier eating cheese
Angus, a Scottish Terrier, munching on a cheese – Image source

There are many varieties of cheese, some of which are safe for your dog and others that dogs can’t eat.

You can also try playing around with different cheese varieties to see which one appeals to your pet the most. 

1. Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese is one of the healthiest choices to feed your pet. It is a great source of calcium and protein and typically contains less salt and lactose.

You can also readily find low-fat options that are better for your dog.

2. Cream Cheese

While cream cheese is not poisonous to dogs, it’s not an ideal food for them either. Cream cheese is high in fat and calories, leading to weight gain and indigestion in dogs.

In addition, many brands of cream cheese contain onions and garlic, which can be harmful to dogs. For these reasons, avoiding giving your dog cream cheese is best.

If you decide to give your dog a small amount of cream cheese, monitor them closely for any signs of digestive distress.

3. Mozzarella Cheese

Mozzarella is much lower in fat and salt than some other cheeses and so is a good option to feed your dog.

It also has a soft texture and is less likely to cause your pet to choke than some other hard cheeses.

4. Cheddar Cheese

One of the most popular and commonly found cheeses, cheddar, is also safe for your dog to consume in moderation.

It also contains less lactose than some other very mature cheeses.

5. String Cheese

String cheese is another soft cheese that is safe for your dog to consume in moderation.

As string cheese tends to have a high-fat content, look for a low-fat option and try to get one with as few preservatives as possible. 

6. Parmesan Cheese

Aged cheeses like parmesan contain lower quantities of lactose and are thus less likely to cause an upset stomach than some full-fat cheeses.

Just be sure to grate parmesan before serving, as this is a very hard cheese.

7. Blue Cheese

Blue cheese or moldy cheeses like Roquefort and stilton should never be given to your dog.

The mold on these cheeses causes a mycotoxin called Roquefortine C to develop, which is very toxic for dogs

8. Feta Cheese

Feta cheese shouldn’t be given to your dog. This cheese has a very high-fat content and too many calories for your dog.

Feta cheese also has elevated levels of sodium, and more lactose content than other cheeses, so it is more likely to cause an upset stomach.

9. Goat Cheese

Goat’s milk contains more lactose than cow’s milk and so goat’s cheese is more likely to make your dog sick than cow’s milk cheeses.

Goat’s cheese also has a very high-fat content and is best avoided.

10. Swiss Cheese

Low in lactose and fun for pets, Swiss cheese makes a great training treat for your pet.

It also comes pre-loaded with holes where you can hide medicines or other titbits for your dog to find.

Are foods made with cheese safe for dogs?

Cheese is a common ingredient in many human foods, including muffins, cheese pudding, and baked macaroni and cheese.

However, it’s not always safe for dogs because these foods often contain fat, salt, and sugar, which can harm dogs in large quantities.

In general, it’s best to err on the side of caution and avoid giving your dog any cheese-based human foods.

While dogs require a certain amount of fat, too much of it can lead to obesity and pancreatitis. Too much salt can cause dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.

Excessive sugar, on the other hand, may lead to stomach upset as well as contribute to weight gain, diabetes, and dental issues.

Are dog foods made with cheese healthier for dogs?

Although cheese offers various nutrients to your dog, if you are feeding your pet a balanced diet, there is no need to add it to his diet. This is because it also carries health risks for him.

If you’re keen to give him the same nutrients cheese has, you’re better off with dog-friendlier options that offer these.

What is the Amount of Cheese that Dogs can Consume a Day?

A Greyhound receiving cheese as a treat
Ernie, a Greyhound, accepts cheese as a treat – Image source

Just like with people, moderation is key when it comes to feeding cheese to dogs. Cheese can be a great treat for dogs, but it’s also high in fat and sodium.

Hence, it should be given only in moderation. 

A good rule of thumb is the 10% rule, which indicates no more than 10% of a dog’s daily caloric intake should come from treats.

Also, it will be best for your dog to give low-fat cheese options such as mozzarella, soft goat cheese, or cottage cheese. 

The specific amount of cheese your dog can consume in a day will depend on factors such as their age, health, and size.

Hence, to ensure you’re giving him the right amount, it’s best to consult your vet before making cheese as an occasional addition to your pooch’s diet.

What are the Dog Food Recipes that contain cheese?

If you want to make life extra cheesy (pun intended!) for your dog, one way to show your love is to make homemade treats that include cheese as an ingredient.

Let us share some easy-to-follow recipes that will make delicious snacks for your pooch.

  1. Cheddar cheese dog treats
  2. Carrot and cheese dog treats
  3. Peanut butter cheddar dog bones

What are the dog food products that contain cheese?

If you’d rather spend quality time with your dog than grating cheese for them, worry not! You can still add cheese into his diet through dog food that features it.

The following are some of the commercial dog food products loved by most dogs:

  1. Purina Moist & Meaty Burger with Cheddar Cheese Flavor Dry Dog Food
  2. Blue Buffalo Divine Delights Bacon, Egg & Cheese Pate Dog Food Trays

If you think your dog is not quite ready to have a change in dog food yet, you can start by giving him commercial dog treats that include cheese during training.

Let us give you some recommendations:

  1. Blue Buffalo Health Bars Baked with Bacon, Egg & Cheese Dog Treats
  2. Greenies Pill Pockets Cheese Flavor Dog Treats

Can Dogs Eat Derivatives of Cheese?

While dogs are known for their versatile stomachs, they have indiscriminate eating habits. They’ll pretty much try anything that appeals to them.

While dogs can eat cheese, it’s still important to be mindful of the type and amount of cheese you give your fur baby and the places you store these. 

Whole cheese can be hard for dogs to digest, so it’s best to give them small pieces or shreds.

You should also avoid giving your dog cheese that has a strong flavor or odor, as this can cause digestive upset.

Finally, dogs should never eat the rind of cheese. Not only is this hard to digest, but this may also cause gastrointestinal issues.

If your dog gets his hands on a harmful kind or form of cheese, watch out for any symptoms of blockages or gastrointestinal distress.

If trouble calls for it, get in touch with your vet immediately.

What diseases can cheese help in dogs?

If your dog suffers from any of the following diseases, try sharing cheese with them. However, make sure to not overdo it.

  • Underweight dogs: Dogs who are underweight can be helped by giving them cheese. The food has a high-calorie content which can help these dogs to gain weight. Cheese also contains a lot of fat, which is essential for these dogs in order to maintain their body temperature and get their muscles working. 
  • Bone disease: Cheese is a great source of calcium for elderly dogs and thus can assist dogs that suffer from brittle bones.

What are other Foods That Dogs Can Eat Similar to Cheese?

If your dog does not approve of cheese, you can go for other sources of protein that will make a great treat for your dog.

  • Chicken is lean meat that provides protein, which helps build lean muscle mass. Moreso, it’s packed with Omega 6 fatty acids essential for healthy skin and coat.
  • Peanut Butter is a good source of healthy fats and vitamin E, which are important for a healthy coat. Niacin, another nutrient found in peanut butter, helps keep the digestive system healthy. 
  • Turkey, another lean meat, is a novel protein source often used as an alternative to chicken for dogs allergic to the latter. Turkey also delivers riboflavin and phosphorous, which are essential in dogs’ digestion and bone health. 
  • Duck is another lean protein source that is easy to digest, which is a good option for active dogs and those with sensitive stomachs. Moreover, it is rich in iron, which is necessary for optimal blood circulation.

So, Can My Dog Eat Cheese?

Yes, dogs can eat cheese, but only occasionally and in moderation.

It is a good source of protein and vitamins, given that it’s free from additional seasoning and condiments as well as not mixed with ingredients that are harmful to dogs.

However, too much cheese can lead to weight gain and pancreatitis. It’s also a choking hazard, so it’s important to make sure your dog doesn’t eat too much at once.

Hence, offering it in small, manageable pieces, not just in amount, is crucial.

If you do decide to give your dog cheese, be sure to choose a healthy, low-fat variety and not the moldy kind. And as with any new food, introduce it slowly to avoid stomach upset.

Finally, if you have any concerns about feeding your dog cheese, always check with your veterinarian first.

Does your dog beg for cheese? How does your furry child enjoy it? Share his experiences in the comments below!

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