Many people wonder if cheese, as a dairy product, is good or bad for dogs. Well, it all depends on how much cheese you give your dog. Like everything else - moderation is the norm. Read on and find out more...
Dogs love cheese, and cheese is a rather common dog treat ingredient.
But is cheese a healthy food ingredient for dogs?
If we look at the nutritional value of cheese, we can understand that cheese is a very nutritious food. It is rich in protein, calcium, and vitamins (A, D, E, K, and B complex), so it can actually provide broad-based nutrient support to dogs.
But wait a minute, cheese contains cow's milk, right? Dogs do not have the enzyme to digest milk!
That's true, but because cheese contains bacteria that help break down the lactose in the milk, cheese actually contains much lesser amounts of lactose than milk. Depending on the type of cheese, it usually contains 30 to 40 times less lactose than milk.
Let's put this into some form of perspective: one serving (one cup) of whole milk contains 11 grams of lactose, whereas one serving (1/2 cup) of cottage cheese contains only about 3 grams, and one serving (one ounce) of Swiss or American cheese contains 1 gram. And hard, aged cheese such as cheddar? Very little - close to zero gram!
So if you choose a cheese that contains little or no lactose (e.g. cheddar) for your dog, she stands a much better chance to tolerate it without developing stomach problems commonly associated with lactose intolerance, such as bloat and gas, or even diarrhea and vomiting.
However, having said that, all dogs are different and some are particularly sensitive when it comes to food, so if you are feeding cheese to your dog for the first time, give just a little bit and observe carefully if there is any bad reaction.
Probiotics are the "friendly" bacteria that help support gut health and digestion, and they are essential if you want your dog to have a strong immune system.
Like yogurt, certain cheeses are rich in probiotics. One type of cheese that contains probiotics is aged cheese such as cheddar cheese. Hey, cheddar also contains little or no lactose, right? It's a win-win for dogs!
If your dog is reading this page, he will definitely be grinning with joy up to this point, as it appears that cheese, such as cheddar, is a good dog treat candidate. But alas (and here is the not-so-good news for Fido), cheese is high in fat content, so we cannot give too much to dogs, especially those who are prone to pancreatitis.
The bottom line? Everything in moderation! A bit of cheese once in a while as a special, high-value treat is totally no problem. Every day? I wouldn't do so. (Did I hear a collective sigh from the dog community just now?)
Of course, cheese can be added to dog treat recipes for yummy dog biscuits and muffins. You can also use cheese to make yummy icing.