It's commonly assumed that dogs are less discerning about their diet than their feline counterparts. In fact, it's not uncommon to hear tales from dog pawrents about the exciting and unexpected things their dogs love to eat, from dachshunds begging for carrots, beagles going crazy for boiled eggs, and even terriers obsessed with popcorn.
Many human foods will get your canine companion drooling, and it can be tough to resist sharing your snack with that sweet face and those puppy dog eyes.
But not all human foods are appropriate to share with your pooch. In addition, some human foods can be hazardous for your animal companions, and it's always best to be armed with the facts before making a potentially dangerous mistake.
Can dogs drink milk
Cats are usually the household pet associated with a saucer of milk, but what about dogs? Can dogs have milk, or is milk bad for dogs?
There's no hard and fast answer here. Dogs, like their humans, can be lactose intolerant — a condition where a lack of the enzyme lactase causes difficulty in digesting lactose in dairy. So how do you know if that puppucino at Starbucks or your local coffee shop is a no-go for your pooch?
The best would be to try a tiny amount of milk and see if your pup shows any signs of gastric upset. Look out for things like gas, bloating, vomiting, cramping, and diarrhea. If your dog seems to be okay with milk, then you can certainly go ahead and give this as an occasional treat if your dog seems to enjoy it.
For newborn puppies, you might want to get a powder milk replacer. It is a recommended food source for orphaned or rejected puppies suitable for their nutrition needs.
When you're trying out dairy products to ascertain whether your dog is intolerant to lactose, give them only a minimal amount of the product you're testing. This is because whole milk and dairy products can be very high in fat, and large quantities can trigger gastric symptoms, as well as lead to weight gain and pancreatitis, which can be fatal.
Lactose intolerance is common in dogs, but some dogs might have a better tolerance to certain dairy products like cheese and yogurt than they do to milk. If your dog reacts badly to dairy, it could also be a milk protein allergy, which is different from lactose intolerance.
Intolerance vs allergy
As stated by a study on food allergens in dogs, dairy products, alongside beef, chicken, and wheat, are prevailing food allergens in canines. While lactose intolerance is an inability to digest or process lactose, a milk protein allergy is an immune response to milk protein consumption.
Common symptoms of milk protein allergy include red and itchy skin, hair loss, excessive licking and scratching, frequent ear infections, and loss of appetite. However, it may also present a set of symptoms similar to lactose intolerance and can be challenging to diagnose. Consult your vet if you're concerned or unsure. You can contact a certified veterinarian online using Vet Chat.
Can dogs drink chocolate milk
But what if you supposedly share some chocolate milk with your pooch? Generally, you shouldn't feed your dog chocolate milk since it contains methylxanthines, which can also be found in caffeine.
Since caffeine and chocolate should never be a part of a dog's diet, abstain from dipping chocolate milk into your dog's bowl. If you want to share something sweet with your pup, consider healthier alternatives, like apples or watermelon (but only in moderation).
Can dogs drink kefir
Kefir is a powerful probiotic gaining load of press and popularity at the moment. It resembles yogurt but is made from fermenting grains that contain yeast, fungi, and bacteria that are beneficial for the body, particularly the gut.
Kefir can be made using water or milk. Cow, sheep, and goat milk are commonly used, but coconut water can be a substitute as well. The health benefits of kefir are impressive as it contains important vitamins and minerals that are needed for the body's optimal function – not just yours but your dog's too.
If you want to introduce some kefir into your dog's diet, start carefully. If your dog has other dietary considerations or any existing health conditions, it’s always best to chat with your vet before making any changes to your dog’s diet.
As a guide, small dogs should only be given around 1 teaspoon to one tablespoon of kefir, while larger breeds can have up to 3 tablespoons. Again, start small and increase your serving size gradually over time.
Can dogs eat yogurt
Dogs can have yogurt if they can handle lactose. It's a good source of protein, calcium, and probiotics, but it can also be high in fat and can sometimes contain ingredients that can harm your pup.
Is yogurt good for dogs? Plain, unsweetened yogurt is not harmful to dogs, but too much of it can cause gastric upset even in dogs that are not lactose intolerant. Too much high-fat yogurt can also lead to pancreatitis and weight gain over time, so pay attention to portion sizes.
Yogurt can be bad for dogs if it contains too much sugar. Not only is this bad for your dog's teeth, but just like in humans, it can lead to weight gain. An occasional lick shouldn't cause too many issues, but it's probably better to reach for unflavored plain yogurt with lots of beneficial live cultures instead.
Be aware that artificially sweetened yogurt is also not good for dogs. Sometimes yogurt is sweetened with xylitol, a common artificial sweetener, which is extremely toxic to dogs and should never be shared with them.
Can dogs eat whipped cream
Whipped cream is a popular topping for human treats, but is it good to share with your canine companion? Commonly made from sugar, cream, and sometimes vanilla flavoring, whipped cream is probably okay to give to your dog in tiny doses.
Whipped cream for dogs in large amounts can cause diarrhea, gas and bloating, and lead to weight gain if given too frequently.
Made almost entirely of fat and sugar, you can probably guess that you'll need to be very careful with serving sizes and frequency when it comes to giving whipped cream to your dog. Can dogs have whipped cream from a can? If you’re using whipped cream from a can, make sure to check for any xylitol which would make giving it to your dog a big no-no.
Of course, if your dog has reacted badly to other dairy products, try out a tiny amount of whipped cream first to see if the reaction occurs. Homemade whipped cream is always preferable to that in a can which is likely to contain preservatives and additives.
Can dogs eat butter
For years, humans have been debating whether butter is nutritionally good or bad, with many people choosing the middle ground and having it in moderation. But can dogs have butter, and is butter bad for dogs?
While butter for dogs is technically neither harmful nor toxic, it's not something that you should intentionally include in your dog's diet. If your pup makes off with a stick of butter while you weren't looking, don't panic. Your pooch may experience some unpleasant digestive issues after consuming so much fat, even if they aren't lactose intolerant, but these symptoms should pass after a while.
If such a situation does occur, keep a close eye on your dog. If their symptoms look severe or don't seem to ease, it may be better to get them to the vet to be safe. Dehydration can occur very quickly, especially in smaller breeds.
The problem with butter as a food for dogs is that it's not suitable for their diet being around 80% fat. As we've covered already, a high-fat diet can cause pancreatitis in your dog and will undoubtedly lead to weight gain, not to mention that butter can also contain too much sodium.
So, in short, the butter will add very little to your dog's nutrition other than saturated fats, which can cause gastric problems and weight gain. So avoid it if you can. Accidental consumption won't pose any immediate danger, but your pup should be monitored closely.
Can dogs eat cheese
Is cheese good for dogs? Cheese isn't harmful to dogs as an occasional treat. It is also a great training aid with puppies and a convenient way to sneak in any medication. But just because it isn't harmful doesn't automatically mean that dogs can have cheese without any consequences.
Remember the high fat content in most dairy products can be problematic for your pup, especially with regular consumption, which will lead to weight gain and pancreatitis. If you must, go for low-fat cheeses, cheese without too much salt, and those cheeses with lower lactose content.
Avoid any cheeses with herbs, flavorings, and other added ingredients. Things like garlic and onion are not suitable for dogs and must be avoided.
With so many cheese options on supermarket shelves, which ones are best?
Can dogs eat cottage cheese
Cottage cheese is a healthier option, not just for you but for your pup as well. This is because it's low in sodium and fat, alongside being much lower in lactose.
Cottage cheese for dogs is fine unless it is full of flavorings, spices, and herbs. Check the package to see what additives are there to decide if it is okay for your pooch.
Can dogs eat cream cheese
It might happen that your dog ate cream cheese. Don't panic. Plain cream cheese shouldn't pose too many problems in tiny doses, especially for dogs better at handling lactose. Remember to restrict frequency and portion sizes here to avoid weight gain and digestive issues.
But to answer the question if dogs can have cream cheese, take a look at the package first: look out for herbs and spices that don’t agree with dogs: onions, garlic, and chives.
Can dogs eat blue cheese
Blue cheese should never be given to dogs. The fungus used in cheese like stilton, Roquefort, and gorgonzola, among others, can produce a substance that dogs can be susceptible to. Consumption of these cheeses can cause fever, seizures, vomiting, and diarrhea.
The more of these cheeses your dog consumes, the more aggressive the symptoms will be. Therefore, if you notice your dog showing these symptoms after eating such cheeses, it's a good idea to contact your vet as soon as possible.
Can dogs eat string cheese
String cheese, like most other cheeses, is probably safe for your dog to eat occasionally. If your dog handles lactose well, it should be fine for you to share a few bites of string cheese.
Make sure to break the cheese up into a more manageable size for your dog, as it can pose a choking hazard to your dog.
The usual caution stands – keep portions small and infrequent to avoid weight gain. Also, remember that the high sodium in string cheese isn't good for your dog either.
Can dogs eat parmesan cheese
Hard cheeses like parmesan are usually much lower in lactose than softer cheese. Yet, parmesan does contain too much salt, making it a less desirable option for your canine.
If you take your dog diet really carefully, don't forget that managing sodium is a must. That being said, parmesan is not the best cheese you can feed your pup.
Can dogs eat mozzarella cheese
Mozzarella is lower in sodium, making it a better option for your dog. The good news is that mozzarella is also a lower fat option.
The only real downside to mozzarella as a snack for your pup is the rubbery texture which may be difficult for your dog to swallow. It's advisable to cut the cheese into smaller pieces to avoid choking.
Can dogs eat feta cheese
Feta cheese isn't the best option for your dog. Some makes of feta cheese are extremely high in lactose, while others are less so, and because it's almost impossible to tell which is which, it's best to avoid feta cheese for your dog.
In addition to high fat content, feta also contains too much sodium, which is not ideal for dog snacks. If your pup has a high blood pressure, it is a big no-no to share feta in any amounts. Also, feta sometimes contains herbs and added ingredients like garlic that aren’t suitable for dogs.
Can dogs eat goat cheese
Goat cheese contains almost as much lactose as cow's milk. But for some reason, goat's cheese seems to be easier to digest in both humans and dogs.
If your pup is lactose intolerant, you can try goat's milk and goat's cheese instead. Except for lower lactose content, goat cheese is also regarded as a low-fat cheese.
Can dogs eat Swiss cheese
Swiss cheese is one of the safer options to give to your dog. But, can dogs have Swiss cheese all the time, then? Even though it is lower in fat and lactose, it still should be a rare treat and not an everyday meal.
If you are choosing from high-fat cheeses and Swiss ones, stick to the latter since it is much easier on your pup's digestive system.
Can dogs eat cheddar cheese
Depending on how your dog tolerates lactose, cheddar cheese can be given as an occasional snack. Chedder cheese isn’t dangerous for your dog, but it isn’t the healthiest choice as far as snacks go – it’s high in fat.
The more mature the cheddar, the lower it is likely to be in lactose.
Can dogs eat gouda cheese
Gouda is slightly lower in lactose, making it a bit gentler on your dog's tummy, but the high fat content can counteract that minimal win if consumed in larger quantities.
Can does eat brie cheese
Brie is high in fat, particularly saturated fat, making it unhealthy for your dog to consume. So, the bad news is that brie should be avoided as a snack for your pup. The good news is there's more for you!
Can dogs eat ricotta cheese
Ricotta is one of the better options as a snack for your pooch in small quantities. It's lower in fat and lactose, making it a gentler version of the best cheese for dogs and their tummies.
As always, keep portions small and reserve this as an occasional treat rather than a frequent snack.
Can dogs eat ice cream
Here comes one of the most intriguing questions: can dogs have ice cream as a rare treat? You see, even if your canine companion copes well with lactose, ice cream for dogs should be approached with a degree of caution for a few reasons.
The first reason is the high sugar content which can quickly rack up the calories, especially in smaller breeds or less active older dogs. What seems to you like a small snack can quickly push your dog into a very substantial calorie surplus, sometimes even as much as a full day's worth of calories.
The second reason is that ice cream often contains other ingredients that are very dangerous for your dog. For example, chocolate ice cream and chocolate toppings are toxic to dogs and can cause serious problems. Raisins are equally hazardous for dogs and should be avoided at all costs. Some nuts used in ice cream and as toppings are highly harmful to your dog.
While chocolate ice cream is not the best option, what is the situation with other flavors? Can dogs have vanilla ice cream or strawberry one? Although the vanilla one is okay as a rare treat, you might want to consider a low-fat yogurt instead. It also comes in a frozen variation, making it a solid alternative to high-fat flavored ice creams.
Another reason not to share your ice cream with your dog is artificial sweeteners. Dogs and ice cream are more or less a fine duo unless you see that ice cream contains the artificial sweetener, xylitol. It should never be shared with your dog as xylitol can be fatal to canines.
Final thoughts on dogs and dairy
Dairy isn't a nutritionally complete snack for your dog, so it should only be included in your dog's diet as a rare treat, if at all. Your dog won't suffer at all if dairy is never included in its diet.
The most common problem with dairy products is lactose which may be a problem for your dog to digest. While not all dogs will experience lactose intolerance, some breeds are more prone than others. And determining this comes down to a process of trial and error to see what affects your pup's tummy and what doesn't.
It's never a good idea to include dairy as the main ingredient in your dog's diet, even if your dog handles lactose without any problems. Dairy is very high in fat and can lead to weight gain and even pancreatitis.
Always supervise your pup when introducing a new food, and always begin with a tiny amount. If you see any signs that your dog may be experiencing digestive upset or any other lactose intolerance or milk allergy symptoms, discontinue dairy.
As always, rely on your veterinarian to guide you in diet matters, especially if your dog is on medication or undergoing treatment for any existing condition.