Dogs have been an integral part of human societies for as long as we can remember. They have followed humanity in our path of development since the time they helped in the hunting process thousands of years ago and remained a loyal servant and a friend to this day on. Today, we tend to see them instead as another family member then “only” as a pet.
Due to that, we take good care of them, how they look, feel, and take care of what they can eat. Lack of knowledge or misinformation, in this case, can cause harm.
It is widely known for a fact that if your pet dog eats chocolate, he could well quickly get sick, have serious health issues, or even results in death. But, what’s the situation like with cheese?
First of all, we have to determine several aspects of this question; for starters, what type of dog are we talking about and what kind of cheese are we discussing?
Type of Dog
Like different humans, a variety of dogs, due to the specifics of their breed, have different reactions to cheese and especially, to the lactose, as its inevitable part and potential side effect. And like some humans are lactose intolerant, some types of dogs have more or less trouble with digesting it. But what is lactose at all, and why is it problematic for both humans and animals?
According to an article from the Science Direct, “Lactose is one of the main constituents of human and animal milk… As a disaccharide consisting of glucose and galactose, lactose acts as an energy-carrier in milk. And when regarding its intolerance, from witch 2/3 of the world’s population suffer (according to the same survey) the situation is pretty clear. “Lactose intolerance is the inability to break down a type of natural sugar called lactose.”, So here is what you should know: “You become lactose intolerant when your small intestine stops making enough of the enzyme lactase to digest and break down the lactose.”
As for humans, the same in a certain way, go for the dogs. But, as mentioned before, there are far more species of dogs then there are different “varieties” of humans, so different dogs react differently to lactose, as one of the critical ingredients of the cheese you wish to feed or treat them with. Just to be sure, what you should do is visit DogFoodAdvisor and type in the specific breed of your dog and see its immunity to lactose (or the lack of it for that instance).
Type of Cheese
Now, what about the variety of cheeses out there? Just like different types of dogs react differently to lactose, different kinds of cheeses cause different reactions after consumption.
The type of cheese is essential, indeed. For instance, different types produce more or less CO2 emissions as side effects of the consumption. Furthermore, the firmness of the cheese is also an important factor, due to the amount of milk needed for its production. Adding more liquid to its production and the other way around if the cheese is hard. Other specifics that matter is how old the cheese is etc. Let’s analyze for a moment some of the most common and most popular types of cheese out there:
Mozzarella is a semi-soft cheese. Made from cow or buffalo milk, this cheese is from the south of Italy and it is among the most popular cheeses. It ages well unlike most of the cheeses but is also high on lactose, so you shouldn’t have problems with treating your pets with it, as long as you don’t give them too much and they aren’t lactose intolerant.
Cottage cheese is a soft cheese that originates from the United Kingdom and the USA. It can be eaten alone or as an addition to the main course or with some fruit, toasts, salad, etc. It is generally considered a low-lactose food, high on calcium and protein, but also calories. Avoid giving it to your canine if it has weight issues.
We made a list of our favorite cottage cheeses, just in case you go on to serve your loved one the best cottage cheese out there.
Parmesan, Swiss, Cheddar
These cheeses age well and are low on lactose so they are good to go.
Cheese as a Placebo and Help in Training
Dogs like humans sometimes have to take necessary medics, as they might have a fear or repulsion toward swallowing pills. Therefore, placebos and medics “hidden” inside the food can come in handy in those situations.
Cheese, in this situation, serves as a place to hide the pill your dog needs to swallow. So you can just hide it inside a slightly bigger piece of cheese. Also, cheese is widely used as a prize for a task well done for a dog during its training, to stimulate the famous Pavlov reflex which was first tested and proven right precisely on dogs, in his experiment known as Classical conditioning.
Positive effects of eating cheese
As for humans, for dogs alike, cheese has indisputable positive sides. It is an excellent source of calcium, fat, protein, vitamins A and B-12, zinc, phosphorus, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin K-2… Plus, most dogs love cheese, and those who don’t, well, they’ll find a way to let you know that.
To confirm the statement implied in the headline, the answer is generally yes. Dogs can eat cheese, but take into consideration the characteristics pointed out above, the type of dog and the type of cheese that is questioned. Anyway, you should be cautious and careful about it.
Even with the compatibility of your dog’s breed and the cheese type, every dog (like every human) is a story for “himself”, unique in a way and can react differently to cheese consumption. Start with small, bite-sized chunks. See how your canine reacts to it. He won’t be able to tell you, but you’ll sure as hell be able to see (smell) for yourself. If some other side effects are present, be sure to schedule an appointment at your vet. You want to avoid pancreatitis, which can turn out fatal for your beloved pet.