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Cheese is one of the popular food items among us humans, but can you share it with our canine pets. In this article, we are going to discuss dogs and cheese. Let’s dive in!
What Is Cheese?
Cheese is one of the many products made using milk. It is formed by the coagulation of milk. You can divide cheese based on the type of milk used, the texture, and the flavor.
Is Cheese Bad for your dog?
Generally speaking, you can give cheese to your dog. It can be used as a good treat when training your dog. However, there are two things you must consider.
- Type of dog you have
- Type of cheese you are planning to give
As with the case of humans, dogs can also be lactose intolerant.
If your dog is lactose intolerant, it means your dog cannot eat cheese and it would be smarter not to give it any. Dogs who suffer from obesity should also not be given cheese.
The type of cheese you give your dog is also important. You should not give the blue cheese. The reasons for it will be explained in the possible side effects.
What kind of cheese can dogs eat?
You should consider many factors when choosing to give cheese to your dog. One of the factors you should consider is if your dog is lactose tolerance. If you are giving cheese to your dog for the first time you should give it a small piece and wait for 24 hours. Dogs with lactose intolerance tend to show the same symptoms as humans. These include
- Abdominal discomfort
- Lack of appetite
If your dog does not show any of these symptoms within 24 hours, then it is okay to give it some more cheese.
On the other hand, if your dog is lactose intolerant then it would better if you use cheese made from raw milk or A2 milk. Raw milk has normal lactose and it can easily be digested by your dog. The same is the case with A2 milk. Studies have suggested that lactose intolerance might be due to the presence of A1 proteins in the milk and not the presence of lactose itself.
Eating too much cheese has the same effect on dogs as it has on humans. It causes obesity. If your dog is already overweight then it would be best not to include cheese in its diet. Choosing a cheese that has less fat is an option but you should not take cheese where fat has been removed. This would increase the chances of your dog getting diabetes. In addition to that the chances of your dog becoming obese also increase.
To avoid this problem it would be best if you choose cheese that has less fat, to begin with. These include
- Soft goat cheese
- Mozzarella cheese
- Cottage cheese
Check the salt content of the cheese before giving it to your dog. Many kinds of cheese have high sodium content especially those hard-aged cheese. This might cause your dog to suffer from dehydration. In extreme cases, your dog might suffer from Sodium poisoning. The symptoms of sodium poising include
- Watery diarrhea
- Loss of appetite
- Lack of energy
- Extreme thirst
If you notice that your dog exhibiting any of these symptoms then you should take it to the vet immediately.
Giving highly salty cheese in small quantities as a treat won’t harm your dog. But it would be safer to choose a low salt content cheese. The best options for these cheeses are
- Soft goat cheese
- Cream cheese
- Swiss cheese
- Cottage cheese
Check what ingredients are added to the cheese. Many flavors are added to the cheese and not all of them are suitable for dogs. Certain flavors such as mango, cranberries are suitable. Please check with your vet to know which all flavors aren’t advised.
You should avoid smoked cheese. The heat in the smoking process can create polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. This substance can be carcinogenic for your dogs.
Mycotoxins are also something you should avoid. These are found in moldy cheese. The common kinds of moldy cheese are blue cheese and Roquefort. You should be particularly afraid of Roquefort. There are chances of your dog eating a small bit of moldy cheese. When this happens you should not panic. The best thing you should do is be on the lookout for symptoms. The symptoms you should be on the lookout for are
Processed cheese is definitely off the list. These include cheese spreads, cheese slices, and spray cheese. Such cheeses are highly processed. Many of them contain less than 51% real cheese. That means you cannot consider them to be cheese. Another problem with processed cheese is that they are rich in phosphates like sodium phosphate. The purpose of using them is to keep the ingredients in the cheese together. Unfortunately, the problem lies in absorption. The body does not absorb these phosphates like regular phosphates. An increase in the number of phosphates can damage your dog’s body. The increase in phosphates can cause your dog to experience health problems. If your dog’s phosphate level becomes too high then it can become really dangerous.
Coloring used in the preparation of cheese can also be a problem. The good news is that they are both natural and artificial coloring. Annatto is a natural dye and is in general cases not harmful. However, some studies show it can cause your dog to suffer from hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. This condition is particularly dangerous for dogs. The study does not give us the amount of annatto needed to give your dog this condition.
Unfortunately, not all coloring is so friendly. Titanium dioxide used to make the mozzarella cheese whiter has a bad reputation. That is why you should check the ingredients of the cheese before buying them.
Choose to buy cheese that has been made the organic way. On organic farms, the chances of the milk being contaminated with pesticides, antibodies, and other undesirable substances are very low. That is why you should prefer to get cheese the organic way.
How Much Cheese Can You Give Your Dog?
Cheese can be a favorite treat for canine friends but it must be given in moderation. This is because eating too much cheese would cause your dog to suffer from obesity. And if the cheese is not of the right type, your dog could suffer from medical problems.
What are the possible side effects?
Cheese has been known as a good treat for dogs while training and for good behavior. That does not mean you should give it to them regularly. As we have mentioned above giving your dog too much cheese would cause them to become obese. For dogs that are lactose intolerant giving cheese would cause them great discomfort. The damage is directly proportional to the severity of the intolerance. Unfortunately, you cannot know beforehand if your dog is lactose intolerant or not. The only way to find out is by giving it a small piece of cheese and then waiting for 24 hours. If nothing happens you can give it as a treat.
Giving your dog cheese that is rich in sodium would also cause problems. As we mentioned above this could result in your dog suffering from health problems.
You should check the label to know what kind of ingredients is present in the cheese. That includes the coloring and the additives. You also ensure that your dog does not consume moldy cheese. It can survive eating a small piece of moldy cheese but eating this kind of cheese is generally discouraged.
Cheese is one of the best treats you can give your dog during training. You can also use it as a special treat when your dog has shown very good behavior. The main thing you should do is find out if your dog is lactose intolerant. If your dog does not face this problem then you should choose a cheese that avoids the problems mentioned above. It would be better to buy cottage cheese, soft goat cheese, or mozzarella.