Pet Care Blog

Can Dogs Eat Cheese? Here's Everything You Need to Know

Ricky Walther, DVM
Dr. Ricky Walther
Veterinarian
Pug lying on the ground looking at cheese

Cheese can be a delicious and nourishing treat for humans, but is it good for dogs? While it is true that cheese alone isn’t toxic to dogs, it will depend on your pet’s individual sensitivities whether you should feed them cheese.

So, yes, dogs can eat cheese, but there are a few things you should keep in mind before you start feeding your pooch large chunks of cheddar.

Table of Contents:

Pro tip: Milk and dairy products are common triggers for food allergies in dogs. Treatment for allergies can be expensive but luckily, pet insurance can help. Some pet insurance plans not only reimburse vet-recommended allergy tests but the complete sick visit as well.

Benefits of cheese for dogs

Cheese is packed with nutrients such as protein, calcium, zinc, phosphorus, vitamin A, and vitamin B12. Most dogs love cheese, so many dog trainers use it as a tool to facilitate food-motivated learners. Cheese is also great for concealing dog medication your pet might reject to eat!

Is cheese bad for dogs?

Yes, cheese can be bad for dogs if it's consumed by canines with lactose intolerance or eaten in excessive quantities.

Lactose and milk allergies

Just like humans, some pups are incapable of digesting lactose, a sugar naturally found in milk and dairy products. Lactose intolerance in canines can be mild or severe and usually manifests through loose stool and bad gas. Some pups are lactose intolerant because they don’t produce the enzyme called lactase, which is necessary for lactose digestion. Others might be allergic to the proteins present in milk, which can cause an allergic reaction to cheese.

As with all human foods, you should be cautious when giving your canine companion cheese for the first time. Start with a small amount and see if there’s any reaction. If your pet starts showing signs that they’re having an allergic reaction, stop feeding them anything dairy and call your vet.

Sodium and fat content

Cheese also contains sodium and fat, which can add some benefits to your pup’s health. However, too much sodium and fat can cause health issues in dogs.

The high amount of sodium found in certain types of cheese can lead to increased blood pressure in dogs and, eventually, cause organ damage. While sodium is important for your pup’s health, they probably get a sufficient amount from their regular food, so it is best to choose cheeses with low sodium content.

Pups suffering from kidney issues should not be fed cheese as the high salt and sodium content might worsen kidney damage.

Due to the fact that it contains high levels of fat, too much cheese can cause weight gain and obesity. It could result in pancreatitis, a serious and potentially life-threatening illness in dogs. Cheese should be kept away from overweight pups. If you’re looking for leaner alternatives for training, opt for chicken, tuna, or ham.

Finally, some cheeses can contain ingredients that are toxic to dogs, like herbs, onions, chives, and garlic.

As always, consult your vet before feeding your canine friend any human foods in order to avoid any dangerous reactions.

beagle and woman next to plate of cheese (Image source: American Kennel Club)

Can dogs eat cream cheese?

Cream cheese is unripened, so less lactose is eliminated in the fermentation process. Also, as its name suggests, this cheese contains cream, meaning extra fat in addition to the extra lactose. For that reason, it is best to avoid feeding cream cheese to dogs as it can lead to stomach upset, even if they tolerate other cheeses well.

Can dogs eat cottage cheese?

This unpressed cheese has a thick, yogurt-like consistency. It is lower in sodium and fat than many other varieties of cheese, so it’s considered one of the best options for dogs. The bland flavor also makes it perfect for pups recovering from a sick stomach.

Small amounts of regular cottage cheese should not cause any issues in dogs, but some brands might contain milk. The added milk will increase the product's lactose content and could cause stomach upset.

Can dogs eat blue cheese?

The fungus used to make blue cheese and other ‘moldy’ varietals, like Roquefort and stilton, produces roquefortine C, a substance that is toxic to dogs and can cause diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and even seizures. If you notice any of these symptoms after feeding your dog blue cheese, contact your vet immediately.

Can dogs eat parmesan cheese?

Parmesan is a hard and granular cheese with a sharp odor. Dogs have a much stronger sense of smell than humans, so this odor is very likely to put them off.

Similar to other hard cheeses, parmesean contains low levels of lactose but it's quite high in sodium, which makes it a poor choice for dogs.

Can dogs eat swiss cheese?

Swiss is a hard, nutty cheese often riddled with holes formed by gas bubbles formed during the fermentation process. As a ripened cheese, it has a low lactose content and therefore considered relatively safe for dogs when fed in moderate amounts.

Can dogs eat string cheese?

This is practically mozzarella cheese that’s been processed to align the proteins and make it stringy. String cheese contains low levels of lactose and salt, which makes it great for dogs. However, the stringiness could cause trouble swallowing, especially in puppies. Always make sure to cut it into pieces or break it into chunks before serving cheese to your dog, no matter which type.

Can dogs eat goat cheese?

Goat’s milk contains more lactose than cow’s milk, therefore it's generally discouraged to feed goat cheese to dogs.

dog looking at cheese (Image source: Hill’s Pet)

What about other dairy products?

If you're concerned about dairy for dogs, be sure to read up on these common items before introducing anything new to their diet.

Milk

Dogs don’t process fat as easily as humans do, so you should only give milk to dogs on occasion. Remember, __dogs might be lactose-intolerant__ - you will know fairly quickly if your pup has an upset stomach, diarrhea, or excessive gas after consuming milk.

Butter

Butter is made from milk, so it's a bad choice for lactose-intolerant dogs. Moreover, butter lacks nutritional benefits and is comprised of mostly saturated fat, which makes it a common cause of pancreatitis in dogs. If your dog eats a small amount of butter, they should be fine. However, if they've gotten into a tub or box of butter, they'll likely experience a stomachache and irregular bowel movements for a couple of days.

Yogurt

Yes, dogs can eat yogurt in limited quantities. Small amounts of low-fat, plain yogurt without artificial sweeteners can be good for dogs suffering from an upset stomach.

Ice cream

Many store-bought ice creams contain lower levels of lactose, but they also tend to have high levels of sugar or artificial sweeteners. If you want to treat your BFF with some ice cream, keep the portions small and make sure to choose a brand that contains zero- to low-sugar. You should also ensure that the ice cream doesn’t contain any potentially toxic ingredients like chocolate or sugar-free gum.

Serving ideas

The amount of cheese you should feed your dog depends on several factors, including their size, standard diet, and digestive response. Regardless, you should give dogs cheese as a treat - occasionally and in moderate amounts. That said, here are a few dog cheese serving suggestions to consider (with your vet's approval):

  • Provide a small quantity of cottage cheese on its own or add some to your pup’s usual food serving.

  • Combine equal parts of cooked white rice and cottage cheese to relieve your dog’s sensitive stomach.

  • Use cheese to conceal medication or to liven up prescription food. Be sure to check with your veterinarian first as some prescription diets depend on strict compliance in order to work.

  • Give small bits of mozzarella or cheddar when training your pup or as an occasional reward.

  • Create a cheese sauce and pour a very small amount of it over harder dog foods like kibble. This will soften the kibble and make it easier for your pup to digest.

Key Takeaways

  • Dogs can eat cheese as long as it’s given occasionally and in moderate amounts.
  • Dogs with lactose intolerance or dairy allergy, as well as those who are prone to stomach upsets, should avoid eating cheese.
  • If you have any questions about adding cheese to your dog’s diet, speak to your vet.

Do you want to find the best pet insurance?

Let's analyze your pet's breed, age, and location to find the right coverage and the best savings. Ready?

Analyze My Pet

About Pawlicy Advisor

The pet insurance marketplace endorsed by veterinarians, at Pawlicy Advisor we make buying the best pet insurance easier. By comparing personalized coverage and pricing differences we can save you a ton of money, up to 83% in some instances!

Pawlicy Advisor helping a pet parent and their dog find a great deal on insurance

Instantly Compare Pet Insurance Plans

Get Quotes

Guides

How Pet Insurance Works

How To Compare Plans

Determine If Pet Insurance Is Worth It

Determine If Wellness Plans Are Worth It

Vet Visit Costs

New Puppy Checklist

Comparison Charts

ASPCA vs. Pets Best

Pets Best vs. Embrace

Embrace vs. MetLife

MetLife vs. Figo

More Comparison Charts

Find Your State

New Jersey

California

Florida

Oregon

Texas

New York

Colorado

Pennsylvania

More States

Dog Insurance

German Shepherd

Rottweiler

Akita

Boxer

English Bulldog

French Bulldog

Great Dane

Pug

Corgi

Chihuahua

Poodle

More Breeds

Ricky Walther, DVM

Dr. Ricky Walther
Veterinarian

Ricky Walther, DVM, is a small animal general practitioner in the greater Sacramento, California area. Realizing the positive financial and medical impact that pet insurance can provide for pet parents and the profession, he lends support and advice to companies like Pawlicy Advisor "The Pet Insurance Marketplace") that simplify the process of connecting with veterinary financing resources.

More you might like

Jack Russel dog grabbing orange from tree
9 minute read

Can Dogs Eat Oranges? Here's Everything You Need to Know

Tapeworm infestation in dogs
6 minute read

Tapeworms in Dogs: Symptoms, Treatment, & Prevention

vet giving medicine orally to dog
7 minute read

Hookworms in Dogs: Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention

mixed breed puppy with parvovirus at the veterinary clinic
7 minute read

Parvo in Puppies: Everything You Need to Know

Kitten with ear mites
7 minute read

Ear Mites in Cats: Symptoms & Treatment

Beagle laying down on the floor
6 minute read

Beagle Growth & Weight Chart: Everything You Need To Know

dog with constipation
8 minute read

Constipation in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Border Collie dog
6 minute read

Border Collie Growth & Weight Chart: Everything You Need To Know

dog drinking water from river
8 minute read

Giardia in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms, & Treatment

Training a dog on a leash
5 minute read

7 Mistakes People Make When Training Their Dogs

sick cat lying on top of red car
9 minute read

Hyperthyroidism in Cats: Symptoms & Treatment

female veterinarian giving a pill to a brown labrador in a clinic
6 minute read

Metronidazole for Dogs: Uses, Dosage, and Side Effects

Cane Corso dog
8 minute read

Cane Corso Growth & Weight Chart: Everything You Need To Know

Professional veterinarian giving pill to German Shepherd dog in clinic
7 minute read

Trazodone for Dogs: How Does It Work and When Is It Prescribed?

Shiba Inu dog running in field
7 minute read

Shiba Inu Growth & Weight Chart: Everything You Need To Know

Dog waiting to take prescription medication pills
5 minute read

Benadryl for Dogs: Uses, Dosage, and Side Effects

yeast infection in a dog's ear
7 minute read

Yeast Infections in Dogs: Causes, Treatment, and Prevention

Vet holding medications for a little maltese dog
8 minute read

Tramadol for Dogs: Uses, Dosage & Side Effects

sick dog lying on couch
8 minute read

Pancreatitis in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention

X-ray of Hip Dysplasia in Dog
7 minute read

Hip Dysplasia in Dogs: Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention

dog eating a nut
5 minute read

3 Types of Nuts That Are Safe for Dogs to Eat

growing corgi puppies
7 minute read

Corgi Growth & Weight Chart: Everything You Need To Know

poodle puppy playing on the floor
8 minute read

Poodle Growth & Weight Chart: Everything You Need To Know

increased pot belly of a dog with cushing disease
6 minute read

Cushing Disease in Dogs: Symptoms, Treatment, and How to Save on Costs

dogs looking at a dish of pistachios
5 minute read

Can Dogs Eat Pistachios? Here Are The Risks!

Dog reaching into picnic basket for food
8 minute read

Can Dogs Eat Almonds?

human's hand feeding dog a carrot
6 minute read

Can Dogs Eat Carrots? Everything You Need to Know

puppy eats peanut butter off of a spoon
8 minute read

Can Dogs Eat Peanut Butter? Only If It's Xylitol-Free

dog eating banana from woman's hand
6 minute read

Can Dogs Eat Bananas: Everything You Need to Know

growing pug puppy
7 minute read

Pug Growth & Weight Chart: Everything You Need To Know

Golden Retriever looking at a pile of mangoes
5 minute read

Can Dogs Eat Mango? Here's Everything You Need to Know

Jack Russel carrying apply in mouth
6 minute read

Can Dogs Eat Apples? Here's Everything You Need to Know

growing akita puppy
7 minute read

Akita Growth & Weight Chart: Everything You Need To Know

growing great dane puppy
8 minute read

Great Dane Growth & Weight Chart: Everything You Need To Know

dog with broccoli in mouth
7 minute read

Can Dogs Eat Broccoli? Here's Every thing You Need To Know

golden retriever puppy eating watermelon
5 minute read

Can Dogs Eat Watermelon? Here's Everything You Need To Know

dog wants to eat a potato chip
6 minute read

Can Dogs Eat Potatoes? Here's Everything You Need to Know

growing chihuahua puppy
7 minute read

Chihuahua Growth & Weight Chart: Everything You Need To Know

growing Rottweiler puppy
8 minute read

Rottweiler Growth & Weight Chart: Everything You Need To Know

growing boxer puppy
7 minute read

Boxer Growth & Weight Chart: Everything You Need To Know

growing french bulldog puppy
7 minute read

French Bulldog Growth & Weight Chart: Everything You Need To Know

pets across the united states
15 minute read

Pet Ownership Statistics by State, And So Much More (Updated 2020)

sleepy english bulldog puppy
8 minute read

English Bulldog Growth & Weight Chart: Everything You Need To Know

dog being pet by the vet
9 minute read

Leptospirosis in Dogs: Symptoms, Treatment & How to Save on Costs

dog looking at a wild mushroom
8 minute read

Can Dogs Eat Mushrooms? Here's Everything You Need To Know

dog having tick removed
8 minute read

Lyme Disease in Dogs: Symptoms, Treatment & How to Cut The Costs

sick dog at the vet
9 minute read

Heartworm Disease in Dogs: Symptoms, Treatment & Reducing Costs

german shepherd puppy playing
7 minute read

German Shepherd Growth & Weight Chart: Everything You Need To Know

dog at vet with kennel cough
10 minute read

Kennel Cough in Dogs: Symptoms, Treatment & How To Save On Costs

dog and cat in need of affordable pet care
11 minute read

How to Get Affordable Pet Care in 2023

Back to Blog
A family with pets that are insured by Pawlicy Advisor
Pawlicy Advisor is the leading independent marketplace for finding the best coverage for your pet at the lowest rate.
Join 2,438,795+ insured dogs and cats across the US.
Get a Quote
Our pet insurance partners
ASPCA Pet Health Insurance Logo
Pets Best Pet Insurance Logo
Embrace Pet Insurance Logo
MetLife Pet Insurance Logo
Figo Pet Insurance Logo
Prudent Pet Insurance Logo