Yogurt is a delicious food produced by the fermentation of milk by certain bacteria. The bacteria that are used to ferment milk and make yogurt are known as yogurt cultures. Yogurt is not only tasty but also a highly nutritious food that humans have consumed for centuries. It is rich in protein and calcium and also a good source of probiotics (live and beneficial bacteria and yeasts that are good for the digestive system and overall health). But, can dogs eat yougurt?
As a dog owner, you would love to share this delicious food with your canine friend. But the question is whether dogs can consume yogurt and benefit from it in the same way that humans can. Keep reading the article to get answers to all questions that come to your mind about dogs and yogurt.
Can Dogs Eat Yogurt?
Yes, dogs can eat yogurt. In fact, it’s often recommended as a source of beneficial bacteria, particularly when dogs are on antibiotics or have had a recent bout of gastrointestinal problems. However, there are some considerations to keep in mind when feeding your canine companion this tasty treat.
Yogurt contains lactose, and dogs can digest lactose only during their puppyhood. If adult dogs are fed a food that is high in lactose can cause a gastric disturbance. Below are some symptoms of lactose intolerance.
- Abdominal pain and discomfort
- Flatulence/abdominal gas
- Poor weight gain
- Itching/excessive scratching
- Poor body condition
- Lack of appetite
- Weight loss
Some varieties of yogurt have high-fat content, and Dogs are more sensitive to fat than humans. Too much fat intake can develop gastrointestinal problems, like diarrhea and vomiting. High fat intake can also cause pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). It is a severe condition associated with severe pain and can cause death.
Added Sugars Or Artificial Sweeteners
Sugar is added to yogurt to enhance its palatability. A small amount of sugar from natural sources (like fruits and vegetables) is safe for dogs. But too much sugar (especially in the form of starch) can cause stomach trouble, vomiting, and diarrhea. It can also lead to diabetes, obesity, and dental problems.
Also, keep in mind that
Don’t go for “sugar-free” yogurt. It can have some artificial sweeteners (e.g., Xylitol). Xylitol is safe for humans, but it is fatal for dogs, even in small amounts. Researchers have proved that Xylitol can cause many serious issues like liver failure or hypoglycemia in dogs.
Pasteurization Kills Good Bacteria
Pasteurization is the process of heating food items, at high temperature, to destroy harmful germs and bacteria. The purpose of this treatment is to prolong the storage time of food items. Yogurt is usually pasteurized to increase its shelf life. But beneficial bacteria also die during the heating process.
What Kind of Yogurt is Best for Dogs?
Keeping the above factors in mind, you can now guess what kind of yogurt is best for dogs. A Yogurt is excellent and safe for your dog that is
- Low in fat
- Low sugar level
- Free of any artificial sweeteners
- Free of any flavors
- Don’t have added fruits
How Much Yogurt Can A Dog Eat?
The amount of yogurt that a dog can consume safely depends on many factors like:
- Daily calorie intake
- Underlying health issues
- Activity level
- Neuter status
Typically veterinarians use the “10% Treat Rule“. This means that your dog must not get more than ten percent of daily calories from yogurt. However, if you cannot understand this percentage rule, you can follow the following “Thumb rule” (Yogurt must meet the above safety criteria).
- Smaller dogs should be offered one tablespoon full.
- Medium dogs should be provided two full tablespoons of yogurt.
- Large dogs can tolerate three to four tablespoons.
Recommended Yogurt For Dogs
Although, you can offer any kind of yogurt to your dog, that meets the above-mentioned criteria of best yogurt for dogs. However, “Greek yogurt” is recommended by the experts for dogs as it is low in fat and sugar and doesn’t have any artificial sweetener. Greek yoghurt is also preferred by dogs for its texture.
Are Probiotics in Yogurt Good for Dogs?
Yogurt is a rich source of probiotics, and these probiotics are as beneficial in dogs as in humans. These probiotics improve the body’s ability to fight germs and digestive health.
Do Dogs Get enough Probiotics From Yogurt?
Probiotics are good for a dog’s health, but yogurt can be offered in a limited amount only. So your dog may not get enough probiotics to get the optimum level of benefits. Therefore it is recommended to use dog-specific probiotics and obviously after consulting with your vet.
Other Dairy Alternatives for Dogs
While yogurt can be a healthy treat for many dogs, it’s not the only dairy product that dogs might find beneficial or enjoyable. It’s essential to understand the range of dairy alternatives available and which ones might suit your canine companion.
This is a mild cheese that can be easier for some dogs to digest compared to harder cheeses. Cottage cheese is lower in fat and provides calcium and protein. Introduce it slowly and observe for any signs of lactose intolerance or allergies.
Often referred to as a drinkable yogurt, kefir is a fermented milk product teeming with beneficial probiotics. It can help with digestion and boost the immune system. Kefir typically has even more probiotics than yogurt and is usually well-tolerated by dogs, even those with lactose sensitivities.
Many dogs love cheese, and it can be used as a high-value treat, especially during training sessions. Opt for low-fat varieties like mozzarella or string cheese. However, always ensure that the cheese doesn’t contain any added seasonings or harmful ingredients like onions or garlic.
This is an excellent alternative for dogs that might be sensitive to cow’s milk. Goat milk is easier to digest and less allergenic. It’s rich in fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. Like with other dairy products, introduce it in small amounts to check for any adverse reactions.
If your dog enjoys the taste of milk but struggles with lactose, you can consider giving them lactose-free milk, which is available in most supermarkets. This milk has had the lactose removed or broken down, making it more digestible for dogs.
Avoid Ice Cream and Flavored Milks
It might be tempting to share a lick of your ice cream with your furry friend, but it’s best avoided. Ice creams can be high in sugar and might contain artificial sweeteners like xylitol, which is toxic to dogs. Similarly, flavored milks often contain sugars and additives that aren’t ideal for your canine companion.
When introducing any new food into your dog’s diet, it’s always crucial to monitor them for any signs of allergies or intolerance. If unsure, consult with your vet before offering your dog any dairy products. Remember, moderation is key.
The Bottom Line
In wrapping up, it’s evident that while dogs can enjoy yogurt as a tasty treat, it’s crucial to make informed choices. Opting for plain, unsweetened variants without harmful additives is vital. Can dogs eat yogurt? Absolutely, but always prioritize their health and monitor their reactions. If in doubt, seeking a veterinarian’s advice can provide added peace of mind. Remember, moderation is key when introducing any new food into your dog’s diet.