What dogs can and cannot eat is a subject of debate amongst pet owners and animal experts alike, with both sides arguing for and against variety in a dogs diet.
One main topic is sweet treats, which dogs seem to like, but experts warn against due to potential stomach upset, with things like chocolate and candy being specifically shunned.
But what about healthier treats like yogurt? Could a dog eat that, and if so, how often is it advised?
Can They Eat Yogurt?
This cannot necessarily be answered with a simple yes or no. While yogurt is indeed safe for dogs to consume, this needs to be done in small doses, and should by no means be a regular occurence.
Why Small Doses?
While most kinds of yogurt are not toxic for dogs, they can still have trouble processing it due to the high content of lactose.
This can lead to an upset stomach, diarrea, or vomiting (depending on the amount they consume).
Can They Have It Everyday?
This is not recommended, for the above reason. The amount of lactose they would be consuming on a daily basis could lead your dog to feel very unwell, which is not something any responsible pet owner should be striving for.
Does This Apply To All Yogurt?
If you want to give them a little, sweet treat, then the best kinds of yogurt to opt for are the natural ones – such as Greek yogurt.
This contains more natural sugars, and doesn’t contain anywhere near the same chemicals as packaged branded yogurt.
Greek yogurt is more beneficial for humans too, and can help with the promotion of a healthy gut biome – so the two of you could enjoy something sweet and healthy together, just make sure their portion isn’t as large as yours.
Why Can’t Some Dogs Process Lactose?
Lactose intolerance is common in dogs, although this is by no means a suggestion that all dogs have it.
Some dogs might be perfectly fine eating things like cheese and yogurt, but generally speaking this still needs to be in small doses – if only for their wider health as a whole.
Like humans, dogs require the digestive enzyme lactase to break down lactose, but not all of them are able to produce it, or at least not enough of it to properly digest milk and dairy products.
Are Dogs Suited To Eating Dairy?
We have to consider that, when in the wild, dogs would not get their necessary calcium from dairy products – rather, this would come from the natural food they would eat, namely meat and bone marrow.
The only dairy they would experience was from their mother when they were puppies, but this is far different from processed cows milk, or indeed dairy products that have been mass produced and made for humans.
So while your dog might enjoy a nibble of cheese every now and then, or indeed a small bowl of natural yogurt, this should only ever be a treat every now and then.
What Are The Signs Of Lactose Intolerance?
If your dog is lactose intolerant, the signs will present themselves in several different ways.
While not the same as diarrhea, loose stools are still a sign of an upset stomach, and can mean that your dog is not processing the lactose properly.
Healthy stools should be solid, firm, yet pliable and easy to pass, so anything other than this ideal should indicate that not all is well with your dog’s digestive system.
Bloating & Flatulence
If your dog is experiencing digestive discomfort, this will usually coincide with bloating and flatulence.
While most mammals fart or burp on occasion, a dog that frequently does this would suggest some digestive problems caused by lactose intolerance – or indeed an intolerance of some other kind.
Of course, things could be much more severe, and your dog could be in a lot of pain in their abdomen area.
In this case, you should always consult a vet, and the signs of abdominal pain could be seen in a reluctance to eat food, a sensitive stomach area, and generally seeming lethargic or weak.
They may also struggle to eat in general, and this is usually a sign of digestive problems caused by lactose intolerance.
Think how you feel when you are experiencing stomach problems – the last thing you probably want is to eat something – and your dog is no different in this regard.
Diarrhea & Vomiting
This is obviously the most prominent symptom of an upset stomach, and can leave your dog in a lot of discomfort, depending on their level of intolerance, and how much dairy they consumed.
This is why it is so important to start them on miniscule portions, just to gauge how their systems can handle dairy, and how well adjusted they could potentially be.
What Other Problems Could Dairy Cause?
Of course, there are other problems that dairy can cause to dogs, and they are worth knowing as a pet owner.
Dairy can promote inflammation, which in turn can lead to problems with skin and muscles in dogs.
There are also allergic triggers within dairy products, and in dogs these manifest themselves as:
- Itchy ears
- General itchiness
- Skin issues
- Hair loss
If your dog experiences any of these symptoms, then removing dairy would be the first step to finding a solution.
And there we have it, everything you need to know about dogs and whether or not they can eat yogurt.
Yogurt can be a nice treat for a dog, but should always be limited to smaller portions, and should by no means be something they consume every single day.
That being said, this does depend on the constitution of the dog in question, so always be sure to understand your dog’s digestive needs.