Goat cheese has been one of my favorite treats for years. Goat milk is actually superior to cow’s milk for both humans and dogs. Is goat cheese better than other types of cheese? Does it offer health benefits? Are there risks to feeding your pooch goat cheese?
What happens if a dog eats goat cheese?
There are several things that can happen if a dog eats goat cheese. Most of these are good things, but there are a few risks involved as well.
Cheese, including goat cheese, are excellent training tools. Dogs tend to love cheese, so it’s considered a high value treat. So, when your dog eats goat cheese as part of training, it can lead to a well trained pooch.
We’ll take a closer look at the health benefits of goat cheese in an upcoming section. It is full of vitamins and minerals. It contains protein and healthy fats. These factors make it a healthy snack for your canine companion.
The biggest concern with feeding your dog goat cheese is lactose intolerance. Cow’s milk causes this issue for many dogs. Puppies are able to digest their mothers milk because they have the lactase enzyme in their bodies.
Most dogs, and some humans, stop producing lactase as they grow. Puppies are meant to drink milk. Dogs are meant to get the majority of their nutrition from other things, so the lactase enzyme is no longer necessary.
When the body doesn’t produce lactase to break down the lactose in milk, this is known as lactose intolerance.
It’s unlikely that your dog will experience this problem with goat cheese. Cheese in general doesn’t cause nearly as many problems with lactose intolerance as milk. This is because the cheese making process actually breaks down the cheese.
So, if your pooch is lactose intolerant, cheese is still safe to eat. Dogs who are highly sensitive to lactose can have lactose intolerance from eating cheese, because it does contain very small amounts of lactose.
Goat’s milk contains slightly less lactose than milk. However, many people with lactose intolerance find they can drink goat’s milk, but not cow’s milk. This is another reason why goat milk shouldn’t cause lactose intolerance in your pooch.
Despite all its benefits, goat cheese is relatively high in fat. A nibble or two certainly won’t cause pancreatitis. However, if your pooch has a history of the disease, or happens to eat a block of goat cheese, they are at risk for pancreatitis.
Pancreatitis occurs when the pancreas becomes inflamed. This causes it to release and activate digestive enzymes before they reach the intestines.
The digestive enzymes will then damage the pancreas and surrounding organs, essentially beginning to digest whatever they come into contact with.
The signs of pancreatitis include vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and severe abdominal pain. Many dogs will have a praying position. They place their head and front paws on the floor and raise their butt into the air. This is thought to relieve some of the pain caused by pancreatitis.
Most dogs can eat goat cheese without problems. However, it’s still possible for it to upset their stomach. Despite your dog’s ability to consume things that would make you violently ill, they have a sensitive digestive system.
Changes to their diet, including adding goat cheese, can cause stomach upset. The signs of this are vomiting, diarrhea, and gas. If your pooch experiences these issues, you may need to lower the amount or frequency of cheese. You may also need to stop giving it to them completely, depending on the severity of symptoms.
An occasional cheese snack won’t make your pooch obese, just as it wouldn’t cause you to gain 20 pounds. However, a high calorie diet can lead to obesity.
If you are feeding them cheese frequently, particularly with other high calorie snacks, obesity can be the end result.
Remember some dogs are more prone to weight gain than others, so adjust your pooch’s diet based on their weight, health status, and risk of obesity.
How much goat cheese can a dog eat?
There’s not a one size fits all answer to this question, unfortunately. It depends on many factors, including your dog’s size, weight, and health status.
Moderation is key when feeding your pooch goat cheese, but how much is too much?
Size and Weight
First, the larger your dog is, the more cheese they can handle. A chihuaua may only need one cube of cheese, while a great dane could have 5 or 6. This is because your dog should be fed in proportion to their size and weight.
However, if your pooch is overweight or obese, this is also a factor. These dogs should receive little, if any, high calorie foods like goat cheese. They require a stricter diet to lose weight so they can be healthier.
You’ll also need to consider any underlying conditions. If your pooch has pancreatitis, goat cheese may be off the table. If they have another health issue, you may need to speak to your vet before giving them goat cheese as a treat.
Lastly, their overall diet matters. A few pieces of cheese are fine if your dog isn’t receiving lots of other treats at the same time. However, it’s not a good idea if it’s combined with other high fat foods or treats.
Treats should make up no more than 10% of your dog’s overall calorie intake. So, if you give them a few cubes of cheese, don’t give them a share of your steak a few hours later.
Is goat cheese better for dogs?
In short, yes, goat cheese is better for dogs than cow cheese. Let’s take a look at the reasons for this.
In addition to lactose intolerance, some dogs and humans are allergic to cow’s milk. This is caused by proteins in the milk. These proteins aren’t found in goat’s milk.
It’s very rare to have an allergy to goat’s milk, while cow’s milk allergies are quite common. So, goat cheese is much less likely to cause allergic reactions than cow cheese.
Easier to Digest
Goats milk and goat cheese are easier to digest than dairy products. The fat molecules are 1/5 the size of those in cows milk. This makes it much easier for the body to break it down.
Less of the Bad Stuff
Some things are considered bad for us and our pooches. These include saturated fats, bad cholesterol, and sodium. Goat cheese is lower than cow cheese in all these categories.
In addition, goats aren’t raised with growth hormones and other substances that may affect dogs and humans.
Goats cheese is still considered a high fat food, but it’s lower calorie and lower fat than most cow cheeses.
More of the Good Stuff
Goat cheese also contains more of several important vitamins and minerals than cows milk. It’s rich in vitamins A, K, riboflavin, folate, and niacin. These are important for dogs, as they are for humans.
It’s also high in minerals, which dogs must get from their diet. These include phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, iron, and copper.
What types of cheese can dogs eat?
There are many types of cheese that dogs can eat. Some are better choices than others, but most cheeses are safe for your dog.
Dairy cheeses are generally OK for dogs in moderation. There is a slight chance of lactose intolerance in dogs who are very sensitive to lactose. These dogs will experience vomiting and diarrhea from eating dairy cheese.
As long as your pooch isn’t severely lactose intolerant, they can enjoy dairy cheeses including:
- Plain cream cheese
- Cottage cheese
High fat cheeses, including feta and brie, should be fed in smaller amounts than low fat cheeses like mozzarella and swiss. Cheddar comes in about midway, being lower in fat than feta and brie, and higher in fat than mozzarella. Low fat cottage cheese is also low in fat. Dogs who are obese or have pancreatitis should avoid high fat cheeses.
As mentioned previously, dogs can eat goat cheese as well. Goat cheese is better for your dog than dairy cheese, making it an ideal occasional treat.
Cheeses to Avoid
While most cheeses are safe for your dog in moderation, there are a few that can be harmful or toxic. Blue cheese and other mouldy cheeses, including Gorgonzolla and Stilton, are toxic to dogs.
These cheeses contain a chemical called Roquefortine. It isn’t harmful in small amounts, but if your pooch consumes a large chunk of these cheeses, they can become ill.
Symptoms of Roquefortine toxicity include fever, vomiting, and diarrhea. In severe cases, it can lead to seizures.
You should also avoid any type of cheese with additives that are toxic to dogs. These include raisins, chives, onions, and garlic. It’s best to only offer your pooch plain cheese, with no added flavors. This prevents them from eating something that can be toxic to them.