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Cheese is a wholesome, nutritionally-sound, and delicious food and our dogs seem to enjoy it as much as we do. Most dogs will go absolutely crazy for the taste of cheese. But while our dogs may insist on eating all the cheese their hearts desire or their puppy-eyes demand, we as dog parents have to stop and consider if it is healthy for them. If anything, not all kinds of cheese are good for dogs.
For our pups to be healthy and enjoy a long life, it’s vital for them to maintain low-sodium and low-fat diets, which is not compatible with consuming some types of cheese. So, which kind of cheese is good for your dog? Is cheddar cheese good for dogs?
Well, we’ll find out shortly but before then…
What is Cheddar Cheese?
Cheddar cheese is a hard and natural cheese with a slightly crumbly texture, especially when it is properly cured. If it is still too young, the texture may be smooth. Its color range from white to pale yellow although other types of Cheddar cheese also have manually added yellow-orange colors.
The taste of Cheddar cheese tends to be sharper as it matures—usually over a period of 9 to 24 months. In fact, the difference between mild, medium, and sharp Cheddar cheese is usually based on how long they have been aged.
Modern Cheddar cheeses are a bit different from traditional cheddar recipes developed in Cheddar, England. Cheddar cheeses that you are likely to find in today’s grocery stores shreds, slices, and melts better than their traditional counterparts, making them versatile refrigerator staples. Traditional cheddar cheeses also tend to have more complex tastes.
Can Dogs Eat Cheddar Cheese?
Cheese with relatively low sodium and reduced fat content s are considered to be healthier for dogs. Cheddar is relatively low in fat, salt, and lactose than other types of cheese, so giving a few pieces to your dog as a treat should be paw-fectly okay.
In fact, Cheddar cheese packs amazing health benefits to dogs, especially if fed in moderation. To begin with, Cheddar cheese is a great source of calcium and phosphorus. For starters, phosphorus potentiates the positive impacts of calcium in strengthening your dog’s bones. Phosphorus is also a potent heart-healthy mineral that is famed for its important role in supporting liver and kidney health. Cheddar cheese is also rich in Selenium, a trace mineral that has excellent antioxidant properties and can support the immune system of your dog. In addition, Cheddar is a great source of Vitamin A, B12, essential fatty acids, and Riboflavin.
You can also use Cheddar cheese as a treat during training or for calming separation anxiety in dogs. If your dog dislikes taking pills, you can also use Cheddar to get the dose down the hatch.
Regardless of whether you decide to give your pup Cheddar as a treat or a reward during training, avoid giving him too much. Just a few pieces occasionally should suffice, and your furbaby will love you for it.
Potential Side Effects
While Cheddar cheese is safe for dogs in moderation, it is not guaranteed that it won’t affect your dog. Depending on the amount consumed, allowing your pup to chow down Cheddar cheese carries a few risks, including:
1. High-Fat Content
Although we had mentioned that Cheddar cheese tends to have low-fat content compared to other types of cheese, it is still high in both total fat content (about 9g per ounce) and saturated fat (6g per ounce). Excess fat is not good for dogs and is often associated with a wide range of health conditions, including pancreatitis, weight gain, and heart diseases. So, if your pup is obese or needs to cut down a few pounds, you should steer clear of Cheddar cheese treats.
Any kind of aged cheese contains considerably high amounts of sodium, which can be dangerous to your dog if he consumes large quantities. Too much salt may cause sodium poisoning and kidney problems in dogs. While some dogs will drink a lot of freshwater to dilute the salt they may have consumed, it is always advisable to be cautious. You should also remember that smaller dogs require less sodium per day than larger dogs and may be more at risk of sodium poisoning when they consume excess amounts of Cheddar cheese.
Some dogs are intolerant to lactose, which simply implies that their bodies can’t digest lactose, a type of sugar in dairy products, including cheese. While Cheddar cheese contains low levels of lactose than other types of cheese or when compared to whole milk, dogs that are intolerant to lactose may have adverse reactions, even after consuming small amounts of Cheddar cheese.
If you have a dog that’s lactose intolerant, then you should skip feeding him Cheddar cheese altogether. But if you are not sure whether your dog can digest cheese or dairy products, consider testing him with small amounts of Cheddar first. If he doesn’t show any signs of stomach upset, discomfort, or any kind of bathroom changes, then he is clear to have moderate quantities of Cheddar cheese. Take him to the vet immediately if he manifests any abnormal signs after eating cheese.
4. Added Ingredients
Some people add garlic, onions, chives, and other herbs to enhance the flavor of their cheese. Check the ingredient list of the Cheddar cheese you plan to share with your Fido as some of the additives may be dangerous to him—garlic and onions, for instance, are toxic to dogs.
Buying Cheddar Cheese for Your Dog
To ensure that your pup is safe, there are factors you need to keep in mind when buying Cheddar cheese for him, including:
- Choose organic brands that have not been exposed to a lot of chemicals and additives. If possible, look for non-GMO Cheddar sourced from grass-fed cows.
- Buy Cheddar cheese in block and shred it yourself. Cheese that’s already shredded is not only more expensive but may also contain corn starch and artificial additives that may be toxic to your dog.
- To avoid some of the highlighted potential side effects of Cheddar cheese, consider getting your dog chews that contain cheese. We recommend EcoKind Gold Yak Dog chews, for instance, because they are made from yak and cow milk but with lactose removed. These chews contain less fat and sodium than your typical cheese but still have rich cheese flavor. And since they are chews, they will not only last long but also promote healthy chewing habits and boost your dog’s dental hygiene.
All in all, Cheddar cheese is safe for dogs. So, if your doggie is not lactose intolerant or doesn’t have any particular issue with cheese, you can share a couple of pieces with him. The dietary calcium, phosphorus, essential fatty acids, vitamin A and B-complex vitamins found in Cheddar cheese will have a positive impact on your pooch’s health. Just be careful to feed him in moderation. Always remember that treats like cheese should make up a very small percentage of a healthy dog’s diet.
To help you stay informed and keep your doggie safe, here are more resources on what dogs can and cannot eat: