Can dogs eat yogurt?
Yogurt has been a part of the human diet for a long time. It’s packed with calcium, zinc, B vitamins, and probiotics; it’s a good source of protein, and it may be supplemented with vitamin D and additional probiotics associated with a healthy diet. With all these nutritional benefits, can dogs eat yogurt, too?
Is yogurt safe for dogs?
Yes, yogurt is a safe, tasty treat for dogs. Adding some to your dog’s kibble could be a way of incorporating a new flavor and texture without the added calories. It’s also an easy way to introduce more water to your pet’s diet.
However, yogurt contains lactose that may trigger an adverse reaction in lactose-intolerant dogs. Some yogurt varieties also contain additives that may be harmful to dogs. Even with the health benefits that dogs can get from eating yogurt, certain precautions must still be observed to make sure that it can be safely shared with your canine buddy.
Why Yogurt is Good for Dogs
Yogurt contains substantial amounts of calcium, protein, zinc, and other nutrients. These are essential nutrients that play an important role in the growth and development of tissues and various physiological processes in the body.
Yogurt contains probiotics. These are beneficial microbes that promote and support the health and integrity of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Probiotics are a combination of live beneficial bacteria and/or yeasts that naturally live in the dog's gastrointestinal tract. A thriving population of good bacteria will discourage bad bacteria from overwhelming the GI tract and causing disease. Good bacteria can help improve intestinal health which is an important factor in maintaining a stronger immune system.
Also, beneficial bacteria can help break down lactose in the gut so it’s easier to digest.
While these benefits may be enjoyed by your dog by giving small amounts of yogurt occasionally, many vets still recommend a probiotic supplement that is specially formulated for dogs. The number of probiotics in yogurt is not enough to have significant benefits, health-wise, for dogs.
The Dangers of Feeding Your Dog Yogurt
Lactose in Yogurt
Yogurt comes in various flavors, including plain yogurt. While any of these types can be given to dogs, lactose-intolerant dogs have difficulty digesting yogurt, milk, and other dairy products because their bodies lack the enzyme lactase that can help convert lactose into simple sugars so it can be used in the body. Without an efficient way to digest and metabolize lactose, a lactose-intolerant dog may suffer from digestive upsets and exhibit symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, and excessive gassiness (flatulence).
If your pet is showing any of these symptoms after consuming some yogurt, you should call your vet.
Fat Content of Yogurt
Another important concern associated with yogurt is its fat content. Even if your dog is not lactose intolerant, regular consumption of yogurt can increase your pet’s risk for obesity. Too much fat in the diet can also lead to pancreatitis, which is a serious medical issue that is characterized by the inflammation of the pancreas and can be fatal.
Yogurt with Artificial Sweeteners
Some types of yogurt have an added artificial sweetener like xylitol, which is a sugar substitute. However, xylitol is toxic for dogs. Consumption can lead to liver failure because xylitol accumulates in the liver instead of being excreted from the body.
Any yogurt product containing artificial sweeteners or labeled “low fat or low calorie” should not be given to dogs.
Sugar in Yogurt
Many yogurt varieties contain high amounts of sugar which can wreak havoc on your dog’s system. Even yogurt with fruit is not recommended for dogs because these frequently have added sugary syrups. Over time, too much sugar intake can increase a dog’s risk of important health issues like diabetes, obesity, and dental problems.
Chocolate is toxic to dogs. Avoid giving even a small amount of chocolate-flavored yogurt to your dog.
You should make a habit of reading product labels to make sure that you are giving something to your pooch that is safe and healthy.
To protect your dog from adverse effects, always give yogurt in moderation. If it’s your dog’s first time eating yogurt, start by offering a small amount of plain yogurt to see if he exhibits any reactions, including symptoms of lactose intolerance - diarrhea, vomiting, and gassiness.
If there are no problems, yogurt can be given in small amounts as an occasional treat. You can give yogurt directly or try mixing some into your dog’s food.
What is the best type of yogurt for my dog?
When choosing yogurt for your dog always look for the following:
- Yogurt varieties that are plain and free of additives, including xylitol and fruits
- Non-fat or low-fat
- Naturally flavored
- Yogurt with active live cultures, such as Greek yogurt
How much yogurt can my dog eat?
Yogurt is not a basic dietary component for dogs. Like other human foods, it’s given as an occasional treat and that entails sticking to the “10% treat rule”. This means that calories from treats should not exceed more than 10% of a dog’s total calorie intake every day.
The appropriate serving size of yogurt for dogs is based on several factors which include the following:
- Underlying medical conditions
- Activity level
- Spay or neuter status
- Daily calorie intake
Can dogs benefit from the probiotics in yogurt?
While probiotics in yogurt are good for dogs, the amount that you’ll be giving your dog on a daily basis (following the 10% rule) won’t be enough for your pet to enjoy the many benefits of probiotics from active cultures. It’s best to consult with your vet who can recommend a probiotic supplement that is specially formulated for dogs. Dogs can certainly benefit from the probiotics in yogurt, but there are more efficient ways to supplement your dog’s diet.
Is Greek yogurt safe for dogs?
Yes, Greek yogurt is safe for dogs, as long as it’s free of xylitol and other additives. Its thicker texture may appeal to some dogs. Greek yogurt contains active live cultures of probiotics and has lower lactose levels compared to regular yogurt.
The process of making Greek yogurt is different from most yogurt varieties. It undergoes a straining process to remove most of the liquid, leaving behind a significantly higher protein level compared to plain yogurt.
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