Can Dogs Eat Yoghurt?
A bowl of fresh yoghurt with an assortment of fruits and grains is a favourite among many humans, offering a range of essential nutrients like protein, calcium, and vitamins, as well as a selection of probiotics, which are crucial for a well-balanced gut.
But can dogs eat yoghurt and enjoy these same benefits and sumptuous flavours? If so, are there only certain yoghurts safe for dogs to eat?
Unfortunately for concerned pet owners, the answer isn’t as straightforward as a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Some swear by it, whereas others worry it will do more harm to your pup than good.
In this article, we will discuss questions like ‘is yoghurt good for dogs?’, as well as the pros and cons of including this food choice in your furry friend’s diet.
Is Yoghurt Good for Dogs?
So, can dogs eat yoghurt? It will depend on the type of yoghurt you decide to feed them and the quantity. Various yoghurts on the market today are filled with various artificial ingredients and additives, such as xylitol, that are said to help boost flavour and preservation, but wreak havoc once consumed by your pup, potentially even proving toxic. You should avoid fruit-flavoured yoghurts or those with high amounts of added sugar, as they can upset a dog’s digestive system.
But, what yoghurt is safe for dogs?
In general, plain, non-fat, unsweetened yoghurt with no added ingredients is a good source of nutrients, vitamins and probiotics, as well as a tasty treat for your dog. One teaspoon a day should be the maximum for smaller dogs, and as much as three teaspoons for larger dogs.
It’s important to note that these ingredients may not be as effective in offering the nutrients found in commercial dog food products, so for the sake of your dog’s nutrition, it is best to balance their intake with a well-rounded diet.
Remember that not all dogs can digest lactose, so start with smaller quantities and increase once you know it’s safe.
Nutritional Benefits of Yoghurt for Dogs
As mentioned above, yoghurt can offer a range of nutritional benefits for dogs, including:
Yoghurt contains probiotics – necessary bacteria that maintains a healthy gut.
Probiotics are essential for humans and dogs alike, as they help to balance the digestive system and aid in a range of different areas, including:
- Boosting the immune system
- Helping with weight loss
- Improving digestion
- Creating healthier skin and coat
- Reducing the risk of several diseases and cancers
Not all yoghurts contain added probiotics, and even if they do, the amount they offer typically isn’t sufficient for your dog’s recommended intake. Refrain from simply feeding your pup more yoghurt, as this will undoubtedly upset their digestive systems. If you are considering a probiotic supplement, you must be careful here, too, as some probiotics require constant refrigeration to retain their potency.
Yoghurt contains many other nutritional benefits for dogs, including:
- Protein: Protein plays a crucial role in the growth and upkeep of various bodily tissues in your dog’s body, including skin, hair, tendons, cartilage, and muscles. Additionally, protein helps in boosting metabolism and promotes weight loss.
- Calcium: Calcium is essential in developing and strengthening your dog’s bones and teeth and supporting its overall heart health and nervous system.
Potential Risks of Giving Your Dog Yoghurt
While we have covered that dogs are allowed to eat certain types of yoghurt, pet owners must also consider the potential risks associated with feeding yoghurt to their furry friends.
Dogs, like humans, can suffer from lactose intolerance, meaning their digestive system struggles to break down this particular sugar compound found in dairy products like yoghurt. This can lead to uncomfortable symptoms like bloating, gas, vomiting and diarrhoea.
If your dog is lactose intolerant, it’s best to avoid giving them yoghurt.
On the other hand, some dogs are perfectly capable of tolerating dairy products within their diet. Try giving them a small amount of yoghurt and see how they react. If they tolerate it well and don’t experience any digestive issues, it’s probably safe to continue giving them yoghurt in moderation.
This approach is prudent, given some dogs may also be allergic to milk proteins, causing skin irritations, itching, and digestive upset. Be aware of these symptoms and consult your veterinarian if you suspect your dog may have a milk protein allergy.
Many fruit-flavoured yoghurts or yoghurts with added sugars could prove harmful to your dog’s health, such as weight gain and an increased risk of developing diabetes and other harmful conditions. If your dog is not lactose intolerant, choosing a plain, non-fat, unsweetened yoghurt is best to introduce.
Always check the label to ensure the yoghurt you’re giving your dog doesn’t contain any artificial sweeteners or added sugars.
Xylitol is a popular sugar substitute in many sugar-free products, including many yoghurts. While it is largely safe for human consumption, it can be extremely toxic to dogs , absorbing directly into their bloodstream and potentially causing a rapid release of insulin, leading to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), seizures, liver failure, and even death.
Always thoroughly check the ingredients list on a particular yoghurt (or any product) before giving it to your dog. Xylitol is also found in some baked goods, dietary supplements, some peanut butter, and even breath mints and mouthwash.
If you see xylitol listed, do not give the yoghurt to your dog.
What is the Best Kind of Yoghurt for Dogs?
As stated above, if your dog does not suffer from lactose intolerance, they can find a range of nutritional benefits (and a tasty treat) from yoghurt that is plain, low in fat, and does not contain any added sugars or preservatives.
Greek yoghurt is an excellent option for dogs as it is xylitol-free. In addition to a delicious taste, your pup may also enjoy the thicker texture of Greek yoghurt far more than the alternatives.
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