Can Dogs Eat Cheese?

Sliced Cheese on Brown Table Top

Can Dogs Eat Cheese? Yes, dogs can eat cheese, but it should be given in moderation and selected carefully.

Cheese can be a good source of protein and calcium for dogs, but it also contains lactose, fats, and sometimes additives that may not be suitable for all dogs.

Understanding Cheese as Part of Dogs’ Diet

Cheese can be an appealing treat for many dogs and is often used as a high-value reward during training. However, not all cheeses are created equal in terms of dog health and nutrition:

  • Low-Lactose Cheeses: Options like mozzarella, cheddar, and Swiss have lower lactose levels and are generally easier for dogs to digest.
  • High-Fat Content: Cheeses like brie or cream cheese are high in fat and can contribute to weight gain or lead to pancreatitis, especially in dogs that are prone to gastrointestinal issues.
  • Additives and Seasonings: Some cheeses may contain harmful additives like onions, garlic, or herbs, which are toxic to dogs.

Safe Cheese Choices for Dogs

When choosing cheese for your dog, opt for those that are plain and low in fat:

  • Cottage Cheese: Cottage Cheese is a low-fat, low-salt cheese that is easier on the stomach, making it a good option for dogs, especially those with sensitive digestive systems.
  • Mozzarella: Offers lower lactose content and is softer, making it easy to digest.

Cheeses That Are Not Safe for Dogs

Overhead Shot of Blue Cheese and Nuts

While some cheeses can be a safe and tasty treat for dogs when given in moderation, there are certain types of cheese that you should avoid feeding your dog due to potential health risks. Here’s a list of cheeses that are not safe for dogs:

  • Blue Cheese: Blue cheeses like Roquefort, Gorgonzola, and Stilton contain a substance called roquefortine C, which can be toxic to dogs if ingested in large amounts. This mold can cause dogs to experience vomiting, diarrhea, and potentially more severe symptoms like high temperatures and seizures.
  • Cheeses with Garlic or Onions: Any cheese containing garlic, onions, chives, or any other allium family ingredients is dangerous for dogs. These substances can cause oxidative damage to red blood cells in dogs, leading to anemia. Symptoms of poisoning include weakness, vomiting, breathlessness, and a high heart rate.
  • Cheeses High in Fat: Cheeses that are particularly high in fat, such as brie, feta, and cream cheese, should be avoided. These can cause gastrointestinal upset in the short term and, over time, contribute to obesity or more serious conditions like pancreatitis.
  • Cheeses with Herbs or Flavorings: Some cheeses are flavored with herbs or other ingredients that might not be safe for dogs. Examples include cheeses with added avocado, which can contain persin, an oil-soluble compound that can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs. Always check the ingredients list for anything that might be harmful to dogs.
  • Processed Cheese: Processed cheeses, like cheese slices or cheese in a can, often contain a lot of additives and preservatives that are not good for dogs. These can include high levels of salt and artificial flavors or colors, which can be harmful to your pet’s health.

Risks Associated with Feeding Cheese to Dogs

While cheese can be a safe snack for many dogs, there are potential risks involved:

  • Lactose Intolerance: Some dogs are lactose intolerant and may experience gastrointestinal upset after eating cheese, such as bloating, diarrhea, or gas.
  • Allergic Reactions: Although rare, some dogs can be allergic to the proteins found in milk and milk products, including cheese. Symptoms of an allergic reaction can include itching, swelling, and digestive upset.
  • Caloric Intake: Cheese is calorie-dense, so feeding too much can contribute to unhealthy weight gain.

How to Feed Cheese to Your Dog

If you decide to feed cheese to your dog, here are some guidelines to do it safely:

  • Moderation: Cheese should only be a small part of your dog’s overall diet. Consider it a treat rather than a staple food item.
  • Monitor for Reactions: Especially when introducing cheese for the first time, watch for any signs of digestive distress or allergic reactions.
  • Avoid Processed Cheeses: Stick to plain and simple cheeses without added flavors or seasonings.


In moderation and with the right choices, cheese can be a safe and tasty treat for dogs.

It’s important to select low-fat, low-lactose cheeses and to introduce them into your dog’s diet gradually.

Always keep an eye on your dog’s reaction to new foods and consult with a veterinarian if you have concerns about how certain foods may affect their health.