What types of yogurt can dogs eat?

We all are very familiar with the taste, texture, and benefits of yogurt. This superfood is packed with protein and calcium but that’s not the end of it. A good amount of probiotics have been found in yogurt that boosts the metabolism and helps aid the digestive process. Yogurt is good for heart diseases, osteoporosis, and several other benefits including boosting immunity and helping in weight loss(1). But what about our canine friends? Can they eat and enjoy this tasty treat without worrying about the health?

The answer to this question is yes!

Dogs can eat and can make yogurt a part of their diet if it is consumed as a treat and not as a meal. Apart from that, there are a few crucial things that one must keep in mind before feeding their dogs. 

Dr. Maryanne Murphy, clinical assistant professor of nutrition at the University of Tennessee says, “It is important to keep in mind, however, that unless you continue to feed yogurt, the probiotic benefit will not last long. For general GI health, it is best to give yogurt every day, although concentrated probiotic supplements are likely going to provide a more clinically relevant result.” She also suggests that pet parents should consider giving yogurt to their dogs to improve and maintain gastrointestinal health.

Following are some of the things to read and understand before deciding whether a yogurt treat is the best option for your pup or not.

What type of yogurt they cannot eat?

As said by Purina Senior Nutritionist Jan Dempsey, “The best kind of yogurt is plain or even non-fat plain. Just be sure it’s yogurt without artificial preservatives or any sweeteners.” (2)

Unsweetened plain yogurt is your best bet similarly greek yogurt is also a good option as it has lower levels of lactose as compared to other types. Try to read the ingredient list and always choose one that is the most natural without any additives.

Below are few yogurt types that you should avoid while buying:

  1. Full fat yogurt
  2. Chocolate flavored yogurt
  3. Tropical or any kind of fruit flavor
  4. Artificial flavoring components
  5. Artificial sweeteners especially Xylitol.

Why you should steer clear from Xylitol?

Xylitol is an artificial sweetener that is not recommended for dogs. Pet owners should always look for signs on a product that says Xylitol. It can cause the release of insulin which might damage the liver of your dog.

Early signs of toxicosis can go from lethargy, vomiting, to loss of coordination. It can even lead to seizures. Signs of liver failure can also be seen because of increased liver enzymes(3).

When should you not give your pup yogurt?

Dogs should not consume dairy because of the lactose levels. Their ability to digest dairy gets depleted as they grow from puppies to adult doggies. So thoughts about milk, cottage cheese should be kept aside but on the brighter side, they can have controlled amounts of yogurt and kefir. A normal dog has the potential to digest a moderate amount of yogurt, but if they are unable to digest and throw up, this might be a sign of lactose intolerance.

Yogurt is not toxic but your doggy might have trouble digesting said food(4). Sometimes, the symptoms of food poisoning and lactose intolerance can look the same, so make sure you have given your dog fresh and clean yogurt. If you want to test and be sure that your pup is lactose intolerant then you have to try giving your puppy a spoon of yogurt one more time. This will clear your doubts and you can focus on another option to provide nutrients if your pup is intolerant. Always ask and consult your pet doctor before starting something new.

Alternative to yogurt for health benefits?

If your pup is lactose intolerant and cannot consume or digest yogurt then you should talk and consult a vet or pet nutritionist. They will offer you a wide variety of options that might be available. Dog-specific probiotics are perfect for your dog. These probiotics help digest the food so it doesn’t put an extra load on your dog’s body, a really helpful supplement if your canine friend is a middle-aged dog.

Now that we have discussed all the potential shortcomings and warnings about dogs and yogurts we can move forward with the right kind of yogurt to buy and how you can improve their treat experience: 

Some brands that you can consider buying:

If your puppy is fine with a spoonful of yogurt intake once in a while then you can consider buying these types of regular and plain yogurt.

Fage greek yogurt

This yogurt is the perfect plain greek yogurt. Made out of skimmed cow’s milk this yogurt is 100% natural and healthy. It has a lesser amount of lactose than a regular yogurt pack. Your dogs would love the creamy texture and enjoy the smooth taste.

365 everyday value plain yogurt

Packed with the goodness of natural ingredients this plain yogurt is a great purchase if you want to buy from a trusted brand. This yogurt contains 6 types of live and active cultures that will clean your dog’s gut out. It is certified organic, kosher, and gluten-free.

2 tips that will help you feed your canine yogurt:

  • Spruce it up- As it is advised to give your dog plain yogurt,  this plain yogurt can make them fussy because of that yogurt’s neutral and faint taste. You can try adding fruits to their yogurt which will enhance the taste. They are more likely to eat something like this than a spoonful of plain yogurt. One thing to make sure- not to add any extra sweetness. The natural sweetness of fruits should do the trick. Use this snack especially if your dog is recovering from surgery. You can freeze the yogurt and fruit mixture and give them like a popsicle or pupsicle if you may. It is guaranteed to make your little champ happy on a long summer day.
  • Start slow- It is always a good idea to start slow. As your dog moves to like the yogurt, you can gradually increase the quantity. Trying with a little quantity also helps to detect if your pup is lactose intolerant or not. If you are unaware of your pup’s allergies when it comes to yogurt, a little quantity can help both of you.

Conclusion

To drive the point home, it is absolutely fine to give your pups yogurt in limited quantities. They should be fine with a spoonful of plain or Greek yogurt every once in a while. Avoid large quantities and monitor your dog’s calories. If your dog is lactose intolerant avoid giving yogurt and consider trying different food items that will give them the same type of protein and nutrients. You should always visit your pet nutritionist and consult them before putting your pet on a new diet. Consider asking them about dog probiotics if your dog is lactose intolerant. Take care of your little friend as he/she won’t be able to say it out loud. Always observe their behavior, you might find clues about their conditions, allergies, or liking and dislikings.  

Reference and citations:

  1. El-Abbadi, Naglaa Hani et al. Yogurt: role in healthy and active aging. The American journal of clinical nutrition vol. 99,5 Suppl (2014): 1263S-70S. doi:10.3945/ajcn.113.073957
  2. https://www.purina.com/articles/dog/nutrition/can-dogs-eat-yogurt#:~:text=Yes%2C%20dogs%20can%20eat%20yogurt,protein%E2%80%94plus%2C%20it’s%20tasty!
  3. https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/people-foods-avoid-feeding-your-pets?ms=MP_PMK_GGPoisonControl
  4. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/nutrition/can-dogs-eat-yogurt/

Further articles that were referred for the article:

https://www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/animal-health-literacy/tips-safe-handling-pet-food-and-treats

https://www.canadianveterinarians.net/documents/some-pets-unable-to-tolerate-dairy-products

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