Can Dogs Eat Yogurt?
When he's begging for your parfait 👀
If your dog starts begging whenever you pull out some yogurt for breakfast, you might be wondering: Can dogs eat yogurt?
But before you let him lick the spoon, you should keep in mind that some dogs can get sick if they have yogurt, so you should be super careful about giving your dog a taste.
We spoke with Dr. Maureen K. Murithi, a veterinarian working with Pet Keen, and Dr. Michelle Burch, a veterinarian from Safe Hounds Pet Insurance, to find out why yogurt can be bad for dogs, how much you should give your dog and what types of yogurt are safe for your dog to eat.
Can dogs eat yogurt as part of their diet?
If your dog’s not lactose intolerant, yogurt can be good for him in small quantities, since it actually has a ton of health benefits.
“Yogurt is a rich source of protein as it contains casein and whey,” Dr. Murithi told The Dodo. “It is a source of calcium necessary for bone growth and body metabolic processes.”
Yogurt also contains probiotic bacteria (Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus bulgaricus) that can help improve your dog’s immunity and gut health.
“Probiotics help the small intestines and colon improve the epithelial barrier and prevent unwanted bacteria from entering the bloodstream,” Dr. Michelle Burch, a veterinarian from Safe Hounds Pet Insurance, told The Dodo. “Supplementation will also enhance the immune system found in the intestines.
Probiotics can also help if your dog’s experiencing stomach issues. “Probiotics will inhibit pathogenic bacteria from multiplying in the small intestines and colon, which can cause diarrhea or vomiting,” Dr. Burch said.
Can yogurt be bad for dogs?
Since yogurt contains some lactose, yogurt can be bad for dogs who are lactose intolerant.
“While yogurt has a low lactose concentration, as it is used during the fermentation process to form glucose and galactose, dogs can still react,” Dr. Burch said. “Dogs with severe lactose intolerance that ingest yogurt may develop vomiting, diarrhea, gas and belly pain.”
When a dog’s lactose intolerant, “they lack the enzymes necessary to break down lactose,” Dr. Murithi explained.
Even if your dog’s not lactose intolerant, she still might have some stomach issues if she eats too much yogurt. “If your dog overeats yogurt, there can be no adverse side effects, or it may experience gastrointestinal upset,” Dr. Burch said. “Symptoms of gastrointestinal upset include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy and belly pain.”
Dogs who are overweight probably shouldn’t be fed yogurt, either. “I recommend dogs who are overweight and need to lose excess weight should not be given yogurt,” Dr. Burch said. “Yogurt contains excessive calories.”
Also, yogurt has a ton of fat, which can make your dog sick if he eats too much over time, especially if he has a history of pancreatitis. “Yogurt also [has a] high fat content, which not only takes time to be broken down by the body, but can predispose dogs to ... illnesses such as pancreatitis,” Dr. Murithi said.
How much yogurt can I give my dog?
Yogurt should only be fed as a treat to your dog.
“I recommend keeping the amount of yogurt given in a day within the 10 percent treat rule,” Dr. Burch said. “Your dog should not consume more than 10 percent of their daily caloric needs in the form of treats, including raw fruits and vegetables.”
Try these Fruitables strawberry yogurt flavor dog treats from Amazon for $5
However, if your dog is overweight or lactose intolerant, you should avoid giving your dog yogurt altogether.
If your pup does have a small bite of yogurt and has diarrhea, vomiting or excessive gas as a result, you should avoid giving him yogurt again. “Dogs who previously have experienced gastrointestinal upset with other dairy products should not be fed yogurt,” Dr. Burch said.
What kind of yogurt can dogs eat?
“When choosing yogurt for your dog, make sure it's plain and free of both natural and artificial sweeteners,” Dr. Murithi said. “Most veterinarians advocate for plain yogurt.”
Before giving your dog yogurt, check the ingredients on the label to make sure it doesn’t contain xylitol, an artificial sweetener that’s dangerous for dogs.
“Some non-fat yogurts contain xylitol as a sweetener,” Dr. Burch said. “Xylitol is toxic to dogs [and] can ... result in low blood glucose and liver disease.”
You may also opt to choose a yogurt that doesn’t have any lactose in case your dog is sensitive.
“Lactose-free yogurt is also safer,” Dr. Murithi said.
Try Green Valley Organics lactose-free plain yogurt from Amazon for $5
Can dogs eat Greek yogurt?
Dogs can eat Greek yogurt as well, and it’s usually a better option than standard yogurt.
“Plain Greek yogurt is preferable to normal plain yogurt,” Dr. Murithi said. “It contains more live cultures that help to increase the healthy bacteria in the gut, which helps digestion. This can be beneficial in dogs [on] antibiotics, especially for a long period of time, which kills the good bacteria in the gut. Probiotics also help to fight yeast infections in dogs with recurrent ear and skin infections.”
And compared to regular yogurt, you might find that your dog likes Greek yogurt more because of its texture. “Greek yogurt is also thicker, which dogs prefer,” Dr. Murithi said.
The bottom line is that yogurt can be good for some dogs and bad for others, so the best thing you can do is start with tiny amounts and keep an eye on her reaction. If she’s totally fine, you’ll probably be OK feeding her yogurt as a treat every once in a while. And you can finally share a bit of your breakfast!