Yogurt is a popular dairy product that many people enjoy for its creamy texture and health benefits. But can dogs eat yogurt too? Is yogurt good for dogs or bad for them? How much yogurt can you give your dog and what kind of yogurt should you choose? In this article, we will answer these questions and more.
What is Yogurt?
Yogurt is a fermented milk product that contains live bacteria cultures, also known as probiotics. Probiotics are beneficial microorganisms that can help improve the digestive system and immune system of humans and animals. Yogurt also contains calcium, protein, vitamins and minerals that are essential for good health.
Can Dogs Eat Yogurt?
The short answer is yes, dogs can eat yogurt, but only certain kinds of yogurt and in small quantities. Yogurt is not toxic to dogs, but many canines might have trouble digesting it because it contains lactose. Lactose is a type of sugar found in milk and other dairy products. Dogs’ bodies are not designed to digest lactose after puppyhood, and therefore, a food high in lactose can cause gas, diarrhea, vomiting and other digestive issues.
What Kind of Yogurt Can Dogs Eat?
According to Purina Nutritionist Karina Carbo-Johnson, MS, “Plain or non-fat plain without any sweeteners or preservatives is the best kind of yogurt to give to your dog.”1 You should avoid yogurt that contains xylitol, a common artificial sweetener that is toxic for dogs. Xylitol can cause low blood sugar, liver failure and even death in dogs. You should also avoid yogurt that has added sugar, fruits, flavors or other ingredients that may be harmful or unnecessary for your dog.
The best kind of yogurt for dogs is plain Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt is thicker and creamier than regular yogurt because it has less whey, the liquid part of milk. This means that Greek yogurt has less lactose and more protein than regular yogurt. Greek yogurt also has more live cultures than regular yogurt, which can provide more probiotic benefits for your dog.
How Much Yogurt Can Dogs Eat?
The amount of yogurt you can give your dog depends on several factors, such as your dog’s size, weight, daily calorie intake, activity level, health condition and neuter status. You should always consult your veterinarian before introducing any new food to your dog’s diet. As a general rule of thumb, yogurt should be fed as a treat and not as a main meal. Yogurt should make up no more than 10 percent of your dog’s daily caloric intake.1
For example, if your dog needs 500 calories per day, you can give him 50 calories worth of yogurt as a treat. This would be about one tablespoon of plain Greek yogurt for an average-sized dog. You can adjust the amount according to your dog’s specific needs and preferences. You should also monitor your dog’s reaction to yogurt and stop feeding it if you notice any signs of intolerance or allergy.
What are the Benefits of Yogurt for Dogs?
Yogurt can provide some benefits for dogs if fed in moderation and with caution. Some of the benefits are:
- Yogurt can act as a probiotic supplement for dogs. Probiotics can help balance the gut flora and improve the digestive health of dogs. Probiotics can also boost the immune system and prevent infections and diseases.
- Yogurt can provide calcium and protein for dogs. Calcium is important for strong bones and teeth, while protein is essential for muscle growth and repair.
- Yogurt can add variety and flavor to your dog’s diet. Yogurt can be mixed with kibble or wet food to enhance the taste and texture of your dog’s meal. Yogurt can also be frozen into ice cubes or popsicles for a refreshing treat on hot days.
What are the Risks of Yogurt for Dogs?
Yogurt can also pose some risks for dogs if fed in excess or without care. Some of the risks are:
- Yogurt can cause lactose intolerance in dogs. Lactose intolerance is a condition where the body cannot digest lactose properly. This can result in gas, bloating, diarrhea, vomiting and other digestive problems.
- Yogurt can cause obesity in dogs. Yogurt is high in calories and fat, especially if it is flavored or sweetened. Feeding too much yogurt to your dog can lead to weight gain and obesity-related health issues such as diabetes, heart disease and arthritis.
- Yogurt can cause pancreatitis in dogs. Pancreatitis is a serious and potentially fatal inflammation of the pancreas. It can be triggered by eating too much fat or oil. Yogurt, especially full-fat yogurt, can contain a lot of fat that can overload the pancreas and cause pancreatitis.
- Yogurt can cause allergic reactions in dogs. Some dogs may be allergic to milk or other ingredients in yogurt. This can cause itching, swelling, hives, breathing difficulties and anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction.
How to Make Yogurt Dog Treats at Home
If you want to spoil your dog with some homemade yogurt treats, you have plenty of options to choose from. You can make simple frozen yogurt treats with just yogurt and some fruits, or you can bake some crunchy yogurt biscuits with cheese and oats. You can also use yogurt as a frosting for other dog treats, or mix it with peanut butter and banana for a creamy delight. Here are some easy recipes you can try at home.
Frozen Yogurt Melts
This is the simplest yogurt treat of all. All you need is some plain or non-fat plain yogurt without any sweeteners or preservatives. You can use Greek yogurt, or strain regular yogurt with a cheesecloth, coffee filter, or paper towel to thicken it. You can also add some pureed fruits, such as blueberries, strawberries, or apples, for extra flavor and nutrition.
To make the frozen yogurt melts, pipe out or use a squeeze bottle to create small dollops of thickened yogurt on to foil-covered trays and freeze. You can also use ice cube trays or fun molds to shape the treats. Store them in a covered container in your freezer and give them to your dog as a refreshing snack on hot days.
Yogurt Peanut Butter Banana Paws
This is another easy frozen treat that your dog will love. You need a blender, a silicone paw print tray, plain yogurt, peanut butter, and a banana. Blend 32-oz plain yogurt with 3 tbsp peanut butter and a sliced banana until you achieve a pourable consistency. Freeze in the paw print tray for about 2 hours before serving. You can also use other molds or ice cube trays if you don’t have a paw print tray.
Greek Yogurt Dog Biscuits
If you want to bake some crunchy treats for your dog, you can try this recipe that uses Greek yogurt, cheese, oats, cornmeal, and beef stock cubes. These biscuits are high in protein and flavor and will make your dog’s mouth water.
To make the biscuits, preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a large baking sheet with parchment. In a large bowl, combine 1 cup quick oats, ¾ cup cornmeal, and 2 crushed beef stock cubes. Add ½ cup warm water and stir to moisten. Let stand 10 minutes.
Add a beaten egg, ½ cup plain Greek yogurt, and ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese. Stir until well blended. Add 2 cups whole wheat flour and mix well. Add more water as needed to form a stiff dough.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to ¼ inch thickness. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters or a knife. Place on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes or until golden and crisp.
Yogurt Frosting for Dog Treats
You can also use yogurt as a frosting for other dog treats, such as cookies, cakes, or muffins. You need some plain Greek yogurt, tapioca flour, milk, and some flavoring such as peanut butter, maple syrup, or pureed fruit. You can also add some food coloring if you like.
To make the frosting, mix ½ cup plain Greek yogurt with ½ cup tapioca flour in a small bowl. Add some flavoring of your choice and stir well. Add 2-3 teaspoons of milk to adjust the consistency. You can also add some olive or coconut oil for a glossier appearance.
Apply the yogurt frosting to dog treats by drizzling, dipping, piping, or with a spatula. Let them dry overnight on wax paper or racks on the counter or in the fridge.
Yogurt can be a safe and healthy treat for dogs if fed in moderation and with caution. You should always choose plain or non-fat plain yogurt without any sweeteners or preservatives. You should also avoid yogurt that contains xylitol, a toxic artificial sweetener. You should feed yogurt as a treat and not as a main meal. You should also consult your veterinarian before giving yogurt to your dog and monitor your dog’s reaction to it.
Yogurt can provide some benefits for dogs, such as probiotics, calcium, protein and flavor. However, yogurt can also pose some risks for dogs, such as lactose intolerance, obesity, pancreatitis and allergies. Therefore, you should be careful and responsible when feeding yogurt to your dog.