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Good Dairy Products for Dogs, Cats

In this article…

  • History;
  • Lactose Tolerance in Dogs and Cats v.s Lactose Intolerance;
  • Worried About Your Dog or Cat Gaining Weight?
  • Plain Natural Yogurt and Kefir;
    • Health Benefits;
    • How to Choose a Good Product
  • Cheese;
    • Health Benefits;
    • How to Choose a Good Product
  •  DIY Treats;
  • FAQ
Some organizations and companion pet owners/ guardians are quite adamant that dairy can never be anything but detrimental to a dog’s and cat’s health. But is the outright condemnation of dairy as part of a dog’s or cat’s diet right or wrong? In my opinion they are wrong…
A Glimpse Back in Time
Dairy products have been fed to dogs and cats for many centuries. Kefir is one good example…
2000 years ago, the shepherds of the Caucasian Mountainsdeveloped Kefir, a fermented dairy product made from the milk of cows or goats. The dogs that accompanied the shepherds of the Caucasus Mountains where fed fresh kefir as part of their daily diet.
Prior to the mass popularization of commercially manufactured grain-based dog and cat food (during and prior to the 1950’s), people fed their companion animals real food, ‘people food’, including dairy products. At that time dogs lived twice the life-span that they do today.
Lactose Tolerance, Lactose Intolerance
Dairy products are not tolerated well by all pets as some dogs and cats are lactose intolerant;
However the majority of dogs and cats do not have an adverse reaction to all dairy products.
My ten dogs eat the following dairy products as part of their daily diet…
  • Cheese;
  • Cottage Cheese;
  • Yogurt or Kefir
My dogs have never had diarrhea or other digestive upset as a result of eating cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt or kefir. 
When I was fostering dogs, my foster dogs also had zero adverse reactions to these food items. 
My client’s dogs do not have adverse reactions to these foods.
My two catseat a little cottage cheese on a daily basis. Sometimes they also eat a piece of cheddar cheese. My cats have never been ill as a result of eating these dairy products.
Best Dairy Foods for Lactose Tolerant Dogs and Cats

For those dogs and cats that are not lactose intolerant, plain all natural Yogurt,

Kefir and certain types of real cheese (as opposed to cheese food, i.e. processed cheese slices, cheese whiz, etc.) can offer many health benefits when provided in proper amounts on a daily basis.
The Best Dairy Foods for Lactose Intolerant Dogs, Cats
Many dogs and cats that are lactose intolerant can eat cheese as most of the lactose is removed during the process of making cheese.
Worried About Weight Gain?
Including reasonable daily amounts of cheese in your dog’s or cat’s daily diet will not cause weight gain nor heart problems.
Recent studies have confirmed that good saturated fat is not associated with obesity and heart disease and is instead associated with improved heart health.  A species appropriate diet for dogs should include about 30% good quality fat in a ratio of 2 parts Omega-3 fatty acids to 1 part Omega-6 fatty acids.
The beneficial qualities of dairy products exponentially increases if the dairy is from organic pasture fed animals. Pasture fed dairy provides:
  • Omega-3 fatty acids in a balanced ratio, and;
  • Does not contain the toxins (i.e. antibiotics and steroids, pesticide residue from eating GMO corn, etc,) found in dairy obtained from concentrated animal feeding operations – CAFOraised animals.
Plain, Natural Yogurt and Kefir…
Health Benefits
  • A very good source of probiotics;
  • An excellent source of calcium, iodine and vitamin D;
  • An aid infighting periodontal disease;
  • Can help protect your dog from illness when your dog or cat is on a course of antibiotics;
    • Antibiotics kill both the good and bad bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract (GI Tract), leaving the immune system suppressed.  Probiotics re-populate the god bacteria;
  • Recent findings by researchers at UCLA have confirmed that the presence of good bacteria in the GI Tract are important for proper brain function. UCLA decided to test this theory on humans as previous research on non-human animals had shown linked changes in gut flora to changes in affective behaviours. You can read about the study here
  • Good source heart healthy omega fatty-acids;
  • Helps prevent parasite infestation and related diseases;
  • Typically one tablespoon of kefir contains 5 billion beneficial bacteria. As a rich and concentrated source of beneficial bacteria the probiotics found in Kefir contribute to health in a wide variety of ways:
    • Contains a substantial amount of B Complex vitamins, Calcium, vitamin A, Vitamin D, magnesium, phosphorus;
    • Contains tryptophan, and essential amino acid;
    • Helps prevents illness;
    • Is easily digestible;
    • Is excellent for the immune system;
    • Natural antibiotic and anti-fungal properties;
    • Promotes anti-cancer and anti-tumour activity in the body;
    • Promotes the faster healing of wounds.
    • You can read more about kefir here


How to Choose a Good Yogurt or Kefir Product
  • What you do want in the yogurt…
    • Bacterial cultures i.e. 
      • Bifdobacterium lactis; 
      • Lactobacillus acidophilus;
      • Lactobaciullis casei;
      • By the way, you may notice that some dry dog food contains these and other bacteria. Unfortunately probiotic organisms (good bacteria) found in commercial dry dog food is not viable (live and active). These organisms cannot survive the processing and heat that is used to cook and then form the kibble. The inclusion of probiotics in dry dog food is just a sales gimmick which does not deliver any actual value to your dog’s diet.
    • Cream, and/or;
    • Milk or partially skimmed milk;
    • Milk protein concentrate;
  • That’s it! Nothing more. Don’t bother paying more for yogurt that has ‘added probiotics’, as this is another gimmick and scam. A good quality yogurt and kefir (like the one in the picture) naturally generally have more probiotics than those that advertise  ‘added probiotics’.


What you don’t want in the yogurt or kefir…
  • Agar-Agar;
  • Artificial food colours;
  • Artificial sweetners;
  • Carageenan;
  • Corn Starch;
  • Gallan Gum;
  • Gelatine;
  • Tapioca;
  • Lecithin;
  • Modified Corn Starch;
  • Modified Rice Starch;
  • Potassium Sorbate;
  • Sugar;
  • Etc.
Recommended Daily Intake of Kefir or Yogurt
  • Yogurt
    • Small size dogs and cats – 1 tsp to 1 tbs 
    • Medium size dogs – 1/8 cup
    • Large dogs – 1/3 cup
    • Extra large dogs – 1/2 cup
  • Kefir
    • Small size dogs and cats – 1 tsp to 1 tbs 
    • Medium size dogs – 1 tbs to 2 tbs
    • Large dogs – 2 tbs to 3 tbs 
    • Extra large dogs – 4 tbs to 6 tbs
As with any new foodstuff that you introduce to your dog’s diet you should go slow. The probiotics in kefir are highly concentrated so give your dog’s system time to adjust. For the first few days to a week cut the recommended dosage in half. This will avoid stomach upset as your dog’s system adjusts to the increased quantity of good flora in their GI tract. You can bring the daily dosage up to the recommended amount over the space of a few days to a week or two.
Natural Cheese
  • Natural cheese, like Kefir is a fermented dairy product;
  • Natural cheese requires very few ingredients:
    • Milk;
    • Salt (supports ripening and preservation, also critical to achieve desired taste);
    • Rennet (an enzyme), and;
    • A starter culture (the making of yogurt and kefir also require a starter culture). 
Processed cheese food (cheese slices, cheese spray, squeeze cheese from a tube/bottle):
  • Is not good for your dog.
  • Processed Cheese Food is an-over processed ‘food’ that is made from pasteurized dairy and non-dairy ingredients it does not have the same health benefits of real cheese and includes additives that are not good for your dog – i.e. artificial food colour.
Health Benefits
Built-in Synergy
  • Cheese contains Calcium, Vitamin D3 and Vitamin K2 – in order for these vitamins to provide the maximum benefit to the body all three need to be consumed together for efficacy.
pH Balance for Oral Health

  • Eating cheese in an aid in fighting periodontal disease;
    • Eating cheese drops the pH level in the mouth;
    • Lower pH levels help fight plaque, protects tooth enamel and erosion of teeth;
    • Cheddar cheese  contains the highest levels of alkali making it the best cheese for attaining better pH levels in the oral cavity.

Vitamin K2

  • Cheese is a very good source of vitamin K2;
  • Vitamin K2 is important for heart, brain, bones and more;
  • Calcium is beneficial for bones and blood but it is not beneficial when deposited in the arteries and muscles – vitamin K2 controls where calcium goes or does not go in the body;
  • Fights cancer,
  • Protects nerve cells from oxidative stress;
  • Slows progression of conditions such as Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome – CDS (also known as Senile or Old Dog Syndrome – the canine version of Alzheimer’s disease);
  • Promotes the maintenance of healthy bone density;
  • To ensure the best bioavailability (absorption rate) K2 is best combined with fat – a combination that naturally occurs in cheese;
  • Cheese is an excellent source of calcium;
  • The calcium in cheese helps to support oral health in dogs, along with bone and blood health;
  • Cheese is a good source of high quality protein and important amino acids;
  • Cheese is a source of good fats;
  • Dogs need high quality saturated fats (Omega-6 fatty acids) and Omega-3 fatty acids;
  • Required to support skin, coat, ligaments, heart, optimal brain function, and more, you can read more about good fats here and about the negative impacts of insufficient levels of omega-3 fatty acids here;
Essential Minerals 
  • Such as phosphorus and zinc.
Essential vitamins (in addition to calcium)
  • Such as A, B2 (riboflavin), B12, and D.
Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)
  • CLA is a metabolism booster – helps to prevent weight gain and treat obesity;
  • A powerful cancer inhibitor/fighter;
  • Helps to limit allergic reactions to foods;
  • Promotes health of the circulatory system.
Choosing a Good Cheese For Your Dog or Cat
The following cheeses are good choices:
  • Soft Cheese:
    • Cottage Cheese;
  • Harder Cheese:
    • Cheddar cheese;
    • Colby cheese ;
    • Edam cheese ;
    • Gouda cheese;
    • Hard goat cheese;
    • Mozzarella cheese;
    • Swiss cheese.
Cheese made from the milk of pasture-fed cows (goats, etc.) v.s. grain-feed animals:
  • Has about five (5) times the CLA found in cheese made from grain-fed animals;
  • Contains much higher amounts of calcium, beta-carotene, magnesium, and vitamins A, C, D and E.
Raw cheese made from the milk of pasture-fed animals:
  • Retains natural enzymes that increase the nutritional value of the cheese.
Recommended Daily Intake of Cottage Cheese
  • Small size dogs and cats – 1 tsp to 1 tbs 
  • Medium size dogs – 1 tbs to 2 tbs
  • Large dogs – 2 tbs to 3 tbs 
  • Extra large dogs – 4 tbs to 6 tbs
Recommended Minimum Daily Intake of Harder Cheese
  • Small size dogs and cats – 1 ounce
  • Medium size dogs – 1 1/2 ounce
  • Large dogs -2 ounces
  • Extra large dogs – 2 1/2 ounces
  • What about the maximum daily dose of harder cheese? 
    • Cheese is beneficial when it remains a portion of your dog’s daily food intake, but it should not make up the ‘lion’s share’ of your dog’s diet;
    • Maximum amount of cheese provided on a daily basis should remain around double the minimum intake (minimum intake – dose as noted above).
DIY Nutritious Treats Made with Yogurt and Cheese
  • DIY Smoothies & Frozen Treats for Dogs – Nutrient Rich Refreshing Relief During Hot Weather – recipes and health benefits here.
  • Homemade DIY Natural, Healthy Cheese-included Dog Treats – Recipes and Health Benefits here.

FAQ – is the ASPCA’s stance on Feeding Pets Dairy Food Right or Wrong?

The ASPCA’s list ‘People Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Pet’, the ASPCA says that…

“Because pets do not possess significant amounts of lactase (the enzyme that breaks down lactose in milk), milk and other milk-based products cause them diarrhea or other digestive upset.”
In my opinion as evidenced by the information I have provided further above:
The ASPCA’s statement is:
  • Misleading, and; 
  • Too broad in its context.
On the ASPCA’s list ‘(poison control, ask the expert) People Food’, the ASPCA says that “dairy products may cause stomach upset in some dogs”. Read the ASPCA’s full comment here.

In my opinion this is a more reasonable statement – although in the absence of additional information it really can discourage people from taking advantage of the many benefits that can be gained from including some dairy products in your companion animal’s diet – as evidenced by the information that I have provided further above.

Additional Assistance

If you require additional support and guidance I would be pleased to assist you via my In-Person or On-Line Services…

Dog Obedience Training and Behavior Modification Services:

Diet, Nutrition Wellness Services:

  • Unbiased Diet, Nutrition, Product Advice is available via this service
  • Holistic Diet, Nutrition Wellness Plans are available via this service


About Karen Rosenfeld

My name is Karen Rosenfeld. I am an holistic diet nutrition health and wellness practitioner for dogs and cats. I am an holistic behaviorist for dogs. I offer a wealth of real-time, real-life experience. 30 years working and living with dogs and cats. Companion animals are my life, my work, my passion. Maintenance of Health Health Issues and Conditions Custom designed whole food diets, raw and cooked. Recommendations for commercial whole food diets. Consultations available worldwide via FaceTime, FaceBook video and voice, Skype, Phone and email Recommendation and specification of... Species Appropriate: Whole foods Treats Herbs Alternative medicines Supplemental foods Treatment and Remedy Holistic Behaviorist Services for Dogs Include: Obedience Training Behavior Modification Psychological Rehabilitation In-person Sessions Sessions available worldwide via FaceTime, FaceBook video and voice, Skype, Phone Affiliations to Companies None. I don’t sell food or supplements. I am NOT aligned with any companies. I prefer to select best solutions for my individual clients’ situation. My client services are available around the world. 🇺🇸USA 🇨🇦Canada 🇬🇧UK 🇦🇺Australia 🇪🇺Europe 🇨🇷Costa Rica and other Central American Countries 🇦🇪United Arab Emirates 🇸🇪Sweden and other Scandinavian Countries 🇸🇬Singapore and other Countries in Asia etc. Consultations and Sessions 📧Email: karen@ottawavalleydogwhispererer.ca 📞Phone: 1-613-293-3707 📱FaceTime 📱FaceBook video or voice 💻Skype 📖Holistic Wellness eBooks custom designed to suit 🚶In-person Sessions only available in Ontario, Canada.

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  1. Is Goat Milk Kefir okay for dogs? I’m assuming it is since I’ve heard goats milk is usually okay for dogs, but I’m just learning about Kefir.

  2. Is Swiss cheese and Emmental cheese the same? all kind of Swiss cheese can feed dog and cat? ex:Emmental cheese and Gruyere cheese.
    Can i feed Colby-Jack cheese to substitute Colby cheese?

  3. Both aged cheese and young cheese can feed?

  4. Excuse me, You said dog and cat can eat Mozzarella cheese, both low-moisture mozzarella and Fresh mozzarella kept in brine or whey can feed?
    Should i feed young age or old age cheese?

  5. Hello,
    I’m really interested in feeding kefir to my dogs. Should the kefir be low fat?

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