Yogurt is a dairy product that’s made by fermenting milk with cultures of bacteria. It’s typically eaten as a sweet dish for breakfast or dessert, but can easily be turned into a savory snack or main course by adding fruits, vegetables, meats, etc. Can dogs eat yogurt, then? Although it may seem like yogurt would be good for your dog because of its health benefits and nutritional value, you need to be cautious about feeding them to your canine companions, as many yogurts contain lactose.
Do yogurts meet your dog’s nutritional needs?
Dogs are carnivores, so they have different dietary requirements to humans. One of these differences is that dogs need more protein in their diet than humans do because they’re unable to synthesize certain amino acids on their own, unlike humans. Luckily for your dog, yogurts have a lot of protein, so they are a viable alternative source. In addition to this, they are also a rich source of calcium, an essential mineral for your pups that helps them maintain their strong bones and teeth. So, can dogs eat yogurt? After all, it seems like a perfect dog food, right? Well…
Yogurt is not enough
There’s an issue, though… the rich source of calcium and protein is not enough to keep your dog healthy. Feeding your dog solely yogurt would certainly result in their undernourishment, as there simply is not much else, and so your pet would be unable to get all of the vitamins and minerals they require. No need to despair, however, as you can simply include yogurt into your dog’s diet without removing everything else.
Benefits of giving your dog yogurt
In addition to yogurt’s rich protein content, it also contains live cultures called probiotics. Dogs need these bacteria because it aids in digestion and destroys dangerous bacteria found in food. Probiotics may promote a stronger immune system too, making yogurt even more valuable for dogs. We should not forget to mention the presence of carbohydrates essential for your dog’s energy, as well as vitamins A and B. For those of you interested in acidity, you’ll be happy to know that yogurt has a pH of 6.0 or 6.5, which makes them safe for consumption by dogs.
The dangers of feeding your dog yogurt
- Dairy products like yogurt are rich in lactose, a sugar compound that dogs’ digestive systems have particular trouble with. Including too much lactose in your pup’s diet may result in an upset stomach and diarrhea. Dog’s cannot digest lactose, and so it is essential to keep them away from this kind of sugar. This, of course, applies especially to dogs that are lactose intolerant.
- Too much fructose leads to a marked increase in blood pressures that could be dangerous for your pup’s heart, so stay away from yogurts with added sugars. Some yogurts use sweeteners as substitutes for this sugar, like xylitol. It can lead to hypoglycemia, a drop in blood sugar levels often bringing with it shakiness, reduced coordination and sometimes loss of consciousness. If untreated, hypoglycemia could be fatal.
- Yogurt will also not be able to address most of the dietary deficiencies that your dog may have, and can also contain ingredients other than yogurt such as cereal or fruit that could lead to an upset stomach.
The best way to add yogurt to your dog’s diet
The best way to avoid the risks of yogurts whilst not cutting them out of your pup’s diet, is to stick to the right yogurts.
If you limit your dog to plain yogurts and Greek yogurts, you are also limiting your dog’s lactose intake, as these yogurt types are particularly low in this sugar.
Greek vs. plain
Plain yogurts are the best for your pup as they have no unhealthy additives. Fruity yogurts often come with a heap of artificial additives and sugars that are no good for your canine’s health. Greek yogurt is also not loaded with sugars or sodium, so it’s a great vitamin-and-protein packed treat for dogs. It is, however, lacking in some areas that its plain counterpart excels in. Greek yogurt does not have as much probiotics and calcium as plain yogurt; in fact, Greek yogurt beats plain only in the calorie content! If I were you, I’d stick to plain.
So, can dogs eat yogurt?
Can dogs eat yogurt? Yes, your dog can eat yogurt, but it is best to stick to those with limited additives, such as plain yogurts and Greek yogurts. These yogurts are better for your dog as they contain less lactose and unhealthy additives whilst still having all the nutritional value and probiotics that yogurts usually have. It is best to go for yogurts that are specifically labelled to be for dogs as these are guaranteed to be safe. When buying yogurts, please keep an eye on artificial sweeteners, and in particular, xylitol which can be toxic to dogs!
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