Can dogs eat yogurt? If you regularly tuck into a bowl of yogurt, you may already have considered whether or not you could share it with your dog.
With the benefits of probiotics being widely understood now, it’s tempting to give your dog a little of what you have to give them a boost of healthy bacteria too.
Although natural yogurt is not toxic to dogs, some dogs are lactose intolerant and need a completely dairy-free diet. So let’s look at the benefits and risks of giving your dog yogurt as a treat.
The benefits of yogurt for dogs
Yogurt is a great source of protein and calcium, both necessary for bone and muscle health. It also contains several other important nutrients like vitamin B-12 and the minerals potassium and magnesium.
However, what’s making yogurt the new superfood is that the majority of yogurts contain added probiotics. This is also known as ‘good bacteria, which is essential for digestive and overall health. Most yogurts contain a live strain of beneficial bacteria called acidophilus that plays a key role in keeping the balance of good and bad bacteria in our bodies in check.
In essence, yogurt is a great way to boost ‘good’ bacteria and get a healthy calcium and protein dose. If that’s true, what’s the downside of giving it to our dogs?
The risks of yogurt
Although yogurt and other dairy products are not toxic for dogs, they can have an adverse effect. There are quite some dogs that are lactose intolerant.
Lactose is a type of sugar found in all dairy products, which causes the issue. An enzyme called lactase needs to be present in our dog’s digestive system to digest it successfully.
If this enzyme is missing, then the sugar can’t be broken down, and your dog won’t be able to digest the yogurt. This can lead to unpleasant side effects as the undigested lactose passes through the gastrointestinal tract, including;
- Stomach pain
- Bad smell
These symptoms can range from mild to severe and can be distressing for your dog. So we’d suggest that you let your dog try a tiny amount first before adding larger amounts of dairy products to your dog’s diet.
As well as testing your dog on a small amount of dairy, you can also choose dairy products that contain less lactose and monitor the results.
The following table is based on a half-cup serving:
|Yogurt (low fat)||2.5|
|Milk (full fat)||5.5|
Yogurt, the plain truth
If you want to feed your dog yogurt, then be careful of the type you give them. Plain, non-fat regular yogurt or Greek yogurt is the best choice.
Despite yogurt being a ‘healthy food, many yogurts include sugars, additives, and artificial sweeteners. Some of these, such as Xylitol, are extremely toxic to your dog.
If you want to add flavor or extra sweetness, there’s no need for artificial sweeteners, you can add fresh fruit pieces instead, but your dog will be equally happy without them.
So, can dogs eat yogurt?
Yes, you can feed your dog yogurt. It makes a healthy and tasty treat. Packed full of goodness, yogurt is a great low-fat tidbit that will keep your dog’s tail wagging.
If you want to support your dog’s digestive system with additional probiotics, then have a chat with your veterinarian, who can recommend a dog-specific supplement more suitable for dogs.
Although your dog will be happy with a dollop on their dog food or even a lick of the yogurt pot lid, why not try one of the recipes below.
Peanut Butter Frozen Yogurt Treats
- 1 cup nonfat plain yogurt
- 1/3 cup peanut butter
- 1/2 large banana, mashed
- 10 small bone-shaped dog treats (optional)
- Combine all ingredients.
- Spoon into an ice cube tray or small paper cups.
- Smooth tops. If desired, push dog treats into yogurt-like Popsicle sticks.
- Freeze for at least two hours.
- Remove from the tray or peel away paper cups. Serve on a hot day.
DIY Frozen Dog Treats Recipe
- 1 tub plain yogurt, 32 oz
- About 1 cup chicken bits*
*These were the pan drippings and bits from a whole chicken I cooked. I poured the pan drippings into a container and tossed them into the refrigerator until I was ready to use them. You can also freeze them until ready to use. If you don’t have chicken bits, you can always use any other meat you might have- be sure it contains no onions, garlic, or other “dangerous” items dogs should not eat. The third option is to use whole pieces of chicken or any other meat. Just make sure it’s cooled before processing.
- In a food processor, add yogurt and chicken bits. Process about 1 minute or until smooth.
- Place silicone baking cups onto a cutting board or flat tray that is freezer safe.
- Fill with yogurt mix and freeze overnight. Pop-out and store in a baggie in the freezer!
Gluten-Free Pumpkin & Peanut Butter Dog Treats
- 300g fresh pumpkin puree
- 400g organic oats
- 3tbsp Greek yogurt (fat-free)
- 3tbsp unsalted peanut butter (smooth)
- 2 eggs
- Preheat the oven to 180C fan assisted.
- Take your pumpkin and cut it in half. With a large metal, spoon scrape out all the seeds (which, if you clean and wash and then toast in the oven, make for delightful nibbles for you as a reward). Take a large kitchen knife and chop the pumpkin into large chunks. Skin the tough outer shell away from the flesh and pop the fleshy parts into a blender or food processor, blitz until smooth.
- Prepare two large baking trays by lining them with baking parchment.
- In a large bowl, place the oats and the freshly made pumpkin puree.
- With a silicone spatula, mix until well combined, add the eggs one at a time, and mix some more.
- Finally, add the peanut butter and yogurt and mix until fully incorporated. Remove from the bowl and place on a flat surface suitable for rolling out.
- The mixture will be a little sticky and maybe not as dry as one would hope for rolling, but you will be able to roll it out and cut desired shapes; it just takes a little bit of doing, wet the rolling pin with some cold water to reduce the amount of mix sticking to your pin… finally, take a cookie-cutter… and cut the treats out.
- Once the individual cookies are on the tray, pop into the earlier preheated oven. Baking time will depend on the way you cut your cookies… or didn’t cut… small ~3cm long treats, and no more than 1cm thick will take around 40 minutes. If you made slightly larger ones, add 5 minutes and for the one cookie bake, add 15 minutes. You are aiming for a just slightly golden color and zero give in the firmness to the touch… they have to be totally set and solid.
- Once baked, remove from the oven and allow them to cool completely.
- Place into an airtight container and use as needed (or demanded)