Yogurt – particularly the Greek kind – has long been a popular food to help people maintain a healthy diet. As such, it stands to reason that we may be able to pass on yogurt’s health benefits to our four-legged friends. But is that really a good idea?
Do Dogs Like Yogurt?
If you’ve never tried giving your dog yogurt, you should know that your pooch would probably be into it. As this video shows, canines may go after the thick, rich, creamy substance pretty enthusiastically. And admittedly, it looks kind of cute when they do.
So, Can They Eat Yogurt?
In a nutshell, it can be okay to give yogurt to your dog. You shouldn’t overdo it, but generally speaking, it’s a harmless treat as long as you keep it an occasional one. With that being said, there are a few things you should keep in minds before you raid the fridge and whip open a container of creamy goodness.
First and foremost, you need to have a keen awareness that your dog’s digestive tract is significantly different than yours. That almost sounds like a no-brainer, given that we’re obviously different species. However, this may be easy to forget if your pooch develops a taste for the treat.
The big issue here is that dogs can be lactose intolerant. Seeing as how yogurt is a dairy product, feeding it to your dog may end up wreaking havoc on his insides. Unfortunately, there’s really no way for a dog to let you know he’s lactose intolerant without him demonstrating that he can’t hold down dairy.
As such, when you feed your dog yogurt for the first time, you’re experimenting with the boundaries of his digestive tract as much as you’re giving him a treat. Because of this, many veterinarians recommend that you bypass giving your dog yogurt, just to be on the safe side.
If you still want to give your pooch yogurt, you need to be cognizant of the type of yogurt you’re giving him. Many yogurts can contain additives that aren’t good for dogs, and some contain Xylitol, an artificial sweetener that can act as a fatal poison to dog in some cases. Your best bet here is to stick to plain, all-natural yogurt.
The reason interest in giving dogs yogurt has been drummed up is because it is said to have quite a few health benefits. Ironically, one of those benefits is to supposedly provide aid for a dog’s digestion. Of course, these benefits are only in play if the pooch isn’t lactose intolerant.
Other people point to yogurt being rich in zinc, calcium, and protein as reasons to give their dog yogurt. Some also say that the treat can be instrumental in boosting immunity. It’s also low in calories, which may make it an attractive option to some if their dogs are losing the battle of the bulge.
The buzzword-y reason why people may turn to yogurt for their dogs, however, is probiotics. These are live bacteria strains that thrive within yogurt that could infiltrate your pooch’s digestive tract and help him stave off certain issues the natural way. The work of the probiotics is also said to be influential in boosting a canine’s immune system.
While probiotics can indeed provide health benefits to dogs, it’s worth noting that the probiotics associated with yogurt are designed to provide aid for humans. As such, the assumed medical benefits that lurk within a container of yogurt may provide some benefit for the dog, but not as much as you may think.
Are There Any Alternatives to Yogurt to Aid in Digestion?
If your primary objective into giving your dog yogurt is to provide him with increased health benefits, you should know that there are alternate methods to do so. There are probiotic supplements formulated specifically for pets and their digestive system. They may not be as tasty – they tend to be powders that you sprinkle on food – but they get the job done.
You might not need to provide supplements to your dog in the first place. A change in your pooch’s dog food may go a long way into correcting whatever digestive issue he may be experiencing, provided that the change happens gradually and not abruptly. If you aren’t sure how to make a smooth transition, talk to your veterinarian.
You should also talk to your vet if you notice your dog suffering from long-term digestive issues. There may be something far worse going on inside your pooch’s tummy, and your vet can effectively pinpoint what’s happening. He or she can also craft a solid dietary game plan to help get your dog’s digestive tract on the mend.
Giving Your Dog Yogurt
The amount of yogurt you give to your dog depends on his size. You don’t want to overdo things, especially when you first give him the treat. After all, if you don’t know if he’s lactose intolerant, too much of what may look like a “good thing” could turn into even more of a bad thing.
If you’ve determined that his digestive tract can handle yogurt, you can administer it to him the moment he starts exhibiting digestive tract issues, like diarrhea. You may even be able to give your pooch a spoonful a day as a preventative measure.
When summer arrives, and the weather becomes warm, you may even be able to freeze the yogurt and turn it into a cool treat. Doing so won’t affect the enzymes that lurk within the yogurt. If he ends up over-indulging a little, don’t get too nervous – yogurt is low in calories and won’t do damage to his waistline.
Ultimately, it’s Your Call
Giving your dog yogurt can a terrific taste treat for your pooch or an unnecessary food experiment that should be avoided, depending on whom you to talk to. However, since the ingestion of plain, all-natural yogurt will not bring lasting damage to your dog, the choice of giving him a taste of the treat is entirely up to you.