You’re eating a tub of yogurt and see your dog begging at you. Your dog wants some of your yogurt. This gets you wondering, “Can dogs eat yogurt?”
Dogs can eat and enjoy yogurt, but only in small doses as a treat. Yogurt can even help give your dog liquid medicines. However, some yogurts are better for your dog than others.
Remember, if you are ever unsure of any food, do NOT let your dog eat it.
Dogs Do Not Know What Foods Are Bad for Them
It’s a common misconception that dogs instinctively know what foods are good or bad for them. They don’t. They have to learn what foods are good or bad for them just like we do.
Even then, dogs will often continue to eat foods that are bad for them even if they always get sick after eating them. It is up to you, your dog’s caretaker, to make sure your dog does not have access to any bad foods or non-food items like the garbage that can make your dog a very sick puppy, indeed.
Is Yogurt Safe For Dogs?
On the whole, a spoonful of yogurt is safe for dogs, as long it does not contain:
- Green tea
It’s also safe for dogs to lick your yogurt cup after you are done with it, as long as you supervise him or her. Some dogs get so excited they do not stop with the yogurt and eat the cup! Plastic is not good for dogs to eat and could potentially cause an intestinal blockage. Take the cup away if your dog starts chewing it or ripping it to pieces.
Can Dogs Eat Dairy Products Like Yogurt?
A whole container or single-serving tub is not good for most dogs as it is too much of a good thing. Although some dogs can seemingly eat anything and not get sick, many dogs have problems digesting large amounts of any dairy product – including yogurt.
How to tell if a dairy product like milk, cheese, ice cream or yogurt makes your dog sick? Usually, according to PetMD, after eating, the dog will show one or more of these symptoms:
- More gas than usual
- Painful bloating of the abdomen
- Sudden itchiness
- Skin reddening.
The last two symptoms are rare since they show that the dog is allergic to milk. If your dog has ever shown red skin or intense itching after eating a product made with goat’s or cow’s milk, do not give the dog yogurt.
Kinds of Yogurt to Avoid
Dogs and caffeine do not mix together well. Caffeine not only can make your dog hyper, but also can give your dog diarrhea. If you are going to give your dog yogurt as a treat, make sure to avoid any yogurt that has caffeine – this means any coffee-flavored, any green tea-flavored or any chocolate-flavored yogurts.
Many yogurts come with what the food industry calls “inclusions.” This means sprinkles, fruit, syrup, cookie bits, chopped nuts or chunks of chocolate. They are at the bottom of the yogurt or in a separate container to be mixed in. If any chocolate is included in the inclusions, DO NOT give to your dog.
If you eat sugarless yogurt, chances are it is still sweetened with artificial sweeteners. Dogs can tolerate many artificial sweeteners EXCEPT one – Xylitol. This sweetener is usually found in sugarless gum, mints and candy but also is popping up in other foods. Read the ingredients list of your yogurt carefully to make sure that Xylitol is not included.
What About Non-Dairy Yogurt?
So far, we’ve been focusing on yogurt made from animal milk. In recent years with the rise of both veganism and lactose intolerance, many new kinds of non-dairy yogurt are on the market. They are commonly made of milk-like liquid from plant-based foods like:
- Nuts, particularly almonds
Almonds are not good to give to dogs since they contain trace amounts of cyanide, so it’s best not to give anything made with almond milk to your dog. The amount if cyanide is incredibly small so there is no risk of poisoning your dog with almond milk, but still it’s best to be safe. Dogs on strict diets should avoid almond milk since it is usually higher in calories than conventional dairy milk.
For anything other than almond-based yogurts, it’s a case of trial and error as to whether your dog can handle a particular non-dairy yogurt. Each dog has an individual metabolism and so, just like each dog handles dairy milk differently, so each dog handles non-dairy milk differently. Some dogs refuse non-dairy milk products, which makes it easy on the owners trying to decide to give the dog a taste or not.
Food Allergy Symptoms
If your dog shows any sign of a food allergy, do NOT give any new food like yogurt. You and your vet will have enough trouble trying to determine what foods your dog is allergic to without adding anything else to make things more confusing.
According to the American Kennel Club, symptoms of a food allergy include:
- Any itchiness of the skin, particularly the ears
- Hives, bumps, redness or swellings on the skin
- Sneezing more than usual
- Runny eyes
- Itchy eyes
- Chronic ear infection
- Chronic foot infection
- Constant licking, often with an anxious expression, which usually indicates nausea
- Sudden swelling of the face, mouth, ears or eyelids.
If your dog has these symptoms, take him or her to a vet right away. Your vet will most likely ask that you place your dog on a bland diet with no treats, usually boiled chicken and rice. After a couple of weeks, one food can be added to your dog’s diet. If your dog’s symptoms start up again, that is what he or she is allergic to.
Using Yogurt to Give Liquid Medication
Sometimes you get caught in bad situations where you need to give your dog a liquid medication – but your dog refuses to take it. Yogurt can help mask the taste of the medication.
For example, one day your dog might get diarrhea during a snowstorm, or heavy rainstorm or for some reason you cannot drive. You have bismuth subsalicylate (best known as the brand Pepto-Bismol) which is safe for dogs. However, dogs usually hate the taste of bismuth subsalicylate. If you have a syringe, that can be used to help force the dog to take the medicine. How about if you do not have a syringe?
Mix the dose in with yogurt and the dog usually gobbles it all up.
The usual dosage is one teaspoon of bismuth subsalicylate for every 10 pounds that your dog weighs. Give one dose every six to eight hours.
Dogs should never be given bismuth subsalicylate when:
- They suffer from any bleeding disorder like Von Williebrand’s disease
- Dogs taking NSAID painkillers like Rimadyl
It is entirely normal for your dog’s poop to turn black after taking this. It usually goes back to its normal color in a few days after the last dose.
If you still have questions about giving liquid medications to your dog, please contact your vet for advice and tips.
Safe, Healthy Treats for Dogs
If yogurt is on the NO list of things to feed your dog, what else can you give to your dog as a treat? Safe, healthy treats include:
- Raw carrots
- Raw broccoli
- Small pieces of apple
- Sweet potato jerky
- Frozen or fresh bananas – mashed or sliced
- A very small amount of peanut butter if you are sure your dog is not allergic to it
- The dog’s dry food or kibble. To avoid weight gain, subtract what kibble you give as a treat from the dog’s daily ration.
Should Your Dog Even Have Treats?
Let’s be honest now – is your dog fat? Has your vet told you that your dog needs to lose weight? Yogurt does have a lot of calories – even low-fat yogurt. If your dog is on a strict diet, then you need to ignore those begging brown eyes and not give treats at all, including yogurt.
Some owners take to eating their treats in a separate room from their dogs, even their bathrooms, just to avoid the guilt they feel when seeing their dog beg and not being able to feed them.
Hey – we’re only human. Not everyone can be Victoria Stillwell and teach their dogs never to beg when any human is eating.
Can dogs eat yogurt? Usually, yes – but only a little bit. A lick of your spoon or cleaning out the tiny amount still in the container is usually okay. Always supervise your dog if you give him or her the container to lick. Take the container away if your dog starts getting so excited by the yogurt that he or she beings to eat the container!
If your dog has somehow opened your refrigerator (it happens) and eaten an entire container or more of yogurt, watch your dog carefully to be sure he or she does not get sick or becomes incredibly itchy. Contact your vet if this happens.