Yogurt might be a yummy snack for us humans, but can we let our furry friends lick the pot clean when we’re done? (My two seem to think they should.) Can dogs eat yogurt, and does it have a paw-tential place in their diet as a treat? It’s a bit of a mixed answer really since there’s a vast range of yogurts out there. Read on to find out whether Fido can have a froyo, or any other yogurt for that matter.
Yes, most dogs can eat yogurt, and a little bit of plain yogurt or Greek yogurt can be a delicious treat for your furry friend to enjoy once in a while. It’s packed full of protein and calcium which are always good for a dog’s health, and there’s also probiotics and live cultures which are great for canine digestive health, just like it is for humans.
This is especially good for dogs on antibiotics, as antibiotics can kill off the good gut bacteria that live in their gut. Offering your pup some live-culture yogurt can help return their gut flora back to normal. There’s anecdotal evidence that it can even help to clear yeast infections in a pooch’s ears, but it’s not been researched fully yet.
The safest yogurt your pooch can eat will be plain and free from artificial sweeteners, flavours, or preservatives.
It is uncommon, but some dogs can have a dairy allergy. In which case, it’s im-paw-tent that they avoid yogurt and any other dairy product.
You will also need to check what ingredients and flavours are in your yogurt to make sure it is safe for your pooch. For example, chocolate yogurt is definitely not something you should never feed to your dog.
Beware of the common sweetener xylitol which is also highly toxic to dogs and can cause liver failure. A dog only needs to eat 0.1g of xylitol per kg of body weight for them to become seriously ill. If your yogurt lists “artificial sweeteners” with no further detail, it’s best to avoid feeding it to your dog, just in case it has xylitol in it. If you can’t be certain of what’s in the pot, don’t let your pup have it.
Can dogs eat yogurt even though they are lactose intolerant? Well, yes. Most dogs are lactose intolerant, but many will still lap up some yogurt without complaint.
Because many dogs are lactose intolerant, you will need to introduce yogurt slowly and in small amounts to see how much they can tolerate. Some dogs will happily lap up a splodge of yogurt, but some might find a big dollop makes their gut ache and gives them loose stools.
Many healthy dogs can handle a spoonful or two of yogurt though, and this is because although yogurt is high in dairy, it is much easier for dogs to digest and lower in lactose than milk.
This is because the fermentation process that makes yogurt actually begins to break down the lactose, making it easier for the body to digest because some of the work has been done for it. Essentially, yogurt begins to digest itself as it’s made. Because the breakdown process has already begun, many full-fat yogurts are surprisingly low in lactose and much easier to digest, even by lactose-intolerant people and pooches.
Plus, the probiotics in yogurt help to feed gut bacteria which then aids digestion, making the whole thing much gentler on the gut. Probiotics help people to digest 66% more lactose than usual, and we already know probiotics benefit dogs too.
Not to mention, the lactose level in yogurt varies quite a lot. For example, Greek yogurt is considered low in lactose because it is strained several times during production. This removes the whey and lowers the lactose level.
Yes, dogs can eat frozen yogurt provided there is nothing toxic in the ingredient list. Frozen yogurt is obviously cold though, and this can give your pup dental sensitivity and brain-freeze in similar ways as it might affect you.
Frozen yogurt is the paw-fect way to make some tasty, cooling treats for your furry friend in the summer.
You could just stick a tub of plain yogurt in the freezer to make doggy ice cream or dog-friendly ice lollies, and could add a few cut up pieces of dog-safe fruit like strawberries or blueberries to really spruce it up.
Dogs can eat plain Greek yogurt and it is often considered the best kind for canines to eat because it is lower in sugar and lactose than plain yogurt, which is better for your pooch and means it’s less likely to cause any stomach upset. Greek yogurt has slightly less calcium and probiotics compared to regular yogurt, but it still provides a good amount of both for your furry friend to benefit from. Instead, Greek yogurt does have more protein which is paw-fect for your furry friend.
If you enjoy drizzling honey on your Greek yogurt, your dog can have a lick too. Honey is safe for dogs to eat, but must be strictly limited because it is packed full of sugar.
The same rules of feeding yogurt apply when feeding your pooch Greek yogurt, which means you need to check the label for any toxic ingredients, avoid artificially sweetened yogurt, and always serve in moderation.
It really depends. The problem with vanilla is the way it’s flavoured. Products that are naturally flavoured with vanilla from the pod are usually absolutely fine for dogs. However, imitation vanilla and vanilla extract can be a problem.
Vanilla extract often contains alcohol. While it won’t list the alcohol percentage like a bottle of booze, “pure” vanilla extract requires a minimum of 35% alcohol. Woof! That’s precisely why some brands of vanilla extract make a point of advertising that they’re alcohol-free
It’s not a lot, and the amount in a small spoonful of yogurt shouldn’t be an issue for your furry friend. But, that is why vanilla flavoured foods need to be very limited if you offer them to your dog. If your pooch goes to town and scoffs the lot, they might end up intoxicated.
Vanilla yogurt can have more sugar and other additives compared to plain yogurt, which is just another reason to keep it strictly limited if you’re going to feed it to your pup at all. The healthier and safer treat for your pooch would be plain yogurt or plain greek yogurt.
Generally, strawberry yogurt is “safe” as long as it is naturally flavoured and there are no toxic ingredients. An all-natural strawberry yogurt probably won’t do any harm to an otherwise healthy dog.
You will need to be strict on servings because strawberry and other flavoured yogurts usually contain extra sugar and artificial sweeteners which aren’t great for your dog. They might also use artificial flavourings which can upset a dog’s stomach. You’ll still need to check the label to make sure there’s nothing toxic in the pot too.
If your pup licks a spilt spoonful or manages to take your empty pot and lick it clean, they will probably be alright. But if you’re going to feed your dog a sizeable portion of yogurt, make sure it’s plain.
Soy is a common dog allergen but as long as your pooch isn’t allergic it is paw-fectly safe for dogs to eat and is even included in some brands of dog food. Plain soy yogurt should be paw-fectly safe for your dog to eat as long as they don’t have a soy allergy. You will still need to check there are no toxic ingredients inside and always exercise moderation.
It really depends on the size of your dog and factors like their age and metabolism. If you have a small dog, stick with a teaspoon a day. Meanwhile, a big dog might be okay to lick up a tablespoon or two.
If you’ve never fed yogurt to your dog, start small and only offer them a teaspoon. You’ll want to introduce it slowly to make sure they don’t have any adverse reactions like an allergy or intolerance. If your pooch seems paw-fectly fine after eating a little, you can offer them some more.
The main rule is to never feed your dog more than 10% of their daily calories in treats, including yogurt. Most of their calories and nutrients should come from a healthy dog food.
Dogs can eat yogurt, and the best kind to share with your furry friend is any plain yogurt that is free from artificial ingredients. You can even freeze yogurt to make healthy ice cream and “pupsicles” for your pooch to enjoy in summer to keep them cool.
It’s important to introduce yogurt slowly in case your dog is intolerant or has a dairy allergy. Even when you’re sure your pup can eat yogurt and likes it, you should still only feed them a few spoonfuls at most.
Yoghurt can be a really special treat for your dog, as long as it's fed alongside a complete and nutritionally balanced dinner like Pure. Pure is natural, nutritious and bursting with flavour that will keep your dog both healthy and happy. It's tailored to your dog's needs, so you know that your dog is getting everything they need in every bite.
Written by: Dr Andrew Miller MRCVS
Andy graduated from Bristol University in 2010 and sees nutrition as a foundation for our pet's wellbeing and takes a common-sense approach. We are what we eat, and it shouldn't be any different for our pets.