Can Dogs Eat Cream Cheese?

Imagine it is time for breakfast and you are late for work. As you hurriedly put some cream cheese on your bagel, your pet runs up to you and starts begging for a spoonful.

You certainly don’t have enough time to calmly explain to your dog that he can’t have cream cheese. Before you consider giving in to your persistent pet, you should ask yourself, “Can dogs eat cream cheese?”

Can Dogs Eat Cream Cheese?

The simple answer is yes, dogs can eat cream cheese. The American Kennel Club (AKC) suggests that eating cheese is beneficial for dogs. It contains protein, calcium, vitamins, and essential fatty acids. A spoonful of cream cheese makes a great treat and is perfectly safe for your pet.

How Much Cream Cheese Can My Dog Have?

Cream cheese is high in calories and fat so it should always be fed in small quantities. It does not contain any essential nutrients for your dog’s health. Use cream cheese as a treat in small portions or to hide medicines. If your dog has too much cream cheese, it can cause various problems such as digestive upset and pancreatitis.

How To Safely Feed Cream Cheese To Your Pet

Just like peanut butter, a spoonful of cream cheese can be an excellent way to reward good behavior. You can use it sparingly to encourage your dog to eat if he has a low appetite. You can also use a spoonful of cream cheese to hide medicines that your dog struggles to take. If you’re preparing homemade treats for your pet or a cake, you can use cream cheese as frosting.

However, it is best you limit the use of cream cheese or it can encourage bad habits. Your dog might start begging for cream cheese even when medication is no longer necessary.

When To Avoid Cream Cheese

If you are unsure about the ingredients in a certain food, you avoid eating it. This simple rule also applies to dogs. In any case, organic cream cheese with all-natural ingredients is the best for you and your pet. There are instances where you should avoid feeding cream cheese to your pet altogether. While most dogs can eat cheese and cream cheese in small quantities, it is not the same for all of them. In some cases, even a spoonful of cream cheese could be harmful for your pet.

Lactose Intolerance

According to the AKC, dairy products can cause food intolerance in many dogs. Most dogs have trouble digesting milk but find it easier to digest cheese and yogurt. Since these dairy products contain healthy gut bacteria, they might even be tolerable for some lactose intolerant dogs. However, some dogs have an adverse reaction to all dairy products. Like humans, dogs experience lactose intolerance with varying severity. Some dogs may show mild symptoms, while others can show severe symptoms. Common symptoms of lactose intolerance are vomiting, abdominal pain, flatulence, and diarrhea.

Figuring out whether your dog is lactose intolerant or not can be tricky. Most pet parents only discover that their pet is lactose intolerant after feeding them milk. If your dog has had a large amount of milk, he will experience adverse symptoms regardless of intolerance. If your pet shows symptoms of intolerance when fed a small amount of milk, they are probably lactose intolerant.

In most cases, lactose intolerance does not mean your dog cannot have cream cheese. It is recommended you use small portions and carefully monitor your pet for symptoms. If your pet experiences digestive upset after feeding him cream cheese, switch over to other treats such as peanut butter.

Diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic illness that affects humans, dogs, cats, and various other animals. The main feature of diabetes is trouble breaking down glucose. Diabetes can occur either as insulin-deficiency diabetes or insulin-resistant diabetes in dogs. In the former, the body does not produce enough insulin, while the latter involves issues in insulin function.

As many commercial pet food brands switch to grain-free options, there is a rise in the addition of starchy fillers. Dogs are carnivores and derive most of their nutrition from protein and fats. Due to an excess of carbohydrates in their diet, many dogs are suffering from health issues such as diabetes and obesity.

If your dog is suffering from diabetes, it is best to avoid giving him cream cheese. Most commercial brands of cream cheese include a high amount of sugar. This can cause a blood sugar spike for dogs suffering from diabetes. Additionally, the rich fat content can also be difficult to break down.

Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis is a condition that involves the inflammation of the pancreas in dogs. It can present as an episode of acute pancreatitis, or recurrent bouts of inflammation called chronic pancreatitis. It can also cause digestive enzymes from the pancreas to enter the abdominal cavity, affecting other organs such as the liver and gall bladder.

Although the exact cause of pancreatitis is unknown, it can occur after the consumption of a fatty meal. Symptoms of pancreatitis include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, lethargy, fever, diarrhea, and decreased appetite.

If your dog is suffering from pancreatitis, you should avoid feeding him cream cheese. The high-fat content can further aggravate the pancreas and worsen existing inflammation.

Harmful Ingredients In Cream Cheese

Cream cheese is not toxic to your pet but can contain some harmful ingredients. At times, the addition of these ingredients can also make cream cheese toxic for your pet. When feeding cream cheese to your pet, always do so in moderation. Avoid feeding your pet cream cheese if it contains the following ingredients:

Sodium

Unlike humans, dogs do not need much sodium in their diet. An excess of sodium can be harmful for your pet and cause health issues. According to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), dog food should contain 0.3% of sodium. A higher intake can cause excessive thirst and urination. It can also aggravate kidney, heart, or liver diseases present in dogs. If you are feeding your dog cream cheese, ensure it does not contain too much sodium.

Sweeteners

Some types of cream cheese may contain sugar or artificial sweeteners. While sugar isn’t toxic to dogs, artificial sweeteners such as Xylitol are. Consuming an excess of sweetened cream cheese can cause digestive upset since it affects your dog’s gut bacteria. Be careful not to feed your dog too much sweetened cream cheese and avoid it altogether if it contains Xylitol. If you have sugar-free cream cheese, it may contain Xylitol so be sure before feeding it to your pet.

Artificial Additives

Many commercial brands of cream cheese may contain artificial additives such as preservatives. Some of these additives improve the product’s consistency, while others increase its shelf life. These artificial additives are harmful for you and can be toxic to your pet.

Allium Vegetables

Allium vegetables include onions, leeks, chives, and garlic. These are commonly found in some types of savory cream cheeses. These vegetables are toxic to dogs since they contain thiosulfate.

This chemical can cause hemolytic anemia in dogs, a condition where the body destroys its own blood cells. If you want to feed your dog cream cheese, avoid purchasing cream cheese that contains onions, garlic, or chives.

Spices

Some forms of cream cheese may contain spices such as cayenne pepper, dill, and parsley. Some spices are safe for dogs to eat, but others can be toxic. Even spices that are safe can cause digestive upset in large quantities.

Conclusion

Cream cheese can be a healthy treat for your pet if given in moderation. However, you should avoid feeding your pet cream cheese if they suffer from lactose intolerance, diabetes, or pancreatitis. Certain ingredients in cream cheese can also be harmful or toxic for your dog. Being mindful of these factors, you can occasionally feed your pet cream cheese.

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