Can Dogs Eat Feta Cheese?
by Tudor Nikolas on Aug 09, 2023.
As a pet owner, you might be wondering whether your dog can eat feta cheese or not.
With its tangy flavour and crumbly texture, feta cheese has become a staple in many households. But can dogs eat feta cheese without any health concerns?
Yes, It's normally safe to give feta cheese to your dog, but this should only be done in small amounts as it's very high in salt and fat.
This article is part of our series on the safety of various cheeses in dogs. The article prior to this is on whether dogs can eat parmesan cheese.
Let's take a deeper look into this topic.
Nutritional Analysis of Feta Cheese
Feta cheese is known for its rich taste and unique nutritional properties. Here's how it breaks down:
|Nutrient||Amount per 100g|
In terms of vitamins and minerals it also has the following:
- Selenium and
- Vitamin B6
While the protein content in feta might seem appealing and healthy for dogs, the high sodium and fat content might not align with a canine's dietary needs.
As it's essentially made from milk, it has a high amount of lactose present as well. This might be a concern if your dog is lactose intolerant or if you are unsure.. but more on this below!
Lactose generally can be a bit hard for some dogs to digest.
Five Potential Risks and Concerns
The best way to give feta cheese to your dog is in occasional small amounts. Say for example you're using feta to make a salad and your pooch keeps looking up at you, wondering what you're doing! It's safe to get a small piece of the feta cheese and let him or her have a taste.
There are however 5 potential risks to be aware of:
Lactose Intolerance: Many dogs are lactose intolerant, meaning their digestive systems lack the enzyme needed to break down lactose. Consuming feta cheese can lead to gastrointestinal discomfort, including diarrhoea and bloating.
Salt Content: The salt level in feta cheese is quite high. Excessive amounts of salt/ sodium can lead to high blood pressure and other cardiovascular issues. Just as we saw in our post on "Can Dogs Eat Crisps", dogs can also get salt toxicosis from to much salt intake. Even as humans we always have to watch out for too much salt in our diet, and our dogs are even more sensitive to this!
Additives and Herbs: Feta cheese may also include additives or herbs such as garlic or onion, which are toxic to dogs. Make sure that if you do plan on feeding some feta cheese to your dog, that it's the plain one with no additives, condiments or herbs.
High Fat Content: A diet high in fat can lead to obesity and pancreatitis in dogs, particularly if such foods are given regularly. The amount of fat in our diet can add up without us even realising it. Dog foods are usually well controlled in terms of their fat content so your dog won't have too much. However, when we start adding human food to their diet, it's useful to try and keep track of this. Otherwise it can lead to unhealthy weight gain in dogs.
Choking Hazard: This can be an issue mostly for smaller dogs if given large chunks of the cheese. Normally it's ok, but just be aware of the risk and always cut the cheese into small pieces depending on your dog's size.
So what's the verdict? Can dogs have feta cheese safely?
Generally it's safe for dogs to have feta cheese as long as there are no other contraindications. These can include allergies or intolerance to lactose or certain health problems affecting the kidneys, pancreas or liver. This is something to watch out for due to its high fat and salt content.
If your dog is on a diet, it's also best to avoid feta cheese.
What are the signs of Lactose Intolerance in Dogs?
Some of the signs of lactose intolerance in dogs include:
- Excessive gas
- Abdominal discomfort
- Change in stool colour due to digestive problems - for example, they may get yellow stool.
Some of these signs and symptoms may take a few hours to develop, so it's best to monitor your dog after feeding them a new food.
If in doubt, always check with a veterinarian.
Alternatives to Feta Cheese for Dogs
While feta cheese may not be suitable for dogs, there are several alternatives that can provide a tasty treat. This isn't to say that there aren't other risks associated with these too, but some may be better tolerated.
Please note that if your dog is lactose intolerant, then all cheese should be avoided.
Dog-Friendly Cheese Alternatives
|Cottage Cheese||Low in fat, High in protein||Choose unflavoured varieties|
|Cream Cheese||Soft and easily digestible||Opt for unflavoured with no additives|
|Cheddar Cheese||Tasty and generally well-tolerated||Offer in moderation|
Tips on Introducing New Foods to Your Dog's Diet
Start with small amounts first, and always monitor your dog or puppy after feeding them something new. If you have any concerns at all, talk to a vet prior to initiating a new food.
Here is some general advice:
- Start with small quantities to observe any allergic reactions or intolerances.
- Always opt for unflavoured and unsalted versions where possible.
- Avoid cheeses or treats with added sugars, artificial flavours, or toxic ingredients to dogs such as garlic and onions.
Feta cheese has become common staple in our diets, and not only in the mediterranean cuisines. It can be a good source of protein and various minerals, but it also has a major disadvantage of being high in salt and fat.
But that's fine...
As long as we have it in moderation, it's a good component of our diet (for both dogs and humans!).
Too much of it can contribute to obesity and an unhealthy diet. As long as you follow a safe approach to introducing feta cheese to your dog, it's usually a welcomed addition to their diet. If any doubts, talk to your local vet first and they can provide you with more personalized advice.