Greek Yogurt Benefits for Dogs

greek yogurt for dogs

Both Greek yogurt and regular yogurt can be very nutritious for you, but what about your best friend? Can dogs eat either type of yogurt? Is it good for them, and what are the health benefits?

Let’s begin by examining the difference between Greek yogurt and regular yogurt.

How Is Greek Yogurt Different from Regular Yogurt?

Yogurt is made by fermenting milk that is mixed with live active cultures that are part of a healthy gut biome. In other words, the active cultures in yogurt are what are considered ‘good bacteria’ that are a normal part of your intestinal tract.

This is achieved by adding beneficial bacteria to pasteurized milk. The bacteria use the lactose in milk for nutrients, and they convert it into lactic acid. After about six to eight hours of fermentation, the end product is yogurt.

To get Greek yogurt, the regular yogurt is further strained with cheesecloth or a stainless steel strainer for 24 to 36 hours. This reduces the volume of the mixture by about half. Because straining reduces the liquid content of the yogurt, the resulting Greek yogurt has a creamier consistency.

Is Yogurt Good for Dogs?

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Can dogs eat yogurt? Sure! As long as it’s plain without any added sweeteners. The nutritional benefits of yogurt are the same for both you and your pooch. All types of yogurt with live cultures contain nutrients like:

  • protein
  • calcium
  • Vitamin B2
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B12
  • phosphorous

Yogurt is also a good source of fatty acids and potassium, both of which help boost a dog’s immune system. Because yogurt is a nutritionally dense food, it is an excellent carrier of probiotics—those good bacteria mentioned earlier.

Probiotic benefits are numerous. While you can give your dog probiotic supplements, yogurt with live active cultures is like the proverbial spoonful of sugar that helps the medicine go down more easily. It’s tasty and good for your dog.

Probiotics are critical for a healthy digestive system. Scientists are finding new links between gut health and overall health every day. Studies have shown links between the gut microbiome and health issues like diabetes, obesity, and certain cancers, as well as diseases of the digestive system.

All of these benefits make yogurt one of the best dairy products from a nutritional standpoint. That holds true for your dog, too.

What are the Health Benefits of Greek Yogurt?

greek yogurt for dogs

While yogurt is generally healthy, Greek-style yogurt has some specific health benefits that make it particularly appealing. Here is how Greek yogurt compares to regular yogurt, both the good and the bad.

Protein

Greek yogurt, on average, has more protein content than regular yogurt. Protein is beneficial for several reasons, including muscle recovery and growth. It also helps your dog feel fuller. That can help if your best friend tends to be a little on the pudgy side.

For comparison purposes, low-fat Greek yogurt contains as much as 10 grams of protein versus only 5 grams in regular low-fat yogurt. That’s double the amount, which can be particularly important for growing puppies.

Carbohydrates

While your dog likes meat, he also needs carbohydrates, which are part of a healthy diet. Lactose is present in whey, which is that watery layer on top of regular yogurt. Both regular and Greek yogurt have carbohydrates, but Greek yogurt tends to have less.

Greek yogurt has less because of the straining process that removes the whey. That might be important if your pooch is trying to slim down. Greek yogurt has an overall lower carb count while still providing the healthy level of carbs your buddy needs.

Calcium

Regular yogurt contains more calcium because the straining reduces the calcium content of Greek yogurt. However, both supply more than enough calcium to get daily needs met. It’s also perhaps a tastier way for your dog to get his daily calcium needs met than other sources, like green vegetables.

Lactose

Both regular and Greek yogurt have less lactose than milk because of the fermentation process. Greek yogurt, however, has even less lactose than regular yogurt. This might be important if your dog is lactose intolerant.

It’s important to realize that mammals are normally unable to digest lactose after they are weaned from their mother because they stop producing the enzyme that helps with lactose digestion. That’s also true of humans, but our cultural adaptations, including drinking the milk of domestic animals, have caused genetic changes that allow many people to continue to digest lactose after weaning.

That means, however, that it is more likely that your dog may be lactose intolerant. If yogurt is a new food, start with a small amount of yogurt (maybe just a spoonful or two). Then, watch your pooch’s reaction after eating it for any signs of digestive upset.

Fat Content

Just like with humans, too much fat can be problematic for your dog’s health. Some are good, but everything in moderation, as they say. If fat content is a concern for your furry friend, make sure you get low or nonfat yogurt.

You can find both nonfat Greek yogurt and regular yogurt that have been made with skim milk and contain less than 1 gram of fat. If your pooch is a little pudgy, you’ll want to reduce the fat content of your dog’s diet.

If, on the other hand, your dog needs to gain a little weight, then you can go with full-fat yogurt. In that case, full-fat Greek yogurt would be the better choice because it has more fat than regular yogurt. Everything in moderation is the rule here, too, because too much fat can cause problems like pancreatitis.

Sugar

Yogurt is a healthy food, but you can make it less healthy if it has added sugar. In fact, just the addition of a flavor like strawberry can significantly increase the sugar content. That’s why it’s important if you’re going to feed yogurt to your dog to feed plain yogurt.

To sweeten the taste, you can add a little unsweetened peanut butter to the mix. Fruits like blueberries are a good option too. You really don’t need added sweeteners to make yogurt palatable for your dog.

How Should You Feed Greek Yogurt to Your Dog?

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As with any change to your dog’s diet, it’s important to check with your veterinarian before giving your buddy something new. You want to make sure there isn’t any problem with your plan. Once you’ve received the go-ahead for feeding your buddy Greek yogurt, you’ll want to start out slowly.

Be sure to go with low or nonfat, plain Greek yogurt. Read the label carefully since some types of yogurt have added flavors or artificial sweeteners that can be toxic to your dog. You never want to feed chocolate yogurt since chocolate is poisonous to dogs.

Additionally, some brands include xylitol, an artificial sweetener that is very toxic to dogs. You should never feed your pooch anything that contains this sweetener. In fact, check any unsweetened peanut butter you might use with the yogurt because that can contain this sweetener, too. If you suspect your dog has managed to get into something that contains xylitol, you’ll want to take him to a veterinarian immediately.

While Greek yogurt is a healthy and tasty treat, just like with other human foods, stick to the 10% treat rule. Begin by adding a spoonful to his regular kibble at mealtime. Watch for any signs of lactose intolerance, such as vomiting or diarrhea.

Once you’re sure he’s not lactose intolerant, you can begin giving him Greek yogurt as a treat that doesn’t exceed more than 10% of his total calorie intake. With that in mind, the serving size you give depends on your dog’s size (small dogs will get less than large dogs), his weight, any underlying medical conditions he has, and, of course, his daily calorie intake.

You also want to consider his activity level and whether he is neutered or she is spayed. Animals that have been spayed and neutered can more easily gain weight, so you’ll want to watch that fat content. If you’re feeding full-fat yogurt, you should limit that to once per day.

If you have questions, you can also consult with your veterinarian or veterinary nutritionist to determine the appropriate amount to give your dog.

Yogurt as Part of a Whole, Fresh Dog Food Diet

You love your furry friends, and of course, you want to give them the best nutrition available. Our mission is to provide every dog with healthy, tasty dog food recipes that will help them live a healthier, happier, and longer life.

We gently cook fresh, whole ingredients, and don’t add any preservatives or other unhealthy additives. We deliver human-grade nutrition that is as delicious as it is good for your dog.

Additionally, if your dog needs supplements, like foods that support a healthy digestive system, we have that too. You’ll find everything you need for your pooch, and when you add a little Greek yogurt to his healthy meal, he’ll be able to taste your love!


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