Can dogs eat yogurt? The answer is yes—but. Whether or not yogurt makes a safe and healthy treat depends on the kind of yogurt, and your dog’s tolerance for dairy.
Most dogs can eat most kinds of plain dairy yogurt, but some have trouble digesting the lactose in dairy products and may experience gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting or diarrhea after eating them. So deciding whether to give your dog yogurt as a treat or a meal topper depends on how well your dog can tolerate it. In addition, yogurt, like many dairy products, can be high in fat which may be problematic for dogs, so it’s important to limit quantities. And, be sure to review the ingredients in yogurt before offering it to your dog as some varieties may include harmful additives.
Key info about yogurt
Yogurt is high in calcium and protein, but some yogurts have as much or more sugar than a candy bar, or other added sweeteners that dogs don’t need (and should never have). If you want to give your dog yogurt, keep in mind that some yogurts are healthier than others, as are certain flavors and ingredients.
Benefits/drawbacks of yogurt
The nutritional benefits of yogurt depend on the kind you choose. It can be a good source of probiotics, which help gut bacteria thrive and promote the growth of “good” bacteria in the digestive tract. The calcium and protein in yogurt are beneficial to maintaining strong bones and teeth, muscle building, and heart health—just as they are for humans.
Plain yogurt is best for dogs, but make sure it doesn’t contain any sugar or artificial sweeteners. Some sweeteners, such as xylitol, are actually toxic for dogs, as are ingredients such as chocolate and grapes.
Greek-style yogurt has more protein than regular yogurt, as well as lots of live active cultures; it’s a great source of probiotics. Even better, it has lower levels of lactose than regular yogurt, which makes it easier to digest.
Another benefit of yogurt? Many dogs like it! And Greek yogurt in particular has a tangy taste that your dog might especially love.
How to feed yogurt/how much to feed
Before feeding your dog yogurt, be sure to read the ingredients carefully. It’s also a good idea to consult your vet first, or ask for recommendations.
When using yogurt as a meal topper, try a small amount to see how they react. Generally, you can just add a dollop (such as a tablespoon) and stir it into the food. You might need to experiment with whole fat, low-fat, and nonfat brands to see which one your dog likes and tolerates best. If your dog tolerates it, you can also use yogurt to make healthy treats—for example, puree a little with some blueberries for a doggie smoothie (freeze in an ice cube tray for a great summer treat). Or simply give them a bit of plain yogurt on its own.
Your dog might do well with one whole fat brand, but not another, or need a low-fat or nonfat brand to avoid a stomach upset. You can also consider serving organic yogurt. Whatever you decide, remember to keep it simple: plain, with no flavorings.
Also, you’ll want to monitor calories: yogurt should always be served in limited quantities, particularly if your dog is overweight. For small dogs, this means no more than a teaspoon or so at a time; for medium dogs, a tablespoon per meal; for large dogs, two tablespoons. Be sure to follow the 10% rule: yogurt, or any “extra” should make up no more than 10% of your dog’s daily caloric intake. Of course, if your dog doesn’t seem to tolerate yogurt of any kind, stop serving it—and ask your vet to recommend another healthy treat.