by Allison Shalla, Dogly Wellness Advocate & Canine Nutritionist
Cottage cheese is packed with nutrients and is an excellent source of protein. Cottage cheese is made from the curds of pasteurized cow’s milk, and it comes in varying levels of fat, including nonfat, reduced fat, and regular fat. It is among the dairy products that can offer probiotics (check the package labels to see if it contains live and active cultures). Dog owners often wonder if dairy products are suitable for their pooch because we often hear of people having lactose intolerance. This can be an issue for dogs, so before adding a lot of dairy products to their food, be sure your dog is not lactose intolerant. Let’s see what health benefits cottage cheese offers and how to determine if it is a good addition for your dog.
Health Benefits of Cottage Cheese for Dogs
One cup of low fat (1% milkfat) cottage cheese provides the following:
- Calories: 163 - 70% of the calories in cottage cheese come from high-quality protein.
- Protein: 28 grams - 25% more protein than Greek yogurt! Cottage cheese has an amino acid score of 158, which is excellent, meaning it has all the essential amino acids in the proper proportions making it a high-quality protein.
- Carbs: 6.2 grams
- Fat: 2.3 grams - this is in the form of healthy fats and essential fatty acids. (1 cup of 1% cottage cheese contains 20.3mg of Omega-3 fatty acids and 49.7mg Omega-6 fatty acids).
Learn more here.
Good Quantity of Vitamins and Minerals in Cottage Cheese
In terms of vitamins and minerals, it is also rich in calcium (essential for strong bones & teeth), phosphorus, selenium, and the B-Vitamins: Vitamin B12, Vitamin B6, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, thiamin, niacin, and folate. To a lesser degree, it also contains decent amounts of Vitamin A, potassium, magnesium, zinc, copper, and iron. Nutrient packed! Because it is so high in selenium (1 cup contains over 30% of the recommended daily amount), it helps to increase antioxidant protection. Selenium is helpful as an antioxidant that protects cells and DNA from damage.
Low-fat Cottage Cheese for Dogs
Low-fat cottage cheese is low in cholesterol, BUT it is also high in sodium, so if your pet has a heart condition like hypertension, you will want to use it sparingly or choose a reduced-sodium brand.
As mentioned earlier, some cottage cheeses are also a good source of probiotics. Because a healthy immune system starts in the gut, probiotics support a healthy immune system.
Last but not least, cottage cheese is also very satiating, making your pet feel full with a relatively low number of calories, helping to combat weight gain.
How to Incorporate Cottage Cheese into Your Dog’s Food
Incorporating cottage cheese into your dog’s dry food is a great way to boost nutrition and add some moisture. It is high in protein, but the low-fat options (1% or less) are suitable for dogs with fat-sensitive GI issues like pancreatitis (as long as they are not sensitive to lactose/dairy).
What if My Dog Already Eats a Balanced Diet?
If your dog eats balanced commercial dog food, adding large amounts of “extras,” even fresh foods, can throw off the balance of things like calcium and phosphorus. ½ cup of cottage cheese contains 69mg of calcium and 151mg of phosphorus, so be sure not to overdo it to avoid excessive calcium, leading to problems like kidney stones and improper bone growth.
A good guideline is to use a 20% rule for human foods as toppers to a commercially balanced diet. What that means is that fresh food “toppers” should not account for more than 20% of your dog’s diet. So, if you feed your dog 2 cups of commercial dog food, you can replace up to 20% of that amount - 0.4 cups or 3.2oz - with “people foods,” like cottage cheese, eggs, cooked meats, fruits, and veggies.
Why add human foods to your dog’s kibble? Studies have shown that adding up to 20% fresh food ingredients to a dog's commercial diet can boost nutrition and extend life. Even the most high-quality kibble available on the market is subject to nutrient loss in the high-temperature rendering process. These nutrients need to be added back into the kibble in synthetic vitamins and minerals. Fresh foods often provide a much more bioavailable version of these nutrients.
In addition to the many health benefits, adding a variety of fresh foods to your dog’s diet provides enrichment. Imagine eating the same dry food regularly - boring! Adding variety helps your dog get excited about mealtime, provides mental stimulation, and improves satiety.
Cottage cheese can be a great protein option for a bland diet. A standard recommendation is to feed boiled chicken and rice if your dog has an upset stomach, but low-fat cottage cheese is also a great protein option for a bland diet if your pet tolerates dairy well. It is easy on the digestive system and combines things like pumpkin or sweet potato for a highly digestible bland diet.
You may not want to give your dog cottage cheese every day, but rather as a special treat or when your pup requires a bland diet due to upset.
**Important note: as mentioned above, if your pet has any of the following health problems, cottage cheese may not be a good fit for your dog’s diet: heart conditions such as hypertension, lactose intolerance, or dairy sensitivity.
How to Select a Cottage Cheese Brand for Dogs
Since there are many types of cottage cheese with varying levels of fat content, you want to choose the right amount of fat for your dog. I generally recommend sticking with a 1% low-fat cottage cheese, so your dog is getting all the quality protein without overdoing the fat content.
As mentioned, cottage cheese is very high in sodium, so consider buying low-sodium or sodium-free varieties, especially if your dog needs a reduced-sodium diet due to heart issues. A high sodium intake raises blood pressure and potentially increases the risk of heart disease.
Lastly, if you want to give cottage cheese for gut health, be sure to select a brand that lists live and active bacterial cultures on the label.
Other Healthy Snacks, Including Cookies
If your dog is sensitive to dairy, there are many other healthy dogs treats you can feed right from your kitchen. One of my dogs’ favorite snacks is apple slices with all-natural peanut butter. When providing peanut butter, ensure it does not contain xylitol or other sweeteners or additives toxic to dogs. As well, always be mindful of giving high-fat treats in moderation.
For more wellness advice, join my Community on Dogly. You can ask questions and get 24/7 access to certified experts across nutrition, training & behavior, and wellness to give you and your dog your best life together.
If your dog could use some digestion help and a healthier gut to absorb and access all the good nutrients you’re feeding, check out Native Pet’s Probiotic, carefully created by their team of nutritionists and veterinarians.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it okay to feed dogs cottage cheese?
Yes, it is okay to feed dogs cottage cheese with some precaution. If your dog is lactose intolerance, do not feed your dog any cottage cheese.
Is cottage cheese good for a dog with an upset stomach?
Yes. Cottage cheese is rich in protein, calcium, and vitamins, along with probiotics. All these ingredients help during an upset stomach.
How much cottage cheese should I give a dog for diarrhea?
A dog with diarrhea should not eat cottage cheese as more than 10% of daily dietary intake.
What type of cottage cheese is suitable for dogs with diarrhea?
A bland diet with low-fat cottage cheese is suitable for dogs with diarrhea.
Is cottage cheese good for a dog's coat?
Yes, cottage cheese is suitable for a dog's coat.
Is cottage cheese a probiotic for dogs?
Yes, cultured cottage cheese is an excellent probiotic for dogs but, regular cottage cheese is not.
Can dogs eat cottage cheese with pineapple?
Yes, dogs can eat a small amount of cottage cheese with pineapples.