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 good for their pooch because we often hear of people having lactose intolerance. This can be an issue for dogs as well, 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.
One cup of low fat (1% milk fat) cottage cheese provides the following:
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In terms of vitamins and minerals, it is also rich in calcium (important 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 useful as an antioxidant that protects cells and DNA from damage.
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 cheese is 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.
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 even suitable for dogs with fat-sensitive GI issues like pancreatitis (as long as they are not sensitive to lactose/dairy).
If your dog eats a 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, which can lead 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 the form of synthetic vitamins & 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 on a regular basis - boring! Adding variety helps your dog get excited for mealtime, provides mental stimulation, and improves satiety.
Cottage cheese can be a great protein option for a bland diet as well. A common 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 can be combined with things like pumpkin or sweet potato for a highly digestible bland diet. See our other articles on bland foods, including sweet potato, rice, eggs, turkey, and chicken here.
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.
Since there are many types of cottage cheese with varying levels of fat content, you want to choose the right amount of fat that is right 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.
If your dog is sensitive to dairy, there are lots of other healthy dog treats you can feed right from your kitchen. One of my dogs’ favorite snacks is apple slices with all-natural peanut butter. When feeding peanut butter, be sure it does not contain xylitol or other sweeteners or additives, which can be toxic to dogs. As well, always be mindful of giving high-fat treats in moderation.
For more wellness advice, join my Community on Dogly where 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.
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 then do not feed your dog any type of cottage cheese.
Is cottage cheese good for a dog with upset stomach?
Yes. Cottage cheese is rich in protein, calcium and vitamins along with probiotics. All these ingredients help during upset stomach.
How much cottage cheese to give a dog for diarrhea?
A dog with diarrhea should not eat cottage cheese more than 10% of daily dietary intake.
What type of cottage cheese is good for dogs with diarrhea?
A bland diet with low-fat cottage cheese is good for dogs with diarrhea.
Is cottage cheese good for dog's coat?
Yes, cottage cheese is good for dog's coat.
Is cottage cheese a probiotic for dogs?
Yes, cultured cottage cheese is a good 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.
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