Can Dogs Eat Cream Cheese? Is It Okay Or Toxic For Dogs?

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You might be munching down on your favorite cream cheese and lox bagel, when you notice your dog looking up at you hopefully. You know that dogs shouldn’t eat smoked salmon…but can dogs eat cream cheese? Is it safe to share a bit of your cheesy snack with your dog? In this article, we take a look at different types of cream cheese, whether they’re good for dogs, and the benefits and potential health risks of cream cheese for dogs.

What exactly is cream cheese, anyway?

Cream cheese is a fresh cheese created by curdling cow’s milk. A specific bacterium is added to the cream (or milk and cream), lowering the cream’s ph levels. You could probably even make it at home if you wanted to, as long as you followed more specific instructions.

Can dogs eat cream cheese?

Yes! It’s totally safe for dogs to eat cream cheese – but only in small amounts. Cream cheese has no toxic or poisonous effects on dogs.

The American Kennel Club notes that cheese in general can be beneficial to your dog’s health, as it contains calcium, essential fatty acids, protein, and vitamins. 

However, cream cheese usually contains a pretty high fat content, and many flavored cream cheeses contain ingredients your dog shouldn’t have (e.g. garlic and onions).

Many dogs are also lactose intolerant, which means their body won’t digest the sugars (lactose) contained in cream cheese. This isn’t serious, but can cause mild stomach upsets and diarrhea in some dogs.

can dogs eat cream cheese

How can dogs eat cream cheese safely?

Plain cream cheese probably isn’t going to cause much harm to a dog, even if they’re lactose intolerant. And cream cheese isn’t nearly as dangerous as things like the Xylitol, chocolate, or grapes. But it still doesn’t mean they should eat it.

You can safely feed your dog cream cheese off a spoon in very small amounts, or you can use it as an ingredient in dog-friendly treats such as doggie birthday cake frosting or cookies.

If you’re trying to feed your dog medication, cream cheese is great for getting your dog to eat tablets and capsules that they would otherwise spit out. Simply coat the pills in cream cheese and drop them into your dog’s regular meal – or feed them to your dog directly.

Benefits of Cream Cheese for dogs

Though you should only give your dog cream cheese in small amounts, it does have some nutritional value. Still, you can find these benefits in other, healthier foods that don’t have the same potential side effects.

  • Protein is basically the building block of everything. Proteins are a very important part of your dog’s diet!
  • Calcium is a vital component of bone tissue but also serves several other functions for the canine body, like supporting nerve and muscle cell function.
  • Vitamin A is a vital vitamin for your dog’s skin, coat, nerves and muscles! It absolutely must be found in your dog’s diet.
  • B-Complex Vitamins have an important role to play with brain function, energy levels, cell metabolism and the immune system. 
  • Essential Fatty Acids support many things for your dog, including skin, coat and joint health. In fact, many older dog owners will supplement with Omega 3 fatty acids to help support those arthritic, ageing joints!

Why cream cheese isn’t recommended for dogs – concerns and risks

According to the USDA, one tablespoon of cream cheese contains 49 calories and 5 grams of fat. Most of us will use more than 1 tablespoon on our bagels. This might not seem like much, but it is a lot of calories for a single dog treat!

If you have any concerns about cream cheese for dogs, it’s always best to consult your vet before introducing this into your dog’s diet as a treat.

Does Cream Cheese Give Dogs Diarrhea?

Cream cheese might cause your dog to have diarrhea. Most dogs don’t produce enough lactase to properly break down the sugars in dairy, lactose. These dogs could experience stomach upset and diarrhea/vomiting. 

This can actually be more harmful to small puppies because any decrease in circulatory volume can be dangerous! This is why Parvo has such a high fatality rate in puppies, causing them to lose fluids until they dehydrate and die.

Some dogs wouldn’t experience any diarrhea at all. It also depends upon how much cream cheese a dog eats.

A dog’s body doesn’t produce lactase at the same level a human does, and you already know many dogs don’t handle it well. Dairy products can cause anything from mild GI upsets to vomiting and diarrhea. If you know your dog can’t handle lactose, steer clear of cream cheese treats.

What is a Food Intolerance Compared to an Allergy?

A food intolerance and a food allergy aren’t the same things. In fact, they are two separate things altogether! These are often mistaken.

A food intolerance means your dog’s body can’t digest one or more ingredients in that food well. A food allergy is when the dog’s body mistakes that ingredient for a harmful foreign invader and attacks it, causing an allergic reaction.

Food intolerances can result in GI upset, vomiting, diarrhea, or excess gas. 1 in 3 dogs are estimated to suffer a food intolerance of some sort. It’s very common!

Most allergic reactions will manifest as itchy rashes in dogs, affecting the skin. Some severe allergic reactions can cause the airways to constrict, just like a severe reaction in humans, but this is rare.

A small amount of dairy, or cream cheese in this case, is ‘probably’ ok and won’t cause much of a problem. But there is still that possibility. 

How much cream cheese can a dog eat?

You can give your dogs plain cream cheese, but only in small amounts as an occasional treat. Since cream cheese is higher in fat, low-fat cream cheese is a better option.

As cream cheese is not a natural “dog” food or essential to your dog’s health, it should only be given in small portions now and then. Too much cream cheese can lead to digestive problems, obesity, and in some cases pancreatitis in your pet.

Cream cheese can also be high in sodium (salt). Too much sodium can become problematic for dogs! Try only to give salty foods very rarely, and make sure your dog always has access to plenty of water.

can dogs eat cream cheese

Can dogs have vegetable cream cheese?

Vegetable cream cheeses are special flavored cheeses, usually containing extras like garlic, onions, or chives. All three of these things are considered toxic to dogs! If you’re going to give your dog cream cheese, make sure it is the plain variety.

Why Are Onions Bad for Dogs?

Onions contain a compound that will cause a dog’s red blood cells to begin to break down. This leads to anemia, meaning the dog’s body can’t supply itself with enough oxygen.

Why is Garlic Bad for Dogs?

Garlic fits in the same family as onions, having similar effects with dogs. You should never allow your dog to consume either garlic or onions.

Can dogs have strawberry cream cheese?

Can dogs eat cream cheese if it’s strawberry flavored? Sure! There isn’t anything toxic in strawberries, and you can offer them as a treat. This means your dog can have strawberry cream cheese as long as there isn’t anything else harmful in it, but only as a special treat (just like regular cream cheese).

Can dogs eat Philadelphia cream cheese?

As long as it doesn’t contain any harmful ingredients and your dog isn’t lactose intolerant, small amounts of Philadelphia cream cheese is okay. This isn’t the healthiest treat however, so you want to limit the amounts you offer.

In summary – can dogs eat cream cheese?

If you’ve been wondering – can dogs eat cream cheese – the answer is yes…BUT – like all dairy products, cream cheese doesn’t have a lot of nutrional value for your pet, so they should only be fed this sparingly as a special treat.

If you know your dog is lactose intolerant, it’s best to avoid giving them any cream cheese, as it can cause stomach upsets, vomiting, and diarrhea.

As always, consult your vet if you have any concerns about your dog eating cream cheese – just to be on the safe side!

Read more about food safety for dogs:

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BarkZine is a small team of devoted dog owners – so we understand what it’s like to be obsessed with your pup! We consult with veterinarians and dog behavior experts to bring you the best advice for your furry companions.

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BarkZine is a small team of devoted dog owners – so we understand what it’s like to be obsessed with your pup! We consult with veterinarians and dog behavior experts to bring you the best advice for your furry companions.