Last Updated on April 23, 2023 by Aaron
As a pet owner, we are always concerned about the safety of various human foods for our canine companions. so, can we share our cream cheese or frosting with them?
In this article, we’ll explore the safety and nutritional aspects of feeding cream cheese to your dog, go through a few better and safer brands, and what you NEED to know before feeding.
Table of Contents
Is Cream Cheese Safe for Dogs?
Cream cheese is made by adding lactic acid-producing bacteria to cream or a mixture of cream and milk, and then allowing it to thicken and coagulate.
The short answer is yes, cream cheese is safe for dogs in small amounts and as an occasional treat. Also, make sure that your cream cheese is fresh with no mold inside, moldy cream cheese can cause muscle tremors and even seizures (1).
While it does not contain ingredients that are toxic and hurt your dog, there are some important factors to consider before sharing this creamy treat with your pet.
- Lactose Intolerance
Like humans, many dogs are lactose intolerant, meaning they have difficulty digesting lactose, the sugar found in milk and dairy products. Lactose intolerance can cause gastrointestinal discomfort, bloating, gas, diarrhea, and vomiting in dogs. While cream cheese is lower in lactose than other dairy products, it may still cause digestive issues in lactose-intolerant dogs.
Here are 5 signs that your dog may be lactose intolerant.
- High-Fat Content
The high-fat content (mostly saturated fat) in cream cheese can be problematic for dogs, particularly those prone to obesity or pancreatitis. Consuming too much fat can lead to weight gain and increase the risk of developing pancreatitis, a painful and potentially life-threatening inflammation of the pancreas. For dogs already diagnosed with pancreatitis, consuming high-fat foods like cream cheese can exacerbate the condition.
- Salt Content
Cream cheese typically contains added salt, which can be harmful to dogs when consumed in excessive amounts. High salt intake can lead to sodium ion poisoning, causing symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, and even seizures. Be sure to check the sodium content of the cream cheese before offering it to your dog, and opt for a low-sodium or sodium-free variety if possible.
Most cream cheese brands typically contain about 100-200 mg of sodium per 2 tablespoons (1 ounce or 28 grams) serving. The original Philly cream cheese for example has 125 mg. While this is not particularly high, you can have the better one by GreenValley with around 70 mg. Plus, it has lactase enzymes added to remove the lactose.
You can learn about the better cream cheese brands in our latest article. I have added the ingredient list too.
- Artificial Additives
Some cream cheese products contain artificial additives, such as sweeteners, preservatives, or flavorings, which can be harmful to dogs. Xylitol, a sugar substitute commonly found in sugar-free products, is particularly toxic to dogs, causing a rapid release of insulin, which can lead to hypoglycemia, seizures, and even death.
Always check the ingredient list for potentially harmful additives before giving cream cheese to your dog. Or you can go with our recommendation instead.
Safe Brands and Ingredients
When choosing a cream cheese brand for your dog, look for options with minimal additives, artificial flavors, or preservatives. Some safe brands that meet these criteria include:
- Philadelphia Original Cream Cheese: This popular brand offers a plain cream cheese that is free of artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives. It contains a small amount of guar gum, a safe thickening agent that shouldn’t cause any problems for your pet.
- Organic Valley Cream Cheese: This organic option is made with minimal ingredients, including cultured pasteurized organic milk and cream and organic locust bean gum. It does not contain artificial flavors or preservatives.
- Green Valley Creamery Cream Cheese: Green Valley features a plain organic cream cheese with a simple ingredient list without stabilizers like guar or locust bean gum. It has live cheese culture added and is also lactose-free. Ideal for canines with lactose intolerant.
While it’s best to stick with the original plain flavor, some flavored cream cheese is OK for your dog. Flavored varieties may contain ingredients that are not pet friendly.
Reduced-fat, fat-free, spread, and whipped versions are fine.
But be careful to avoid any ingredients that are toxic to dogs, like chocolate or raisins. Also, avoid feeding them with chives, black cherry, strawberry, chipotle, and garlic & herb varieties of cream cheese.
The Natural All-in-one Nutrient Pack for Dog
Cream cheese is high in calories and fat, with a 100-gram serving to provide approximately 342 calories and 34 grams of fat, most of which is saturated fat. It also contains small amounts of protein (6 grams per 100 grams) and trace amounts of vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin A, riboflavin, and phosphorus.
The probiotic bacteria and antioxidants in cheese can have positive effects on the intestinal health and the overall well-being of your dog (2).
How to Safely Give Cream Cheese to Your Dog
If you decide to share cream cheese with your dog, follow these guidelines to ensure their safety:
- Start with a Small Amount
Introduce cream cheese to your dog’s diet in small amounts to monitor for any adverse reactions, such as gastrointestinal upset or allergic reactions. If your dog tolerates it well, you can gradually increase the amount, but always remember to keep it as an occasional treat.
- Opt for Plain, Lite or Low-Sodium Cream Cheese
Choose a plain, low-sodium cream cheese without any added sweeteners, flavorings, or other artificial additives. Avoid flavored cream cheese, as these varieties may contain ingredients that are harmful to dogs, such as onion or garlic powder, which can cause anemia and gastrointestinal upset.
- Mix with Other Foods or Use as a Topping
Instead of giving your dog a large dollop of cream cheese, consider mixing a small amount with their regular food or using it as a topping on their favorite treat. This will help ensure they don’t consume too much at once, while still providing a tasty treat they can enjoy.
- Monitor Your Dog’s Weight
Keep an eye on your dog’s weight when giving them cream cheese or any other high-calorie treat. Adjust their overall diet and exercise regimen to maintain a healthy weight and prevent obesity-related health issues.
Alternatives to Cream Cheese for Dogs
If you’re looking for a healthier treat option for your dog, consider these alternatives:
- Plain, Low-Fat Yogurt
Yogurt is a good source of calcium, protein, and probiotics, which can promote a healthy gut microbiome. Opt for plain, low-fat yogurt without any added sweeteners or flavorings.
- Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese is another lower-fat dairy option that provides protein, calcium, and other essential nutrients. Choose a low-sodium variety to minimize salt intake.
- Pumpkin Puree
Pumpkin puree is a nutrient-rich treat option that is low in calories and high in fiber, vitamin A, and other essential nutrients. Make sure to choose plain, canned pumpkin puree without any added sugar or spices.
- Peanut Butter
Dogs love peanut butter, and it can be a healthy treat when given in moderation. Unlike cream cheese with saturated fat, peanut butter is mostly plant-based unsaturated “good fat”. Opt for natural, unsalted peanut butter without added sugar or artificial sweeteners, such as xylitol.