Today is the Holy Grail of all National Days here in Wisconsin. Yes, it’s that time again. National Cheese Day! Here in Wisconsin, we are known for our award-winning cheese. For goodness sakes, our football team looks up into the stands and sees cheeseheads every game. So, yes, we love our cheese here in Wisconsin.

Coconut and Mele love cheese so much that as soon as they hear me open a bag of shredded cheese they sit patiently waiting for me to drop a few strands to the ground. But can dogs eat cheese?

Yes, dogs can eat cheese. When we first got Coconut I bought a huge supply of low-fat string cheese at Woodman’s and cut them into small bites to be used as training treats. When I went to the trainer she talked about “high-value treats” and, for Coconut, nothing had a higher value than cheese. I credit cheese much of Coconut’s good behavior. Cheese is also a good way to hide pills for dogs that require medication. Dogs love cheese but that’s not such a huge brag because dogs love to eat.

The second question is, though dogs can eat cheese, should they? It will depend on your dog. My vet reminded me that dogs can get pretty much anything a human can get and that includes being lactose intolerant. Trust me, it won’t take long for your nose to figure out if your dog falls into that category. Even for dogs that are able to tolerate cheese, it is probably best fed in moderation.

There are many benefits when it comes to cheese. Cheese contains protein, calcium, vitamin A, essential fatty acids, and B-complex vitamins.
You and your dog probably agree that cheese is awesome, but there are things that we need to remember. Cheese is high in fat, and feeding too much to your dog regularly can cause weight gain and lead to obesity. Remember that thing about whatever you can get your pooch can too? Eating too much cheese and other fatty foods can lead to pancreatitis, a serious and potentially fatal illness in dogs. Note: I had a case of acute pancreatitis and thought I was going to die. Whenever I think of giving my little beggers more cheese than is healthy I remember the I just want to die feeling and I know seeing my dog in that kind of pain would kill me. So I hold back on the cheese.

The other day my husband was cutting some cheese to enjoy with crackers and a glass of wine and he dropped a huge wedge on the ground. Coconut snapped that up as quick as you can imagine. I immediately Googled the topic if habanero cheese in dogs. Turns out that wedge would not hurt him except it likely burned coming out. So the problem with the really yummy cheese is that they often contain peppers herbs or other products that are toxic to dogs, such as garlic, onions, and chives.

The best cheese to feed to your dog is low-fat cheese such as mozzarella or cottage cheese or other soft, bland cheese. Whoever thought that a piece of wilted lettuce and a scoop of cottage cheese and a piece of canned pear was something delicious on a school lunch tray was wrong. I had way too much of that force fed to me by the nuns so I am not a fan. However, cottage cheese is lower in fat and sodium than other cheeses, helping reduce the risk of obesity. Cottage cheese is also lower in lactose, thus reducing the likelihood of intestinal upset.

Moderation is the key as in most things so don’t give them a huge block of cheese like this no matter how cute they are. And they sure are cute and they sure do love cheese.

Happy National Cheese Day!