When I went to my local rescue center to adopt my dog, I distinctly remember that the only thing that could coax the shy little guy out from a corner was tempting him with a piece of string cheese.
If you’re wondering whether or not dogs can eat string cheese, the answer is yes, in moderation, with some exceptions (like if your dog is lactose intolerant – yes, dogs can be lactose intolerant, too).
While a little cheese once in a while makes a yummy treat for your dog, it shouldn’t make up a large or consistent part of your dog’s diet and there are plenty of healthier alternatives.
Let’s dive in!
Are Cheese Strings Bad for Dogs?
String cheese is safe for dogs to eat in small, infrequent quantities. In fact, string cheese isn’t very different from other types of cheese, except it’s sometimes more processed.
Technically, making string cheese doesn’t require more chemical processing than a ball of mozzarella, which is the most popular cheese for making cheese strings.
To make string cheese, mozzarella is just stretched so thin that it can be peeled apart in thin ropes, instead of rolled into a mozzarella ball. This means that additional chemicals aren’t necessary to achieve string cheese’s distinct shape and texture.
However, some brands add unnecessary chemicals and preservatives to make the cheese strings last longer without expiring.
A few bites of string cheese here and there is perfectly safe for most dogs. The exceptions are if you have a dog that is lactose intolerant or overweight.
If your dog is lactose intolerant, he will demonstrate symptoms after eating cheese that won’t be pleasant for him or you, such as gas, bloating, and diarrhea.
In case your dog eats a ton of string cheese, he may display these symptoms even if he isn’t lactose intolerant, so it’s still best to give him very small amounts of string cheese infrequently because it’s more like a dessert for him instead of a nutritional need.
Not sure whether or not your dog is lactose intolerant?
In that case, you can abstain from feeding him dairy products altogether. Although dogs can digest dairy, they don’t need it as part of a healthy and balanced diet.
You could also try feeding your dog a small cube of cheese or a tiny portion of milk to see if he has any reaction. Try this and wait an ample amount of time to observe any symptoms of intolerance before feeding him string cheese.
That said, if your dog is overweight, you should avoid feeding him string cheese. Cheese contains a lot of calories, fat, and sodium, so if your dog already struggles with obesity, feeding him cheese could just exacerbate the problem.
Do Cheese Strings Have Any Benefits for Dogs?
Just like humans, dogs can reap the health benefits of small amounts of cheese. String cheese contains protein, healthy fats, calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin B-12. So, as far as treats go, there are certainly worse human foods you could be feeding your dog.
Cheese also makes a great treat to hide your dog’s medication. Peel off a piece of string cheese and wrap it around his pill or chewy medicine, and you will have an easier time getting him to take it.
He might even start to look forward to his dose of medication if the flavor is disguised enough by the cheese!
How Many Cheese Sticks Can a Dog Eat?
Like most foods, the amount of cheese that’s safe for your dog to eat depends on your dog’s size, weight, age, and activity level. Again, you should always consider cheese a treat for your dog, not a food he needs to balance his diet.
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In general, dog treats should account for no more than 10% of your dog’s daily calories. Most adult dogs need about 25-30 calories per pound of weight each day to maintain a healthy weight.
So, for example, if your dog weighs 50 pounds, he needs about 1250-1500 calories per day, and only 125-150 of those calories should come from string cheese and other treats, at most.
If a stick of string cheese contains 80 calories (check the label on your brand of string cheese to get a precise calorie count), your dog can safely have a little less than two sticks per day, if he has no other treats.
What if My Dog Ate a Few Too Many Cheese Strings?
Although your dog may get sick if he eats a lot of string cheese, cheese is not toxic for dogs so it’s extremely unlikely that your dog will suffer toxicity or long-lasting damage from eating too much in one sitting.
You can try to induce vomiting but since cheese isn’t poisonous, this isn’t necessary, and depending on where the cheese is in your dog’s digestive system, getting him to vomit is likely to cause him even more discomfort.
Your best option is to keep a close eye on your dog to make sure he doesn’t demonstrate any serious symptoms. He will likely have diarrhea and an upset stomach, making him sluggish, bloated, and gassy.
Wait for him to expel all the cheese naturally and make sure he has access to plenty of water to flush his system.
If his stomach is so upset that he won’t eat, try preparing plain white rice and boiled ground chicken for him until his digestive system gets back to normal.
Can Dogs Eat Cheez Whiz Instead of String Cheese?
At this point, you might be thinking if there are other cheesy alternatives you could feed your dog besides string cheese.
The consistency of Cheez Whiz, for example, makes it another option for owners to use as a disguise for dog medication or as a treat that may keep him busy longer than a cheese stick.
You can treat Cheez Whiz the same as string cheese (using the same rules of calorie counting to know how much you can safely feed your dog), but know that Cheez Whiz is a more highly processed and less healthy cheese product.
The famous dog toy brand KONG also makes a cheese product that’s designed to go with their activity toys for dogs.
KONG Bacon and Cheese Easy Treat is similar to Cheez Whiz, except it is formulated for dogs and comes in an easy-to-use canister that makes filling a Kong easy. Personally, I would stick to real cheese.
No pun intended.
If you really want to give your dog a special treat, go for Himalayan yak sticks. As long as you follow the calorie guidelines, this is a much better choice!
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In summary, yes, a little string cheese now and then is perfectly safe for most dogs to eat. However, due to the lactose, fat, and calorie content, you shouldn’t give your dog string cheese if he is lactose intolerant or overweight.
While string cheese and some other cheese products like Cheez Whiz and KONG Bacon and Cheese Easy Treat can be safely fed to your dog in small quantities, less processed products like Himalayan yak sticks are the best option.
Li-ran is the Founder and Executive Editor at PuppyTip. He is a holistic pet parent and believes that dogs can teach us more than we could ever teach them. He also loves cooking, especially for his dog, Richie!