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Can Dogs Eat Yogurt? Benefits, Potential Risks & More

Yogurt is high in protein and good fats and contains important vitamins and minerals. But wondering if those same benefits apply to dogs? Learn if it's safe to give your dog yogurt and if so how much (plus symptoms to look out for).

Dr. Hannah Godfrey

Last Updated: December 16, 2022 | 5 min read

French bulldog eating the yogurt with a spoon by owner, cute dog

Do you sometimes wish you could share your snacks with your fur baby? With such a wide variety of food available to us as humans, it’s easy to assume that dogs find their doggy diet of kibble boring and limited.

Can we safely share our human food with our canine companions? Well, not everything we eat is safe for dogs. Grapes, chocolate, and onions are just a few human foods that are toxic to dogs. But what if we avoid toxic treats? Say yogurt, for example. Is yogurt safe for dogs?

Many people eat yogurt every day as a probiotic to help keep their gut healthy. So, it’s not surprising that some pet parents consider giving their fur babies a daily dose of yogurt for the same reason. Find out if it’s safe for your dog to eat and how frequently.

Is Yogurt Safe For Dogs?

Plain, unflavored yogurt doesn’t contain any ingredients that are toxic to dogs. However, that doesn’t mean it’s perfectly safe or that your dog should eat lots of yogurt. Let’s find out what beneficial nutrients yogurt contains and what risks might be associated with feeding yogurt to your furry friend.

What Are The Benefits Of Yogurt For Dogs?

Papillon dog in front of white background licking yogurt from cup
Yogurt is made using live bacteria, causing milk to ferment.

Many yogurts are considered probiotics because these bacteria help replenish the colonies of good bacteria living in the gut, known as the microbiome. A healthy microbiome improves gut function and stool consistency while reducing cramps, indigestion, and wind. It is also vital to provide a barrier against diseases and help the immune system. Dogs might also experience these probiotic benefits when they eat yogurt. Still, it’s not proven how many bacteria complete the journey through the stomach and reach the gut alive. There are also probiotics designed specifically for dogs that may be a better choice to ensure a balanced diet.

As well as the potential benefit of yogurt as a doggy probiotic, it is also a great source of protein, which is crucial for the growth and repair of tissues. The casein protein in yogurt also helps with the absorption of minerals like calcium and phosphorus. You might assume that low-fat yogurt is much better for your hound’s health than whole-milk yogurt, and of course, this is partly true. But yogurt contains a wide variety of fatty acids and healthier trans fats known as dairy or ruminant trans fats.

When it comes to vitamins and minerals, yogurt isn’t lacking either. It’s a great source of vitamins B2 and B12, which have essential functions in producing energy and red blood cells. It’s also rich in calcium and phosphorus, minerals that are vital for healthy teeth and bones.

What Are The Potential Risks Of Feeding Your Dog Yogurt?

French bulldog puppy and Chihuahua dog eating the yogurt in the black tray
Yogurts that are high in fat could lead to vomiting, diarrhea, or even pancreatitis in dogs.

When you read about all of the nutritional benefits hidden in yogurt, you might naturally start reaching for it. But it’s important to recognize that there are also some downsides and even health risks associated with feeding your dog yogurt.

Yogurt can be high in sugar and fat, which means your waggy woofer’s waistline isn’t going to benefit from lots of yogurt. Obesity is a serious health concern and could lead to conditions like diabetes, heart disease, or high blood pressure, not to mention worsening joint pain and arthritis.

Another risk associated with yogurt is the additional ingredients or sweeteners. Ingredients like chocolate, grapes, and the sweetener xylitol are toxic to dogs and could make them very unwell. This is why it’s best to choose plain, unflavored yogurt and check the label before feeding it to your dog. Even if it’s plain, it could still cause vomiting or diarrhea since dogs are lactose intolerant. This means they cannot digest the sugars in milk products, which could upset their tummy.

How Much Yogurt Can A Dog Eat?

If you’ve never tried giving your dog yogurt before, you might cause them an upset tummy, including vomiting or diarrhea, if you suddenly give them a large amount. Therefore, it’s best to start with a tiny amount, perhaps half a teaspoonful. If they don’t develop any unpleasant symptoms after a few days, you can offer a little more.

You can gradually increase the amount once you know that their guts can cope with it. However, you shouldn’t give more than one or two tablespoons as a single portion because the majority of their diet must be their nutritionally complete dog meat or kibble. To ensure that they get the nutrients they need, you shouldn’t allow treats to make up more than ten percent of their calorie allowance.

Some dogs can’t tolerate lactose at all. Even a small amount of yogurt could cause diarrhea, flatulence, abdominal pain, or vomiting in these cases. If your dog seems unable to eat yogurt without developing an upset stomach, you should avoid it altogether.

How Often Can A Dog Eat Yogurt?

Restricting your hungry hound to one or two tablespoons of yogurt per sitting might be fine every now and then, but that is still too much if they have it every day. Once or twice a week is a reasonable frequency to offer them some yogurt, but if they get lots of little extras, you should factor these in too. Every dog is different, and some may develop diarrhea if yogurt is given too often.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if a dog has yogurt?

Plain yogurt shouldn’t cause any long-term problems for your dog. Many dogs tolerate a small amount without it upsetting their stomach. However, dogs are lactose intolerant, and those who are particularly sensitive could develop vomiting and diarrhea.

If it’s a high-fat yogurt, there’s also a small chance that your dog could develop pancreatitis, so keep an eye out for vomiting and signs of pain in their tummy. If your dog has accidentally eaten yogurt, check the label to see if it contains any toxic ingredients, flavorings, or sweeteners.

Will yogurt hurt dogs?

If you give plain yogurt and just a small amount, your dog should be fine to eat yogurt occasionally. However, if your dog becomes unwell or develops any symptoms after eating yogurt, you should ask your veterinarian for advice.

Is it okay to give my dog yogurt every day?

If it’s a tiny amount of plain yogurt, you might get away with not causing your canine companion a stomach upset. However, the bacteria must still be alive when they reach the intestine for probiotics to work. This may not be the case when dogs eat yogurt since the stomach acid may kill the bacteria as they pass through. There’s currently not enough evidence to prove whether it’s beneficial or not. Therefore, if you think your dog might benefit from a probiotic, you should speak to your veterinarian about the different products available. Here is a review of some of our favorite doggy probiotics.

Can I make my own dog-friendly yogurt?

Yes, and here is a great recipe to make your own plain yogurt at home. By making it yourself, you can control the contents to make sure it does not contain any ingredients that are toxic to dogs (chocolate, xylitol, etc.). However, all of the warnings above about canine lactose intolerance, too much fat, and moderation apply to any yogurt, whether it is store-bought or homemade.

Final Thoughts

There are lots of potential nutritional benefits of yogurt for dogs. It might also work as a probiotic to help keep their gut and immune system healthy. As with any treat, it’s important to only give yogurt in moderation to ensure that your dog gets the correct balance of nutrients from their specific dog food. As long as you follow the above guidelines and don’t see any digestive issues, your dog may be able to enjoy a little variety in their diet now and then.

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