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Can German Shepherds Eat Yogurt? What You Should Know!

Your German Shepherd should be eating food made specifically for large breed dogs. But, when it comes to healthy human foods, it’s hard to believe that none of them could actually benefit your German Shepherd as well. Yogurt is one of the best natural foods that we can eat.

So, can German Shepherds eat yogurt? German Shepherds can eat yogurt in moderation. Consuming yogurt will add a little flair to your German Shepherd’s bowl of dog food and help to improve the functioning of your dog’s digestive system. Beware: Yogurt may cause diarrhea or vomiting in some dogs if they cannot tolerate the lactose in yogurt.

While giving yogurt to your dog is usually loaded with plenty of positive benefits, there are always negatives that might come along with it. We’re first going to go over the potential dangers of giving your German Shepherd yogurt and how to avoid them completely.

German Shepherd eating yogurt on top of her 'Guru' cold-pressed dog food
My German Shepherd Willow enjoying some yogurt on top of her food

Welcome to the world of German Shepherds and yogurt. Let’s get started!

The Potential Dangers of Yogurt

We know how much you love your German Shepherd, which is probably the reason that you’re looking to give him some yogurt in the first place!

You know how tasty and nutritious yogurt can be for humans as it is loaded with calcium and protein, and it’s only natural that you would want to share it with your four-legged friend.

Though usually safe for most dogs, yogurt can be potentially toxic to your German Shepherd if it consists of some artificial sweeteners such as xylitol. Yogurt is often loaded with added sugar which is also not healthy for dogs.

Giving your German Shepherd too much yogurt could disrupt his digestive system and cause discomfort.

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Is yogurt toxic to German Shepherds?

One of the greatest concerns that come along with giving human food to your German Shepherd is the potential for toxicity. You’d hate to give your German Shepherd a tasty snack only to realize his body can’t tolerate it.

Yogurt can absolutely be toxic to dogs, but only if it includes certain ingredients like xylitol (or other artificial ingredients). Added sugars can also cause your German Shepherd problems. Here’s how each of these ingredients can impact your German Shepherd’s health:

  • Xylitol. Many yogurt distributors have strayed away from using natural sugar and replaced it with healthier alternatives for humans, like artificial sweeteners. Though sweeteners like xylitol will prevent a spike in blood sugar when consumed by humans, xylitol can cause a sudden release of insulin in dogs. This can cause hypoglycemia and can have a devastating effect on your German Shepherd.
  • Added sugars. Too much sugar isn’t as toxic for dogs as it is potentially harmful in the long-term. When your German Shepherd consumes too much sugar, he’s much more likely to gain an unhealthy amount of weight which puts excess strain on his bones and joints. There’s also a potential that your dog may develop diabetes and too much sugar can cause tooth decay.

Remember that dairy products also contain an amount of fat. You need to ensure you are not giving your German Shepherd too much fat in his diet as this can also cause a stomach upset, or even pancreatitis which is a serious condition.

The best thing you can do when you decide to give your German Shepherd some yogurt is carefully check the ingredients to make sure there are no artificial sweeteners or added sugars!

Can your German Shepherd digest yogurt?

Your dog shouldn’t have any problems digesting yogurt if you’re giving him the right type (as we’ll go over in the next section). Yet, too much of a good thing isn’t always good.

German Shepherd Sitting

If your German Shepherd is lactose intolerant or if you’re giving him far too much yogurt, he might begin to experience the following side effects:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Flatulence

So, what is lactose, you might be wondering? Lactose is simply a type of sugar that’s found in dairy foods. If your German Shepherd cannot digest lactose, they will be what’s known as lactose intolerant. This condition is not harmful to your dog. However, it will be unpleasant!

If your German Shepherd is unfortunate enough to get a dose of diarrhea, you may find my post on what to feed a dog with diarrhea quite helpful!

Dogs have varying degrees of tolerance to milk-based products which all contain varying amounts of lactose. For example, my German Shepherd enjoys the occasional very small bowl of milk, however, she cannot tolerate even just a few licks of heavy whipping cream and she will suffer from the tummy troubles within a few hours! Remember, just like you and I, all dogs are different.

Yogurt is an interesting food as it may not cause your dog any problems at all…

This is because many of the bacterial strains in yogurt produce lactase, helping in the breakdown of lactose.

Overall, the greatest issue associated with giving your German Shepherd yogurt is related to the actual ingredients included in many popular types of yogurt. His digestion might be impacted, but not as severely as the effects he might experience as a result of lots of added sugar and artificial sweeteners.

The Potential Benefits of Yogurt

Yogurt can be just as beneficial for dogs as it can be for humans. That means your beloved German Shepherd will be getting his daily intake of probiotics to keep his digestive system running smoothly and efficiently!

The best part about giving yogurt to your German Shepherd is just how many options you have. Though you obviously shouldn’t be giving your German Shepherd any yogurt that’s loaded with added sugar or artificial ingredients, plain and Greek yogurt can be great additions to your dog’s bowl of dry food.

Tip: Even if your German Shepherd has some degree of lactose intolerance you may find that he can tolerate yogurt as long as it is consumed with other foods. For example, a spoonful or two of yogurt on top of your dog’s kibble may not cause any tummy upset, whereas the same quantity of yogurt eaten alone might be enough to cause excessive gas or diarrhea.

Yogurt is also a great way to administer liquid medications. Dogs will usually lap up every inch of yogurt in their bowl, and yogurt will typically mix very well with most liquid meds. If you don’t have a dropper – or if your Shepherd is too wild to consider using a dropper – mixing the dose with yogurt is a great alternative. 

What does yogurt do for German Shepherds?

So, you know what yogurt can do for humans, but aren’t quite sure how giving your German Shepherd yogurt can improve his health. Well, I did some research!

I compiled a comprehensive list of all the benefits that yogurt can have on your dog’s health. Check it out!

  • Consumption of probiotics. As you might already know, yogurt contains probiotics. When humans, dogs, and several other species consume probiotics, they experience better digestion, an increase in good bacteria in the gut, and improved health overall.
  • Greater nutrition. Yogurt is so popular among humans because it’s pretty nutrient-dense. By just adding one or two spoonfuls of yogurt to your German Shepherd’s meals, you can greatly increase his intake of calcium, vitamins, minerals, and protein.
  • Increased motivation to eat. If your German Shepherd is somewhat of a fussy eater, it can be hard to encourage him to eat when he simply refuses. By mixing some yogurt into his dry food, you can change the texture of his food, add some extra flavoring, and entice him to eat more of his food!

As long as you’re giving your German Shepherd yogurt in moderation, you should experience the benefits listed above. Remember that there is such a thing as too much yogurt, and giving your German Shepherd too much will practically undo all of these benefits.

Moderation is key!

What type of yogurt is best for German Shepherds?

You and I might have full freedom to eat whatever yogurt we like, but there are some limitations when it comes to giving yogurt to a German Shepherd.

As we reviewed earlier, you want to make sure that the yogurt doesn’t contain xylitol, added sugars, or have a high-fat content. Avoid flavored yogurts as these are loaded with sugar and you must avoid chocolate yogurt as chocolate is also toxic to dogs.

Plain Natural Yogurt

So, what are the best types of yogurt for your German Shepherd?

  • Greek yogurt
  • Low-fat, plain, natural yogurt

Greek yogurt differs from other yogurts because the whey is removed and it is the whey that contains lactose that your German Shepherd may not be able to tolerate. Your German Shepherd also may enjoy the texture of Greek yogurt more as it is thicker.

Greek yogurt also contains more concentrated levels of probiotics which not only are good for the gut but they also fight yeast infections, which can help dogs with recurring ear or skin infections, possibly caused by allergies.

When it comes to just how much yogurt you should be giving your dog, you should limit his yogurt to about one or two tablespoons mixed with his dry food.

Final Thoughts

When you want to switch up your German Shepherd’s food a little, there are some human food options that are available to you. In fact, yogurt is one of the best foods that you can add to your dog’s meals to keep him happy and healthy. Here are some guidelines for giving your German Shepherd yogurt!

  • Make sure the yogurt doesn’t have artificial sweeteners (like xylitol) or added sugar and fat.
  • Only give about one or two tablespoons of yogurt per day to prevent gastrointestinal upset.
  • Only give your German Shepherd plain, low-fat yogurt, or Greek yogurt.

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