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Is Cheese Good for German Shepherds? A Nutritional Guide

Last Updated: October 29, 2023

It’s been a couple of decades since my association with German Shepherds began. During my early days, it was a hassle to decide the right diet for them as I wasn’t clear about the nutrition and safety levels. One of the consumables that made me really confused was cheese. If you’re also wondering, “Is cheese good for German Shepherds?” I have the perfect answer for you.

Cheese is good for German Shepherds as it contains protein, calcium, and vitamins. It’s an excellent source of essential fatty acids but needs moderation. You should avoid giving them large quantities or varieties high in fat and lactose, as this can lead to digestive issues or weight gain.

I know that there are several types of cheese in the market. Which one is ideal? What are the benefits and risks? Get yourself educated thoroughly before you feed a slice of cheese to your gentle giant.

In this article, I shall take a walkthrough of cheese’s dos and don’ts. Ready?

Let’s get started!

Is Cheese Good For German Shepherds?

Can German Shepherds Eat Cheese?

German Shepherds can eat cheese in moderation. Many dogs enjoy the taste and texture of cheese, making it an excellent choice for training rewards or occasional snacks. However, keep in mind that some German Shepherds may be lactose intolerant or have allergies to certain types of cheese.

Lactose intolerance is quite common in dogs because they lack the enzyme necessary to digest lactose found in dairy products like cheese. If your German Shepherd is lactose intolerant, consuming cheese may lead to digestive issues such as bloating, diarrhea, or gas.

Always monitor your dog’s reaction when introducing new foods, including cheese, to ensure they can tolerate it without adverse effects. In fact, some German Shepherd pet parents have also shared on a forum about high lactose intolerance upon feeding cheese. That’s the red alert with cheese!

What’s the whole difference?

The chemical composition of lactose is totally different. When found in the food your GSD eats, it can get broken down into compounds that can potentially upset their stomachs due to sensitivity. Here’s why their stomachs are sensitive: 13 Reasons.

Lactose Chemical Composition
Lactose Chemical Composition

On rare occasions, German Shepherds may experience an allergic reaction to cheese, indicated by symptoms such as itching, swelling, or difficulty breathing.

As a general guideline, opt for low-fat cheese varieties when offering them to your German Shepherd. According to American Kennel Club, cottage cheese is an excellent low-fat option, followed by soft goat cheese and mozzarella cheese.

High-fat cheeses can lead to weight gain or digestive problems if consumed excessively. To strike a balance between flavor and safety, you might also consider exploring cheeses with lower lactose content, such as aged Cheddar or Swiss cheese.

Here’s a table with some nutritional info on common cheese types that can be given to your German Shepherd:

Cheese TypeCalories per ServingLactose ContentFat Content
Cheddar113 (28g)Low9g
Swiss108 (28g)Low8g
Mozzarella85 (28g)Moderate6g
Cottage81 (114g)Moderate1g

When feeding cheese to your German Shepherd, keep the portion size small and only give it as a treat, not a staple in their diet. Pay attention to your dog’s reaction!

I’ve always paid attention to tiny reactions and body language whenever I feed something to my German Shepherd. This works well for any dog.

Better to be on the safe side and choose healthy options over flavorful ones, agreed?

Benefits & Risks of Cheese For German Shepherds

It has become habitual for me to weigh the good and bad associated with any food I feed my German Shepherd. Cheese is yummy, but only for humans. Some German Shepherds enjoy eating cheese and mixing it with other foods.

Is it safe? Let’s analyze the same by listing the benefits and risks in this section.

Benefits of Cheese for German Shepherds:

  • Protein: Cheese is a good source of protein for your German Shepherd, which is essential for maintaining muscle mass and overall health.
  • Calcium: Cheese contains calcium, which helps promote strong bones and teeth for your pup, according to Cinnamon Days CIC.
  • Vitamins: Some cheese varieties are rich in essential vitamins like vitamin A, vitamin B12, and vitamin D that support various bodily functions in your German Shepherd.
  • Fatty Acids: Certain types of cheese also provide a good source of fatty acids, which are vital for maintaining your dog’s skin and coat health.
Can German Shepherds Eat Cheese?
My German Shepherd eating kibble topped with grated cheese

Risks of Cheese for German Shepherds:

  • Sodium: Cheese can be high in sodium, which may cause complications for your dog’s health, especially if they have existing heart or kidney issues. Be sure to choose low-sodium varieties if you’re giving your German Shepherd cheese.
  • Fat Content: The high-fat content in some cheese can lead to weight gain and obesity if not given in moderation. It’s essential to watch your dog’s overall calorie intake to prevent health problems.
  • Lactose Intolerance: Some German Shepherds may be lactose intolerant, leading to gastrointestinal issues when consuming cheese. Monitor your dog’s reaction to cheese and consult your veterinarian if you notice any adverse effects.
  • Blue Cheese: Don’t give your German Shepherd blue cheese, as the mold that makes the cheese blue can make them sick.

In case of any prior health complications, it’s better to stick to high-quality, conventional dog food instead of experimenting with new items.

“A strict no to cheese if your German Shepherd is already obese or has pancreatis.”

How To Feed Cheese To Your German Shepherd

Feeding cheese to your German Shepherd can be relatively simple. You can cut small, bite-sized pieces or crumble the cheese into smaller tidbits and hand-feed it to them. Be cautious not to overfeed, as this can lead to weight gain and other health issues.

You should be aware of potential issues or mistakes when feeding your German Shepherd cheese. Sometimes, you may overfeed or use the wrong combination of foods to feed cheese.

Pro Tip: If you’re feeding homemade food to your German Shepherd, adding a couple of slices is good any day!

Ideal Quantity of Cheese for German Shepherds According to Age

Age of German ShepherdAmount of Cheese
2-6 months1-2 small pieces
6-12 months2-3 small pieces
1-3 years3-4 small pieces
Over 3 years4-5 small pieces

Every dog is unique, and their cheese tolerance may differ based on individual characteristics. Always start with a lesser amount and gradually increase while closely monitoring your German Shepherd’s reaction to the cheese.

Happy treating!

GSD Eating Kibble Topped With Cheese

How Can You Tell If a German Shepherd Has a Bad Reaction to Cheese?

Not every food is safe for a dog! If your German Shepherd has consumed cheese and starts to display any of the following symptoms, they may be experiencing an adverse reaction:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive itching
  • Swelling of the face, lips, or tongue
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Seizures

I’ve seen several pet parents confused with the next plan of action when they see the sign but know nothing about the solution.

Here’s an action plan shared for every adverse reaction:

SymptomAdvised Course of ActionVeterinarian Required?
VomitingWithhold food and water for a few hours, then offer small amounts of water. Gradually reintroduce food with a bland diet (such as boiled chicken and rice). Yes, if vomiting persists or is accompanied by other symptoms.
DiarrheaWithhold food for 12-24 hours, then offer small amounts of a bland diet. Yes, if diarrhea persists or is accompanied by other symptoms.
Excessive itchingBathe the dog with a gentle, hypoallergenic shampoo. Check for fleas or other parasites. Yes, if itching persists or is accompanied by other symptoms.
Swelling of the face, lips, or tongueSeek veterinary care immediately. This could be a sign of an allergic reaction, which can be life-threatening.Yes, seek veterinary care immediately.
Difficulty breathingSeek veterinary care immediately. This could be a sign of an allergic reaction or other serious medical condition.Yes, seek veterinary care immediately.
SeizuresSeek veterinary care immediately. Seizures can be caused by a variety of underlying medical conditions and require prompt medical attention.Yes, seek veterinary care immediately.
Symptoms and actions of adverse reaction to food in German Shepherds

Alternatives to Cheese For German Shepherd

Cheese may not be suitable for all dogs, especially if lactose intolerant. If you’ve several dogs at home, I know it can be tough to handle the one that’s intolerant.

Here’s a list of alternatives to consider when looking for tasty and nutritious options for your furry friend:

  • Goat cheese: This type of cheese is typically easier for dogs to digest due to its lower lactose content. You can try offering your German Shepherd small amounts of goat cheese as a treat.
  • Rice: Simple and easily digestible, rice can be a good alternative carbohydrate source in your German Shepherd’s diet if they have a sensitive stomach.
  • Eggs: Cooked eggs are a great source of protein and essential nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals. You can mix them into your dog’s food or serve them as a treat.
  • Yogurt: Choose plain, unsweetened yogurt as a healthy probiotic treat for your dog. Yogurt can help support their digestive system, but remember to keep the portion size small.
  • Tuna: Offer canned tuna in moderation as a protein-rich treat. Be sure to choose tuna in water, not oil, and avoid added salt and seasonings.
  • Watermelon: This refreshing fruit is a hydrating and low-calorie treat for your German Shepherd, especially on hot days. Remove the seeds and rind before giving to your dog.
  • Meat: Protein is essential for a healthy German Shepherd, so offering lean meats like chicken, turkey, or beef can make a great alternative to cheese. Just make sure the meats are cooked and unseasoned.

Are you convinced to feed your German Shepherd with human foods? You need this list: 34 human foods German Shepherds can eat.

We also have this presented in a video for your convenience.


How much cheese can a German Shepherd have?

A small amount of cheese, such as a couple of cubes or thin slices, can serve as a tasty treat or training reward. Avoid giving your dog large quantities, as too much cheese can lead to stomach upset and other health issues.

Is it safe for German Shepherds to eat processed cheese?

Processed cheese should be avoided, as it often contains unhealthy additives and high amounts of sodium that can harm your German Shepherd. Stick to natural, low-fat cheese varieties to keep your dog healthy and happy.

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Sharon Waddington
Sharon Waddington is the founder of World of Dogz. With over 30 years of experience working with dogs, this former Police Officer has seen it all. But it’s her trusty German Shepherd, Willow, who steals the show as the inspiration behind this website. As Sharon’s constant companion Willow has played a pivotal role in shaping her passion for dogs. Recently, Sharon has become deeply passionate about the plight of rescue dogs and is an active advocate for dog rescue, striving to make a difference in the lives of dogs in need.

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