Can My Dog Eat Yoghurt for Probiotics

Wednesday March 24, 2021

There’s quite a fuss about probiotics for dogs at the moment. With humans downing Kombucha, adding Kimchi to salads and dollops of yoghurts in the pursuit of the ‘proper immune function’ resulting from good gut bacteria, we’ve often assumed that our pets should do likewise. 

At Dig-In we have created a few articles that promote the benefits of both probiotics and prebiotics for dogs, which you can read here, here and here

If you’re looking for ways to boost your dog’s probiotic intake, you might be tempted to reach for the yoghurt tub and add some to their meals or as a treat. Which leads us to the question; is yoghurt for good for dogs and is it a good probiotic source?

Can your dog eat yoghurt? Yes…well, sort of, actually maybe not… it’s complicated.

The long and short is this. Plain/Greek, unsweetened yoghurt is the only real choice you have when feeding your dog yoghurt, flavoured yoghurt can have a high sugar content and low sugar varieties can have an additive known as xylitol, a manufactured sweetener that can be really harmful. Too much yoghurt can be bad and if your pup is lactose intolerant then yoghurt is definitely off the K9 menu. Specifically for probiotics, it’s not a great source. You would need to feed them a lot of it and due to pasteurization, the benefit isn’t really there. It does, however, make a good treat.  If you’re looking for more information here’s a deeper look into feeding your dog yoghurt.

Lactose intolerance

Yoghurt is made from milk (we’re not breaking any new scientific ground here). Like us, some dogs have a hard time with dairy, as they might not be able to produce enough lactase. Lactase is a protein that is made in the small intestine. It causes a chemical reaction that helps to digest lactose. If your dog is lactase deficient or has trouble producing the enzyme it could mean they are lactose intolerant. This can lead to a number of symptoms. Bloating, diarrhoea, constipation and more (just like us humans, really). If you notice that your pup exhibits any of these symptoms after eating plain yoghurt, don’t feed them any.

Xylitol is a HUGE danger

As we mentioned above Xylitol is an artificial sweetener some flavoured low-sugar yoghurt options use Xylitol. While it may be fantastic for humans wanting to avoid sugar and cut down their carb intake, Xylitol is toxic to dogs and even a little amount can cause liver failure and hypoglycemia. Our advice is to avoid all flavoured yoghurts if in doubt and ALWAYS read the ingredient information.

Yoghurt is a suitable treat but…  be doggy treat-wise 

Plain, unsweetened yoghurt is harmless to your dog unless they’re lactose intolerant. It can even make a good treat, there’s a few recipes online for yoghurt treats like these easy to make ‘Yoghurt, banana and peanut butter treats’. Yoghurt is high in protein and calcium, which can be great for dogs and used as a good reward. But if you’re looking for the probiotic benefit of yoghurt for your dog, you’ll probably find it hard to give your dog enough yoghurt to reap that benefit and still fit inside the ‘healthy- treat’ range. 

Through pasteurization, there may be no point

Pasteurization is the process of heating milk to high temperatures to kill off any harmful bacteria. Several experts have suggested that the process actually destroys the good bacteria and enzymes rendering the benefits of milk useless, so it’s a contentious issue for human consumption and certainly more so for your dog. While yoghurt introduces strains of ‘good bacteria’, such as acidophilus, the amount required to reap a ‘probiotic’ benefit would have to be substantial and the fat content alone would be detrimental. 

While we advocate healthy additions to any dog’s diet we always urge care, so when thinking of ways to add probiotics to your dog’s diet via ingredients directly from your kitchen we recommend you do some research first or purchase a dog specific additive such as Dig-In HERE