Do you get hit with those puppy dog eyes every time you peel open a cup of yogurt?
As it turns out, yogurt is a healthy, tummy-boosting snack that you can - and should! - share with your dog.
But not all yogurt is safe for dogs. Here's what you should know before sharing it with your best friend.
Dogs should only eat plain yogurt with no added sugar.
Greek yogurt is the best choice for dogs. It has significantly less lactose than regular yogurt. Kefir, yogurt's smooth, drinkable cousin, is also low in lactose and safe for dogs.
Some sugar-free yogurt may contain a sugar-free substitute, called xylitol that is toxic to dogs. Make sure you choose a brand that has no sugar added, and double-check the ingredients list for this toxic substance. Even a small amount can be fatal to dogs.
Dairy products like milk and yogurt contain a natural sugar called lactose. For some people and most dogs, lactose is difficult for the body to break down.
As a result, the sugar stays in the small intestine, where it feeds bad bacteria that cause gas and indigestion.
The live active bacteria, or probiotics, which are used to make all varieties of yogurt, help break down lactose so it's easier to digest. Those probiotics help build up beneficial bacteria in the gut for an overall healthier digestive tract and stronger immune system.
Even so, yogurt does contain some lactose. If your dog does not normally eat yogurt, you'll want to slowly introduce it to your dog's diet.
Besides gut and immunity boosting probiotics, yogurt has other benefits for your dog's health.
It's full of essential nutrients like calcium, magnesium and protein. It's also a good source of the most important nutrient of all: water. Used as a food topper, yogurt is an easy way to add moisture to your dog's diet. While these nutrients are great, it is worthy to note that dogs do much better on soil based products, which typically survive your dog's acidic gut and seem to better enhance levels of healthy flora in your dog's digestive tract.
From puppies to seniors, all dogs can benefit from yogurt. If your dog has any chronic health issues, though, or is on any medication, you'll want to ask your vet to make sure it's okay to feed.
Fruits and veggies contain prebiotic fibers that feed beneficial bacteria.
By adding strawberries, blueberries, carrots, kale or pumpkin to your dog's yogurt, you can make a wholesome, yummy snack that doubles up on your dog's gut health. Super nutrients such as raw honey/bee pollen, papaya, coconut water or Bovine colostrum are also great additions for your dog's digestive tract.
Produce can be chopped into bite-sized pieces, pureed, or steamed and coated with yogurt. You can even freeze your pooch's favorite yogurt-fruit combo in an ice cube tray or a food toy like a Kong to make pupsicles!
To make it even easier to add beneficial gut bacteria to your dog's diet, try a canine-specific probiotic supplement like Proviable.
Probiotics found in yogurt tend to be more beneficial to humans, but may not be as useful to the canine digestive tract. Dog-specific probiotics are specially formulated to the canine gut, making it more effective for helping dogs digest their food more efficiently.
Probiotics like VetriScience Vetri Mega Probiotic contain plant-based enzymes that have wonderful therapeutic and preventative aspects. These types of enzymes start acting even in the stomach, and are truly essential nutrients in helping middle-age to older pets predigest their food, so the aging body doesn't have to work as hard.
Vet-Recommended Probiotics and Enzymes