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Health & Wellness

Food safety: Is yogurt safe for pets?

It offers benefits like protein and probiotics

A spoonful of yogurt may not seem like a normal snack option for pets, but it’s actually a healthy alternative to treats. As it turns out, yogurt is also usually safe — and most likely healthy — for cats and dogs to eat, too — as long as it doesn’t contain sugar substitutes like xylitol. Fetch by The Dodo’s on-staff vet, Dr. Aliya McCullough, explains why.

The benefits of yogurt for pets

It’s no secret that adult cats and dogs are largely lactose intolerant. This is why vets don’t recommend offering your pet a bowl of milk unless you also want to clean the litter box (or bedding) more frequently.

However, because yogurt is fermented, very little lactose remains in the finished product meaning cats and dogs can usually digest yogurt without the potential for messy side effects.

The benefits of yogurt include high levels of protein (about 9 grams per 6-ounce serving), calcium, vitamins B2 and B12 and the minerals potassium and magnesium. Yogurt is also packed with friendly bacteria, or probiotics, that we typically associate with helping our digestion.

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Probiotics and pets

While probiotics can be beneficial to your pet, yogurt isn’t the most efficient way to work them into your cat or dog’s diet. The key to supplementing a diet with probiotics is dosage — you want to supply as many bacteria as possible in a single serving.

Typically, a full 4.5 to 6-ounce serving of yogurt provides at or around 1 billion colony forming units (CFUs). Meaning, if you offer your cat one to two tablespoons of yogurt, you’re giving them a pretty small dosage of friendly bacteria.

Talk to your vet about whether your pet could benefit from a daily probiotic supplement, which can give them the maximum good bacteria without the additional calories. They can help boost your pet’s immune system and reduce diarrhea, among other benefits, too. It’s also a good idea to sign your pet up for Fetch by The Dodo pet insurance in case they ever have a negative reaction to new foods, like yogurt.

So remember, nonfat plain yogurt is usually safe and healthy for cats and dogs to eat as a fun snack — just check the nutrition label first to make sure it doesn't contain a dangerous ingredient, like xylitol. And for even more power-packed benefits, consider adding a daily probiotic to their regimen.

The Dig is the expert-backed editorial from Fetch Pet Insurance. We're here to answer all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park.

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