String cheese can make a great treat for dogs. It’s a good source of protein and calcium, and its stringy texture makes it fun for dogs to eat. However, not all string cheese is created equal when it comes to canine consumption. As dog owners, we need to be aware of which types and brands are safe to feed our furry friends. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at string cheese and answer the question: what string cheese is safe for dogs?
What is String Cheese?
String cheese is a snack made of mozzarella cheese that has been heated, stretched, and pulled into strings. It has a mild, salty flavor and a distinctive stringy, chewy texture.
Traditional string cheese is made solely from mozzarella. However, some mass-produced varieties also contain other ingredients such as whey, milk, cream, and stabilizers to alter the texture and flavor.
The two main categories of string cheese are:
- Natural string cheese – This is made from just mozzarella, salt, and cultures. It has a plain flavor and usually comes from smaller, artisanal producers.
- Processed string cheese – This contains extra ingredients besides mozzarella. The flavor is often milder and the texture more uniformly stringy. Kraft and Sargento are examples of popular processed string cheese brands.
The ingredients and nutritional value can vary widely between natural and processed string cheese options. So it’s important to read labels when selecting string cheese for your dog.
Is String Cheese Safe for Dogs to Eat?
In moderation, most types of string cheese are safe for healthy dogs to eat.
String cheese is a good occasional treat due to its high protein and calcium content. The strings are also beneficial for dental health as they help scrape plaque off dogs’ teeth.
However, some ingredients commonly found in processed string cheeses may cause issues for dogs. These include:
- Lactose – Cheese contains lactose sugars. Dogs with lactose intolerance may get diarrhea.
- Artificial flavors – These can upset some dogs’ stomachs.
- Stabilizers – Ingredients like carrageenan are controversial and possibly linked to digestive issues.
- Preservatives – Preservatives like sorbic acid may cause mild irritation.
- Fat – Too much fat can lead to pancreatitis and other health issues.
So while most string cheese is fine for dogs, it’s best to choose an option without artificial additives and feed sparingly as a treat. Talk to your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s tolerance.
The Best and Worst String Cheeses for Dogs
When choosing a dog-friendly string cheese, natural, additive-free options are ideal. Here are some better and worse choices when it comes to string cheese for dogs:
The Worst String Cheese for Dogs
- Kraft String Cheese – Contains milk, whey, cream, salt, and stabilizers.
- Sargento String Cheese – Has milk, salt, calcium phosphate, natamycin, and enzymes.
- Great Value String Cheese (Wal-mart) – Contains milk, cream, salt, enzymes, annatto color.
- any string cheese with artificial flavors, colors or preservatives.
While these are not toxic to dogs, the additives may cause stomach upset or allergic reactions. Natural options are a better choice.
The Best String Cheese for Dogs
- Publix Deli String Cheese – Just pasteurized milk, cheese cultures, salt, and enzymes.
- Trader Joe’s Low Moisture Mozzarella String Cheese – Only pasteurized part-skim milk, cheese cultures, salt, and enzymes.
- Kirkland Organic String Cheese (Costco) – Contains organic cultured low-moisture part-skim mozzarella milk, salt, and enzymes.
- 365 Everyday Value String Cheese (Whole Foods) – Ingredients are pasteurized milk, cheese cultures, salt, and enzymes.
The simpler the ingredients list, the better! Choose string cheeses with just milk, cultures, salt, and enzymes.
How Much String Cheese Can Dogs Eat?
String cheese should only be fed to dogs in moderation, as too much can lead to digestive upset and unhealthy weight gain. Here are some feeding guidelines for string cheese for dogs:
- Small dogs under 25 lbs can eat 1-2 pieces (1-2 ounces) of string cheese 1-2 times per week.
- Medium dogs 25-50 lbs can have 1-3 pieces (1-3 ounces) 1-2 times weekly.
- Large dogs over 50 lbs can eat 2-4 pieces (2-4 ounces) 1-2 times per week.
Always monitor your dog for any signs of lactose intolerance or allergic reaction when introducing new foods. Reduce portion or frequency if any issues arise. Also be sure to cut the string cheese into small, bite-sized pieces to prevent choking.
Healthier Alternatives to String Cheese
While string cheese is safe for dogs in moderation, too much dairy fat can lead to obesity and other health problems. Here are some healthier treat alternatives:
- Carrots – Low calorie, nutritious crunchy snack.
- Fish sticks – High protein treats, just check for any added flavors.
- Air-popped popcorn – Whole grain and low fat (no butter!).
- Frozen banana slices – Cool, sweet snack dogs love.
- Blueberries – Low sugar, antioxidant-rich fruit.
- Green beans – Low calorie veggie dogs usually enjoy.
Aim for treats under 50 calories to avoid overfeeding. Stick to fruits, veggies, lean proteins, and whole grains. Rotate different healthy treats to keep your dog interested.
Key Takeaways on String Cheese for Dogs
To sum up the key points on feeding string cheese to dogs:
- Choose natural, additive-free string cheese whenever possible.
- Read ingredients lists and avoid artificial flavors/preservatives.
- Smaller, artisanal string cheeses are best.
- Limit to 1-4 pieces per week based on your dog’s size.
- Cut into small pieces to reduce choking risk.
- Monitor for signs of digestive upset or allergies.
- Also rotate in healthier treats like fruits and veggies.
As long as you follow these tips, string cheese can be a nutritious and yummy occasional snack for your dog! Just be sure not to overdo it. Talk to your vet if you have any other questions on safe human foods for dogs.
String cheese can make a tasty and protein-packed treat for dogs in moderation. Look for natural options without additives and limit portions to 1-4 pieces per week based on your dog’s size. Monitor your dog’s reaction, and cut the cheese into small pieces to reduce choking risk. While string cheese in itself is not harmful to dogs, too much dairy fat can lead to obesity, pancreatitis, and other health issues. So mix up treats with healthier options like veggies and fruits as well. With some caution and common sense, string cheese can be a fun way to show your pooch some love!