Skip to content

Cream cheese is an undeniably scrumptious spread that we humans enjoy on bagels, as a dip, or even as a key ingredient in our favorite desserts. Now, if you happen to have a canine companion, it’s only natural to wonder if it’s safe to let them indulge in this creamy delight too. After all, often time those puppy-dog eyes are hard to say “no” to.

Cream Cheese
caution icon

Caution: This food is generally considered risky by the veterinary community. Dogs should not eat this food and should be monitored for adverse effects.

Can Dogs Eat Cream Cheese?

No, cream cheese is not recommended for dogs to consume. Although cream cheese isn’t inherently toxic to dogs, it’s not exactly the best treat for them either. A tiny lick of cream cheese likely won’t cause serious harm, but it’s generally advisable to avoid giving it to them.

Food Safety Exercise caution, avoid feeding
Nutritional Issues calories from fat, sodium from salt
Potential Risks weight gain, lactose sensitivity
Poisoning Symptoms Vomiting, diarrhea, gas, allergic reactions
Every dog is different. For specific feeding guidelines, including quantities and beneficial foods that are best for your dog, please consult your vet.

How Much Cream Cheese Is Unsafe for Dogs?

A small lick or bite of cream cheese does not pose any significant health risks, but it’s important to remember that cream cheese is high in fat and calories. Regularly feeding your dog excessive amounts can lead to weight gain and other health issues. Additionally, certain cream cheese varieties contain added ingredients like garlic, onion, or chives, which can be toxic to dogs. So, always be cautious and avoid giving your dog flavored cream cheeses containing these harmful ingredients.

In short: if your dog finds a few licks of some cream cheese, it is generally okay, but if they grab hold of an entire tub it, there is cause for concern.

What Makes Cream Cheese Unsafe?

The main issue with feeding cream cheese to your dog is that most dogs are lactose intolerant. Lactose is probably the most common cause of digestive problems in pets. Another issue with feeding your dog cream cheese is it’s high in fat. Many cream cheese brands have as much as 6g of saturated fat per serving. Food items with such an amount of fat should be avoided.

Signs Your Dog Ate Too Much Cream Cheese

If your dog has consumed an excessive amount of cream cheese, watch out for potential signs of gastrointestinal upset or more severe symptoms. Often times, the worst that can happen is a lot of diarrhea but if you are seeing more serious symptoms, it may be a good idea to call your vet. Keep an eye out for the following:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite

In some cases, overconsumption of cream cheese can even lead to pancreatitis, which may present with more severe symptoms like fever, increased heart rate, or difficulty breathing. If your dog is exhibiting any of these symptoms after eating too much cream cheese, consult with your veterinarian as soon as possible. They can provide guidance on the appropriate course of action and treatment to help your dog recover.

Common Cream Cheese Ingredients

  • Pasteurized milk and cream: These are the main components of cream cheese and are generally safe for dogs in moderation. However, dogs are often lactose intolerant, which could lead to gastrointestinal upset.
  • Cheese culture: This is a type of bacteria used to ferment the milk and cream. Generally not harmful to dogs but it doesn’t provide any significant nutritional benefits either.
  • Salt: Cream cheese contains salt, which adds flavor but can be problematic for dogs if consumed in excessive amounts. High sodium intake can lead to dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and even salt poisoning in extreme cases.
  • Stabilizers (carob bean gum, xanthan gum, guar gum): These are added to maintain the texture and consistency of cream cheese. They are generally considered safe for dogs in small amounts but don’t offer any nutritional value.
  • Artificial flavors and additives: Some cream cheese products may contain artificial flavors or additives, which can be potentially harmful to dogs. Always check the ingredient list and avoid feeding your dog flavored cream cheeses that contain toxic ingredients like garlic, onion, or chives.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • No, the garlic in garlic cream cheese is highly toxic for dogs. In fact, vegetables from the allium family contain N-propyl disulfide, which can lead to anemia in dogs.

  • Yes, dogs can eat cheddar cheese if it’s the unsalted kind. However, it’s best to avoid it if your dog is lactose intolerant.

  • Yes, cream cheese can cause diarrhea in dogs, especially if your canine companion is lactose intolerant. This is because most dogs don’t possess lactase which is required to break down dairy products.

About the Writer
Dan Greco , Dog Dad

Having been a dog dad for 5 years, I know how hard it is to make sure your dog gets the right nutrients and stays away from hazardous foods. With the help of a veterinarian who specializes in nutrition, I created this blog to help dog owners quickly access food information they need.

photo of vet holding a pup
About the Contributor
Dr. Hillary Wolfe , Veterinarian & Certified Food Therapist

Dr. Wolfe holds a doctorate in veterinary medicine from Kansas State University and holds nutrition certifications from the NAVC and CIVT. Her business, Tula Veterinary Nutrition, hosts online courses that teach owners how to cook for their pet for optimal health and longevity. Follow her on Instagram at @doctorwolfe.dvm for dog nutrition tips, recipes and insights.