Believe it or not, cheese is actually a safe food for dogs. But this is only true if cheese is given to dogs in moderation. Some cheeses are better than others for dogs: cottage cheese and mozzarella are the two cheese types often cited as being the best. With this information in mind, can dogs eat pepper jack cheese?
Pepper jack cheese is not good for dogs due to the spices, garlic, and excessive calories in this cheese variety. Garlic is toxic to dogs, and any kind of spicy pepper can lead to severe abdominal upset for canines. It’s better to give your dog small amounts of mozzarella or cottage cheese instead.
Cheese in and of itself is not toxic to dogs, but there are some varieties, like pepper jack, that contain harmful ingredients like garlic. In this guide, we are going to look at the harmful ingredients in pepper jack cheese that make it a bad idea as a dog treat. We will also look at some safer alternatives you can try instead.
How Is Pepper Jack Cheese Prepared?
Pepper jack cheese is an American cheese with Latin origins that date back to 19th century California. The cheese is essentially whole monterey jack cheese that is blended with seasonings, and a variety of peppers to create a spicy taste.
Pepper jack cheese is only aged for a few months at most, and its spicy twang makes it a popular accompaniment of many Mexican dishes.
In terms of feeding your dog pepper jack cheese, this is already not a good idea based on the inclusion of spicy peppers alone. But there may be other concerns with this cheese to be aware of.
What Ingredients in Pepper Jack Cheese Are Unhealthy for Dogs?
First and foremost, cheese is not a great idea in terms of feeding it to your dog. Nearly all varieties of cheeses can lead to canine constipation, and the fat content is not good for dogs either.
Let’s take a look at each ingredient in pepper jack cheese to see how the ingredients react within a dog’s system.
Peppers and Chillies
Pepper jack cheese is typically made with a blend of jalapeno, habanero, serrano, and sometimes bell peppers are used in the blend.
Apart from bell peppers, all the other pepper types are hot enough for people, but this is amplified to an even greater degree for dogs. Some pepper jack cheeses may also use a variety of chili peppers which ramps up the level of spiciness to an unbearable degree for dogs.
Ingestion of spicy foods can lead to stomach upset, diarrhea, and vomiting in dogs.
If you are like me and you enjoy incredibly spicy foods, I can understand your desire for wanting others or even your pets to try the flavors. But spiciness is not something that dogs are capable of handling–at all.
Garlic and onion are even more dangerous for dogs than peppers. Garlic can lead to kidney failure and poisoning of a dog’s circulatory system since it attacks canine red blood cells.
Just by browsing the ingredient list of a wide variety of pepper jack cheeses, garlic or garlic powder are almost always on the list. Even trace amounts of garlic can be toxic to dogs, and large amounts can be outright fatal.
Since garlic is a common ingredient of this cheese, I would avoid ever giving this cheese to your dog since small amounts of garlic may not even be listed.
Excessive amounts of sodium can also be problematic for dogs. There is just enough daily sodium in your dog’s pet food to sustain them. Increasing sodium intake through questionable treats like pepper jack cheese, could lead to possible seizures or muscle tremors in dogs.
Pepper jack cheese is naturally salty, and even two to three slices could likely well exceed a dog’s recommended daily limit of 200mg.
Milk is a lot like salty snacks in that the product is not overly dangerous for dogs, but it is not a good idea to give your dog milk in the long run.
Although packed with essential vitamins and nutrients, the milk content in cheese is high since cheese is nothing more than curdled milk. If your dog is lactose intolerant, and most breeds are, milk will make them overly ill.
Milk also contains lots of fat–far beyond a dog’s daily needs.
Pepper jack cheese is loaded with extra, empty calories that your dog simply does not need. Excess calories translates to weight gain in dogs. There are much healthier snacks out there to feed your dog than cheese.
Can Dogs Eat Pepper Jack Cheese in Moderation?
As mentioned, cheese, even pepper jack cheese, is not toxic enough to be immediately fatal to dogs. The exception to this is pepper jack cheeses that contain garlic, and most brands do.
It can be said that a mild, unseasoned cheese is okay in small amounts for dogs (think one to two slices or cubes), but not pepper jack.
This variety of cheese contains far too many ingredients that can make your dog sick.
I would also be wary of deciding to give your dog pepper jack cheese that does not have garlic listed as an ingredient. There is still concern with the spicy peppers, and the garlic may have been forgotten during the printing of the ingredients.
If you are snacking on pepper jack cheese and do not want your pooch to feel left out, consider other alternatives.
Try These Alternatives Instead
There are not any dog treats out there that simulate the taste of pepper jack cheese, but there are still many similar options you can give your dog.
Let’s take a look at some good pepper jack cheese alternatives.
Cottage cheese is unique amongst cheeses in that it is rather bland and has a strong taste. This is what makes this cheese such a great binding agent in casseroles that need dairy but not a powerful taste.
Due to its bland flavor, cottage cheese is actually well-tolerated by dogs. This cheese is also high in protein and if you buy 1% low fat cottage cheese, low in fat as well.
You can place a few spoonfuls in a bowl and feed the cottage cheese to your dog while you snack on your pepper jack cheese.
Although bland and relatively harmless, cottage cheese should never be given to dogs with any sort of dairy allergy.
Safe and nutritious dog treats are the universal go-to whenever dogs need snacks in-between their meals. Doggie snacks of your cheese can also be great tools when you are snacking on something and your dog starts to characteristically beg.
Your dog may at first reject the snacks since they are only interested in what you are having. But keep insisting that your dog take their treats instead and train your dog not to beg or give you sad eyes while you eat.
Meaty treats are always best since non-protein snacks probably will not break your dog’s attention from your pepper jack cheese!
Peanut butter is also a universal stand-by for dogs who become bored with their average treats. Peanut butter is adequate in protein and contains beneficial vitamins and minerals for dogs to boot.
The only problem with giving peanut butter to dogs is that it can be hard to do. You can either scoop some into a bowl to give to your dog or spoon some out of the jar and allow your dog to lick it from the spoon.
There are also an endless variety of peanut butter snacks made specifically for dogs.
Is Pepper Jack Cheese Toxic to Dogs?
As mentioned, garlic is a common ingredient in pepper jack cheese, and garlic is toxic and potentially fatal for dogs.
Hot peppers can cause extreme stomach and digestive tract upset in dogs. If your dog is lactose intolerant, the milk content in the cheese could cause allergic reactions.
Conclusion for Can Dogs Eat Pepper Jack Cheese?
In summary, dogs should not be given pepper jack cheese as a snack. This particular cheese has too many ingredients that can make your dog sick or even cause toxicity. There are too many risks for even a small amount of pepper jack cheese.
Consider giving your dog cottage cheese or peanut butter if they are curious about pepper jack cheese.
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Garrett loves animals and is a huge advocate for all Doodle dog breeds. He owns his own Goldendoodle named Kona. In addition, he volunteers at the Humane Society of Silicon Valley, where he fosters dogs and helps animals. Garrett enjoys writing about Doodles and believes that dogs can teach humans more about how to live than humans can teach a dog.
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