Americans love cheese and as time goes by they are eating more and more.
And mozzarella, the poster boy of pizza toppings, is top of the pile so to speak.
It is the cheese that Americans love or at least eat the most of, the most.
So let me just hit you with some numbers.
In 2019 on average, each American ate just over thirty eight pounds of cheese (17 kilograms) of cheese.
And twelve pounds of this was mozzarella– with cheddar coming a close second with just over ten pounds.
Can dogs have Mozzarella
The good news is that there is nothing in mozzarella which is poisonous and which could endanger the life of your dog a few hours after they have eaten it.
It basically just contains buffalo or cow’s milk, salt and a few enzymes.
But let’s not kid ourselves, mozzarella cheese is a very unhealthy food for our dog.
So if your dog has stolen a chunk of cheese, or a mozzarella stick or a slice of pizza then you can breathe easy because the worst thing that can happen if your dog ate too much of the cheese is a bit of vomiting or a touch of diarrhoea.
But before I go into too much detail about mozzarella and dogs, I want to gaze into the past and find out a bit more about what makes this cheese so special.
What is mozzarella?
Mozzarella is an Italian curd cheese made traditionally from buffalo’s milk.
Its signature plastic-like texture comes as a result of the curd being kneaded (almost like bread.)
The literal translation of mozza is “to cut off” which describes what happens to the cheese after it has been kneaded.
The cheese might originate as far back as the 12th century, but the word mozzarella was first used in a 16th century Italian cookbook.
Since 1996 it has been given a special “status” with the European Union as a way of recognising how important it is.
What are the ingredients in mozzarella?
Authentic mozzarella only contains a few ingredients.
The main one is buffalo milk, water, salt, enzymes (rennet and natural whey cultures.)
Can my dog eat milk?
Any time that milk is mentioned as an ingredient, the issue of lactose intolerance comes up.
And there will be some dogs out there who are lactose intolerant.
Buffalo milk has slightly more lactose in it than cow’s milk but not by much.
In every 244 ml, there is 13 g of lactose in buffalo milk and only 11 g of lactose in cow’s milk.
So if your dog has a lactose intolerance then feeding them mozzarella cheese made from buffalo’s or cow’s milk doesn’t seem like a sensible choice to make.
By the way, the amount of lactose in goat’s milk- which has a reputation for being very low in lactose is only slightly less than there is in cow’s milk.
However, most of the mozzarella that people eat is probably made from cow’s milk.
Because the main ingredient is milk, then it is fine for most dogs to eat because milk isn’t toxic.
However, if your dog is lactose intolerant then the milk in the cheese will be something that will upset their stomach.
For lactose intolerant dogs, it is probably best to not give them mozzarella cheese.
Can my dog eat salt?
Dogs need some salt in their diet which in all likelihood they will be getting from their main food.
So they don’t need to rely on getting salt from mozzarella cheese.
The fact is that mozzarella cheese is packed full of salt.
A 50g serving of mozzarella cheese (which is a little over three tablespoons or tiny) has 320 mg of salt in it.
Measures such as that are hard to understand.
So let me put that another way.
If an adult human ate 50g of mozzarella cheese that would be 14% of their recommended daily intake of salt.
And so you can imagine how much salt that would be for a small breed dog!
Can my dog eat enzymes?
The two enzymes that are used in mozzarella cheese would be harmless to a dog.
Rennet is the main enzyme that is used in many different types of cheeses.
It acts much like a natural glue and helps the solid parts of the milk (the whey) to stick together.
Rennet comes from a part of the stomach of calves (cows.)
Having looked at the ingredients that mozzarella cheese is made from and how eating them might affect your dog, I now want to move on and look at the nutrients in mozzarella cheese.
What is the nutrition in mozzarella cheese?
In the previous section, I discussed the high level of salt that some mozzarella cheeses contain.
Well, in terms of shocking nutrition data, that was just the start of it.
Sticking with our 50g serving size, I have created a chart to make the information easier to understand.
OK. So here is the thing.
I think that there is so much fat in mozzarella cheese that it has broken the calculator on the website!
How can a 50g serving have 107 g of fat?!
And believe me, I have checked and double checked this figure.
What I do know for sure is that there are few foods available that have more fat in them.
Mozzarella cheese is in the top 1%.
Here, take a look.
Dogs need fat in their diet but they don’t need this much.
It doesn’t get any better when it comes to cholesterol either and the levels of salt that this product contains have already been discussed.
More bad news is that the only vitamin or mineral that it contains is calcium.
Perhaps it’s only upside is that mozzarella contains a healthy amount of protein.
Mozzarella isn’t just eaten as plain cheese.
It comes in many forms.
Having discussed the nutrition or lack of it within it, I want to briefly look at how dog friendly some of these other mozzarella foods are.
Can dogs eat mozzarella sticks
Mozzarella sticks are sticks of mozzarella wrapped in breadcrumbs.
The biggest ingredients within these are mozzarella cheese followed by wheat flour and then oil.
So the only red flag there would be the effect that wheat flour might have on a wheat intolerant dog.
However, some of the ingredients, which appear in very small amounts, are known to be toxic to dogs.
These include things such as onion or onion powder or garlic or garlic powder.
Onions and garlic are highly toxic to dogs but realistically the amounts that are in each stick would probably not bother your dog.
However, if your dog ate a large amount of these sticks in one go, onion poisoning or garlic poisoning is something to look out for.
Can dogs eat mozzarella pizza
There can’t be many pizzas sold in America that don’t have mozzarella cheese sprinkled all over them!
And with 3 billion pizzas being eaten in the USA alone every year, that is an awful lot of mozzarella cheese.
But it is not the cheese which is the biggest threat to your dog.
Instead you need to look at the other ingredients in the pizza.
The two biggest ones to consider are bread and tomatoes.
And although these are toxic to dogs in my experience if dogs eat too much of either it will give them an upset stomach.
If sharing pizza with your dog is one of your comforting routines then make sure that you look at the ingredient list and find out if it contains ingredients such as onions and garlic.
Can dogs eat shredded mozzarella?
Shredded mozzarella is just mozzarella cheese in another form.
The ingredients are exactly the same as standard mozzarella but because it’s shredded I guess the only thing to consider is that your dog can eat it faster.
Or perhaps because it’s shredded it is less of a choking hazard to your dog.
How much mozzarella should I feed to my dog?
The best answer I can give you two this is that you want to give your dog as little mozzarella as is feasible.
As I have shown in this article in a variety of ways mozzarella does not provide your dog with any meaningful nutrition or health benefits.
If your dog is a picky eater and you want to use mozzarella to sprinkle over their kibble to make it more enticing than in the short term that is fine.
But you should quickly find an alternative food or method to improve your dog’s eating habits.
One alternative might be a chicken or some sort of bone broth to soak your kibble in.
Your dog should find it equally delicious with the added bonus that it is far healthier.
Bone broth has far fewer calories and far more nutrients than mozzarella.
Before I finish this article I want to make a quick comparison between mozzarella and other cheeses: in particular cheddar and goat’s cheese.
Mozzarella vs Cheddar vs Goat’s
To make things easier below I have added one of my charts.
|100 g serving||Mozzarella||Cheddar||Goat|
|Fat||214 g||34 g||30 g|
|Cholesterol||40 mg||100 mg||79 mg|
|Sodium||640 mg||654 mg||415 mg|
|Carbs||0||2.4 g||.1 g|
|Protein||18 g||23 g||22 g|
|Calcium||248 mg||707 mg||298 mg|
And the funny 4 years in this comparison mozzarella has come out better than I expected.
It has relatively few calories and cholesterol compared to the other two cheeses.
I mean that “fat” figure is plain nuts and I don’t understand why it keeps appearing like that.
In terms of sodium the real winner is Ghost because it’s figure is so low
And then if we see lots of calcium as a positive thing the real winner in that category or indeed the runaway winner in that category is cheddar.
And so I’m not sure that there are any real differences between these three popular types of cheese when it comes to your dog.
If you really have to share a piece of cheese with your dog just do it once in a blue moon.
¹ Photo by Kajetan Sumila on Unsplash