Cheese is a true delicacy, and almost everyone loves it (dogs included). And while cheese is not particularly dog-friendly, certain cheese types are definitely worse than others.
So, can dogs eat moldy cheese? No, sadly, dogs cannot eat moldy cheese. Cheese in itself already poses a severe danger in terms of dehydration, salt intoxication, and pancreatitis. The mold factor only adds to the problem making moldy cheese even more hazardous.
In this article, we will talk about the reasons dogs cannot eat moldy cheese. We will explain what moldy cheese is, why it is dangerous, and what to do as first aid if your dog steals some.
What Is Moldy Cheese?
The term moldy cheese is used to describe specific blue cheese types like Stilton, Gorgonzola, and Roquefort, which are made with Penicillium roqueforti. It is also used for superficially mold-ripened cheeses like Brie and Camembert. Finally, sometimes the term moldy cheese can be used for cheese that went bad.
Regardless of the terminology, moldy cheese is terrible for dogs and must never be fed on purpose. Just because blue cheese is edible for humans, it does not mean it is edible for dogs, while spoiled cheese is dangerous for everyone.
What Happens when A Dog Eats Moldy Cheese?
What happens after a dog eats moldy cheese depends on several factors, including the dog’s size and the amount of consumed cheese.
The outcome is also affected by the type of mold on the cheese and whether the cheese chunk the dog ate was rich in molds or not.
To make things simpler for understanding, let’s review all possible scenarios and the different dangers of moldy cheese for dogs.
Issue number 1: Noble vs. Regular Molds
The mentioned cheese delicacies are made with noble and edible molds. Sadly, as they get super-ripe, the noble molds start releasing roquefortine C – a toxin with potentially lethal effects for dogs. On the other hand, common molds occurring due to food spoiling produce different types of mycotoxins which cause neurological issues (tremors, seizures) and, in more severe cases – kidney and liver failure and death. Both intoxication options are potentially fatal and need to be managed quickly and appropriately, meaning immediate veterinary help is a must.
Food poisoning as a significant risk stems directly from the presence of mold (regardless of whether it was noble or not). However, even if the dog ate lightly molded parts of the cheese, several issues are still worth considering.
Issue number 2: Lactose Intolerance
All adult dogs are lactose intolerant, and as a dairy product, cheese (molded or not) is rich in lactose. Therefore, cheese can wreak havoc on the dog’s digestive system resulting in loose stool or even diarrhea, vomiting, lack of appetite, abdominal pain, and cramping. Although unpleasant, the digestive upset is usually self-limiting.
Issue number 3: Salt Poisoning
Another major concern associated with all cheese products is the salt content. Cheeses are heavily salted, and dogs cannot handle such concentrations. Overeating salt increases the risk of developing dehydration (much more likely to occur in dogs with co-existing kidney issues). Additionally, overeating on salt may result in salt poisoning in extreme situations – a potentially life-threatening scenario that warrants immediate veterinary attention.
Issue Number 4: Acute Pancreatitis
Finally, cheese is rich in fats, and overeating fatty or greasy foods can trigger an episode of acute pancreatitis. Pancreatitis is a painful pancreas inflammation, and unlike most inflammations, this one can be fatal unless timely treated. Pancreatitis can also develop into a chronic form.
Will Moldy Cheese Hurt My Dog?
Yes, moldy cheese can definitely hurt your dog. However, to which extent and in which form depends on several variables. Best-case scenario, your dog consumed only a tiny amount and go through an unpleasant bout of vomiting and diarrhea (due to digestive upset or lactose intolerance), and worst-case scenario, you will be dealing with an intoxication case caused by roquefortine or mycotoxins.
What Should I Do if My Dog Ate Moldy Cheese?
If you caught your dog eating moldy cheese, you need to be quick and act accordingly. First, you must separate the dog from the remaining cheese and assess the situation – see how your dog behaves and whether there is something out of the ordinary.
Then you need to call the vet and explain what happened. Try to be as calm as possible and provide as much information as you can. After that, the veterinarian will probably recommend making an in-person examination.
If possible, it is advisable to bring the cheese wrapper with you so that the vet can establish precisely what type of moldy cheese your dog ate. Depending on the severity of the situation, your dog might spend a day or two in the clinic until full recovery is achieved.
How Can I Prevent My Dog from Eating Moldy Cheese?
Dogs usually eat moldy cheese in three situations:
- When pet owners purposely give dogs moldy cheese, unaware of the potential risks and dangers
- When dogs steal some moldy cheese from the table or countertop
- When dogs raid trash cans and scavenge on garbage.
Therefore, to prevent moldy cheese ingestion in your dog, follow these tips:
- Never give your dog human foods unless you are 100% sure they are safe (check with your veterinarian first).
- Do not leave moldy cheese or any other food in the open and alone you’re your dog unless you are supervising.
- When disposing of moldy cheese, wrap it in several bags (to cover the scent) and discard it in a dog-proof trash can or the outside garbage.
Summing Up: Can Dogs Eat Moldy Cheeses?
Bottom line, moldy cheese is a no-go for dogs. The dangers of moldy cheese for dogs can vary from something as simple as transient stomach upset to something as severe as life-threatening as food poisoning.
Therefore, you must never purposely feed your dog moldy cheese and always keep such food out of your dog’s reach. In case of accidental ingestion, call your trusted veterinarian as soon as possible.