Cheese is like ice-cream… It’s a delicious sin, so scrumptious and tempting that some people would rather say they don’t like it than confess their love…
A lot of people share both with their dogs. Ice-cream is given as a sweet express ticket to cocker’s heart. It works, it’s definitely not brilliant for dogs health, but like any treat, is an occasional affair.
Cheese, on the other hand, is different. Even books advise on using cheese as a high value reward making it a daily necessity for any successful training.
As a self-confessed bore (and cocker mum) I disagree with such a statement.
Cheese, after all, is not as dog friendly as it’s portrayed. Personally, I never give it to my boys (with an exception for home-made tvorog (a Russian version of German quark) that suits young puppies)
Let’s be fair, I have my reasons…
Cheese is dairy & adult dogs would find it hard to digest it due to lower levels of lactase, an enzyme that breaks down lactose.
Cheese is high in salt, which can cause problems because you can easily overdo the recommended amount.
Cheese is very high in fat, which can increase risk of pancreatitis and unwanted kilos. Cockers are prone to both – why play Russian roulette with luck?
Cheese, the mouldy & gooey types, are extremely toxic to dogs & eating them can be fatal.
Cheese is an extremely concentrated source of calories, so what seems like a tiny piece to you is likely to cover your dog’s daily calorie needs (I’m exaggerating but you get the idea)
Cheese made with cows milk, unless it’s organic, can contain pesticides, antibiotic residue & even traces of puss.
Cheese, especially the strong types like cheddar, contains an amino-acid tyramine that can reach dangerously high levels (and lead to critically elevated blood pressure) when consumed with food by dogs taking MAOIs, a type of antidepressants (sold as L-Deprenyl, Selegiline and Anipryl).
So skip the cheese if you care about your pup. Chicken, turkey, eggs, chopped air dried venison sausages, sprats and even your dog’s own kibble (whatever he’s insanely in love with, basically!) can work as a high value reward instead, keeping your cocker focused and giving you a peace of mind.