As a versatile high protein food packed with calcium and healthy fats, cottage cheese has numerous benefits and serves as an excellent food addition for dogs with cancer and other diseases.
Yum, Curdled Milk!
Cottage cheese is a fermented curdled milk product. This might sound gross at first, but bear with us.
Cottage cheese has waved in and out of popularity and production over the decades. It hit its peak in the United States in 1972, when 784,204,000 kg of the product was produced.1 Since then, cottage cheese production has steadily decreased down to 358,314,000 kg in 2021.1
However, it remains a popular food due to its purported health benefits. Cottage cheese is a good source of:2
- bioavailable protein
- vitamin D
- healthy fats
Fans of cottage cheese claim it’s a satiating food that helps increase energy levels.2
Benefits of Cottage Cheese for Dogs
Cottage cheese can be beneficial for dogs, particularly those who have special dietary considerations such as gastrointestinal issues or diabetes.
Cottage cheese is light on lactose despite being a dairy product because it undergoes a fermentation process. It also contains probiotics that can help dogs who are suffering from diarrhea, IBD, or other gastrointestinal ailments.3 It’s relatively easy to digest and can be easily combined with other easy to digest foods, such as white rice, to help alleviate an upset stomach.3
For dogs with type-II diabetes, cottage cheese has been shown to naturally lower blood glucose levels while increasing insulin levels in human diabetic patients. This may also translate to our canines, making cottage cheese a great options for diabetic dogs.2
Cottage Cheese and Cancer
Cottage cheese may help support dogs with cancer by helping them to re-gain weight lost due to their disease or treatment.
It is also a popular food to give dogs as they reach the end of their cancer journey because it provides a source of protein that is highly bioavailable and thus easier for the body to process and use as an energy source during periods of high distress, such as organ failure.4
The research surrounding cottage cheese and its role in preventing cancer has been minimal. This is largely due to the difficulty in isolating individual lifestyle variables when analyzing patients with and without cancer.
However, one study that gave a questionnaire to 284 human patients diagnosed with differentiated thyroid carcinoma and 354 patients who were healthy found that the consumption of cottage cheese was significantly higher in healthy subjects than in those who were sick.5
Say No to the Budwig Diet
Cottage cheese was catapulted to the forefront of potential cancer fighting foods with the publication of the “Budwig Diet,” created by Dr. Johanna Budwig, in the 1950’s.6 Dr. Budwig claimed that a diet dominated by cottage cheese and flaxseed oil would help fight cancer via a string of chemical reactions. These reactions would make flaxseed oil water soluble and better absorbed into the cell membrane, thus giving the body an abundant supply of lipoproteins.
While some adaptations allow for fruits, vegetables, and occasionally organic meat and fish to be added,to the diet, the Budwig Diet remains largely nutritionally inadequate. It is deficient in iron and other minerals such as zinc, iodine, copper, and others. It lacks many vitamins and some amino acids, as well. In addition to these deficiencies, there is no legitimate scientific research on its safety or efficacy.
Most veterinarians agree that feeding dogs the Budwig diet borders on unethical due to its nutritional deficiencies. It is not safe or effective, and it’s difficult to discern if “success stories” about it online are leaving out other treatments or methods used besides the diet.
When to Not Use Cottage Cheese for Dogs
Always consult with your veterinarian before you add a new food item to your dog’s diet, especially if it’s one you’re hoping will help them fight their cancer.
Cottage cheese is unlikely to cause an allergic reaction,3 but you should still start by giving your dog a small amount and monitoring for any adverse reactions.
Cottage cheese has a lower amount of lactose (6 g per 250 ml) than milk or yogurt (11 g per 250 ml),3 which may reduce the likelihood of any negative outcomes for pups who are lactose sensitive. However, it’s probably best to just avoid cottage cheese altogether if your dog is allergic to dairy.8
You should not give your dog cottage cheese if they are on a tetracycline class of antibiotics, for example, doxycycline. This is because cottage cheese is rich in calcium, and calcium can block the absorption of tetracyclines like doxycycline, reducing their effectiveness.8
Cottage cheese can have relatively high amounts of sodium because salt is added for taste and to extend shelf life. Be careful to examine labels for sodium content if this is of concern for your dog.2
How to Prepare Cottage Cheese for Dogs
Cottage cheese is easy in that there’s not much to do in terms of preparation. Just scoop it out of the container!
It can be given to your dog as is, but limit the amount to about 6 ounces of cottage cheese a day for a 50 pound dog.8 If you are giving more than 10% of your dog’s total food intake each day as cottage cheese, check in with a nutritionist to make sure your dog’s diet is still complete and balanced.
Many homemade dog cancer diets call for cottage cheese, but keep in mind that you can also mix cottage cheese into your dog’s conventional food and they will still reap its benefits even if you’re not doing a full-blown homemade diet.8
Cottage cheese is an extremely versatile food so you can get creative and mix it with numerous other foods depending on your dog’s needs. For example, mixing one part cottage cheese with two parts white rice is a good meal choice when your dog has an upset stomach.3
Adding additional cancer fighting foods, such as krill oil, is also an option.8
Cottage cheese is also a great choice for hiding or masking foods and supplements that your dog may not normally want to eat due to texture or taste.
Where to Get Cottage Cheese
You can find cottage cheese in the cooler section of your grocery store, usually next to similar products like yogurt.
If you want to skip the store, it’s also often available for order on online grocery shopping delivery services.
The quality of the cottage cheese you purchase is dependent on the quality of the milk, and therefore the cows, that it’s made from. For this reason, it’s probably best to go organic if possible.
In order to be labeled “Organic” in the United States, cottage cheese must be free of synthetic pesticides, synthetic growth hormones, and GMOs.9
Organic cottage cheese also has the added bonus of typically being higher in cancer fighting omega-3 fatty acids because industry standards require that cows are given opportunities to graze.9
In addition to organic, you’ll want to purchase full-fat cottage cheese. Vitamin D is found in fat molecules called lipids and help the body absorb calcium. Low-fat cottage cheese means a lower number of lipids, and therefore less vitamin D. For this reason, low-fat cottage cheese cannot be considered a good source of vitamin D or calcium.2
Store cottage cheese in an air-tight container in the refrigerator until the “sell by” date or up to a week after you’ve made it if you prepare it yourself.10 You can freeze cottage cheese for three to six months, but the texture of the cheese will change, which your dog may or may not notice.
Making Your Own Cottage Cheese
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can make your own cottage cheese. There are several recipes online that can guide you through the process. Below is an example:10
- Ingredients – 1 gallon of whole milk, ¾ cup white vinegar, 1 tsp salt, 3 tbsp heavy cream
- Heat milk in a large pot, remove the pot from heat, add vinegar and let rest for 30 minutes.
- Spoon the resulting solids from the pot into a colander lined with cheese cloth and let drain for 30 minutes.
- Gather the solids in the cheese cloth and put under cold water while squeezing and kneading the cheese cloth.
- Stir in salt and heavy cream to taste.
- United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). National Agricultural Statistics Service. Accessed December 13, 2022. https://quickstats.nass.usda.gov/results/0B35E04C-58E8-3CEA-A5F6-0CF5E25E4855?pivot=short_desc.
- Pozzobon V, Pozzobon C. Cottage cheese in a diet – a review. Nutr Food Sci 2019;10.1108/NFS-03-2019-0073. https://victorpozzobon.github.io/assets/preprints/Pozzobon_2019_a.pdf.
- Chandler M. Essentials of nutrition in dogs and cats with gastrointestinal disease. In Practice 2002;24(9):528-533.
- Bauer JE. Metabolic needs of the injured: enteral feeding support of dogs and cats. Vet Q 1998;20(1):S77-S78.
- Przybylik-Mazurek E, Hubalewska-Dydejczyk A, Kuźniarz-Rymarz S, et al. Dietary patterns as risk factors of differentiated thyroid carcinoma. Postepy Hig Med Dosw. 2012;66:11-15. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22371400/
- Dobrowolska K, Regulska-Ilow B. The legitimacy and safety of using alternative diets in cancer. Rocz Panstw Zakl Hig 2020;71(3):241-250.
- Bennet LK. The legal, ethical and welfare implications of feeding vegan diets to dogs and cats. Vet Nurse 2021;12(3):108-114.
- Dressler D, Ettinger S. The Dog Cancer Survival Guide. Maui Media, LLC:2011.
- Organic Dairy Policy – NOFA-NY. Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York. https://nofany.org/advocacy/organic-dairy/. Published January 25, 2023. Accessed April 17, 2023.
- Berry K. How to make homemade cottage cheese. Housewife How-Tos. October 28, 2022. Accessed December 13, 2022. https://housewifehowtos.com/cook/how-to-make-homemade-cottage-cheese/.
Did You Find This Helpful? Share It with Your Pack!
Use the buttons to share what you learned on social media, download a PDF, print this out, or email it to your veterinarian.