Feeding Dogs Dairy Products

I'm really confused about what you can and cannot give your dog in the dairy family. I read that plain yogurt was good for the dogs immune system especially if the dog is taking antibiotics. Can you please shed some light on this.

The most abundant sugar in dairy products is lactose, which requires an enzyme called lactase to be able to digest it and avoid symptoms of lactose intolerance, such as bloating, abdominal cramps and diarrhea. All mammals have high levels of lactase when they are young – they do, after all, drink their mother’s milk. However, this ability to digest lactose generally decreases with age because most mammals do not drink milk in the wild after weaning. For example, there is decreased lactose tolerance in up to 75% of humans (this rises to 90% in some Asian and African countries).

The amount of lactase present in the digestive system of any given dog is thought to vary as widely as it does in humans. Even lactose-intolerant dogs probably usually have small amounts of lactase activity in their gut. If your dog suffers from diarrhea after consuming dairy products, you should eradicate dairy products from his diet completely. If he suffers no ill-effects, then he is probably tolerant of lactose and there is therefore no inherent danger in feeding dairy products. However, they should always be fed sparingly as large amounts may cause symptoms of lactose-intolerance even where the dog is tolerant. Dairy products, specifically cheese, also have a very high fat content.

Yogurt is often recommended when taking antibiotics because antibiotics indiscriminately kill gut bacteria which temporarily disrupts the digestive functions. Feeding "live" yogurt that contains bacteria is thought to help replace the beneficial bacteria in the gut.