Yogurt is creamy, delicious and full of nutrition and health benefits. Anyone who loves their bearded dragon is always on the lookout for tasty treats that can improve their pet’s lives.
And yes, if you have ever offered your bearded dragon a lick of yogurt, they probably loved it, but is this actually good for them? Are you helping your bearded dragon by adding a new source of nutrition and probiotics to their diet that they couldn’t get before?
Or are you putting your pet at unnecessary risk of illness and suffering by spoiling them just a bit too much?
So, can bearded dragons eat yogurt? Bearded dragons should never eat dairy-based yogurt, but if they have digestive issues or need probiotics, you can offer vegan yogurt in small portions. Still, there are probiotics designed for reptile use that are healthier than dairy-free yogurt.
You should never offer dairy-yogurt or any other dairy products (cheese, milk, icecream, etc.) to your bearded dragon. Even though dairy contains many nutrients important to your beardie’s health, reptiles cannot digest milk-based products.
Milk is something only mammals, who produce it for their offspring, are capable of digesting. The reason for this is they produce an enzyme called lactase in their intestines.
These enzymes are responsible for breaking down lactose, a large sugar molecule, into its smaller components, glucose and galactose, which can be absorbed into the body. But since reptiles do not produce milk for their offspring, they did not evolve to have lactase enzymes present in their systems, and cannot break down and digest lactose.
In other words, bearded dragons are lactose intolerant. Just like a lactose intolerant human, if you offer them dairy yogurt, it will cause unpleasant to severe digestive issues, including diarrhea or constipation.
But, how do you offer the calcium, protein, and probiotics you would find in yogurt without dairy? A bearded dragon who is fed on a healthy diet of nutrient rich staple foods will not need the nutrients within yogurt.
All of these nutrients can and should be offered by other sources that are more natural for a bearded dragon to digest. You must offer your bearded dragons a variety of nutrient rich greens and vegetables (collard greens, turnip greens, mustard greens, kale, butternut squash, berries, pears, mangos, etc.)
For calcium and vitamins, use powder supplements designed for reptiles (Rep-Cal’s Herptivite and Calcium Powders or Zoo-Med’s Repti-Calcium Powder.) For proteins, you should provide your bearded dragon with insects (crickets, superworms, dubia roaches, black soldier fly larvae, etc.) that have been gut-loaded with healthy foods as well.
However, a beardie’s usual diet will not include probiotics. If you’re reading this article because you believe your bearded dragon is in need of probiotics, let’s get into how we can solve this issue without giving our lizards a nasty stomach ache.
The one thing a beardie won’t get from their usual diet that they could get from yogurt is the probiotics. Sometimes, a bearded dragon who has had digestive issues or been on antibiotics can benefit from added probiotics in their diet.
In this case, you can offer your beardie non-dairy/vegan friendly yogurts including: plain soy yogurt, almond yogurt, and coconut yogurt.
Vegan yogurts contain the same probiotic, protein, and calcium benefits as regular dairy-yogurt without the lactose that makes our dragon’s sick. But this isn’t something your bearded dragon needs in his everyday diet.
While this option may have its benefits and it is definitely less harmful to a dragon than it’s dairy alternatives, it isn’t recommended to feed vegan yogurt to your bearded dragon regularly. Foods like this are simply unnatural for a dragon to ingest.
Yogurts contain higher amounts of fat and sugar than your bearded dragon should be ingesting, and, in the long term, this can lead to kidney failure, obesity, and more. All in all, it’s better to avoid feeding a bearded dragon yogurt at all, but if you’re in a pinch, vegan yogurt may be a good option for you.
Vegan yogurt should only be offered during special circumstances and in small portions. It can be used to aid a bearded dragon who has lost his appetite or has digestive tract issues and an upset stomach.
Many people believe a source of probiotics should be offered to bearded dragons after they’ve been on antibiotics and are recovering from an infection of parasites. In cases like these, dairy free, soy yogurt can help a bearded dragon build up good gut flora and ease them back into eating if they’ve had an upset stomach and lost their appetite.
Beardies often enjoy the taste and texture of yogurt and will eat it when they don’t want to eat their normal foods. So, in the short term, offering this for nutrition and probiotics can be helpful to a dragon who won’t eat anything else.
But make sure you only feed soy yogurt in small amounts. I recommend offering only a spoonful at a time, three times per week or less, until they’re eating normally again.
Once they’re off antibiotics, do not continue offering yogurt as a treat, even if they enjoy it. And if your bearded dragon is on antibiotics but hasn’t lost his appetite, you’re better off offering them a probiotic that is designed for reptile consumption instead of vegan yogurt.
While bearded dragons can eat vegan yogurt to gain healthy probiotics and good gut flora after antibiotics or illness, it may be safer and healthier in the long term to buy some high quality probiotics designed for reptilian usage instead. The reason for this is that vegan yogurt, depending on the kind, usually contains other ingredients that can be digested but still isn’t healthy for your bearded dragon to consume.
The Most Commonly Used Reptile Probiotic Supplements Are Listed Below:
NutriBAC Reptile/Amphibian Probiotic- This is an all natural probiotic supplement dust designed and tested for reptiles. If your bearded dragon is eating normally, simply dust their crickets or greens with this supplement. Since it’s all natural and safe for reptiles, it cannot be overdosed.
PetAg Bene-Bac Bird and Reptile Supplement- This pet designed probiotic has been used for birds and reptiles and offers a clear set of instructions for dosage according to body weight on the back. It is full of naturally occurring microorganisms to help your pet’s digestion after a heavy dose of antibiotics.
Acidophilus for Reptiles- Acidophilus is sold for human consumption, but you can find products geared for reptiles as well. These products will have clear instructions on dosage and usage for your bearded dragon and some will be flavored to encourage consumption. Contains many strains of reptile safe probiotics and micro-organisms.
What Foods Are Bad For Bearded Dragons To Eat?
Besides all dairy products, there are some other foods that may seem like a good idea to feed your dragon, but in reality, are toxic or unhealthy for your beardie to consume. Most fruits, vegetables, and insects are safe as long as they are smaller than the space between the beardies eyes.
But, before you feed your dragon a new food, make sure to do your research and always check to make sure it’s safe for them. Here are common foods you NEVER want to feed your bearded dragon:
Lettuce and spinach- These greens seem like a good choice for your dragon, but any kind of lettuce is actually void of nutrition and will not make for a healthy salad, and spinach contains a molecule that binds to and prevents calcium from being absorbed into your beardie’s system. If fed too often, lettuce and spinach can lead to malnutrition or calcium deficiency to a bearded dragon.
Avocados and rhubarb- These foods are highly toxic to bearded dragons and need to be avoided no matter what. Small amounts of avocado may make your beardie sick, while larger amounts can poison and kill them. And rhubarb is highly toxic to a bearded dragon even in small doses. If ingested, give your dragon lots of water and take them to a vet immediately.
Fireflies- As a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t feed any insect you find outside to your lizards because they can carry parasites. However, fireflies are extremely toxic. If your bearded dragon roams outside, be watchful to make sure he never accidentally eats one.
Is Bee Pollen Good For Bearded Dragons?
If you’re just a health nut looking for the best natural supplements to offer your lizard, try offering your bearded dragon organic, food grade bee pollen. Bee pollen is an all natural multi-vitamin packed full of protein, amino acids, minerals, and other nutrients.
You can use it to dust your dragon’s insects, sprinkle it onto their greens, or use it in the gut load you feed your bugs. Plus, bee pollen is great for you too!
So, whether you’re just looking for another healthy treat or you’re nursing your bearded dragon into better health, remember this:
Any dairy product, including yogurt, should never be offered to a bearded dragon because they cannot digest it. And, while non-dairy or vegan yogurt can be digested without issue, it should only be used in cases when your dragon is being treated with antibiotics and has lost their appetite.
If you simply want to throw some probiotics or vitamins into your bearded dragon’s diet to boost their health, consider using a powder supplement designed for reptilian use. Otherwise, a bearded dragon with an adequate diet of naturally occurring foods does not have to eat yogurt to remain happy and healthy for a long time.