Oatmeal is a delicious and nutritious pantry staple, found in 75% of American households.
Packed with protein, vitamins, minerals and a hearty dose of dietary fiber, it's a go-to meal, any time of the day. Whether you prefer yours rolled, milled or steel-cut, the health benefits are undeniable, and the flavor is spectacular.
Does that mean your canine companion can join you for a bowl? Can dogs eat oatmeal at all?
The short answer is "yes", but there are a few guidelines you'll need to follow before pouring Fido a serving of his own. Today, we're diving into the nutritional benefits of oatmeal for dogs, along with a few considerations to keep in mind.
Ready to learn more? Let's get started!
Can Dogs Eat Oatmeal? The Benefits to Know
First, let's take a look at this simple question: Is oatmeal good for dogs?
Absolutely. In fact, the same things that make the hulled oat grains so good for humans are also the reasons why they're great for your pooch. Especially if your dog has a gluten allergy that makes him sensitive to wheat or grains, oatmeal can be an ideal alternative.
High in fiber, oatmeal also boasts an array of nutrients, minerals, and antioxidants that keep your dog looking and feeling his best, including:
- Vitamin A
- B Vitamins
In addition, oatmeal contains linoleic acid. This is an omega-6 fatty acid that contributes to your dog's healthy skin!
The soluble fiber in the oats also helps regulate your dog's bowel movements, along with his blood glucose levels. When those levels are balanced, it can help lower his risk of diabetes and cardiac disease, along with his overall cholesterol levels.
How to Prepare Oatmeal for Your Dog
Now that you know it's safe to serve, how should you prepare oatmeal for your dog? Let's take a look at a few guidelines to follow.
Keep It Simple
The best way to introduce oatmeal into your dog's diet is to keep it as simple and bland as possible.
While we might have gotten used to the fancy flavored packets available at the grocery store, our pets don't need any of those additives or extra sugars. Some brands of instant oatmeal can even contain artificial sweeteners, such as xylitol, that are known to be toxic to dogs.
That said, instead of buying a big box of maple-flavored or fruit-flavored varieties, stick to plain oats instead.
Stick With Whole Grains
Before you check out, read the label on your container of oats.
Make sure the variety contains 100% whole grains, as opposed to processed grains. These lack many of the health benefits that whole grains offer. In addition, they can also be more difficult for your dog to digest.
If possible, stick with organic oatmeal varieties, as well. These will be devoid of pesticides and other chemicals and will boast a higher nutritional count than other, commercially prepared oatmeal.
Cook the Oats
To prepare pet-friendly oatmeal, simply cook the oats with just water. Never serve your dog raw oats or sprinkle them over his food.
It might look like a tasty, crunchy snack, but uncooked oats can be incredibly difficult for your pup to handle. Not only are they a challenge to chew and swallow (leading to a choking hazard), but they're also tough on his sensitive gut and can be very hard to digest.
Don't add any milk or sugar to the mixture, and don't adorn the finished product with any special toppings (e.g. nuts, brown sugar, berries). Dogs are especially sensitive to dairy, as their bodies aren't able to break down lactose as easily as ours can.
Made this way, oatmeal is a great, wholesome snack for your dog, as well as a delicious meal topper. It's also a smart way to sneak in extra nutrients, along with extra water.
Dietary guidelines reveal that 3.5 ounces of raw oats contain 8% water. To increase the water content even more, you can add a little warm water to the oatmeal after it has finished cooking.
Keep in mind that while it's a yummy treat, oatmeal should never serve as a total meal replacement for your pup. It might be packed with certain nutrients, but it's still lacking many of the vitamins and minerals he needs for healthy growth and development.
Feeding this good pup some oats (we think)
Know the Right Portions
While you're preparing a portion of oatmeal for your dog, try to keep it as moderate as possible. One cup of plain, cooked oatmeal contains around 150 calories, which could easily push him beyond his recommended daily amount.
In terms of caloric needs, most dogs only require around 25 to 30 daily calories per pound to maintain a healthy weight. That means if your dog weighs 30 pounds, he'll need 750 calories the entire day.
Knowing this, stick to just a spoonful or two when you're dishing it up. A good rule to follow is to serve one tablespoon of cooked oatmeal for every 20 pounds of your dog's body weight.
Serve It the Smart Way
Make sure the oatmeal has reached room temperature before you serve it. We might prefer ours hot, but you could burn your dog's sensitive tongue and gums if you serve it that way to him. If you want to add a little more protein to the serving, stir in one cooked egg!
After feeding your dog oatmeal, check to see how he responds to it.
Start off with a small amount, and gauge how well he handles it.
While it's unlikely that he will experience any adverse effects, contact your veterinarian immediately if you notice any reaction. Wait 24 hours to make sure. Then, if he enjoys it and appears to handle it fine, you should be clear to add it to his diet in small amounts.
While plain oatmeal can be beneficial to your dog, it's important to only serve it in moderation.
Feeding your dog a large number of foods that contain a high amount of fiber can upset their gastrointestinal (GI) tract. In turn, this could lead to a variety of GI symptoms, including diarrhea, vomiting, and bloat.
On the other hand, if your pup is already experiencing GI or bowel issues, a moderate amount of oatmeal can provide an extra dose of fiber necessary to help ease his discomfort. Older dogs, in particular, tend to have a more difficult time keeping their bowels regular, and a few spoonfuls of oatmeal can offer the gentle nudge they need.
Another reason to avoid overfeeding? Oatmeal is high carbohydrates and contains a significant number of calories, which can lead to excess weight gain that puts a strain on his joints. Once or twice a week, it's fine as a supplement, but anything beyond that could detract from the important benefits it provides.
What if your pup is already overweight? In this case, adding oatmeal to his diet a few times a week can help him stay fuller for longer to avoid overeating! This is due to the high amount of fiber it contains, which helps your dog avoid that nagging feeling to revisit the food bowl every few minutes.
Our Oat-Based Products to Try
Mixed with other yummy, nutritious ingredients including dried yeast, pumpkin, flax, spinach, chickpeas, and cranberries, our dog food features 31% clean protein, made with zero meat. In addition, our snacks combine oats with pumpkin, flax, peanut butter and tasty koji for a treat your dog will love any time of day!
Both our dog food and treats contain all 10 amino acids your dog needs, with zero of the junk he doesn't.
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