A healthy breakfast choice that offers an abundance of nutritional value, oatmeal is a staple found in many people’s homes. But, can dogs eat oatmeal? The answer is yes, but there are some things you should keep in mind before feeding your pup this snack.
Is Oatmeal Good for Dogs?
Oatmeal is high in fiber and contains a plethora of nutrients, minerals, and antioxidants. “Served in moderation, oatmeal can benefit a dog in a variety of ways,” says Dr. Carly Fox of New York City’s Animal Medical Center. “It is a great alternative carbohydrate for dogs that may be sensitive to wheat or grains.” Oatmeal contains vitamin B, which helps maintain a healthy coat, and linoleic acid, which is a type of omega-6 fatty acid that helps to keep a dog’s skin strong and healthy.
It’s also a great source of soluble fiber, which can regulate blood glucose levels and help dogs that have irregular bowl movements. But Dr. Fox cautions that feeding your dog foods containing a lot of fiber can lead to GI upset, including diarrhea and vomiting.
When preparing oatmeal for your canine companion, make it with water, as opposed to milk. “Dogs are very sensitive to dairy, and their bodies don’t break down lactose as easily as humans do,” says Dr. Fox.
If you plan to share your oatmeal, make sure it’s cooked and not sprinkled raw over food; serving it raw will only make it harder for your pup to digest. It should also be plain; while you might enjoy additives, such as salt, butter, chocolate, raisins, or grapes, these ingredients can be extremely harmful to a dog’s health. Never feed your dog flavored oatmeal (e.g. cinnamon, blueberry, etc.), as it often contains more sugar and may even have artificial sweeteners, such as xylitol, which is toxic to dogs. Once the oatmeal is cooked, serve it at room temperature — giving your dog food that’s too hot can cause burns inside of his mouth.
Dr. Fox also advises owners to stay away from instant oatmeal. While it’s faster and easier to prepare, it’s highly processed, and the health benefits your dog gets from eating oats will decrease. “It loses its nutritional value,” explains Dr. Fox. “The least processed version provides the most health benefits.”
What’s important to remember is that too much of any human food can be upsetting to a dog’s stomach. Just because you’re eating oatmeal daily for breakfast, doesn’t mean your dog should, too. Generally, you can feed your dog one tablespoon of cooked oatmeal for every 20 pounds of his weight.
Don’t give your dog too much oatmeal at once because it contains a lot of carbohydrates and is relatively high in calories. Consuming a large amount can also lead to diarrhea, vomiting, and/or bloat, which can be life threatening. Half-a-cup of cooked oatmeal (at most), 1-to-2 times a week is more than enough for most large dogs. “Your dog should be eating a well-balanced commercial diet,” Dr. Fox says.
When introducing human food into your dog’s diet, start off gradually and gauge how well he handles it. If he has any adverse reactions, consult your veterinarian immediately.
Here at the AKC, we field many queries from anxious dog owners about what is and isn’t safe for their canine companions to eat. Questions range from the obvious (“Can dogs eat steak bones?”) to the trendy (“Can dogs eat quinoa?”) Check out more “Can dogs eat…” articles on AKC.org to see what foods could be harmful to your dog, including cherries, avocados, and onions.