Can dogs eat oatmeal?
Oatmeal is a healthy and tasty breakfast staple for humans. But can you share your oatmeal with your canine buddy? The short answer is “yes, but in moderation”. Made from hulled oat grains, oatmeal is available in several varieties like milled, rolled, and steel-cut. Some vets recommend oatmeal as an alternative source of carbohydrate for dogs that are hypersensitive to wheat or other types of grains. Keep reading to learn about the pros and cons of feeding your dog oatmeal.
Benefits of Oatmeal
The benefits that humans get from oatmeal can also be enjoyed by dogs, with some precautions.
Oats are rich in fiber which is good for digestive tract health and can help regulate levels of blood glucose. The high fiber content is ideal for dogs that suffer from frequent bouts of gastrointestinal or bowel issues. Oatmeal is especially beneficial to senior dogs with elimination problems. Take note, however, that excess fiber in the diet may interfere in nutrient bioavailability. Dogs can also experience gassiness and discomfort.
The fiber in oatmeal is also essential for maintaining gastrointestinal health by helping support the gut microflora. Gut health is the cornerstone of a dog’s immunity. A healthy gut microbiome can help boost immune system integrity and function.
Oats contain substantial quantities of linoleic acid which is a type of omega-6 fatty acid that supports healthy skin and hair coats.
Some pet food products that are advertised or marketed as a natural weight loss diet formula have oatmeal as one of the main ingredients. They are often recommended for obese and overweight dogs because the formula is low in calories and fats.
How to Serve Oatmeal to Your Dog
Feeding oatmeal to your dog can be beneficial, but don’t overdo it. It’s not a staple in the diet of dogs. Choosing the right variety and cooking it correctly makes oatmeal a healthy addition to your pet’s diet.
You can add a scoop of plain, cooked oatmeal to your dog’s breakfast now and then. It can also be used as a meal topper or a healthy snack for your pet. A teaspoon or two of oatmeal may seem too small, but dogs don’t need as many calories as we do. Even with its nutritional benefits, oatmeal is still an important source of extra calories. Keeping portions small can help prevent your pet from piling on some extra pounds.
Avoid using instant oatmeal. It’s highly processed which can decrease the health benefits that your dog can get from it. Processed grains may also cause digestive upsets. Only give your dog oatmeal made from whole grain oats.
Make sure to check the list of ingredients when serving pre-packed oatmeal. Some have added sugar and other flavorings that can be potentially harmful to dogs. Also, keep an eye out for xylitol, a very common artificial sweetener that is very toxic to dogs. The best thing to do is to just stick to the basics.
Avoid feeding flavored oatmeal or one that contains additives. When preparing oatmeal for your dog, just add water when cooking. Avoid adding milk, sugar, or other toppings that may cause more harm than good. Adding extra warm water to the oatmeal before serving can be a good way to add more water to your pet’s diet.
Oatmeal should never be used as a replacement for your dog’s meal. Even though oatmeal offers plenty of nutritional benefits for dogs, it still lacks many essential nutrients that should be present in a complete and balanced canine diet. The best way to serve oatmeal to dogs is to use it as a snack or meal topper.
Dogs should be given cooked oatmeal. Raw oatmeal can be hard for them to digest. Serve the oatmeal at room temperature. This can help prevent burns inside your dog’s mouth.
It is highly recommended to check with your veterinarian before offering oatmeal to your dog. When introducing oatmeal to your dog’s diet, make sure to do it gradually to avoid digestive upsets. Closely monitor your dog for any signs of adverse reactions that need prompt veterinary attention.
Can I add anything to my dog’s oatmeal?
While serving plain oatmeal to your dog is perfectly fine (and recommended), there are some extras that you can add to make it more appealing and exciting to the canine palate. Still, the magic word is “moderation”.
Dogs love peanut butter treats; they’d surely love it on oatmeal, too. You can add a teaspoon or so of peanut butter to oatmeal. Just make sure it’s all-natural peanut butter with no sugar added.
Slice some of your dog’s favorite fruits into bite-sized portions and mix them in the oatmeal. All-time favorites include bananas, apples (with the core removed), and blueberries.
Adding yogurt to oatmeal can further boost the calcium and vitamin content. Steer clear of flavored yogurts which often contain high amounts of sugar.
Cinnamon possesses natural anti-inflammatory properties and adds more flavor to your dog’s oatmeal without the added calories.
Adding some pureed pumpkin to oatmeal can boost its fiber content. Check that it’s pure pumpkin and not the one that’s used as filling for pumpkin pie.
Sunflower seeds provide an antioxidant boost to oatmeal. Just sprinkle a few shelled seeds on top. And make sure they’re unsalted.