In short, yes! Oatmeal is safe for dogs to eat. However, there are some guidelines owners should consider following prior to preparing oatmeal snacks.
Oatmeal is high in fiber and contains a heart-protective starch called beta-glucan as well as many nutrients, minerals, and antioxidants such as proteins, fats, manganese, phosphorus, and zinc.
So Can Dogs Eat Oatmeal Safely?
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), consuming oats can lower the risk of heart disease when combined with a low-fat diet .
Thus, it is of no surprise that dog owners would consider sharing its health benefits with their furry friends.
Benefits and advantages of feeding
Before feeding your dog oatmeal, check to see how they respond to it first and monitor them for at least 24 hours.
You may want to start with small portions and gradually increase if they respond appropriately.
Check below some of the benefits of oatmeal in dogs’ nutrition.
Promotes healthy skin
Many individuals will consume oatmeal as a healthy substitute, and similarly, the benefits that come with eating oatmeal also apply to dogs.
Oatmeal contains vitamin B, which helps maintain a healthy coat, and linoleic acid, which is a type of omega-6 fatty acid that helps promote strong and healthy skin.
Because oatmeal is high in fiber, over 4 grams of fiber per fully cooked cup, can help with digestion. In fact, one of the best ways to promote good digestion is to increase fiber consumption.
A high fiber diet has also been linked to reduced risk of digestion conditions such as ulcers, reflux, hemorrhoids, diverticulitis, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) .
If you want to learn more about dogs’ digestion, read our article on How Long Does It Take For A Dog To Digest Food.
May lower cholesterol levels
It should be noted that oats also contain an excellent source of beta-glucan, a type of fiber that is associated with improved heart health .
Additionally, human studies have shown that oats could help reduce cholesterol levels .
However, because these studies were conducted in humans, more studies are needed to confirm if beta-glucan can lower cholesterol in dogs.
Additionally, in regards to dogs, another study showed a similar finding in that supplementing them with beta-glucan from oats reduced the total of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-c), also known as bad cholesterol .
Reduce weight gain
If your furry friend is overweight, then you can use oatmeal to your advantage by adding it to their diet a few times a week to help them sustain their hunger longer.
If you want to learn more about reducing weight gain, you may be interested in reading our article about How To Help A Dog Lose Weight.
Disadvantages of feeding oatmeal to dogs
Feeding your dog snacks that contain a lot of fiber, or more specifically, feeding your dog raw oats, may be difficult for them to digest and leading to an upset gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
To keep these digestive side effects at bay, it is recommended to gradually increase the intake of fiber (such as oats) a day with plenty of water.
Alternatively, it is also suggested to feed your dog one tablespoon of cooked oatmeal for every 20 pounds of weight.
Because oatmeal is high in carbohydrates and contains a significant number of calories it is advised to restrict continuous feeding as it may lead to excess weight gain and put a strain on their joints.
Thus, feeding oatmeal snacks at least once or twice a week may provide a beneficial supplement, but overwhelming your dog with these snacks can impact their health, especially if they are already overweight.
What to avoid when feeding oatmeal to your dog
Raw oats. Avoid feeding your dog raw oats. Instead, offer your dog fully cooked oatmeal.
Processed oats. Avoid feeding your dog processed oats or other grains as they provide fewer health benefits. Instead, feed them whole grains to avoid an upset stomach.
Added sugars. Prior to feeding oatmeal to your dog, be sure to confirm oatmeal is the primary ingredient. Many varieties of packaged oatmeal contain added sugars or other flavorings that may harm your dog’s health.
Big portions. As mentioned above, avoid giving your dog large portions due to their increase in GI symptoms. Provide them a snack of approximately a spoon or two full of oatmeal.
Meal replacements. While it may be satisfying and filling, oatmeal should not be given to a dog as a meal replacement.
Though there are a plethora of benefits in oatmeal, it does not provide the sufficient amount of nutrients your dog needs for a healthy lifestyle.
Instead, use it as a snack or a meal topper to ensure they receive sufficient nutrients.
What to add in your dog’s oatmeal?
For many people, adding things like brown sugar or maple syrup to their oatmeal makes an extraordinary breakfast, however, sugar should be the last thing given to your dog.
There are plenty of other additives that can be added in your dog’s oatmeal to have a more enjoyable snack.
Peanut butter. Many dogs enjoy the taste of peanut butter and a small portion of no sugar added, all-natural peanut butter makes a great choice.
Pumpkin Puree. Many dog owners have been advised to feed their dog pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling) to their dogs daily to help with digestion problems. This can therefore be added to their oatmeal snacks.
Fruit. Some dogs love fruit like bananas, strawberries, blueberries, and apples, all of which are potential additives.
Plain yogurt. Standard, unsweetened and unflavored yogurt is also a delicious additive to your dog’s oatmeal.
Yogurt is packed with nutrients such as calcium and vitamins, thus adding more health benefits to your dog’s snacks.
While oatmeal can provide plenty of health benefits to your dog’s diet, be sure to properly cook the snack and gradually increase their intake to avoid an upset GI tract and increase their tolerance.
It is advised to prepare the meal with water instead of milk, however, many additives can be added to oatmeal to make a more well-balanced snack!
While there is plenty of data supporting the health benefits of oatmeal, it is always a good idea to consult with your veterinarian before making changes to your dog’s diet.