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Can Dogs Eat Oatmeal? Is Oatmeal Safe For Dogs?

Trying to figure out if it's safe to feed your dog oatmeal? We answer all your oatmeal related questions, including how much and how often to feed your pup!

Joanna Woodnutt

Last Updated: May 16, 2020 | 9 min read

Oatmeal For Dogs

We’re all familiar with oatmeal, and whether you love it or hate it, there’s no denying it’s filling and healthy. If you like eating oatmeal for breakfast, you might be wondering if your dog can join in, too.

Oatmeal is the name given to prepared oats, which have been hulled then rolled, ground or milled. In the USA, oatmeal may also refer to the cooked porridge made with oats. It’s a healthy grain, known for leaving people feeling fuller for longer and reducing cholesterol.

Oatmeal is generally safe for dogs to eat. In fact, it is a very commonly fed additive, and is included in lots of dog foods. Most dogs can eat oatmeal without having any adverse effects, assuming it’s in the correct quantities. It is a good source of fiber, making it good for the gut, and it’s also present in many foods designed for sensitive tummies due to its gentle nature.

Can Oatmeal Make Dogs Sick?

Of course, any food can cause problems for a few dogs, and oatmeal is no exception. Dogs that are allergic to oats will struggle to digest oatmeal, resulting in bad stomachs or skin problems.

In addition, feeding too much oatmeal can cause problems for your dog- it can throw their diet off balance, and too much fiber going through the body can cause tummy upsets. Most dogs will be fine eating a small amount of oatmeal every now and again.

Is Oatmeal Good For Dogs?

Dog Oatmeal Bowl
Oatmeal has many different benefits for dogs.

Oatmeal has many nutritional benefits. It is a good source of fiber and can be used as an energy source due to its carbohydrate levels. It is also high in protein, especially in comparison to other grains.

The USDA report that oats contain (per 100g raw oats):

  • Calories: 389
  • Water: 8%
  • Protein: 16.9 grams
  • Carbs: 66.3 grams
  • Sugar: 0 grams
  • Fiber: 10.6 grams
  • Fat: 6.9 grams

Calories in oatmeal

The calories in oatmeal come from a combination of starch and fiber, with much of the starch being slow to break down. This means it helps to feed the good bacteria in your dog’s gut.

Protein in oatmeal

At nearly 17g per 100g, oats are higher in protein than most grains. This makes them particularly well suited for dogs, who need higher amounts of protein in their diets than humans do. Protein is important for muscular growth, energy and many bodily functions.

Sugar in oatmeal

Oatmeal is very low in sugar, providing energy in the form of digestible starch. This is slower to break down, causing fewer sugar spikes and sugar lows, and requiring less need for insulin. This ‘slow release’ energy is much better for both humans and dogs. Sweet potatoes are an example of another good slow-release energy carbohydrate that your dog can consume.

Fat in oatmeal

Oatmeal contains a surprisingly large amount of fat, but it’s not too much; dogs need a lot more fat in their diets than humans do. Fat is essential to many body functions- it feeds the heart and the brain far better than starch does.

Vitamins and minerals in oatmeal

Oatmeal also contains a variety of minerals, including manganese (which is important for development and growth), copper (which is important for heart heath) and selenium, which is important for brain function. It also contains vitamin B1, also known as thiamine, which is an important ingredient needed for proper function of a dog’s digestive system.

Is Oatmeal Used in Dog Food?

Dog Food made with oatmeal
Oatmeal is used in many different types of dog food.

Absolutely! A quick search on Chewy.com shows that oatmeal is a common ingredient in dog food, appearing in over 250 products, with 229 products being dry diets and 30 products being wet diets. It’s actually named as a major ingredient in several diets, most commonly paired with lamb or chicken. Wellness is a well-known brand that uses oatmeal in several recipes. Other brands that use oatmeal in their food formulas include Nutro or Chewy’s brand American Journey.

Many of these are marketed for sensitive skin or stomach, as dogs are less likely to have problems with oats than wheat. Foods that are designed for dogs on a diet also frequently contain oatmeal; its high fiber content means it is filling. In fact, in a study on humans ranking the fullness after eating certain foods, oatmeal came in third overall, making it an excellent addition to a weight-loss diet.

Best Types of Oatmeal For Dogs

If you’ve decided that you want to give your dog a little bit of oatmeal every now and again, then it’s worth considering the type of oatmeal you have available. It’s not recommended that you give your dog flavored or pre-mixed oatmeal, as the flavorings or extra ingredients may not be safe for your pet.

They may also contain high levels of sugar, counteracting the health benefits of the oatmeal. Plain, unflavored oatmeal is best. Oatmeal also comes in the ‘quick cook’ or the larger grains.  Both are fine for dogs. The more ‘whole’ the ingredients, the more likely that the beneficial ingredients haven’t been lost during processing.

Oatmeal For Dogs With Medical Problems

Old labrador with health problems
Oatmeal is great for digestive health in dogs.

Some people recommend giving dogs oatmeal to cure diarrhea, but this may not be the best approach. Fiber can help to firm feces. But if your dog has runny poop they probably need something a little blander. It might help, however, for dogs who have consistently slightly soft (but still formed) stool- a little extra fiber can help, here. This is the case for dogs on a special diet with anal gland issues, too.

Some people report that constipated dogs improve on oatmeal. This might be true for dogs with mild constipation, but for those with severe constipation, oatmeal isn’t going to be enough to get those bowels moving again.

Making Oatmeal For Dogs

When making oatmeal for dogs, you should avoid the premixed and pre-flavored oatmeal as these often contain added sugar and may even have dangerous ingredients such as nuts, raisins, or xylitol.

You can add your own flavorings if you like, but you should leave out any ingredients except those you know to be safe. You should also make the oatmeal with water rather than milk, which can cause problems; many dogs struggle to digest lactose and eating too much can cause vomiting, diarrhea and bad gas.

Put an ounce or two of dried oatmeal into a microwave bowl, and add three ounces of water. Cook in the microwave for around two minutes. Once it’s done, give it a good stir and let it cool completely before you give it to your dog. We recommend it as a dog food topper for the best experience for your pup.

How Much Can My Dog Eat?

Oatmeal to feed dogs
As with all things, Oatmeal is better in moderation.

Giving your dog too much oatmeal can cause problems for a number of reasons. Firstly, more fiber doesn’t necessarily equal better- too much fiber can cause as many problems as too little. Secondly, your dog should already be on a perfectly balanced diet, and the addition of extra nutrients can unbalance this.

For instance, if fed in large enough amounts for long enough, the extra phosphorus in the oatmeal can cause an unbalance of the calcium in the body. This can lead to bone problems. Lastly, if you’re giving the oatmeal to your dog in addition to their usual diet, they are likely to become overweight. This can cause further serious health concerns, and require you to put your dog on low-calorie dog food.

You should never give your dog more than a tenth of their daily calorie allowance in treats, to make sure that you don’t unbalance their diet. For example, for a 40lb dog of ideal weight, a daily calorie intake of 860 calories is about right. They can have up to 86 of these calories as treats, chews, and other differences from their usual diet. If this is going to be in the form of oatmeal, they can have up to four ounces of cooked oatmeal each day.

Of course, four ounces might be too much fiber for your dog. For this reason, it’s best to start with a tablespoon of cooked oatmeal, and assess their response, before giving them any more.

Can Dogs Eat Oatmeal Daily?

As long as you’re not unbalancing your dog’s diet, and aren’t overloading their caloric needs, you can feed your dog oatmeal daily. If you’re feeding oatmeal due to a medical problem like anal gland compaction, you might need to give oatmeal daily for consistent results. More likely, though, you’re giving it as a treat. In which case, instead of giving the same thing daily, it’s a better idea to mix it up a bit.

While it’s possible for your dog to have small bits of oatmeal worked into their diet on a daily basis, we recommend looking at other healthy snacks too. Avoid processed foods like Graham Crackers or table scraps from boxed dinners. Focus on high-quality fruits for sweet treats, like cubed pineapple treats, or sliced kiwi.

Frequently Asked Questions

We get a lot of questions here about what your dog can and cannot eat. We’ve compiled some commonly asked questions about pups and oatmeal for you below.

Q: Can dogs eat oatmeal cookies?
A: This depends on what’s in the mix. Some dogs are gluten sensitive. If you use wheat in your oatmeal cookies, you are better off not giving them to your dog if they are gluten intolerant.

Q: Can dogs eat oatmeal raisin cookies?
A: Rasins are highly toxic to dogs. So no, they can’t eat oatmeal raisin cookies. If they have already eaten one, we suggest you contact your vet immediately.

Q: Can dogs eat oatmeal with brown sugar?
A: Brown sugar is not toxic to dogs. So, yes, you should be fine if your pup has consumed oatmeal with brown sugar. You don’t want to consistently feed your dog sugar though, as it can cause other health issues.

Q: Can dogs eat oatmeal with milk?
A: Some dogs are lactose intolerant. We would advise against feeding your dog oatmeal with milk. They should be ok if they eat it on accident, but it’s possible they get gassy if they do.

Q: Can they eat it with cinnamon?
A: Cinnamon is not known to be toxic to dogs. However, if your dog has an allergy to it, that could likely cause problems. We recommend you contact your vet immediately if your dog has an allergic reaction to cinnamon. Absent an allergy, your pup should be fine.

Final Thoughts

For the most part, oatmeal should be safe for your pup. We always recommend that you test in smaller quantities to make sure that your dog doesn’t have any adverse reactions. If you feel something isn’t right, the first thing you should do is always contact your veterinarian right away. With all that being said, yes, your dog can eat oatmeal, and there are many benefits if they do!

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