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Why oatmeal is good for dogs in moderation

If you’ve been wondering, “Is oatmeal healthy for dogs?” we’ve got great news. Oats are a great source of vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates for people, so it only makes sense that they’re a healthy food for dogs, too. Still, it’s not as simple as it seems. Although oatmeal is safe for canine snacking, there are a few things you need to remember when serving it to your fur baby. A healthy pup is a happy pup, after all!

A bowl of oatmeal and blueberries sits on a breakfast table
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Is oatmeal good for dogs?

Although moderation is key, even for a good thing, oatmeal can be a healthy piece of your dog’s diet. Oats contain beneficial nutrients such as fiber, vitamin B, and omega-6 fatty acids. Fiber can help regulate blood sugar and bowel movements, while vitamin B and omega-6s contribute to a healthy, shiny coat.

Do be careful: Fiber can be quite healthful, but it can also cause intestinal upset in some dogs. It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on your pup for a while after trying new foods. There are certainly ways to prepare this breakfast staple that will help your dog digest it more easily, including serving her only cooked oatmeal. Raw oats might be great for people, but the same can’t be said for pups.

How much oatmeal is healthy for dogs?

Generally, you should be feeding your dog no more than one tablespoon of cooked oatmeal per 20 pounds of body weight. So, for example, a 60-pound husky could eat up to three tablespoons in one sitting.

Portion control is important for a variety of reasons. Not only does it make sure that your pup isn’t consuming too many carbs, but it also reduces her risk for a life-threatening condition called bloat. Diarrhea, vomiting, and other stomach upset can also be a consequence of too much human food — even oatmeal.

When in doubt, you can always ask your veterinarian for a recommendation on portion control or the best snacks and treats for your dog.

A golden retriever licks his nose and lies in front of a food bowl
Chendongshan / Shutterstock

How to prepare oatmeal for dogs

As much as you may want to share a bite of your breakfast, you should consider a few things first. Here’s what you need to know:

Don’t feed your dog instant oatmeal

Instant oatmeal can be delicious, but it can also contain ingredients that are harmful to dogs. Sugars themselves won’t be an issue in small quantities, but if your instant oatmeal contains xylitol — an artificial sweetener — you may be in trouble. Xylitol is extremely toxic to dogs, and it can hide in unexpected places.

Do use water instead of milk

If you use milk to make your oatmeal in the morning, this may not be the best to give to your pet. Many dogs, like people, are sensitive or intolerant to dairy products — and you may not find out until it’s too late. Symptoms like diarrhea, loose stools, and vomiting can happen rather quickly.

Milk is also much higher in fat, which can lead to conditions such as obesity, heart disease, or pancreatitis over time. This is just another reason why moderation is key to a healthy dog, no matter what you’re feeding them.

Do feed plain oatmeal to your dog

It’s a smart idea to scoop out a portion of plain oatmeal for your dog before you add any toppings like fruit, butter, or brown sugar. Many of these toppings on their own aren’t harmful to dogs, but human food is still more likely to upset her stomach if fed too often. A small bite of an apple or a few blueberries can be a great treat, though sugars and other toppings need to be avoided.

Use your best judgment and don’t be afraid to do your research before feeding your dog anything new. Popular oatmeal complements like grapes, raisins, and chocolate all contain ingredients that are toxic to dogs, so be extra careful when preparing breakfast for yourself with these items around.

Don’t worry, though: Once you’ve taken a few extra steps to ensure your dog’s safety, oatmeal can make a delicious and healthy occasional snack for your pup. She might really appreciate the new taste and texture, too! So all that’s left now is to give it a try. What are you waiting for?

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Gabrielle LaFrank
Gabrielle LaFrank has written for sites such as Psych2Go, Elite Daily, and, currently, PawTracks. When she's not writing, you…
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