Can Dogs Have Cereal?
The fastest, easiest breakfast option also happens to be one of the tastiest: cereal. Though our brands and flavors of choice change as the seasons change, breakfast cereals are one of the few foods that remain a consistent feature of our diets from our toddler years all the way through adulthood. The best way to enjoy cereal is soaked in cashew milk and topped with fruit, but most of us are more than willing to eat it dry by the handful, too. Cereal is affordable, portable, and has a long shelf life. Most of us consider cereal to be a worthy factor in a healthy diet.
But if you’ve ever sat down with a box of cereal in your lap, you’ve probably had to deal with a big, sad pair of eyes begging up at you from the ground. So, should you give in to your dog’s pleas? Can you give your dog cereal?
The answer is yes, it is generally okay for dogs to eat cereal in moderation. Cereals are usually grain-based, and dogs can handle moderate amounts of grain without too much difficulty. Most cereal is also low in fat and calories, which means it is not likely to lead to pancreatitis or obesity if given in moderation. Breakfast cereals cover a wide range of both healthy and unhealthy foods, so make sure to read the label before making a decision. If you wouldn’t give it to your toddler, you probably shouldn’t give it to your dog. And remember: nothing chocolate flavored!
Are there any benefits to giving your dog cereal? Probably not. Though many cereals are fortified with vitamins and minerals that may be beneficial to humans, your dog should not eat enough cereal for this to make much of a difference in their micronutrient intake. In addition, dogs have different vitamin and mineral needs than we do—and most of these cereals have been fortified to meet human, not canine, nutritional needs. Because it is not nutritionally adequate, cereal should not make up a significant part of your dog’s diet.
However, low-sugar, whole grain cereals may offer some small benefit to your dog’s health because of their fiber content. Whole grains often come with moderate levels of dietary fiber, which has been linked to improved cardiovascular health, better digestion, and a lower risk of cancer, obesity, and other illnesses.
There are two types of dietary fiber in cereal that work together to combat both constipation and diarrhea. Soluble fiber turns into a gelatinous substance when it absorbs water, which aids in the production of softer bowel movements. Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, adds bulk and substance to stool, making it less watery. Good digestive health is also linked to a decreased risk of colon cancer and obesity.
Including fiber in your dog’s diet can also reduce their risk of heart attack or stroke by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. Fiber also helps lower the risk of cardiovascular illness by keeping their weight in check. Fiber, nature’s best weight management tool, prevents overeating because it takes up a lot of space in the stomach without adding any calories. This means that your dog can eat more bulk and feel full on fewer calories. In addition, fiber slows down digestion, so your dog will stay satiated for a longer period of time.
Things to Keep in Mind
The high fiber, low calorie nature of whole grain cereal makes it an excellent treat choice. Cereal can be especially valuable for people who are training their dogs, because its small size, portability, and low caloric density allows for repetition. Small squares or loops of your favorite whole grain cereal are far lower in calories than standard dog treats!
Of course, not all cereals were created equally. Cereals that are high in sugar (hint: the ones that are brightly colored or look like miniature cookies or donuts) should be avoided. Dogs can’t tolerate added sugar as well as we can, and feeding them sugary cereals may increase their risk of obesity, diabetes, and stomach troubles.
In addition, cereals made with ingredients that are toxic to dogs should be avoided. Read labels carefully and avoid giving your dog anything that contains forbidden foods like chocolate, raisins, macadamia nuts, or artificial sweeteners like xylitol. Also be aware of the difference between granola and standard breakfast cereals, as granola is often much higher in fat and calories.
Though many of us enjoy a bowl of cereal for breakfast, this is one food that should be given to your dog only as a treat. Most cereal offers little in the way of nutrition for our canine companions, but whole grain, high-fiber options may aid in lowering cholesterol, improving digestion, and maintaining a healthy weight. To protect your dog’s health, give them cereal only in moderation—and make sure you read the label to avoid giving them anything that may harm their health.
Dog Eating Cereal Video: