Can I Give My Dog Cheerios?
Though most comfort foods fall under the ‘junk food’ category, there is one healthy breakfast that never fails to soothe the soul: a coffee mug filled with Cheerios, a sliced banana, and your non-dairy milk of choice. This breakfast is bland yet slightly sweet, easy on the stomach, and easy to prepare. Though they are not the flashiest, most interesting, or even the healthiest superfood-laden cereal option on the market, Cheerios have earned a place in the hearts of many Americans. This bland, heart-healthy cereal is often a go-to during times of illness, or on the days when we are looking for an easy snack to stash in our bags.
Most people consider Cheerios to be a harmless food in the human diet, but should we share it with our dogs, too? Can dogs have Cheerios?
Yes, dogs can eat Cheerios in moderation. Though the current gluten-free fever has many pet owners convinced that grains are toxic to dogs, this simply is not true. Most grains are perfectly safe for canine consumption, and Cheerios are a safe way to fit whole grains into your dog’s diet. That said, Cheerios are pretty useless to your canine companion on the nutritional front, so they should not make up a large portion of your dog’s caloric intake.
Are there any benefits to feeding your dog Cheerios? If your goal is only to meet their nutritional needs, there is not any good reason to give your dog Cheerios. They do not contain most of the vitamins and minerals that dogs need to thrive. In addition, they are fairly low in protein, which is the macronutrient dogs need most. Breakfast cereals that are low in sugar can be an excellent source of calories for humans, but they should not even make up a full meal for our dogs.
This is not to say that Cheerios have absolutely no redeeming qualities. Often praised for the impact they have on humans’ cardiovascular health, Cheerios may also have some heart health benefits for our canine companions, too. They are low in fat and calories, but high in whole grains and fiber, which may help combat illnesses like heart disease and diabetes. Fiber has also been linked to improved weight management and a longer lifespan. However, there are definitely better ways to give your dog fiber. Healthier, more nutrient-dense sources of fiber include apples, carrots, oatmeal, and brown rice.
Cheerios can be a good option for dogs who are dealing with a stomach bug or another short-term digestive illness. Because they are bland and low in fat and sugar, they are fairly easy on the stomach. In addition, the fiber content can help fight both constipation and diarrhea. This is because soluble fiber, which soaks up water, helps to keep stools soft, while insoluble fiber adds bulk to loose or watery stool. If your dog is having trouble eating, Cheerios and other bland foods may be a good way to get calories into them in the short term. Once your dog’s symptoms improve, however, they should return to eating more nutritionally dense foods.
For most pet parents, Cheerios are most valuable as training tools—because they are nontoxic and low in sugar, fat, and calories, you can use a handful of them as incentives when teaching your dog to sit or stay. Give your dog the Cheerios one at a time and make sure you keep an eye on their waistline. If your dog starts to gain weight, back off on the treats—even if they are for training purposes.
Things to Keep in Mind
While plain Cheerios are safe for dogs, most flavored varieties are best avoided due to added sugars or other toxic ingredients. Chocolate Cheerios, which are poisonous to dogs, should be completely off limits. In addition, high-sugar varieties are best left off the table. This includes flavors like Honey Nut Cheerios and Frosted Cheerios. It would be wise to avoid the flavored Cheerios varieties altogether, which often contain an array of artificial sweeteners and additives that may be harmful to your dog.
Also off limits: cereal with dairy milk. Dairy products are not good for dogs, who are often lactose intolerant. To head off vomiting, diarrhea, or other health issues, gives your dog their Cheerios treats dry. They will not complain about eating dry cereal. If your dog experiences any negative symptoms after eating cereal, stop feeding it to them and consult a veterinarian before trying again. Your dog may have a food allergy or sensitivity.
In conclusion, there are not many health benefits associated with giving your dog Cheerios, which are nutritionally empty. Most of the time, your dog will be better off if they steer clear of Cheerios. However, this food is not in any way poisonous to dogs. If you are looking for a safe treat option, or a bland food to give them while they are ill, Cheerios are an acceptable choice. Just remember that cereal should be given to dogs only in moderation—it should never be a staple in your dog’s diet.