Can I Give My Dog Oatmeal?
One of the easiest, healthiest, tastiest, most versatile, most affordable foods available today is oatmeal. Due to its low cost, ease of preparation, and long shelf life, oatmeal is a staple food in many parts of the world. A properly prepared bowl of oatmeal is hearty, healthy, easy on the stomach, and perfect for just about anyone—whether you are a vegan, a strict whole foods eater, gluten intolerant, or allergy-ridden, you can enjoy a delicious bowl of oats. That is why oatmeal is one of the few foods (along with toast and applesauce) that just about everyone agrees is an excellent food choice for people recovering from sickness, surgery, or other physical stressors.
Since oatmeal is such a healthy, innocent food, pet owners may wonder if it’s suitable for their canine companions. So, can dogs have oatmeal? Is a bowl of oatmeal a good dietary choice for your sick puppy?
The answer: a resounding yes. Not only is it okay to feed your dog oatmeal, it may actually benefit their health! Oatmeal is low in the bad stuff, high in the good stuff, easy on your wallet, easy for your dog to digest, and delicious enough to keep your pooch coming back for more. Keep in mind, though, that oatmeal should not make up the majority of your dog’s diet—as healthy as oats are, they are not nutritionally complete, and relying on them as a main source of calories may result in vitamin deficiencies. Make sure your dog’s diet consists mostly of specially formulated dog food.
Health Benefits of Feeding Your Dog Oatmeal?
Aside from dog-friendly fruits and vegetables, oatmeal is one of the healthiest foods you can give to your canine companion. One of the key health benefits of oatmeal is its high fiber content, which accounts for this fantastic food’s amazing satiety factor—after all, a bowl of oatmeal is enough to tide most people over for several hours. Though your dog does not require quite as much fiber as you do, it can still help support their health in several ways.
The most widely discussed benefit of fiber is the regulatory effect it has on the digestive system. This indigestible (and therefore calorie-free) material can soothe upset stomachs, plus prevent both diarrhea and constipation. This is because fiber acts like a sponge inside the body—when exposed to water, it soaks it up and turns into a slippery, jelly-like substance that makes for bigger, softer, more regular bowel movements. For dogs who are prone to diarrhea, fiber can soak up excess water in the colon and help bulk up loose, watery stools. A regular digestive system is a healthy digestive system, which is why increased fiber intake is often linked to lower colon cancer risks.
Oatmeal is one of the few human foods that may aid in weight loss, too. If your vet has decided to put your dog on a calorie restricted diet, hearty, filling oatmeal may be a great way to help fill up their stomach while simultaneously reducing their caloric intake—oatmeal’s high fiber content slows digestion and promotes satiety, and the complex carbohydrates supply a source of steady energy for several hours. The satiety factor is also helped by the moderate protein content; protein is the most satiating macronutrient.
Oats are a great grain for your dog, too, because they are easy on the whole body. Oatmeal is anti-inflammatory, which means that is unlikely to exacerbate allergies, pain associated with inflammatory conditions like arthritis, or gastric problems. It is full of B vitamins, iron, manganese, zinc, and folic acid, which all support full-body health. Folic acid and iron, in particular, are key to your dog’s vascular health—iron is an ingredient in hemoglobin, which carries oxygen throughout the body, and folic acid is supportive of the production of red blood cells. It also contains silicon, which supports a strong skeleton.
Things to Keep in Mind
Even better: this food is one of the ‘people foods’ that is least likely to trigger canine allergies. Some dogs who experience allergic reactions to other grains may still be able to digest oats without any trouble. If your dog suffers from wheat allergies, for example, oatmeal may make a great alternative. To be safe, talk to your vet before introducing new foods into the diet of any dog with food allergies.
Overall, oatmeal is an excellent choice for dogs when given in moderation. It is low in fat, fairly low in calories, full of fiber, and high in several key vitamins and minerals. It’s easy on the stomach and well-tolerated by the majority of dogs. Just remember to use it as a supplement—oatmeal can’t meet all your dog’s dietary needs—and prepare your dog’s oatmeal plain, with water and no salt. Avoid feeding your dog flavored instant oatmeal, because these options are often high in sugar, salt, and artificial flavors that may harm their health.