Oatmeal is the perfect breakfast to warm up a gloomy winter. It’s also delicious, highly customizable and healthy. For us humans, oatmeal is a good source of protein, fiber, folate, copper, zinc, B vitamins and beta-glucan.
But can dogs get in on the fun? It’s tempting to sneak your dog a snack now and then. It might not even be your choice – rambunctious pups may jump on the counter or table to grab a bite.
Here’s what an expert says about oatmeal and your furry friend’s health.
Can dogs eat oatmeal?
Oatmeal and oats are not toxic to dogs, so there’s no need to panic if your pup gets into your breakfast.
But just because they can eat something doesn’t mean they should, says veterinarian Diana Watkins, who owns 143 Veterinary Services in Massachusetts. The oats themselves aren’t dangerous, but a bowl of oatmeal may contain foods that are harmful to dogs, like raisins, chocolate or sugar substitutes. Xylitol, for example, is toxic to dogs and has potentially fatal consequences.
Is oatmeal good for dogs?
While not harmful, there’s no real benefit to feeding your dog oatmeal. Because it’s filling, too much can result in an unbalanced diet, especially for small dogs with a low-calorie requirement. Regulated dog food provides dogs with everything they need for a nutritionally balanced diet. Filling your dog’s diet with too much human food may result in nutrient deficiencies.
If you’re considering oatmeal as an easily digestible option for a dog with an upset stomach, go for white or brown rice instead.
“Those are much more tried-and-true and safe,” Watkins says.
Oatmeal does, however, make a healthy addition to your dog’s shampoo, Watkins says. Because it’s gentle and moisturizing, vets often use colloidal oatmeal shampoo on sensitive skin.
What human foods can dogs eat?
Owners should generally be cautious when giving human food to dogs.
While some are vet-approved treats – Watkins likes to feed her dog small bites of carrots, cheese, low-sodium unflavored rice cakes, turkey and cottage cheese – others, like grapes and chocolate, are harmful to dogs. Some foods, like bananas and broccoli, are not toxic but don’t have any benefits that your dog isn’t already getting from their diet.
See the complete list of foods that are safe and toxic for dogs here.
Make sure the food you’re giving your dog isn’t flavored with onion or garlic, which are toxic to dogs, especially in their concentrated powder form.
“I’m a big fan of … providing even a high-quality kibble as a treat because it’s balanced,” Watkins says. “That way, you’re not unknowingly causing any sort of imbalance.”
Why is my dog throwing up?: Your guide to causes, colors and when to be concerned
Just Curious for more? We’ve got you covered
USA TODAY is exploring the questions you and others ask every day. From “Why does my dog eat poop?” to “Can you give dogs melatonin?” to “How many hours of day should dogs sleep?” – we’re striving to find answers to the most common questions you ask every day. Head to our Just Curious section to see what else we can answer for you.