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Can Dogs Eat Oatmeal?: The Definitive Guide

  • 8 min read

Oats are amongst the healthiest grains available for human consumption. It's also used in a few commercial dog foods because it's a healthy gluten-free whole grain that acts as a great source of dietary fiber for your dog. 

Once cooked, oatmeal is safe to consume for our furry friends. But how exactly does oatmeal benefit a dog? And are there any side effects? Let’s discuss it!

Key Health Benefits of Oatmeal for a Dog

Let’s start by first looking at the several potential health benefits of feeding your dog oatmeal:

1. Aids in Digestion

Oatmeal is a rich source of fiber that can be linked to numerous health benefits, especially for your dog’s digestive system. These fibers are often fermented into fatty acids that feed the good bacteria in your dog’s intestine. It can help keep things moving inside the digestive tracts. 

Fiber is also known to add bulk to your dog’s stool and can prevent irregularity like diarrhea or constipation. It can also help in the absorption of sugar in a dog’s body which might stabilize their blood glucose levels. 

It’s also important to note that feeding large amounts of food that's rich in fiber can upset your dog’s gastrointestinal tract causing diarrhea, vomiting, and bloating. Since some dog food brands already use oats in their diet, you have to take that into consideration and feed the right amount of oatmeal only as a supplement to a well-balanced diet.  

2. Promotes Skin Health

Oats are a great source of vitamin B and linoleic acid, which is a type of omega-6 fatty acid. 

Vitamin B can help keep a dog’s fur shiny and skin healthy. It might also be involved in the production of healthy skin cells. Whereas, linoleic acid is known to maintain the integrity of the skin barrier and helping in healing wounds. It can also help your dog fight inflammation and prevent future skin problems.

Many veterinarians also recommend oatmeal baths to treat dry skin, minor itches, or other skin issues. All you have to do is make a fine powder of the oats in a blender and mix it in warm water. 

Then gently and generously apply it to the skin and fur of your dog, leave it for 5-10 minutes and wash off using a mild shampoo. This can help your dog’s skin heal from minor skin problems and develop a protective barrier that will lock in all the moisture.

3. Might Lower Cholesterol Levels

Oats contain beta-glucan, a type of soluble fiber. It’s often associated with improving heart health in humans. Although there aren’t any substantial studies for dogs, there is thisone study where 14 dogs were fed a control diet or a diet supplemented with 1% beta-glucan for 71 days. They observed reduced levels of total and LDL cholesterol.

LDL cholesterol is classified as bad cholesterol because it collects in the walls of the blood vessels, increasing the chances of heart attack or stroke. 

Therefore if your dog suffers from high cholesterol levels, they might see some improvement by either switching to a food with oatmeal or adding it as a supplement to their diet.

4. Helps Improve Bone Strength

Oats contain potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, silica, and iron. They can help in the absorption of calcium in the body and thus strengthens the bones of your dogs. Magnesium can also work alongside fiber to make the digestive system of the dog function optimally. 

5. Can be Good For Dogs With Allergies

Dogs can develop intolerance to multiple ingredients including gluten or wheat. If your dog suffers from any such sensitivity then oats might be a good option for them. It’s a great gluten-free alternative when feeding your dog. 

Some manufacturers process oats with the same equipment as other grains. Hence you’ll have to buy oats from a source that can ensure they do not get in contact with wheat and other grains during processing, especially if your dog has a severe allergy to gluten. It’s best to buy oats from a manufacturer that labels them gluten-free.

6. Rich in Antioxidants

Oats are the only food that contains avenanthramide which is an antioxidant. It’s a plant-based polyphenol that might be helpful in lowering blood pressure in dogs. It can also have some anti-inflammatory and anti-itching effects on your dog's skin.

How to Prepare Oatmeal for Your Dog: Tips & Precautions

Preparing oatmeal for your dog is very different from how you prepare it for yourself. You need to follow certain precautions and understand the right portion sizes. Let’s discuss each of these topics and concerns in a little more detail…

The Right Portions Size

Even though oatmeal has some great benefits for dogs, it still lacks many nutrients that are necessary for the overall well-being of your dog. Hence oatmeal should be served as a supplement to a complete and balanced diet. It should never substitute or replace their actual diet.

According to American Kennel Club, an appropriate amount to serve your dogs would be around one tablespoon which is ½ ounce of cooked oatmeal for every 20 pounds of their body weight. It’s also advised to not serve oatmeal every day, instead feed it 1-2 times a week.

Feeding your dog more than the advised amount of oatmeal can lead to multiple health problems including vomiting, diarrhea, and bloating.

Commercial Dog Foods Contain Oats

Grains are often used in commercial dog food to add vitamins, minerals, and fibers. They also help dry dog food maintain its shape and crunch. 

If you're adding oats to your dog's diet you should know which dog food brands use oats in their recipes. You should read the ingredients list before buying dog food. If it already contains oats, you should refrain from feeding them additional oatmeal. 

Otherwise, it’ll lead to too much fiber in your dog’s body which can cause diarrhea and bloating.

Side-Effects of Overfeeding Oats to a Dog

Oats do not have any side effects if you take proper precautions and feed them moderately. And there are multiple reasons why you should avoid overfeeding. First, as mentioned above the high fiber content of oats can cause digestive problems. Secondly, oats are rich in carbohydrates and contain a significant number of calories. Thus overfeeding can lead to weight gain which might increase the risk of many other health problems including diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension. 

Feed your dog the right amount of oats once or twice a week as a supplement to a well-balanced diet to avoid any side effects. 

What Kind of Oats Are Safe for Your Dog?

Oatmeal can be a great source of nutrients and fibers but only if you serve the right ones. You should never feed your dog flavored, instant, or pre-mixed oats. These might contain raisins, chocolates, cinnamon, or xylitol, an artificial sweetener that can be toxic to your dog’s health.

The 2 best and most recommended types of oats to feed your dog are:

1. Steel-cut oats

These are processed by chopping the whole oat grain into several pieces using a steel blade. They take a much longer time to cook but they also contain slightly higher fiber compared to rolled oats.

They are also known as Irish oats or Scottish oats. 


2. Rolled oats

These are processed by steaming the whole grains of oats to make them soft and flexible. Then they are pressed to look like flat irregular round discs. 

They are also known as old-fashioned or whole oats.

How to Cook Oatmeal for Dog

You should never feed your dog raw oats as they can be hard to digest and can cause an upset stomach. It’s recommended that you cook them properly and allow them to cool down before serving.  

Another thing to note is that you should avoid using milk to prepare oats. Dogs can struggle to break down the lactose in both dairy and plant-based milk. The best option is to cook oats with water.

Simply mix water with rolled or steel-cut oats and let it cook on the stove until the oats absorb the liquid. Don’t add any seasoning or spices like salt, cinnamon, honey, or maple syrup as they can be harmful to your dog. 

Once the oatmeal is cooked, let it cool down before serving it to your dog. Remember to use the right portion size which is one tablespoon (½ ounce) for every 20 pounds of body weight. 

Can Your Dog Be Allergic to Oats?

Allergies in dogs can be described as a defensive mechanism of the immune system. It is caused when a dog’s immune system mistakes a harmless substance for a dangerous invader. It then employs specialized immune cells to defend the body against the invader.

Although your dog can develop allergies from oats, it’s more often used to assist in relieving the symptoms of allergy like inflamed and itching skin. It does this by improving the health and vitality of the skin and fur and also provides important vitamins and minerals during an elimination diet.

If in a rare case, your dog suffers an allergic reaction due to oats, you might witness one or many of the following symptoms:

    • Coughing or Sneezing 
    • Shortness of breath
    • Itchiness
    • Diarrhea or upset stomach 
    • Hives
    • Swelling on the face, ears, eyes, or lips
    • Nasal congestion
    • Obsessive licking
    • Red or itchy eyes 
    • Red or inflamed skin
    • Vomiting 

    Just for caution, monitor your dog's health for 24-48 hours after feeding them oats. If you notice any changes, don’t feed them oats again and contact your veterinarian.

    But if your dog enjoys oatmeal and handles it fine, continue to serve it once or twice a week.

    Summing Up

    Oats are fiber-rich grains that are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It’s an extremely popular food supplement for dogs who suffer from any insensitivity or allergies to wheat or gluten. 

    But too much of any food ingredient can do more harm than good. Your dog needs a well-balanced food diet to which you can add oatmeal as a supplement. 

    If you still have doubts, you can consult your veterinarian before feeding your dog oatmeal.


    1. What kind of oatmeal can dogs eat?

    You should always feed minimally processed oats like the steel-cut or the old-fashioned rolled oats to your dog. Stay away from the flavored, instant, or pre-mixed oats as they are highly processed and might contain artificial sugar, salt, cinnamon, chocolates, or raisins, all of which can be harmful to a dog.

    2. Is oatmeal safe for puppies?

    Yes, oatmeal is perfectly safe for puppies. Just remember to properly cook oats with water and let them cool down before serving. Don’t serve raw oats to your puppy as it can be hard to chew and digest.

    An appropriate amount to serve your puppies would be around one tablespoon which is ½ ounce of cooked oatmeal for every 20 pounds of their body weight. 

    3. How much oatmeal can dogs eat?

    According to American Kennel Club, an appropriate amount to serve your dogs would be around one tablespoon which is ½ ounce of cooked oatmeal for every 20 pounds of their body weight. It’s also advised to not serve oatmeal every day, instead feed it 1-2 times a week.

    4. Can a dog eat oatmeal daily?

    Oatmeal as a supplement to a balanced diet should be served in moderation. It’s recommended that you serve cooked oatmeal 1-2 times a week only. If you would like to feed oatmeal more regularly you should consult with your veterinarian.

    5. Can a dog eat uncooked oatmeal?

    You shouldn’t feed your dog uncooked oatmeal as it can be hard to chew and digest and can cause an upset stomach. Always cook the oats in water and serve them at room temperature. Also avoid adding any spices or seasonings like sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon, turmeric, or cardamom as they can be harmful to your dog.

    6. Can I feed my dog oats with honey?

    Honey and oats are both safe for dogs but they both contain a lot of calories. Adding honey to the oatmeal regularly can lead to weight gain and obesity. Hence you should save it only for a special treat.

    7. Can oatmeal treat diarrhea in dogs?

    Oatmeal contains fibers that add bulk to the stool which might help treat mild diarrhea. But if you overfeed oatmeal to your dog, it can make the situation worse. 

    Furthermore, if your dog is suffering from severe diarrhea or an upset stomach, you should contact your veterinarian.

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