Being a Canine Nutritionist, one of the most common questions that I face from new pet parents and from those who are planning to shift their dog from commercial dry dogfood to the homemade fresh dog food diet is – “What are the human foods that I can give to my dog?” or “What vegetables can dogs eat?”.
Another frequent question that I face quiet regularly is regarding one of the healthy breakfast choices for humans – Oats and “Can dogs eat oats?”
Let me address this question right away – “Yes! Oatmeal is good for dogs but there are certain things that you must keep in mind before you start feeding your dog oatmeal.”
Oats are amongst the healthiest grains available and are also amongst the top healthy breakfast choices the world over. These fiber-rich grains are a great source of protein and are packed with vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants.
In addition to that, oats are gluten-free, making them a great choice for those who are gluten intolerance.
In humans, a regular consumption of oat and oatmeal has many health benefits like reduced risk of heart diseases, lower blood sugar levels and weight management.
Are Grain Bad for Dogs? If so, then if Oats is a grain then should I give it to my dog?
If we are saying that oats are good for dogs then how can we avoid addressing one of the most debated topics in Pet Nutrition – Are grains good or bad for dogs?
We believe that grains offer a variety of health benefits to most dogs but it may not be the right choice for some dogs.
Marc Smith, DVM and Casey Damron, DVM wrote in their book Eastern Food Therapy for Pets that grains provide yin to the dog’s diet. Grains are more cooling in nature than meat and are helpful for dogs with conditions that cause inflammation of the digestive tract, ulcers, IBD etc.
However, an increasing number of dogs are showing allergic reaction to some grains, especially wheat, soy and corn. Some dogs have extreme gluten intolerance and suffer even with a slightest residue of gluten in their food. For these dogs a grain free diet should be considered. But, for all the other dogs, grains are very well digested, tolerated and the nutrients are absorbed in the body.
According to Dr. Richard Pitcairn, DVM, PhD – Oats, in particular, are a great choice for pets because it contains more protein per calorie than any other common grains. Oats have anti-inflammatory, skin-soothing properties and have a calming effect on the nervous system of dogs, so a good addition to the diet of dogs who suffer from anxiety issues.
Benefits of oats in your dog’s diet?
Oats are high in fiber and contain many nutrients, minerals and antioxidants. Oats are gluten free and are a good alternative source of carbohydrates for dogs who are sensitive to wheat and other grains.
Oats promote healthy skin in dogs: Oatmeal contains Vitamin B that helps maintain the skin and coat of your furry. It also contains the omega-6 fatty acid -linoleic acid, which also helps to keep your furry’s skin strong and healthy.
Oats helps in bone strength in dogs: Oats are also rich in potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, iron and silica, which boost the absorption of calcium in the body that in turn strengthens the bones.
Oats improve the immune system in dogs: Oats also strengthens the immune system, pancreas and spleen. In fact, out of all the grains, oats has the least number of dogs that are allergic to it.
Oats support digestion in dogs: As oats are rich in fiber, so it helps to regulate the bowel movements of your furry while also maintaining the blood glucose level of your dog.
Oats lowers cholesterol levels in dogs: If your dog suffers from high cholesterol due to genetic or metabolic abnormalities, then oatmeal helps to lower it. Oats are good source of beta glucan. Beta Glucan is a type of fiber that is associated with improvement of heart health and reduces LDL cholesterol.
How much Oats can I give to my dog?
It is important to remember that you must introduce any new food to your dog’s diet gradually and observe how well they handle it before adding any more to the diet. If you observe any kind of discomfort in your pet after eating a new food, then you must stop, wait and few days and try again.
Just because you eat oats for breakfast every day and your dog also loves oats, it does not mean that your dog can also eat it everyday. According to American Kennel Club, you can give 1 tbsp (15gm) of cooked oatmeal for every 9kg of body weight of your dog.
Do not give your dog too much oatmeal as it is high in carbohydrates and calories. Consuming a large amount of oats in one meal can lead to vomiting, diarrhea and bloating. Half a cup of cooked oatmeal 2-3 times a week is enough for a large size dog.
Potential Side-effects of giving oats to your dog?
Although oats are a good source of nutrition for your dog but not all types of oats are suitable for them.
Flavored and ready-to-eat oatmeals are high in sugar or sugar substitutes like xylitol that are toxic for dogs. Go for the least processed version that is un-flavored and cook in water before serving to your furry.
A sudden increase in fiber intake in their diet can also cause unpleasant side-effects in your furry like bloating, gas and gastrointestinal upset. Start with only 3 gm a day and increase by 3 gm every few days till you reach the limit as per your furry’s weight.
Can Dogs eat raw oats?
Adding raw oats to their breakfast smoothies is what many health fanatics have started doing. The idea is that it keeps them feeling fuller longer.
However, when it comes to your furry friend, you should avoid giving raw oatmeal. Raw oatmeal is difficult to digest and can cause stomach upset, bloating and general discomfort in your dog.
How to cook oatmeal for dogs?
Always make oatmeal with water instead of milk when you are making it for your dog. Dogs are sensitive to dairy and cannot breakdown lactose easily so it is best to avoid milk in their diet.
Oatmeal for dogs skin
An oatmeal bath is good for your dog skin and fur, especially those who have an itchy skin or have skin allergies. Make a fine powder of the oatmeal in mixer and then mix it with some warm water. Apply it on your furry. Be extra generously around the especially itchy parts of the body. Leave it on for 5-10 minutes and then wash it off using a mild shampoo. As the oatmeal paste is non-toxic, so you do not have to worry even if your furry licks some of it while it waits to shampoo.
To conclude, I would like to state that although Oats are good for dogs, but too much of any particular ingredient can be upsetting to the stomach and lead to nutrient deficiencies. What your furry really needs is a well-balanced, species appropriate fresh dog food diet like FurrMeals Ready-to-Eat Fresh Dog Food.