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Health & Wellness

Can dogs eat oatmeal?

Yes, plain oatmeal makes an excellent snack for your pup.

Doctors and dietitians love suggesting oatmeal as a healthy way to start the day, and believe it or not, veterinarians agree — plain oatmeal is one of the human foods considered healthy for your dog to eat. 

Of course, that doesn’t mean your Chihuahua should chow down on a heaping bowl of instant oatmeal with abandon — details like serving size, additives and cooking methods all make a difference in oatmeal’s suitability for pets. But it does mean that if you’re looking for a way to serve treats to your dog, oatmeal is certainly a good place to start.

Just remember: Even though oatmeal is generally safe for your pet, always consult your vet before introducing a new food item to their diet.

Is oatmeal good for dogs?

Plain, pure oats are considered safe and, even more importantly, healthy for your pup. 

“Plain cooked oatmeal is great for your dogs to eat as it's an excellent carbohydrate. Not only that, but oatmeal is high in fiber, nutrients and antioxidants that lead to a healthy coat, strong skin and even regulated bowel movements,” Dr. Aziza Glass, DVM, and owner of the Houston-based mobile veterinary practice, Personal Touch Veterinary Clinic, says

How to serve your dog oatmeal

The two words that Dr. Glass emphasizes when serving your dog oatmeal are plain and cooked. So if you’re grocery shopping for dog-friendly oats, skip past the instant oats or flavored options lining the shelves of the breakfast aisle.

“While most oatmeal is great for dogs, there are certain oatmeals that shouldn’t be consumed,” Dr. Glass says. “Stay away from instant oatmeal because it is highly processed and doesn’t have the same nutritional value as plain oatmeal. Flavored oatmeal is also off-limits because of its high sugar and artificial sweeteners that are toxic to dogs.”

And to that point, just because something has “oatmeal” in the name doesn’t mean it’s a good option for your pet. “Oatmeal cereal should be avoided due to the same potential for toxicity. And oatmeal cookies are often prepared with raisins, which are very toxic to dogs, so avoid them at all costs,” Dr. Glass warns.

RELATED: Can dogs eat bacon?

Keep an eye on the filling

Even if you’re making plain oatmeal at home for your dogs, be careful about what you add to it. Clearly, raisins are a no-go, but what about that scoop of brown sugar you love in your oats? It’s best to skip it as well. 

Likewise, avoid adding other common oatmeal staples like dried (or fresh) cherries, a pat of butter or milk. While you might not love eating plain oatmeal for breakfast, your dog likely won’t mind the basic stuff. “A simple serving cooked with water rather than milk is the perfect way to serve oats to dogs,” Dr. Glass shares.

Happy snacking

One other thing to note about oatmeal is that it can actually be included as a regular part of your dog’s diet (with your vet’s go-ahead, of course). “Dogs can enjoy cooked oatmeal more often than other foods. Because of its nutrients and universal consumption, a spoonful, or a cup on its own or added to their meals would be ideal,” Dr. Glass says.

We're confident that oatmeal isn’t the only human food your dog would love to sink their teeth into (cue the drool). Check out our series "Can dogs eat … ?" to learn more about which human foods are off-limits and what's fair game.

The Dig, Fetch's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.

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