Oatmeal is an excellent addition to your dog’s diet. It is inexpensive and adds many nutrients including antioxidants to your dog's diet. It can also be used as a soothing bath additive.
Can Dogs Eat Oatmeal?
Yes, dogs can eat oatmeal! “Oatmeal” is a broad term that encompasses any mixture of processed oats and liquid (usually milk or water).
Oats can be processed in a variety of ways. Examples include:1
- Old-fashioned or rolled oats
- Steel-cut oats
- Scottish oats
- Instant oats
- Oat groats
Any type of oats can be used to make oatmeal, but the more heavily processed forms generally cook faster because the individual pieces are smaller and thinner and absorb water more quickly.1
For dogs, avoid packets of flavored instant oats, as these can contain ingredients that are harmful to dogs and often contain added sugar. Plain quick or instant oats are perfectly safe for your dog.
Oats are easily found at most grocery stores and are inexpensive.
Oats are also found in some commercial dog foods. They are a good carbohydrate source alternative for dogs who are sensitive or allergic to wheat or other grains.
Is Oatmeal Good for Dogs?
Oatmeal has various health benefits. General health benefits include:1,2
- Lower blood sugar levels with fewer spikes in blood sugar
- Good source of fiber
- Supports heart health
- Supports gut health
- Promotes a healthy weight
Oatmeal is rich in vitamins and nutrients, including:1
- Both soluble and insoluble fiber
Oatmeal and Cancer
Oats also have some direct benefits for cancer patients. Research is still in the early stages, but it appears that oat β-glucan (OBG) and the steroidal glycosides avenacosides A and B in oats are responsible for most of these benefits.2
OBG has been shown to inhibit tumor growth in several cancers, including colon cancer and skin cancer.2
Avenacosides have shown some mild effects slowing the growth of colon cancer cells.2
When to Not Feed Oatmeal
Oats and oatmeal are quite safe for your dog, but should not be fed if your dog is intolerant of oats or if your veterinarian recommends limiting starchy carbohydrates as an anti-inflammatory strategy.
If your dog is diabetic, adding oats as a regular part of their diet may stabilize the blood sugar and result in insulin dose changes.
How to Prepare Oatmeal for Dogs
You can feed your dog oatmeal every day as part of her regular diet. If your dog eats a commercial diet, oatmeal or oats may already be an ingredient.
You can make oatmeal for your dog by cooking steel-cut or rolled oats in water until soft.1,3 How long the oats need to cook depends on how processed they are – steel-cut oats will take a longer time to cook, while instant oats are quite quick. Another option is to soak the oats overnight.1
Avoid prepackaged, flavored instant oatmeal, as these products often contain added sugar and artificial flavors.
A 25-pound dog can eat about 6 ounces of oatmeal a day as part of a balanced diet; otherwise, don’t exceed 10% of his total diet with even healthy add-ons like oatmeal.3
Oatmeal Bath for Dogs
You can also prepare an oatmeal bath for your dog which acts as a skin protectant and contains anti-inflammatory properties that soothe itchy skin.
Simply blend dry oats in a food processor to make a powder. Take half to a full cup for large breed dogs, or one third cup for small breed dogs, and mix with warm water. Pour the mixture over your dog and let it sit for up to 10 minutes. Rinse thoroughly.5
Where to Get Oatmeal for Dogs
You can get oats from a variety of sources.
Many dog lovers prefer organic oats. The question of whether or not organic is better is a complex one. Organic crops cannot be sprayed with many synthetic herbicides and pesticides, but can be sprayed with approved products. Organic oats also tend to be more expensive.
There are no significant nutritional differences between rolled, instant, quick, or steel-cut oats, so all of these are good options for your dog.6
- Oats. The Nutrition Source – Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/oats/. Published March 2, 2022. Accessed April 16, 2023.
- Martínez-Villaluenga C, Peñas E. Health benefits of OAT: Current evidence and molecular mechanisms. Current Opinion in Food Science. 2017;14:26-31. doi:10.1016/j.cofs.2017.01.004
- Dressler D, Ettinger S. The Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog’s Life Quality and Longevity. Maui, HI: Maui Media, LLC; 2011.
- Is oatmeal high in histamine? Fig App. https://foodisgood.com/is-oatmeal-high-in-histamine/#:~:text=%E2%80%8B,of%20the%20body’s%20natural%20histamine. Accessed January 24, 2023.
- Schaible L. How to make an oatmeal bath for dogs with Itchy Skin. PetMD. https://www.petmd.com/dog/grooming/how-make-oatmeal-bath-dogs-itchy-skin. Published February 3, 2020. Accessed January 24, 2023.
- Abram K. Organic rolled oats vs. regular. Livestrong. https://www.livestrong.com/article/436417-organic-rolled-oats-vs-regular/. Accessed January 24, 2023.
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