Oats have a long list of nutritional and health benefits for people, so you might wonder if oatmeal is good for dogs and cats, too. Many commercial dog food formulas include oats, and a few cat foods, too.
Simply put, oats are nutritious. Compared to other types of cereal grains, oats are relatively high in protein and fat. The protein quality is also high in oats, meaning that a dog or cat’s body can digest and use them, and oats also provide a good balance of amino acids.
Oats also contain a lot of fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins and minerals (including vitamin E, B vitamins, zinc, iron, and selenium), all of which play an important role in maintaining or improving health. Many of the antioxidants that oats contain, such as linoleic acid and vitamin E, can supplement your pet’s liver, skin, fur, etc.
Should Cats Eat Oats in Their Daily Diet?
Of course, the nutritional value of oats needs to be judged in view of a pet’s overall dietary needs. For example, most cats do best when eating foods that are high in protein and low in carbohydrates. Even though oats do contain relatively large amounts of protein for a cereal grain, they are still high in carbohydrates and should therefore be limited to a small role in the feline diet.
Oat Grass for Cats
One way cats can safely enjoy oats is in the form of “cat grass.” Oats are easy to grow indoors. Simply stick some organic seeds in a pot or purchase a ready-made kit and add water and sunlight. Wait a few weeks until the stems are a couple of inches tall before you let your cat indulge in her natural instinct to nibble on grass.
Oat Tea for Cats
Oat tea is another way to safely incorporate oats into your cat’s diet. To make oat tea, steep about one tablespoon of organic oats for 15 to 20 minutes in a cup of hot water. Mix a small amount of the tea into your cat’s canned food or apply enough to her kibble to thoroughly moisten it.
Is Oatmeal Good for Dogs to Eat in Their Daily Diet?
Due to their more omnivorous nature, dogs can thrive on a higher proportion of oats in their diets than do cats. Some commercially available dog foods are made with oats, or you can add a little cooked oatmeal to your dog’s current diet.
If you are feeding a homemade diet, ask the veterinary nutritionist you are working with whether he or she can incorporate oats into one or more of your recipes.
Alternatively, a tablespoonful of cooked oatmeal for every 10 to 20 pounds of your dog’s weight can be safely added to her diet in lieu of other treats. Talk to your veterinarian about the specifics of your pet’s nutritional needs.
Oats in Alternative Medicine
Oats are considered a nervine, an herbal compound that acts as a general nerve tonic, calming the nerves when necessary, and stimulating their activity when needed.
Herbalists and homeopathic practitioners will often prescribe oats to treat some common conditions.
Check with your holistic vet for proper uses and dosages. Oats should not be used in place of going to your vet if your pet is having symptoms of anxiety or other issues.
A healthy breakfast choice that offers an abundance of nutritional value, oatmeal is a staple found in many people’s homes. But, can dogs eat oatmeal? The answer is yes, but there are some things you should keep in mind before feeding your pup this snack.
Is Oatmeal Good for Dogs?
Oatmeal is high in fiber and contains a plethora of nutrients, minerals, and antioxidants. “Served in moderation, oatmeal can benefit a dog in a variety of ways,” says Dr. Carly Fox of New York City’s Animal Medical Center.
“It is a great alternative carbohydrate for dogs that may be sensitive to wheat or grains.” Oatmeal contains vitamin B, which helps maintain a healthy coat, and linoleic acid, which is a type of omega-6 fatty acid that helps to keep a dog’s skin strong and healthy.
It’s also a great source of soluble fiber, which can regulate blood glucose levels and help dogs that have irregular bowl movements. But Dr. Fox cautions that feeding your dog foods containing a lot of fiber can lead to GI upset, including diarrhea and vomiting.
When preparing oatmeal for your canine companion, make it with water, as opposed to milk. “Dogs are very sensitive to dairy, and their bodies don’t break down lactose as easily as humans do,” says Dr. Fox.
If you plan to share your oatmeal, make sure it’s cooked and not sprinkled raw over food; serving it raw will only make it harder for your pup to digest. It should also be plain; while you might enjoy additives, such as salt, butter, chocolate, raisins, or grapes, these ingredients can be extremely harmful to a dog’s health.
Never feed your dog flavored oatmeal (e.g. cinnamon, blueberry, etc.), as it often contains more sugar and may even have artificial sweeteners, such as xylitol, which is toxic to dogs. Once the oatmeal is cooked, serve it at room temperature — giving your dog food that’s too hot can cause burns inside of his mouth.
Dr. Fox also advises owners to stay away from instant oatmeal. While it’s faster and easier to prepare, it’s highly processed, and the health benefits your dog gets from eating oats will decrease. “It loses its nutritional value,” explains Dr. Fox. “The least processed version provides the most health benefits.”
What’s important to remember is that too much of any human food can be upsetting to a dog’s stomach.
Just because you’re eating oatmeal daily for breakfast, doesn’t mean your dog should, too. Generally, you can feed your dog one tablespoon of cooked oatmeal for every 20 pounds of his weight.
Don’t give your dog too much oatmeal at once because it contains a lot of carbohydrates and is relatively high in calories.
Consuming a large amount can also lead to diarrhea, vomiting, and/or bloat, which can be life threatening. Half-a-cup of cooked oatmeal (at most), 1-to-2 times a week is more than enough for most large dogs. “Your dog should be eating a well-balanced commercial diet,” Dr. Fox says.
When introducing human food into your dog’s diet, start off gradually and gauge how well he handles it. If he has any adverse reactions, consult your veterinarian immediately.
Here at the AKC, we field many queries from anxious dog owners about what is and isn’t safe for their canine companions to eat.
Questions range from the obvious (“Can dogs eat steak bones?”) to the trendy (“Can dogs eat quinoa?”) Check out more “Can dogs eat…” articles on AKC.org to see what foods could be harmful to your dog, including cherries, avocados, and onions.