Oatmeal for dogs is one of those controversial topics that many dog owners and experts disagree on.
Oatmeal is in the OWL category of foods (OWL stands for oats, wheat, legumes) that are known to contain high levels of the herbicide glyphosate. But it’s found in dozens, and perhaps hundreds of commercial dog foods.
So, is oatmeal good for dogs … or not? First, some background on oats and oatmeal.
What Is Oatmeal?
Oats are a cereal grain that’s a staple food in many countries, used in breakfast cereals, granola bars, cookies, and baked goods. Oats are a rich source of fiber, protein, and other important nutrients such as magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamin B1, and are low in fat … and are considered healthy.
Oats are the raw, whole grain used to make oatmeal. Oatmeal is the cooked grain.
There are whole oats (or oat groats), rolled oats, steel-cut oats and instant oats. Whole oats are the least processed and take the longest to cook, while instant oats are the most processed and cook very quickly. Rolled oats and steel-cut oats are in between.
Oats are often included in commercial dog foods as a source of carbohydrates and fiber.
How Is Glyphosate Used On Oats?
Glyphosate is the world’s most widely used herbicide, applied to crops such as oats, wheat, legumes, corn and soybeans to control weeds. Glyphosate is also used on oats before harvest as a desiccant – to help dry out the crop.
In 2018, a report by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that some oat-based products, such as oatmeal and granola bars, contained levels of glyphosate that exceeded what the organization considers to be safe. The report raised concerns about the use of glyphosate on oats and the potential health risks associated with exposure to the herbicide.
To minimize glyphosate exposure from oats, always choose organic oats and oat products.
Health Risks Of Glyphosate
- Cancer (the WHO has deemed glyphosate “a probable carcinogen”)
- Liver and kidney damage
- Harms gut bacteria, causing leaky gut and immune problems
- Endocrine disruption
- Digestive problems
- Cognitive and behavior issues
Are Oats Genetically Modified (GMO)?
Some varieties of oats have been genetically modified, but as of 2021, there are no commercially available genetically modified oats. Most oats grown today are non-GMO.
Can Dogs Eat Oatmeal?
Dogs can digest oatmeal and other carbohydrates thanks to the digestive enzyme amylase they produce in the pancreas. But even so … dogs don’t need carbohydrates in their diet. They can obtain all their nutrients and energy from animal protein and fats.
Can Dogs Eat Uncooked Oatmeal?
No, uncooked oats are indigestible and shouldn’t be fed to dogs. Always cook oats, and for the best health benefits, use whole oats, which are less processed and retain more nutrition.
Can I Feed My Dog Oatmeal Every Day?
Dogs should only eat oats and oatmeal occasionally, or for therapeutic reasons (more about those below), not as part of their daily diet.
However, if your dog eats a commercial diet … oats are often included as a source of carbohydrates and fiber. So your dog may be eating oats every day. When dogs eat processed diets with high levels of carbohydrates, the body stores the excess as fat … and that leads to overweight dogs, digestive problems and other health issues like diabetes. And in most commercial dog foods, the oats used will be non-organic and therefore high in harmful pesticide residues.
Is Oatmeal Good For Dogs?
Herbalist and holistic veterinarian Randy Kidd DVM PhD described some benefits of adding oatmeal to a dog’s diet:
Oats provide a decent amount of nutritional …
- Protein (interestingly, wild oats contain from 27-37% protein while cultivated varieties average about 17%). According to the World Health Organization, oat protein is equivalent in quality to soy protein.
- Soluble fiber (the fiber that helps keep cholesterol levels low).
- Levels of iron, manganese, zinc, and B vitamins (pantothenic acid, B5, and folate, B9).
- Low in gluten (there’s some gluten, but not nearly as much as in wheat)
As A Nervine
Oats are considered a nervine – an herbal compound that acts as a general nerve tonic, calming the nerves when necessary, stimulating their activity when needed. Oats are used for treating a variety of nervous disorders.
Oats benefit several body organs and systems, including skin, nervous system, stomach, spleen, lungs, and the urinary and reproductive systems. Herbal qualities of oats include:
Oats contain the antitumor compound b-sitosterol.
Oats act as a digestive aid to calm the intestinal tract.
Oats can be used to achieve hormonal balance, and as a uterine tonic.
Oats can be applied externally for their topical anti-inflammatory and calming qualities. They soothe itchiness and eczema, and calm your dog while he heals. High levels of minerals and vitamins in the seeds can help with skin healing.
Oats are also cholesterol-lowering and reportedly good for treating a wide variety of diseases in humans and animals, including inflammatory conditions, mental or physical exhaustion, depression, dyspepsia, insomnia, fevers, sexual dysfunctions and as a tonic during menopause or after giving birth.
Here are a few of the reasons Dr Kidd recommends oats :
- Popular oat-containing products include shampoos, conditioners, topical applications for skin conditions, and capsules and tinctures for a more concentrated dose of the healing essences of oats.
- Oats are nutritionally beneficial, and their healing powers can be used by applying oaten teas or poultices directly to the skin.
- To get the inner benefits of herbal oats all you have to do is cook some oatmeal and add it to your pet’s food. Or, if you want to add even more oat power, there are tinctures and capsules available.
How To Cook Oatmeal For Dogs
Cooking oatmeal for dogs is simple to do. Add 1 cup of oats to 2 cups of water and bring to a boil on medium-high heat while stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10-15 minutes … or longer if needed to make sure they’re thoroughly cooked for easier digestibility. For dogs, you don’t need to add any sweeteners or flavorings.
How Much Oatmeal Can I Give My Dog?
As a general rule of thumb, only 10% of your dog’s daily calories should be in the form of treats or extra foods, including oatmeal. For most dogs, a serving of 1/4 to 1/2 cup of cooked oatmeal on occasion is appropriate, depending on their size and calorie needs. Start with a small amount and gradually increase the serving size over time to avoid digestive upset.
Conclusion: Is Oatmeal Good For Dogs?
Oatmeal can be good for your dog provided you use organic oats and feed in moderation. Oatmeal shouldn’t be a main food in your dog’s diet, but if he has health issues, oatmeal offers plenty of benefits for healing as well as a list of qualities and nutrients you won’t find in most other grains.