Rolled oats are one of the best things you can have in your kitchen’s pantry. Stored properly, they can last you over a year. You can make all sorts of delicious things to eat with it — breakfast oatmeal, savory one-pot-soup meals, bread, cookies, and a whole lot of other desserts.
But what about homemade doggie treats? Can dogs have oats, too?
- 1 Health benefits of oats
How to give oats to your dog
- 2.1 Rule #1. Don’t feed your dog too much oatmeal or too many oat snacks.
- 2.2 Rule #2. Use only plain, unflavored oats.
- 2.3 Rule #3. Always cook the oats.
- 2.4 Rule #4. Cook oatmeal with water or homemade broth.
- 2.5 Rule #5. Moderate your use of sugars, salt, fats, and possible allergens.
- 2.6 Rule #6. Keep the portions small.
- 3 Banana-oat cookies
- 4 Final tip
Health benefits of oats
Yup, dogs can eat oats! Oats are a wonderful source of carbohydrates, soluble fiber, protein, essential fats, B vitamins, linoleic acid (a type of omega-6 fatty acid), and minerals like manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, and iron.
Linoleic acid helps keep your dog’s skin and fur healthy, and the fiber helps your dog digest his food and produce blood glucose at the proper rate.
Oats also tend to trigger fewer cases of allergies in dogs than other grains (like wheat, corn, barley, etc.). So if you’ve got a dog with certain food allergies and you’re looking to add more fiber and nutrition in his diet, adding oats could be the way to go.
How to give oats to your dog
However, there are a few “rules” you need to bear in mind whenever you feed your dog some oats.
Rule #1. Don’t feed your dog too much oatmeal or too many oat snacks.
Remember that, as a grain, oats are rich in carbohydrates and can yield a lot of calories per cup. So while you should consider oats as an essential component of a dog’s diet, don’t let this ingredient dominate your dog’s daily meals and snacks. A cup of oatmeal once a week (or half a cup twice a week) is enough for large dog breeds; smaller dogs can go with less.
If you serve your dog any more that, you may be causing big glucose or blood sugar spikes (sudden increases) in his bloodstream. If all those carbohydrates aren’t used up (i.e., not enough physical exercise), these eventually lead to the creation of extra fat stores all around the body. Worse, frequent blood glucose spikes make your dog more susceptible to developing diabetes later on.
Note: Too much oatmeal can also trigger stomach bloat, diarrhea, and vomiting in dogs, which can dehydrate them and put them in danger.
Rule #2. Use only plain, unflavored oats.
Don’t use pre-flavored or pre-sweetened oats! Not only do sweeteners and flavor additives add extra carbohydrates or calories to the oats, but some of these additives are also artificial flavors or sweeteners that can be poisonous or harmful to dogs (e.g., the artificial sweetener xylitol).
Note: While you can use plain instant oatmeal, remember that these have been processed and have fewer nutrients than they originally started with. So to maximize the nutrition your dog gets for that one cup of oatmeal per week, stick to old-fashioned rolled oats.
Rule #3. Always cook the oats.
Dogs can’t digest raw oats or even a few lightly toasted oat bits. You must cook them thoroughly for every dish or dog treat you make.
Note: Be careful to serve cooked oatmeal when they’ve sufficiently cooled to room temperature. (Remember, dogs don’t know how to “blow” on their food to cool it — so they might burn their tongue while eating it!)
Rule #4. Cook oatmeal with water or homemade broth.
As much as possible, avoid making oatmeal with milk. Many dogs are lactose-intolerant. Your fur baby’s stomach might not be able to digest as much milk as you think. Instead, cook the oats in water or a homemade meat broth (for savory oatmeal).
Note: Be careful about making that meat broth with store-bought canned stock, bouillon cubes, or broth granules. Depending on the product you buy and how much of it you use, you may be overloading your dog’s oatmeal with artificial monosodium glutamate (MSG), salt (sodium), sugar, and other preservatives — all of which are dangerous for dogs. So use these commercial products sparingly; use them only to augment whatever homemade broth you make.
Rule #5. Moderate your use of sugars, salt, fats, and possible allergens.
But yes, you can make oatmeal or oat treats that will taste delicious for your dog. And yes, you may add natural sweeteners, slightly salty items, and a bit of fat — as long as these are added in minimal doses. Moderation is the key!
Note: Of course, you need to avoid using any ingredients that your particular dog might be allergic to or intolerant of (e.g., eggs, chicken, dairy products). If you suspect your dog is suffering from a particular food allergy or intolerance, consult your vet. He or she can help you pinpoint what it is, and you can avoid adding that to your dog’s oat treats!
Rule #6. Keep the portions small.
Think of oats as a nutritional supplement to your dog’s diet. So while the total amount of oats your dog consumes (depending on his size, of course!) in a week might total 1 cup, serving sizes per snack or day should be a couple of spoonfuls at most.
Note: This means you should never think of oats as the main ingredient of your dog’s meals. Never use oats as a full replacement for meals.
Got too many bananas in the house? If you’re stumped with how to feed oats to your dog, just bake doggie cookies with oats and bananas! Here’s how.
- 1 part overripe bananas, peeled and mashed
- 1 part oats
- 1/2 part naturally sweetened or unsweetened peanut butter
1. Preheat your oven to 180 – 190 degrees Celsius (or around 356 – 374 degrees Fahrenheit).
2. Chop up the oats with a knife or grind them up in a blender (for a few pulses) until it resembles cornmeal.
3. In a bowl, mix the chopped oats, peanut butter, and bananas. Continue mixing until you have a well-incorporated dough.
4. Prepare a silicone baking mat or baking pan lined with baking parchment paper. Then scoop out 1 or 2 tablespoons of the dough at a time, and lay the scoops on the baking mat or pan in equally-spaced rows. (You may shape them into whatever shape you want, but that’s optional.)
5. Bake the cookies in the oven for 12 – 15 minutes, or until they turn firm and brown.
6. Allow these to cool on a cooling rack before serving them to your dog. You may keep these in a closed jar in a cool and dry place (or in your refrigerator, if you live in a warm climate). These cookies will keep for around seven days.
Note: Be sure to use peanut butter that’s either unsweetened or naturally and lightly sweetened (with honey or sugar). Beware peanut butter brands with artificial sweeteners like xylitol — these can poison your dog!
So go ahead, use the oats in your pantry to feed your dog — it’s safe for him in moderation. With some practice, you’ll soon be comfortable making oatmeal and cookies that both you and your dog will enjoy!