Vet Reviewed

By The Farmer's Dog | September 30, 2023

Can dogs eat oatmeal? The answer is yes—with caveats.

It’s generally OK to feed your dog a little bit of plain, cooked oatmeal, but humans need to be very careful about which oatmeal they choose, and not to feed too much. We’ve included some information about oatmeal below, but always check with your veterinarian if you have any questions about your own dog’s nutritional needs.

Basic info on oatmeal

Oatmeal is, as its name suggests, a meal made from oats. Oats are a cereal grain made from a plant in the grass family. Oatmeal can come in various forms, including steel cut (a less-processed variety) and rolled (flattened into flakes and dried). Many people like to eat it in the morning as a porridge made with hot water or milk, or after the oats have been soaked in liquid overnight. Plain oatmeal is generally considered a healthy breakfast for humans, and consuming the food in appropriate quantities as part of a low-fat diet has been found to lower the risk of heart disease in people.

Can oatmeal be good for dogs?

If you give your dog a small amount of plain oatmeal, it can be beneficial for their health. Plain oatmeal includes vitamin B, linoleic acid (an omega-6 fatty acid that can be good for dogs’ skin), magnesium, and protein. Oats are also rich in soluble fibers called beta glucans, which are linked to a number of health benefits. In fact, oats are an ingredient in one of our own recipes.

Your dog’s main source of nutrition should be the food they eat every day—ideally fresh, balanced food—but giving a healthy dog a taste of plain oatmeal could be a positive, and isn’t likely to do any harm. You can also judiciously use plain oatmeal as one component of a homemade treat prepared with only dog-safe ingredients. 

Can I feed my dog any oatmeal I have lying around the house?

No. Don’t just give your dog any random oatmeal that you’d eat, assuming it’s fine. Many oatmeal products made for human consumption could make dogs sick, or even kill them. Not only can oatmeal products have added sugars, they can also contain the likes of xylitol (an artificial sweetener), raisins, and other ingredients that are very toxic to pups.

Read labels carefully and only feed plain, cooked oatmeal with no added ingredients.

How should I prepare oatmeal that my dog will eat?

When you cook your plain oatmeal with no added ingredients, use water rather than milk. Also make sure you let it cool down before your dog has any—hot oatmeal could burn them.

How much oatmeal can a dog eat?

While some oatmeal can be good for a dog, you might be surprised by just how little they can safely consume. Vets tell us that you can use the rough guideline of one teaspoon to one tablespoon of plain, cooked oatmeal for every 20 pounds of your dog’s weight, a couple of times per week. So if you have a Chihuahua, you’ll practically be measuring their servings with an eyedropper. And always keep in mind that any treat or extra should make up no more than 10% of a dog’s daily calorie intake to avoid nutritional imbalance and weight gain.

What are the risks of dogs eating too much oatmeal?

Oatmeal is very high in fiber. That nutrient is important to dogs, but it is possible for them to eat an excess of it. If dogs eat much more oatmeal than recommended, they could face gastrointestinal issues like flatulence, bloating, or diarrhea. In general, your dog’s nutrition should come primarily from a complete and balanced food that they can eat every day (like our fresh, human-grade recipes).