Many consider dogs to be puppies until they’re approximately two years old. We love them because they’re adorable. They’re also more work than your average dog.
When it comes to puppies, feeding them is one of the things that takes a little more care.
How much should I feed them and when?
What kind of food is safe?
We know puppies begin to get weaned off their mother’s milk between four to eight weeks of age, when their teeth start appearing. Momma dog won’t want those little doggies biting her while they nurse.
At this point they are transitioned to a “gruel” of sorts, often consisting of puppy food, milk replacer, and water. And by the time puppies are seven or eight weeks old they are eating solid food.
Recent trends are seeing more people give their dogs “natural” foods – stuff generally meant for human consumption – for a variety of reasons. Oatmeal is one of those foods.
So, can puppies eat oatmeal?
What are the nutritional needs of a puppy?
Before we answer if a puppy can eat oatmeal, it’s best to learn about a puppy’s nutritional requirements.
Generally speaking, puppies need a balance of:
- Proteins (22-32%)
- Fats (10-25%)
- Carbohydrates (20%)
It’s important to remember that growing puppies need higher amounts of all the nutrients. And they eat a lot. This is why puppies are often fed between 3-4 times a day.
From 6-12 weeks old a specifically formulated puppy food is recommended. It is even said that feeding your puppy adult food will “rob your puppy of important nutrients.”
Knowing this, the question is then why would I feed my puppy oatmeal?
First of all…
Let’s talk about oatmeal
When we start considering whether to feed our puppies something other than puppy food, it’s often because we simply care. Maybe we want to feed them a variety of food so they have a balanced diet. Maybe they’re a fussy eater, and we’re considering different options. And perhaps oatmeal is one of those options.
We should clarify then that we’re not just talking about any kind of oatmeal.
Whole grain oats are better:
Whatever you do, stay away from instant oatmeal. This processed type of oatmeal is harder for puppies and dogs to digest and may cause an upset stomach or diarrhea.
Whole grain oats are best, followed by steel cut, then rolled.
Can puppies eat oatmeal and milk?
If you’re introducing oatmeal to your puppy it’s best to avoid cooking or mixing it with milk. Cow and goat milk is difficult for most puppies and dogs to digest. Use plain old boring water. If you insist on using milk, try a special formula like this one, buy a special formula for puppies, or consult your vet.
Avoid flavoured oatmeal. It may contain sugars and other chemicals that are toxic to your puppy.
Can puppies eat oatmeal cookies?
Also, don’t feed your puppy oatmeal cookies with raisins or chocolate, both of which are considered toxic. Plain oatmeal cookies with sugar can also be problematic, as sugar is known to cause the same problems in dogs as it does in humans – diabetes, obesity, tooth decay, etc.
How much oatmeal to give a puppy?
Following Purina’s 10% rule for rice (another carbohydrate we’ll discuss later), ensure the calories provided by oatmeal provide no more than 10% of your puppy’s daily diet.
Various guidelines suggest a quarter teaspoon or tablespoon per 5 lbs as a daily maximum.
Can puppies eat raw oatmeal?
Puppies, and all dogs for that matter, have difficulty chewing, swallowing, and properly digesting raw oatmeal. So cook it until it’s nice and soft, as if you were going to eat it yourself.
Therefore, oatmeal can be part of your puppy’s diet, but certainly not the mainstay.
What’s so good about oatmeal?
Oats are, in fact, commonly found in prepared dog foods as a carbohydrate alternative, and more so now that dogs are increasingly sensitive to grains, wheat, corn, soy, and gluten. Bonus: oats have more protein per calorie than any other common grain.
Besides being filling, here are some other great things about oatmeal:
- Lots of vitamin B, renowned for making your dog’s coat shiny and healthy
- Linoleic acid, an omega 6 fatty acid that is good for the skin.
- Rich in silicon, to keep your puppy’s bones strong.
- It contains other essential nutrients such as selenium, zinc, manganese, phosphorous, and magnesium.
What’s not so good about oatmeal?
Oatmeal is also high in fibre. Now, this can be a good thing if your puppy is constipated. And it’s a major plus for senior dogs who struggle to stay regular. But too much fibre for your puppy could mean diarrhea, bloating, and pain.
Oatmeal is high in calories – even higher than its arch-rival, rice. That’s good, lots of energy, right?
A diet too rich in calories can also cause obesity. Our puppies want to fit into their puppy pants for a while yet still.
The important thing here is balance. Oatmeal clearly doesn’t have everything a puppy needs. But it has something. Then again, what if you can get that something from somewhere else, like from rice?
Rice vs. Oatmeal
Maybe you’re thinking, gee, it sounds like there are some issues with oatmeal. Why shouldn’t I just use rice?
Rice is great! Like oatmeal, it is often added to commercial dog foods. It’s also filling, high in carbohydrates, and gluten free.
Rice is also like oatmeal in the way it can be purchased in bulk quantities. Both are relatively inexpensive and can be cooked up in minutes.
White rice, the most cost-friendly rice, tends to be the easiest for puppies and dogs to digest. Being so darn plain, it is often used to calm an upset stomach. It’s also high in calories and is often seen as the rice with the most “empty carbs.”
Brown rice is more nutritious and higher in vitamins than white rice but is also so high in fibre that it’s sometimes used to help adult dogs lose weight. This could be a problem if your dog – or puppy – has gastrointestinal issues.
Wild Rice is the most expensive type. Rich in protein, antioxidants, fibre, and nutrients like potassium, vitamin B, magnesium and zinc, wild rice is the premium rice to give your dog.
It’s important to note that rice should not exceed 10% of your dog’s caloric intake. This is especially important for puppies who need all the nutrients they can get.
So you see, it’s not really a case of oatmeal vs. rice at all. Maximize the variety of nutrients your puppy gets by trying both. Watch your puppy for signs of diarrhea or digestion problems and make adjustments accordingly. Follow the 10% rule for both and you can’t go wrong.
Oh, and one more thing when it comes to rice – no seasoning or additives! Keep it plain.
So yes, puppies can totally eat oatmeal.
As so many dog and puppy owners transition to using more natural foods it’s important to remember that puppies have very specific nutrition needs. The right kind of oatmeal, prepared the right way, can be a nutritious part of a puppy’s diet.
And don’t forget about rice! Both oats and rice are inexpensive, available in large quantities, and easy and fast to cook. There’s no harm – in fact there’s likely some benefit – in using both interchangeably.