Cheerios are as old as the hills and all of us (at one time or the other) have been guilty of indulging in those crunchy, low-sugar, heart-healthy and tasty breakfast option. Perhaps even on a regular basis. It’s natural that you want to share something that is good with your pet, who are as good as family. As Cheerios are primarily “oats in whole grain form” and generally don’t contain toxins, it shouldn’t matter. Whoa! Your pet might just love those but how good are those empty calories when your furry pets actually require protein-rich diets?
Are Cheerios Safe For Dogs To Eat
Technically speaking then Cheerios are not taboo for dogs but you do need to exercise caution while dishing them out. Your pet needs natural, premium, high-protein feeds and Cheerios are classified as a “low-grade filler”. So, while the occasional cheerio as a ‘doggy treat’ is permitted, you should ensure that dogs don’t eat bowl-fulls on a regular basis.
The reason is obvious- it’s important to remember that your dog’s ability to digest and process food is different from that of human beings. Enzymes act on the food you eat and utilize it the proper way, but dogs lack many of these- that’s why Cheerios may be okay for you but not for your pet. Moreover, though the oats in Cheerios is okay for dogs, the added salt, sugar, wheat starch, corn and maple syrup can hardly do any good. If your dog is to remain healthy and active, it needs to get proteins and Cheerios just cannot give them that. It is clear then that Cheerios should never constitute the main part of your dog’s diet as they don’t have the nutrients and vitamins that the best high fiber dog food has.
Another important factor to remember is that Cheerios are handled differently by different-sized dogs. A larger dog can handle a greater quantity than a smaller one. And if it’s a small puppy, then just drop in the odd one as a very special treat.
Are There Any Nutritional Benefits of Cheerios for Your Dog
Since you’ve decided to moderate and regulate the amount of Cheerios that you give your pet dog, they are not really going to benefit from it in a big way. However, since Cheerios are low in fat, they are good as an ‘occasional treat’ and a healthier option for dogs that are overweight. Though most Cheerios contain helpful vitamins and minerals, your pet would have to eat a lot of Cheerios before the benefits are noticed, but that’s just out of the question, isn’t it?
If your dog is having ‘tummy problems’ and refuses to eat, then Cheerios could provide a short-term solution by way of food. They are high in fiber, low in fat and sugar and provide a way of getting calories into your pet. Of course, once your pet is on the mend, this tasty snack should be replaced with nutrition rich food.
Cheerios act as great incentives while you are training your dog to come to heel, sit or jump. Make sure though, that you give them sparingly and withdraw them once they’ve served the purpose.
Overdose Cheerio Reactions
So what happens if dogs consume Cheerios in large quantities? Cheerios are the equivalent to high carbs and that can stir a hornet’s nest by leading to obesity or even diabetes. In some dogs, they could trigger allergic reactions that manifest as skin irritations, inflammation of the ears, itching, diarrhea and even vomiting.
Some Cheerios (especially the chocolaty-ones) contain harmful substances called methylxanthines that could lead to irregular heart rhythm, cause tremors and seizures and sometimes even lead to death. Surprisingly, Cheerios can even trigger a urinary tract infection in dogs and that can cause a huge problem for pet owners.
You need to remember that your dog’s nutritional requirements are different from those of human beings. So go low, and to play it safe, stick to the ordinary, plain and unsweetened version.
Which Cheerios are Acceptable
- Oatmeal is considerably less in sugar and oat Cheerios are generally a healthier option compared to wheat Cheerios. Some dogs though don’t tolerate even Oat Cheerios and are prone to gas and stomach irritation, while wheat Cheerios can cause allergic reactions
- Multigrain options should generally be fine as they have lots of goodness in them, but again you need to check out for specific allergies
- Some cheerio flavors are high in sugar and these could trigger diabetes in your pet. That’s the last thing that you want to be saddled with
- Honey Nut Cheerios are actually quite a good option as the honey helps to strengthen your pet dog’s immunity levels and helps it maintain a healthy weight. However, too much honey can have side-effects. Also, dogs don’t tolerate nuts, especially almonds, very well- so go slow with Cheerios that contain those. Most dogs suffer from diarrhea or vomiting as an almond reaction.
- The extra sugar in the frosted variety could cause a stomach upheaval, so avoid those
- Chocolate Cheerios are a strict NO-NO- they are toxic, can cause convulsions and can even be fatal
- Never mix Cheerios with milk- lactose intolerant dogs may suffer reactions
- Eschew Cheerios that contain artificial sweeteners
New flavors appear ever so often, so do check out the nutritional value, sugar count and the nature of the ingredients before you let your pet have the Cheerios
Recognize Allergic Symptoms from Feeding Your Dog Cheerios
When you give your pet its first Cheerios, you need to limit the amount you give. You don’t know what your dog is allergic to and how it will react to a particular flavor. You also need to check whether your pet can tolerate gluten, the protein found in many grains like wheat, rye, barley. You need to watch out for any strange symptoms- it’s important to recognize them early and take appropriate action. Your vet should be able to help you with this provided you watch your pet carefully, else the situation could very easily get out of control. In some cases, too much waiting can be fatal- early treatment is the key.
Better Snack Alternatives for Your Canine
Pet owners know how hard it is to resist those soulful, pleading eyes, so if you do want to give them Cheerios, just add a few to their regular meals once in a while- never more than that. Tasty as those circular treats are, you don’t want to create problems for them and for yourself. There are lots of other options out there. Dogs are not very particular about what you give them but they do need to snack on something in the same way that humans often need to do.
So go healthy, avoid those ready-made snacks that are high in salt, sugar, and fat and feed them on veggies and fruits. Baby carrots are nice and crunchy, apple slices sans the seeds, banana slices, and even watermelon. Popped corn sans the salt or rice cakes is also great options that work pretty well. Cheese and peanut butter are favorite canine treats as is salmon.
Remember, there’s the dual benefit of ‘health and fewer vet bills’ if you feed your pet dog with nutritious and quality food. It pays in the short and long run to focus on your pet’s diet.
In conclusion, the bottom line is clear, treat your furry pets to Cheerios once in a while but eschew them otherwise. What you need to keep in mind is that though these are not toxic in any way, they are not the most nutritious of foods for dogs. How endearingly ever they beg, be strict where your pet’s diet is concerned! It may be easy to just give in but remember, it’s not doing your dog any good. A healthy diet rich in proteins spiced with very occasional Cheerios should be the way you go.
So cheer your pet with Cheerios only if you have to- both your pet and you stand to lose nothing but on the other hand gain a lot. It’s worth it, isn’t it?