Breakfast is meant to be the most important meal of the day, and many of us humans reach for a bowl of cereal every morning. But whenever you’re filling your bowl up, you’ve probably had your pup sat begging you to fill theirs too. But can dogs eat cereal?
Sometimes we can’t help our pups eating something they shouldn’t, and your hound might hoover up any cereal you spill, or munch soggy handfuls of cornflakes that your little one is offering them from the table. So let's explore whether dogs can eat cereal, and if there’s anything to worry about if your canine crunches on some cornflakes.
There isn’t a yes or no answer to “can dogs eat cereal?” because there is such a huge variety of cereals out there, with all kinds of different ingredients inside them.
For the most part, a small amount of dry cereal shouldn’t cause your dog any immediate harm as long as it doesn’t contain anything toxic to dogs. Remember to check the label carefully to make sure there are no ingredients that could be harmful to hounds inside your cereal. If there’s nothing toxic, your pooch can probably munch a few pieces without any problems.
However, many cereals do contain ingredients which are potentially poisonous to our pooches. These include anything with nuts, raisins, and chocolate in, as well as the sweetener xylitol. If you’re not sure if a cereal is safe for your dog to eat, don’t feed it to them. It’s better to be safe than sorry, especially where your pet’s health is concerned.
Toxic ingredients aren’t the only problem with cereal though. Although many cereals are “safe” for dogs to eat, they aren’t always healthy. Many brands are packed full of sugar which can be bad for your dog’s health, contributing to weight gain, tooth decay, and diabetes.
There’s also a lot of carbohydrates as well as sugars, but little other nutrition, meaning cereal is basically empty calories for your pooch, and eating too much can quickly lead to obesity.
Although cereal can be a healthy breakfast for us humans, it doesn’t have the balance of nutrients needed to keep dogs healthy. You should never feed your dog cereal as a meal replacement.
Dogs can eat cornflakes as an occasional treat. There’s nothing harmful in cornflakes, and there are very low levels of fat to worry about, but each serving has a surprising amount of salt and sugar in it.
Your dog shouldn’t eat a whole bowlful of cornflakes though because it will probably upset their stomach, causing vomiting and diarrhoea. And if your furry friend did eat that much cereal, they would definitely eat an unhealthy amount of salt, sugar, and carbs.
Many brands of cornflakes contain nothing more than maize (a kind of corn), barley, salt, sugar, and some malt. None of these ingredients are dangerous for dogs to eat. Some types of cornflakes might be enriched with additional nutrients. Although they are “safe” to eat, if your dog is sensitive to grains or gluten you shouldn’t feed them cornflakes or cereal.
So if you drop a few flakes and your dog hoovers them up, don’t worry too much. Dogs can eat cornflakes without any problem as long as it’s only in small amounts and they are eating a healthy dog food for their main meals.
However, your dog shouldn’t eat Frosties or frosted cornflakes because these are loaded with sugar, which isn’t healthy for your dog.
Dogs can eat Rice Krispies because they are non-toxic, and most brands only contain rice, barley, malt, sugar, and salt. Sometimes they might be enriched with additional nutrients. Although none of these ingredients are toxic to dogs, pooches who are allergic or sensitive to grains won’t be able to eat them.
Although dogs can eat Rice Krispies, they should never eat a whole bowlful because this will contain too many calories and too much salt and sugar to be healthy. However, a few pieces as a treat shouldn’t hurt.
Given dogs love peanut butter, you might think they’d go barking mad for Crunchy Nut cereal.
This cereal doesn’t seem to contain anything toxic according to the label, but I would exercise caution if your dog eats any.
Firstly, if your dog is allergic to corn, this cereal will trigger their sensitivities. Secondly, although crunchy nut cereal contains peanuts, they could contain traces of other nuts.
Other nuts like macadamias are highly toxic to dogs and they should never eat them. So it’s probably best to play it safe and don’t let your dog eat crunchy nut.
No, your dog shouldn’t eat Coco Pops or any other sort of chocolate or cocoa flavoured cereal. Chocolate and cocoa are toxic to dogs, and eating cereal containing those flavours can make your dog sick.
Yes, dogs can eat Cheerios as long as it is only as an occasional treat. Cheerios don’t contain any ingredients that are toxic to dogs, but they also don’t have any nutritional value except for calories.
So they’re best kept as an occasional treat, if fed at all, and you definitely shouldn’t give your dog a whole bowlful.
Weetabix are made almost entirely of whole grain wheat, with a bit of malted barley, sugar, and salt. Dogs can eat Weetabix since they don’t contain anything toxic. But, your pooch probably won’t enjoy it since they’re pretty dry and tasteless!
Weetabix isn’t much of a treat for Fido, and will also contain a lot of empty calories your dog doesn’t need.
Some people suggest using dry Weetabix as a fix for doggy diarrhoea because it’s high in fibre. However, we definitely don’t recommend it because you’ll probably make the poo problem worse!
This is because the fibre content in the cereal is really high, and too much fibre in your dog’s diet can cause constipation, flatulence, and diarrhoea. If your dog is suffering from diarrhoea, you’re better off withholding their food for a little while, or offering them bland food like boiled chicken and rice. And don’t forget to contact your vet about your dog’s symptoms!
Dogs can eat porridge and oats safely, provided they aren’t allergic. Oats are a healthy wholegrain, but they still have limited nutritional value for your furry friend.
As long as you haven’t loaded your porridge with harmful or unhealthy ingredients like nuts, chocolate, treacle, or sugar then your pooch can have a spoonful from time to time as a treat. (Or you could let them lick the bowl when you’re done.)
Just remember to keep porridge as a treat because it has a lot of empty calories which could contribute to weight gain if your dog eats too much.
Porridge is high in fibre too, so eating a little bit can help to keep your dog’s gut healthy. However, eating too much can go the other way and lead to a sore stomach, constipation, or even diarrhoea. So keeping porridge as a small treat will help to keep your dog healthy and avoid any messy problems!
Your dog should never eat a whole bowl of cereal, with or without milk. But what about a spoonful of cereal and milk as a treat?
Well, whether or not your dog can eat the cereal will depend on if it contains any potentially toxic ingredients.
Regardless, your dog shouldn’t eat cereal with milk. The vast majority of adult dogs are lactose intolerant, and milk is high in lactose. That means any dog that eats or drinks milk runs the risk of getting the runs!
If your dog has too much milk, they could get sick with stomach cramps, flatulence, and diarrhoea. A tiny amount like a teaspoonful might not cause a problem, but it’s still best to avoid it if you want to prevent a poorly pup or messy clean-up.
Dogs definitely shouldn’t eat cereal as a meal like we humans do. However, dogs can eat cereal in very small amounts as long as it doesn’t contain any ingredients that are toxic to dogs, and it is only as an occasional treat.
Even “healthy” cereal has limited nutritional value for Fido, and it is just empty calories as far as your furry friend is concerned. If your dog is overeating calories they will soon gain weight, which will put their health at risk and shorten their lifespan. And if they’re eating cereal as a major food source, they will soon develop a nutritional deficiency that will impact their health and wellbeing.
Never give your dog a whole bowl of cereal, or cereal with milk, because this could upset their stomach. You should also avoid giving your dog any cereal which contains raisins, nuts, or chocolate because these are poisonous to pooches.
Written by: Dr Andrew Miller MRCVS
Andy graduated from Bristol University in 2010 and sees nutrition as a foundation for our pet's wellbeing and takes a common-sense approach. We are what we eat, and it shouldn't be any different for our pets.