You’ve probably started your morning with Cheerios more than a few times. This lightly sweetened cereal has filled the bellies of millions of children and adults around the world. If you’ve fed your babies these classic little o’s, then you’ve probably questioned whether they’re safe for your four-legged baby, too.
Are Cheerios Safe for Dogs?
Cheerios are quite safe for dogs depending on the flavor you’re feeding. Cheerios used to come in just one flavor (Honey Nut), but the company has widely expanded their product in the past decade. You can find Cheerios coated in yogurt, flavored with fruit, or sweetened with chocolate. What’s safe for your dog is dependent on what’s in the specific flavor you’re offering.
The Honey Nut flavor is safe for your dog. You shouldn’t pour them a heaping bowl of cereal, but handing them off as treats is fine. Pay close attention to the variations that contain nuts, especially almonds. Almonds aren’t digested well by doggy stomachs, so most dogs come down with vomiting and diarrhea afterwards. Frosted Cheerios might be a favorite in your household, but the additional sugar can really tear up your dog’s tummy.
Chocolate Cheerios are an absolutely no-no for your dog. Chocolate of any kind should be avoided at all costs with your dog. Even small amounts can be toxic, especially to small dogs, or it could cause some pretty nasty stomach upset, including vomiting.
Overall, your safest bet is to only give your dogs the plainest version possible. The more ingredients there are in the cereal, the more likely it is your dog will experience negative side effects.
Is There Any Nutritional Benefit to Dogs?
Not really. While the American Heart Association claims the cereal has great benefits to the heart, they’re specifically referring to humans, not dogs. The minerals and vitamins added to the cereal might have some minor effect on canines, but any kind of cereal is essentially empty calories to a canine.
Some vets recommend using Cheerios in lieu of commercial dog treats if your dog is overweight. Cheerios have just enough flavor to make your dog think they’re getting the world’s best treat, and they’re just low enough in calories to be appropriate for a doggy diet.
They’re also good for puppies you’re trying to train. Some dogs will become quite set on only eating their treats because they have so much more flavor than their dog food. To avoid this, you can give them treats that are fairly bland in flavor, like Cheerios, so they enjoy the treat but still show interest in their food.
Keep Cheerios as a Snack
Whatever you do, don’t make Cheerios a staple in your dog’s diet. The majority of their calories and nutrients should be from dog food because it’s carefully formulated to supply all of the nutrition they need. Whatever you do, don’t give your dog a human sized portion of Cheerios. Even though the cereal is fairly simple in nature, too much will cause stomach upset or turn them off of their next meal because they’re full of carbs.
Breakfast cereals are created for the nutritional needs of a human. While you might enjoy Cheerios for breakfast, they’re not meant as a meal replacement for your dog. Stick to using Cheerios as light snacks or training treats for your dog and you’ll help them stay as healthy as the day they were born.