There are so many types of granola available to buy and countless variations of homemade granola it can be hard to know if it’s truly a safe treat to feed your dog.
Can dogs eat granola? Well, the answer isn’t so straightforward since granola is really a compilation of a bunch of different ingredients.
Then there’s also things like granola bars, trail mix, cereal bars…all of which can be considered granola products.
Read on to find out everything you need to know if you plan on giving your dog granola including which ingredients to look out for and which are safe for our canine friends.
WHAT IS GRANOLA?
According to Wikipedia, granola is “a breakfast and snack food consisting of rolled oats, nuts, honey or other sweeteners such as brown sugar, and sometimes puffed rice”.
By this definition, there are no outright toxic ingredients to be weary of but, we all know that granola can vary dramatically from brand to brand or even batch to batch if you make it yourself.
Often times, nuts, dried fruits, seeds and other “healthy ingredients” are added for flavor and textural interest but not all of those are necessarily a good idea to give to dogs.
CAN DOGS EAT GRANOLA?
This is a questions where nuance comes into play. Can dogs eat granola? Oftentimes, yes.
Should dogs eat granola, however? The general consensus here is no, they shouldn’t.
WHY IS GRANOLA NOT A GOOD FOOD FOR DOGS?
Granola is one of those human foods that while our furry friends may be begging for at our feet while we enjoy it, really provides no outward health benefits for them and certainly isn’t the healthy snack it can be for humans.
While there are ingredients like whole grain oats, puffed brown rice and other whole grains one could argue provide some nutritional benefit like fiber and vitamin B but on the whole, snack foods like granola or seasoned pretzels aren’t foods that truly enhance a dog’s health.
There are three main reasons why granola isn’t a great choice for dogs: the sugar content, inherent dietary fibers and high levels of healthy fats.
Sugar is often added to granola whether it’s in the form of table sugar, maple syrup, honey, high-fructose corn syrup, or worse, artificial sweeteners which can be dangerously toxic to dogs.
This added sugar can pose blood sugar dysregulation in your dog and is especially worrisome if your pup has diabetes.
Besides the metabolic issues, too much sugar consumption can also lead to weight gain and cavities.
Granola is a good source of fiber thanks to all the nuts, seeds and whole grains often found in it. That is, if you’re a human.
But for many dogs, eating a lot of fiber can lead to temporary diarrhea or other gastrointestinal issues.
If the granola is commercially made, it can contain added unhealthy oils like canola oil or other vegetable oils. This type of refined fat is not good for dogs.
Olive oil would be a safer and healthier choice but not many store-bought granolas use olive oil
Outside of added oils, however, granola also typically contains nuts.
While some nuts like walnuts or almonds are safe for dogs to eat, others like macadamia nuts are toxic so knowing exactly which types of nuts are in the granola is important.
Even “safe” nuts contain a lot of fat however. And while the fats may be the healthy kind and a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, too much fat can be upsetting to your dog’s digestive system and may cause irritable bowel syndrome or other gastrointestinal issues.
If you’re after omega-3s, sardines would be a much better choice for your dog than granola.
CHOKING HAZARDS IN GRANOLA
Smaller nuts and seeds like sunflower seeds often added to granola can also prove to be a choking hazard, particularly for smaller breeds.
TOXIC GRANOLA INGREDIENTS
We’ve already covered the potential for artificial sweeteners like xylitol in granola as well as nuts like macadamias that should never be fed to dogs.
In addition to those, raisins and chocolate granola are two other toxic ingredients often found in granola that should be avoided.
These are really the biggest risk when it comes to granola and dogs. While the other things aren’t necessarily healthy, these toxic ingredients can be fatal.
CAN GRANOLA BE SAFE FOR DOGS TO EAT?
While store-bought varieties are usually not recommended for the reasons mentioned above, small quantities of plain granola made at home under a watchful eye can be ok for your dog on occasion.
We often make this nut-free granola in our house and if the right dried fruit is selected, it can be safe for dogs too.
Homemade granola, or making your own granola bars/granola cereal will always be the best choice if you decide to give your dog a special treat like this.
Avoid popular commercially produced brands like Nature Valley granola bars as they tend to be filled with processed harmful ingredients, preservatives and unhealthy oils that provide little, if any, benefit to dogs.