Benefits of oats in pet food for dogs & cats

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energetic healthy dog

One of the ingredients that’s getting a lot of attention in human and pet health lately is oats. However there’s a lot more to oats than just its well-known associations with skin and coat.

The number of premium and super premium pet foods saying yes to natural ingredients like oats is a trend pet owners are welcoming. After all, we look for natural alternatives in our food and for our children, so why should our pets miss out?

Let’s take a look at why you might like to consider feeding a pet food with oats in it next time you’re at your Vet or Pet Store…

Immune support

Oats are naturally high in beta glucans. These molecules have been nicknamed immune activators by human immunologists, due to the effect on boosting immune function. The technical term by the way is ‘biological response modifiers’.

Beta glucans have also been shown to help reduce the risk of infections.

A double-blind placebo controlled human trial of 34 patients, found patients who received beta glucans had:

  • significantly fewer infectious complications
  • lower requirement for antibiotics
  • faster recovery, leading to a shorter hospital stay

The risk of serious post-surgery infections dropped by 39% (more studies into beta glucans can be found here).

With the potential benefits in fighting infections, boosting immune function and faster recovery after surgery; oats are of particular interest to breeders and owners of puppies and kittens, pets of any age who are prone to infections and for pets who have had surgery. Any pet under immune stress may benefit from the beta glucans in oats.

Stronger nails

Have you ever found it almost impossible to clip your dog or cats nails due to them being brittle and breaking off so you can’t get a clean cut? Stronger nails is another benefit linked with oats due to oats being naturally high in zinc.

There’s a reason you see zinc in so many human products, from supplements to shampoo; it’s even used to protect against diaper rash for babies. In shampoo Zinc is a common ingredient for its anti-dandruff benefits.

Zinc is an essential trace element required by plants and animals. The highest concentration of zinc in the human body is in the brain, muscle, bones, kidney, liver, prostate and eyes. Semen is also rich in zinc which will be of interest to cat and dog breeders in particular.

Heart health

Oats are also naturally high in the antioxidants called tocotrienols (pronounced to-co-try-in-noles). These antioxidants have been linked with cardiovascular health.

They help nutritionally lower blood cholesterol by trapping substances connected with ‘bad’ cholesterol (LDL) without lowering ‘good’ cholesterol (HDL). Accumulated cholesterol has been connected to many types of cardiovascular disease.

Some breeds are more prone to heart conditions than others, so as studies progress, watch this space for further developments on how tocotrienols may be of extra benefit for particular dog and cat breeds.


It’s also been suggested that oats may help reduce the risk of some forms of diabetes.

This is because beta glucans have been found to help control potentially harmful fluctuations in blood sugar levels. We already know that controlling blood glucose and insulin levels is essential is preventing many of the health complications associated with diabetes.

The way beta glucans help reduce dramatic fluctuations in blood sugar levels is by giving the digestive system more time to digest food, prolonging the absorption of carbohydrates into the blood stream which reduces the risk of sudden changes in blood sugar levels.

Weight control

One fascinating study found that children who frequently ate oatmeal were as much as 50% less likely to become overweight compared to children without oats in their diet.

Essential amino acids have also been linked with a longer healthier life in people, and oats have one of the best amino acid profiles of any grain.

It’s already been proven that staying slim helps increase life span; so with our pets being with us for such a short time as it is, anything that might help them live longer, healthier lives gets the ‘thumbs up’ in our books!

Chronic disease

The technical name for plant chemicals is phytochemicals, which have been associated with protection from chronic disease. Oats are a natural source of phytochemicals.

Essential vitamins

As well as essential fatty acids, oats are a good source of essential vitamins, including:

  • thiamine
  • folic acid
  • biotin
  • pantothenic acid
  • vitamin E
  • zinc
  • selenium
  • copper
  • iron
  • manganese
  • magnesium

Does Nutrience include oats?

Yes, the brand new Nutrience formulas about to hit the shelves in New Zealand (expect to start seeing them late March 2011) now include oats.

So next time you’re at your local Vet or Pet Store, keep an eye out for a pet food such as Nutrience which is high in oats.

You’ll see a noticeable change in packaging between the new and previous Nutrience formulas by the way, however if you’re unsure just pick up the bag and check the ingredients and look for oats.

Your pet professional can help you select the best Nutrience formula for your pet’s health and condition, or feel free to call us on 0800 833 933 (toll-free, NZ only) for free advice.

IMPORTANT, please read:

Always consult with your Veterinarian on the health decisions for your pets. An impressive  as the benefits of oats are, it’s not okay to replace or reduce any treatment your Vet has prescribed with a pet food high in oats just because it offers similar benefits to the antibiotics or any other treatment your Vet has recommended for your pet’s skin, coat, heart or other health concerns. Always seek the advice of your pet’s health professional before making changes that may affect your pet’s health, especially if they have existing health concerns or are more prone to health problems.