A dog looking at its owner's cereal bowl.

Can Dogs Eat Cheerios? WHAT ABOUT HONEY NUT?!

Ah, Cheerios. Cheerios is a staple of American culture much like baseball, apple pie, and Chevrolet. You’ve probably started your morning with a bowl of Cheerios many times before, I know I have.

Cheerios is a delicious breakfast cereal that we just can’t say no to. When we think of Cheerios, our minds probably turn their attention to the words “heart-healthy.” This is how Cheerios has advertised their cereal for years, but there’s much more to the brand than that. 

A Short History of Cheerios

Cheerios has been around for more than 50 years. There were Cornflakes and Wheaties, but not oat-based cereal. That’s where Cheerios comes in, or as they were originally called, Cheerioats.

Cheerioats was first introduced on May 1, 1941, changing its name to Cheerios four years later in 1945. Before finding the right formula, there were more than 500 formulas tested, and more than 10 shapes and sizes were considered. 

This was long before Cheerios had the many different variations we see today.

The very first variation of Cheerios was the Cinnamon Nut Cheerios that were introduced in 1976. Following that was Honey Nut Cheerios which came in 1979.

The original Cheerios has different vitamins and minerals. In addition, Cheerios is gluten-free and can help lower your cholesterol. Since it’s made with whole grains oats, it is a great source of fiber. This is why the American Heart Association has been recommending it for years. 

This all sounds very appealing to human beings, which is why Cheerios has been a popular brand for ages. But does this mean Cheerios is a healthy choice for your dog? 

The answer is it depends. It depends on what you want for your dog. Do you want to give your dog a snack that has nutritional benefits? Or do you just want to give him a tasty treat once in a while that does nothing for him?

If you’re curious to know the answers to these questions, you’re in the right place. Does it harm or help him? We’re going to discuss the truth behind what Cheerios does for your dog.

The Truth About Dogs and Cheerios

As we all know, there are many different varieties of Cheerios. We’re going to talk about the majority of them to let you know which ones are completely safe for your pooch. 

A good rule of thumb to keep in mind when thinking about giving your dog Cheerios is that the plainer the better.

A white bowl of cheerios placed on a table.

A small amount of Cheerios is a good occasional treat for your dog.

 

The Good News About Plain Cheerios

The good news is that most types of Cheerios are completely safe for your dog to consume. You can give your dog Cheerios as a tasty treat that you know he will enjoy.

If you’re worried that giving your dog plain Cheerios will make him sick, I’m here to tell you it won’t. Cheerios are low in sugar and lack harsh ingredients. With that being said, Cheerios are safe for your pup to eat. 

This isn’t to say you should go and throw down an entire bowl of cereal in front of him and watch him scoop it all up. Cheerios in large amounts can cause some harm to your dog. Served as an occasional treat, however, Cheerios can do no damage to your dog.

Cheerios for Weight Loss

If your dog happens to be overweight, some vets may recommend Cheerios, as opposed to the typical dog treats, to help promote weight loss. Cheerios are delicious, so your pup will think he’s getting a tasty treat. They also are lower in calories than a traditional dog treat, so this may help your pooch lose a few pounds and get him back to a healthy weight.

Can I Train My Puppy with Cheerios?

Training your puppy is an essential part of being a dog owner. It’s also not uncommon for dog owners to train their pup with Cheerios. It’s no secret that the majority of dogs prefer tasty treats to their regular dog food. 

Rewarding your pup with Cheerios can be a great option for the training process. Since Cheerios may even promote weight loss, training your pup with them may ensure your dog doesn’t grow into an unhealthy weight in the first place.

The Not-So-Good News About Cheerios

This isn’t bad news by any means, but it’s not great news either. It is true that Cheerios won’t do any harm to your dog, however, Cheerios aren’t necessarily good for them either.

The reason for this is that Cheerios are made with numerous ingredients that are great for you, however, not really for your dog. If you’re looking for food that will make your pup healthier and happier, Cheerios will only make him happier.

Because of this lack of ingredients for your dog, Cheerios has virtually no nutritional value. The bottom line here is that Cheerios offer no nutritional benefit and you are just serving your dog empty calories–a filler if you will.

You should make note of this because your dog requires a high-performance diet. They need a certain level of calories each day and feeding the low-calorie, meaningless Cheerios may not get them there.

What Cheerios is Lacking

While Cheerios are perfectly safe for your dog to consume, it’s the long-term effects you should worry about should you feed them Cheerios often. The main component Cheerios lack is the main component dogs need: Meat.

Dogs need the majority of their protein from meat. The majority of quality dog foods should have meat listed as the number one ingredient.

It’s almost important to note that Cheerios is a mass-produced food. This means it is man-made and comes with processed ingredients.

Remember, you want to opt for the plainest version of Cheerios, but what if you want to add a little more spice to your dog’s diet? We’ll move on to the other variations of Cheerios.

Which Variations are the Safest?

Not all Cheerios are created equal. Some variations are completely safe for your dog to eat on a regular basis, however, others are not. First up, we’re going to talk about the types of Cheerios that pose the least harm to your dog.

A person holding a box of Honey Nut Cheerios.

Due to the added sugar content, dogs shouldn’t be given too many Honey Nut Cheerios.

 

What About Honey Nut Cheerios?

Honey Nut Cheerios also has much to gloat about. It is also gluten-free, made with whole grains, contains the same number of vitamins and minerals, and is heart-healthy.

For your dog, however, Honey Nut Cheerios has one major downfall: It has nine times more sugar per serving than its original Cheerios counterpart! Honey Nut Cheerios is the only major cereal brand on the market that has a higher sugar content than Fruity Pebbles. That’s a lot of sugar.

This isn’t to say that the Honey Nut variation will harm your dog. As with plain Cheerios, it is best served as the occasional treat. You also want to give Honey Nut in smaller portions.

Due to the added sugar in Honey Nut Cheerios, the risks involved in serving your dog larger amounts are diabetes and obesity. This is why it is necessary to be sure to serve only in smaller portions. 

Multigrain Cheerios

Now that we’ve discussed the potential risks of Honey Nut Cheerios, is Multigrain Cheerios safe for your dog? Well, that also depends. 

Multigrain Cheerios are safe for your dog–in small amounts. Like Honey Nut, Multigrain Cheerios have a higher sugar content than plain. However, they still are a much healthier variation than their flavored counterparts. 

If you want to give your dog Cheerios, the safest route is the plainest. Honey Nut and Multigrain are just better than the other types of Cheerios you find on the shelf. 

So what are the other variations that do more harm than good for your dog?

Variations of Cheerios You Probably Want to Avoid

Walking down the cereal aisle, it seems as though there is an unlimited variety of Cheerios. When it comes to implementing Cheerios into your dog’s diet, there are a few flavors that you want to avoid.

What About Cheerios with Almonds?

The Cheerios Protein variation contains almonds. If you’re considering giving your dog this, don’t do it. 

Dogs can’t easily digest almonds as well as we can. Thus, it can be the cause of digestive issues for your dog’s stomach. The side effects that come with giving your dog almonds are vomiting and diarrhea.

Why Chocolate Cheerios is Never a Good Idea

We’ve all heard about the dangers of giving your dog even the tiniest amount of chocolate. This is true. Dogs should never have chocolate.

The reason chocolate is harmful to your dog’s health is that it contains an ingredient that dogs deem toxic: Xylitol. It’s important to look for any additives or sweeteners like Xylitol before giving your dog anything outside of the norm of a dog’s diet. 

Depending on the type of chocolate, it can also contain a fair amount of caffeine. Caffeine is known to contain ingredients like Methylxanthine which is also toxic to your pooch.

If you’re unsure about what Xylitol and Methylxanthine poisoning look like, it looks like this:

  • Tremors
  • Shaking
  • Weakness
  • Vomiting
  • Hyperactivity
  • Panting
  • Urination
  • Seizures

If you notice any of these symptoms, and you think your pup may have been in some chocolate, contact your veterinarian immediately. You can also contact the Pet Poison Helpline at 800-213-6680.

A picture of a dog with the word allergy written on it.

The wheat in Cheerios may give your dog an allergic reaction so it’s important to watch for any changes in behavior.

 

The Possibilities Of Allergic Reactions

While Cheerios by themselves aren’t harmful to your dog, there is a possibility that they may have an allergic reaction. This is due to the wheat in Cheerios.

Wheat is a common food allergy for dogs. In addition to wheat, your dog may also be allergic to items such as:

  • Dairy Products
  • Corn
  • Chicken
  • Fish 

The first sign you should notice is an obvious change in your dog’s behavior. Your dog may begin to act strange. 

Following that, other signs that come with food allergies in dogs are chronic ear inflammation, vomiting, skin infections, hair loss, and diarrhea. 

What Are the Chances of a UTI?

Along with having a food allergy to the wheat in Cheerios, consuming grains such as corn, wheat, and oats is also a contributing factor to pets developing urinary tract infections. This is a result of the grains and sugar that come with certain types of Cheerios.

What Are The Symptoms Of A Possible UTI?

A urinary tract infection comes with many symptoms. Here are the most common:

  • Fever
  • Constant licking of the urinary opening
  • Changes in Appetite
  • Increased frequency of urination
  • Weakness

In addition to the symptoms listed above, other common symptoms that point to problems with your pet’s urinary tract include vomiting, weight loss, severe back pain, and lethargy. 

If you think your dog has a potential urinary tract infection, you should contact your vet before the condition gets worse.

The Problems With Milk and Cheerios

There’s always the possibility that you run out of dog food and aren’t sure what to feed your pet because you’re in a rush. Can you throw some milk and Cheerios into a bowl and place it in front of your dog? It’s probably not a good idea.

First of all, you should never give your dog an entire bowl of Cheerios. This is especially true if you pour milk into the mix as well.

As with a common allergic reaction to wheat, the majority of dogs are allergic to dairy. This is because many dogs are lactose intolerant. 

When puppies are young, and nursing on their mother’s milk, their bodies produce high levels of an enzyme called lactase. As they grow older, their bodies begin to produce less and less. As a result, they are unable to break down the lactose in dairy products

If your dog is lactose intolerant, there are common symptoms associated with this:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Bloating
  • Flatulence
  • Lack of Appetite

If you still aren’t sure if you want to feed your dog Cheerios there are other alternatives that are also not harmful to your pet. 

For example, Bran Flakes are also high in fiber. This means that they could be beneficial to your dog’s digestive system. Aside from that, they’re normally sugar-free.

Cream of wheat is also another option if you want to steer clear of the Cheerios route. Some vets recommend this because it is soft on your pup’s stomach. Like Cheerios, however, it also doesn’t provide any essential nutrients to your dog. 

Now that we’ve covered a couple of healthy alternatives to Cheerios we need to mention the types of cereal you should never give your dog. 

  • Reese’s Puffs
  • Coco Puffs
  • Raisin Bran
  • Lucky Charms
  • Fruit Loops

Another alternative to Cheerios is yogurt. Yogurt is always a great snack for pets because it contains probiotics. 

Probiotics are bacteria that aid in the digestion of food. If your dog is having diarrhea and frequent gas, probiotics may be a nice solution.

Probiotics also contain enough calcium that is required to strengthen your dog’s bones. Combined with calcium is magnesium. Yogurt is also high in protein, which is essential to your dog’s diet.

The Bottom Line on Cheerios

If you want to give your dog Cheerios, there’s nothing wrong with that. For the most part, Cheerios are completely harmless, however, it’s still best to feed them to your dog in small quantities.

The negative things about Cheerios are that they have no nutritional benefits, are sometimes high in sugar, can’t be given in large quantities, and can’t be given to dogs with wheat allergies.

On the flip side, Cheerios is normally low in sugar, is unharmful, still contains some flavor, and can be a delicious snack.

Cheerios aren’t the worst snack you could feed your dog. There are many things out there that could cause much more harm. As with anything, Cheerios are best for your dog in moderation. Remembering this advice can ensure your dog has a long and healthy life.

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Mack Wagner

Mack Wagner