A classic bowl of shredded wheat makes the perfect breakfast – it’s easy to make and loaded with the nutrients you need for that much-needed energy boost in the mornings! In fact, wellness experts praise the many benefits of this bite-sized, heart-healthy cereal. It’s low in calories and saturated fat but still delivers a feeling of fullness that keeps you lively and active for longer between meals.
Since shredded wheat is so healthy for us humans, then it should be the same for our dogs, right? Well, the answer is a little more complex. Shredded wheat can make a healthy occasional treat for dogs, but giving it to them in excess may cause a number of health issues. As such, it’s best to give dogs shredded wheat in moderation and never as a meal replacement.
Keep reading as we explore the benefits and risks of feeding your dog shredded wheat in detail, so you can decide whether it’s a good idea for your dog’s unique tastes and nutritional needs. We’ll also give you a few tips on how to give him shredded wheat safely, as well as other types of cereal he might like!
Benefits of Feeding Your Dog Shredded Wheat
Cereal isn’t necessarily the healthiest treat for dogs. However, shredded wheat ranks among the most nutritious options for cereal on the market as it comes packed with health benefits that can be as good for dogs as they are for humans. This means that if you really want to share cereal with your pup, shredded wheat would be a better choice for him over other more sugary types.
Here are a few of the nutritional benefits of feeding your dog shredded wheat:
A single 100g serving of shredded wheat has an impressive dietary fiber content of around 12.2g.
While there’s no recommended daily amount of fiber intake for dogs, fiber is still an essential part of a healthy canine diet. Fiber aids in fast metabolism and healthy digestion, encouraging the growth of good bacteria in the gut and preventing the growth of bad bacteria. This is why high-fiber foods are often endorsed for dogs suffering from diarrhea or constipation.
Fiber also assists in getting rid of carcinogens and toxins by facilitating regular, solid bowel movements. Experts say this may help reduce the risk of colon cancer.
Overweight or obese dogs also benefit from fiber-rich foods. Fiber helps dogs feel full for longer, reducing the frequency of their food intake and giving them the nutrition they need with fewer calories.
Certain human foods can worsen obesity and weight-related problems in dogs, so if you want to give your dog human food as a treat, shredded wheat is among the safer options you can feed him.
Lower in Calories, Sugar, and Carbohydrates
Compared to other cereals and even healthy grains like oatmeal, shredded wheat has fewer calories. It’s also lower in sugar, carbohydrates, and saturated fat, which is why it’s often recommended for people with diabetes.
The same goes for our canine companions. Dogs who suffer from diabetes, pancreatitis, obesity, and other health issues may have their symptoms triggered or exacerbated by certain dog treats. Shredded wheat makes a great low-fat, low-sugar, and low-calorie alternative treat!
A cup of shredded wheat cereal has around 4g of protein. Protein is an essential part of a healthy canine diet, helping build strong muscles, encouraging hormone production, improving nerve function, and promoting skin and coat health.
While it’s not advisable to feed your dog an entire cup of shredded wheat, it can still make a protein-rich treat for him when given in moderation.
Vitamins & Minerals
Shredded wheat contains plenty of vitamins and minerals that can be beneficial for dogs, including:
Hazards of Feeding Your Dog Shredded Wheat
It’s important to note that dogs generally have to eat large quantities of shredded wheat in order to gain all the health benefits laid out above. However, feeding your pup an entire bowl of shredded or using it as a meal substitute can pose serious risks to his health.
Here are a few of the hazards of feeding your dog shredded wheat in copious amounts:
High in Sugar
Certain variations of shredded wheat have high amounts of sugar, such as frosted shredded wheat. They may also contain added sugar to enhance their sweetness and lengthen their shelf life.
While dogs need some sugar in their diets for energy, too much of it can be detrimental to their health, especially when obtained from sources with added or artificial sugar. High-sugar foods can increase their risk for certain illnesses, such as:
- Heart disease
- Dental problems
- Digestive issues
High in Calories
A cup of shredded wheat has around 337 calories. To compare, an average dog weighing 22 lbs. needs around 400 calories per day. So feeding him a cup of this cereal will account for more than 80% of his daily caloric needs.
As such, it’s best to give your dog shredded wheat as a treat and make sure it doesn’t make up more than 10% of his daily calories.
Everyone knows that cereal is best enjoyed with fresh milk, and shredded wheat is no exception. But this wholesome breakfast may not be as beneficial for your dog.
Many dogs are lactose intolerant, meaning they’re unable to produce the enzyme that helps their digestive systems break down the lactose in milk and other dairy products. As such, they may have adverse reactions to drinking milk.
Symptoms of lactose intolerance in dogs include:
- Diarrhea or loose stools
- Dehydration or excessive thirst
- Loss of appetite
As its name suggests, shredded wheat is made from whole wheat that has been dried, shredded, and shaped into bite-sized pieces.
Studies have found that wheat is the third most common cause of food allergies in dogs. Additionally, some dogs are also sensitive to gluten, an ingredient found in both dog food and human foods like shredded wheat.
Dogs who are allergic to gluten and wheat may be unable to break the ingredients down, which may cause irritation in the lining of their small intestine. Over time, it may become damaged to the point where the digestive tract is unable to absorb nutrients from food, leading to nutritional deficiencies.
Symptoms of wheat and gluten allergies in dogs include:
- Itchy, red skin
- Dull coat
- Hair loss
- Frequent scratching
- Frequent chewing or licking of the feet
- Recurring ear infections
- Mucus in the stool
How to Safely Feed Your Dog Shredded Wheat
All out of treats and don’t know what to give your dog instead? Go for shredded wheat! As long as you keep a few reminders in mind, there’s no reason why you can’t give your dog this treat once in a while.
Here are a few tips to safely feed your dog shredded wheat:
Feed as an occasional treat in moderation and without milk
Shredded wheat can serve as a treat for your dog during training or stressful vet visits. How much you give your pup will depend on his size and your vet’s recommended daily calories for him.
For instance, you can give a medium or large dog around a ⅛ to ¼ cup of shredded wheat, while a small dog will have to do with a few bites.
If it’s your first time giving your dog shredded wheat or if he hasn’t been tested for gluten or wheat allergies, make sure to feed him only a piece or two and gauge his reaction to it.
Another important thing to remember is not to give your dog a bowl of shredded wheat with milk, especially if you’re unsure of whether he’s lactose intolerant or not.
Mix shredded wheat with dog food
Having trouble getting your dog to eat? Using shredded wheat as a crunchy meal topper may make his food more appetizing! It can add a little variety to his diet, offering that crunchy texture that will get him to eat with more gusto.
Doing this can also help dogs who are experiencing diarrhea or constipation. Shredded wheat is an excellent source of fiber that can aid in regulating your pup’s bowel movements.
Take note that you still shouldn’t top his meals with shredded wheat every day or on a regular basis.
Choose plain shredded wheat with no added sugar
Frosted shredded wheat should be kept away from dogs altogether. They gain no nutritional benefit from it, and its high sugar content can negatively affect their health.
Instead, go for plain shredded wheat. Make sure the label says “no added sugar” as well.
Giving your dog the same bowl of shredded wheat you have for breakfast is a huge no-no. What may be healthy for you may not be quite as beneficial for him. Instead, give him shredded wheat as a healthy treat in small amounts to satisfy his crunch craving! Be sure to consult with your veterinarian as well before giving your pup any human food for safety.