Brown rice is a healthy food staple for humans and one of the most popular food groups worldwide. Humans consumed 509 million tons of rice in 2020-2021! It’s a popular part of the human diet, but can dogs actually eat brown rice, and if so, what are the risks?
Let’s uncover whether dogs can safely eat brown (or white) rice and what are the health benefits (if any).
Can My Dog Safely Eat Brown Rice?
The good news is that your dog can safely eat brown rice. It may even be good for them. In fact, many commercial dog food companies include rice or other grains in their foods. It’s because dogs are omnivores, not strictly carnivores, which means they can eat certain fruits, vegetables, grains, and meat.
However, although rice is not toxic to dogs, there are rare occurrences where they are allergic or have a rice intolerance. The symptoms include itchy skin, ear infections, stomach upsets and hair loss.
What Is Brown Rice?
Rice is a grass seed from the Oryza sativa plant, which is native to Asia or Oryza glaberrima, which is native to Africa. Rice plants can grow up to six feet tall! They have long slim leaves and tiny white flowers pollinated by winds. These flowers mature into the rice seeds we eat. They’re produced on long arching stems in a 20-inch long inflorescence.
Brown rice is the same plant as white rice. White rice has the outer hull removed, plus the bran and germ layer. Brown rice is a seed with the outer hull removed but the brown-colored bran and germ layer left on.
Because it has an extra layer, brown rice needs longer to cook and it has a higher glycemic index than white rice.
What Are the Risk of Dogs Eating Brown Rice?
Other than a potential intolerance or allergy, there are very few risks associated with dogs eating brown rice, and it has many health benefits.
However, adding extra brown rice to an already well-balanced dog meal can lead to an unhealthy imbalance of carbohydrates, and in turn, this can lead to obesity.
Obesity is a problem for dogs because it puts pressure on their joints and organs, can lead to diabetes, and shortens their life span. 56% of pet dogs are obese, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention’s most recent report. It’s essential to keep an eye on your dog’s food intake and decrease it if necessary, no matter how much they beg.
Brown rice contains fiber, so feeding your dog too much may lead to bloating and flatulence. This can be uncomfortable for them and unpleasant for you, to say the least.
Brown Rice Health Benefits For Dogs
Brown rice is a carbohydrate that’s easily digested by dogs. It provides energy and makes them feel full. It also contains plenty of other nutrients.
- Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) is essential for healthy cell growth and turning food into energy
- Vitamin B9 (folate) helps form red blood cells and turns food into energy
- Vitamin B3 (niacin) also helps turn food into energy. It boosts the nervous and digestive systems too
- Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones. It helps the body absorb calcium and phosphate
- Calcium builds strong bones, teeth, nails, blood clotting, and healthy heart rhythms
- Iron which is vital for red blood cell development and the transportation of oxygen around the body
- Magnesium helps regulate nerve and muscle function and stabilizes blood sugar
- Phosphorus repairs tissues and cells and is needed to convert vitamins into usable nutrients
- Selenium protects against cell damage and infections. It also supports reproduction and thyroid development
- Manganese – helps form bones, cells, blood, and sex hormones
Lastly, let’s not forget fiber. Fiber is essential for a healthy functioning bowel. Although brown rice has more fiber than white rice, it has less than other grains, such as barley or buckwheat.
Which is Better: White or Brown Rice?
The largest difference between these two rice seeds is their fiber and oil content.
Brown rice has the germ and bran husk intact, but it’s removed on white rice. This means brown rice has higher fiber and oil levels, and its glycemic index is lower, but both types of rice are fine for dogs.
For some pups, brown rice is too fibrous, and they may find it difficult to digest, in which case white rice is a better option.
One final point is cooking time. Brown rice takes twice as long to soften, so if you have little time to make dog food, white rice is the swifter choice. Microwaved rice is fine too.
How Should you Prepare Brown Rice for Dogs?
Dogs should only eat cooked rice because hard rice grains are difficult to digest, and they might get stuck in your dog’s throat and cause irritation or infection there. Soft rice is also tastier and a pleasanter eating experience for them.
Boil rice in plain water for your pup, but don’t add extra salt, ghee or spices because these can upset a dog’s stomach. Salt leads to hypertension and blood pressure problems, and herbs such as onion or garlic powder are toxic. More on that later!
Some microwavable rice contains extra herbs and spices, which is also unsuitable. Plain microwaved rice is fine.
How Much Rice Can A Dog Eat?
Some experts suggest large dogs can mix a quarter of a cup into their meal and small dogs up to a tablespoon. The ASPCA recommends that foods which include brown rice should make up no more than 10% of their daily intake unless otherwise directed by a vet.
Does Rice Help A Dog With An Upset Stomach?
Rice is easy to digest and can be helpful in treating a dog with a gastric upset.
Use a half/half ratio of rice to plain meat such as chicken or turkey and mix it thoroughly. If eating any food leads to further diarrhea, feed their meal in a few smaller servings. This eases pressure on their digestive systems and helps them heal.
If the upset stomach lasts for more than a few days, it’s best to see a vet. Brown rice and chicken don’t provide the complete nutrition of balanced meals, and continuous diarrhea leads to dehydration.
Foods Dogs Should Avoid
Unless your dog has an intolerance, brown rice is a healthy, nutritious food that has its role as part of a balanced diet. Let’s explore some foods a dog should never eat.
These tasty nuts are toxic to dogs, and they are capable of causing collapse within an hour. The symptoms are weak back legs, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Avocado leaves, skin, and stones contain pectin, which is toxic to dogs. The flesh has it to a lesser degree, but it’s best to keep all parts of avocado away from dogs.
Innocuous grapes are highly toxic to pups. Dogs cannot digest grape compounds, and it can lead to kidney failure. Wine, juice, and raisins are made from grapes, so keep them all out of reach.
The caffeine and theobromine in chocolate are stimulants and toxic to dogs. They can create so much pressure on a dog’s body that they have organ failure within hours.
Garlic and Onions
Allium plants are toxic to dogs because they contain undigestible compounds that bind to their blood cells and cause anemia. Garlic is stronger than onions, but both cause severe illness and can even be fatal.
Xylitol is an artificial sweetener that causes a massive drop in blood sugar, leading to hypoglycemia in dogs. Xylitol is a prevalent kitchen ingredient because it has fewer calories than sugar. It’s in Jell-o, cakes, drinks, and many pre-prepared foods.
Is Brown Rice Good For Dogs?
To recap, when it’s cooked until it’s soft and served up plain, brown rice can be a nutrient-rich food part of a dog’s diet.
Brown rice is a healthy food for dogs without an intolerance because it’s full of nutrients and satiating, so they feel fuller for longer. This can help if your dog snaffles up whatever it can find in the yard. It’s also great for gastric upsets and is routinely used in commercial dog foods, so you know it’s safe.
- Treating a Dog’s Diarrhea With Rice: How Much, Which Type, and More
- What Foods Can Dogs Eat Safely, and Which Are Dangerous?
- Can Dogs Eat Ginger, Should They?
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- Purina, Available here: https://www.purina.com/articles/dog/nutrition/can-dogs-eat-brown-rice
- Pet Obesity Prevention, Available here: https://petobesityprevention.org/