Is Dogs Eating Rice Safe or Dangerous?

Written by Shaunice Lewis
Published: June 15, 2022
Image Credit Dmitriev Mikhail/Shutterstock.com
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Rice is a simple carbohydrate that is low in calories and contains no fats, salts, or cholesterol on its own. Many commercial dog foods have already embraced rice as a low-cost addition to their dog foods that many pet parents tend to search for. Even though this food is a common ingredient in many of the dog food brands that are available on the market, you may be wondering if it is safe to feed your dog plain rice on its own.

The simple answer to that is yes, you can safely feed plain rice to your dog. Today’s dogs are considered to be omnivores, which means that they can consume some grains and plants in their diets, as long as their main diet consists of at least 75% animal proteins. Let’s go over some of the health benefits of adding rice into your dog’s diet. Read on to learn more.

Health Benefits of Rice for Dogs

As we mentioned, rice is a carbohydrate that is very nutritious. Rice provides many health benefits for both humans and dogs alike. Let’s take a closer look at some of those health benefits:

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  • Low in fat
  • Low in sodium
  • Rice contains antioxidants that help protect against certain diseases and cognitive dysfunction in aging pets
  • Contains calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D that help support healthy, strong bones
  • Can soothe gastrointestinal upsets
  • Has probiotics that feed good bacteria that can be found in the small intestines
  • Rice contains fiber that helps support regular bowel movements and improves digestion
  • Its high carbohydrates can help boost energy levels and improve cognitive function

The bran of rice is what gives brown rice its brown color. This is because it contains many of the nutrients. Both brown rice and wild rice are rich in vitamins and minerals that make them two of the healthiest additions you could add to your dog’s diet. Let’s take a quick look at some of the health benefits of brown rice:

  • Brown rice contains vitamins D, B1, and B6 that help support your dog’s heart health and metabolism
  • Niacin can also be found in rice which gives dogs healthy skin, nervous system, and digestion
  • Calcium for strong bones, teeth, and ligaments
  • Phosphorus works with calcium to help strengthen bones, ligaments, and teeth
  • Thiamine (also known as B1) supports cellular production and metabolism
  • Magnesium supports muscle function and energy production
  • Selenium is essential for healthy thyroid function, reproduction, and protecting against cell damage that may come from oxidation
  • Manganese helps protect your dog against the damaging effects of free radicals that can wreak havoc on your dog’s cells

How Much Rice Is Safe for My Dog to Eat?

Dogs require a healthy, complete, and balanced diet. Most commercially available dog food already contains the correct amount of daily calories and nutrients that they need to maintain optimum health. Because of this, a dog’s diet should not be comprised of more than 10% of additional foods like rice. Any more than this, your dog will be at risk of weight gain or diabetes.

Large dogs are able to eat about 1/3 cup of rice about two or three times a week at most. Smaller dogs should have much less than this. Keep in mind that the amount of rice recommended for dogs is based on the idea that your dog is already getting everything it needs from its healthy, balanced dog food. Rice should only be served to your dog as an occasional treat alongside its regular food or as a snack. You should always start out by offering rice to your dog in tiny amounts. You can then gradually increase the portion size as long as your dog isn’t showing any signs of digestive struggles.

Are There Any Risks of Feeding My Dog Rice?

In some cases, dogs can show signs of allergies or intolerances to rice and some other foods at well. If you already know that your dog suffers from allergies, it’s best to check with your vet first before serving rice to your dog, in case he has an allergy to that as well. Yeast allergies can also be problematic if you plan to feed your dog rice. Here are a few things you should be on the lookout for to know if your dog is allergic to rice:

If you notice any of these signs or symptoms developing in your dog you should stop giving him rice right away and speak with your veterinarian.

How Can I Serve Rice to My Dog?

There are a few different ways that you can serve rice in a healthy way to your dog. Most veterinarians will recommend feeding your dog plain white rice, with no seasonings, fats, or salt. You can serve this along with a side of boiled chicken, which makes a great meal for dogs that may be dealing with gastrointestinal issues. White rice is easy for dogs to digest and it actually helps their digestive system relax and regain balance so that your dog can return to eating regular food again.

Earlier we mentioned that brown rice gets its color based on the fact that it still contains the bran part of the rice. Even though this is where most of the nutrition is in rice, it is for this reason that most veterinarians will not recommend brown rice for dogs that have stomach or digestion issues. Brown rice tends to be harder for dogs to digest because of the bran that it has, so you may want to stick with serving your dog white rice to reduce the chance of your dog developing an upset stomach.

When preparing rice for your dog, you should rinse it off first to remove any excess starch prior to cooking it. You can then use a rice cooker or boil it in plain water until it is tender and fluffy. Do not include any salt or seasonings in the rice when you’re preparing it for your dog. This is because many seasonings can cause an upset stomach for your dog and added sodium is not good for your dog’s health in the long term. Again, your dog’s regular dog food should already contain the proper daily amounts of salt and fat that are safe for your dog to consume, so there’s no need to add any additional amounts to the rice. If you’d like, you can also add fresh, steamed veggies along with the rice for an extra boost of nutrition and flavor.

Overall

Rice is one of the most popular foods and is a staple worldwide for many reasons. It has many wonderful health benefits that both people and dogs can benefit from. It is a low-calorie food that can make a great addition to your dog’s healthy diet and can provide a healthy source of carbs to help soothe an upset stomach. As long as it is served plain with no added salt, seasonings, or fats, it is a wonderful treat to serve to your dog on occasion. Start off slowly, and only introduce rice in very small amounts if it’s the first time that you’re feeding it to your dog. That way it doesn’t get an upset stomach from having too much at once.

Additional Foods You Can Treat Your Dog To

Here are a few other foods that you can treat your dog to. You could even serve some of them along with rice:

If you’d like to include rice in your dog’s diet without the hassle of cooking it yourself, try one of these premium foods that feature this nutritious ingredient.

Best Specialty Brand
JustFoodForDogs Fresh Frozen Dog Food

•Frozen, preportioned meals

•Wholesome, fresh ingredients

•Various protein & carbohydrate options

•Vet recommended

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Best Dry Food
Jinx Chicken, Brown Rice, Sweet Potato Kibble Dry Dog Food
  • Contains natural fiber and antioxidants
  • Lean protein for added muscle mass
  • Good for digestion
  • Contains Vitamins A, E and C
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Best Canned
Purina Pro Plan Adult 7+ Complete Essentials Chicken & Rice Entree Wet Dog Food, 13-oz can, case of 12

•Ideal wet dog food for 7+ years of age

•Formulated protein:fat ratio for healthy weight & body condition

•Omega-6 fatty acids for healthy skin & coat

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Overall Best
Diamond Naturals Chicken & Rice
  • Made for dogs who are really active
  • Rich in antioxidants and probiotics
  • Contains no corn, grain, or fillers
  • Cage-free chicken is the primary component
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Best Dry Food
Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Real Chicken + Brown Rice
  • Contains real deboned chicken
  • Contains brown rice and high-protein quinoa
  • Added omega fatty acids
  • No peas or lentils
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About the Author

Freelance writer specializing in natural health and wellness.