Rice is the primary food for more than half of the world’s population. It is a carbohydrate with no cholesterol and tiny amounts of fat or sodium and is a staple for just about any household in the modern world.
But is it safe to feed my dog with rice? Is it good or bad for canines? What type of rice is best for canines? How much rice should I give to my dog? In case these are some of the questions passing through your mind, read on through our detailed guide for the answers.
If you want a quick answer to the question of whether dogs eat rice, then yes, they can.
Since today’s domesticated dogs are considered omnivores, their diet can include rice and other diets and grains, aside from the proteins they need to eat. A healthy dog’s diet should consist of at least 75% protein. The other 25% can be made up of plant-based foods.
Rice, both white and brown, is, in fact, a common ingredient in many commercial wet and dry dog foods.
Boiled white rice is also often recommended for pups suffering from digestive upsets.
More about rice
Rice is a cereal grain that was cultivated more than 5,000 years ago and is the primary food source and most widely consumed food in more than 50% of the world, especially in Africa and Asia.
There are more than 40,000 types of rice, but for simplicity, we most often differentiate it into two main categories – white and brown.
The types that are most commonly used for making dog food are white, brown, and wild rice.
Its nutritional value depends on the way the rice is milled. During the milling, the coating or husk of the rice is removed. Brown rice, on the other hand, retains its bran and hull and thus more of its essential nutrients. At the same time, it is harder to digest due to the harder outside coating. This is why some canines may experience digestive problems such as constipation or diarrhea when eating brown rice.
White rice is the starchy and sticky endosperm left after the removal of the bran or hull. But with the removal of this outer layer, many healthy nutrients are removed as well. But, this process makes white rice much easier to digest by dogs and is often prescribed for resolving digestive issues such as diarrhea.
The different types of rice
Since white rice is rich in carbohydrates or starch, it is an excellent remedy for soothing an upset stomach in pups. The reason is that starch remains undigested until it reaches the small intestine. This allows for it to feed the good gut bacteria, which help promote healthy and regular bowel movements. It also helps bulk up any loose stool.
But white rice has a high glycemic index and is a fast-burning carb that can raise the levels of blood sugar. 1/3 cup of white rice has 70 calories. This makes it unsuitable for pups with diabetes or those that are overweight.
White rice is also not recommended for canines with yeast issues or candida, as the latter feeds on the sugars in the carbohydrates.
Brown rice has more valuable nutrients and a higher fiber content due to the bran. But as mentioned earlier, it is harder to digest for some dogs.
Unprocessed brown rice is a complex carb and, as such, burns slower. This prevents spikes in blood sugar levels. The high fiber content can help an overweight dog feel full for longer and thus promote weight loss. It can also help resolve problems with constipation in canines.
Some studies show that the phytic acid in brown rice can obstruct the proper absorption of minerals in dogs. Other studies claim that phytic acid can help prevent some types of cancer.
Wild rice has the highest content of healthy nutrients, antioxidants, and fiber. Many dogs love eating it, thanks to its distinctive nutty flavor.
Jasmine is a soft long-grain rice from Thailand that is not as starchy or sticky as other rice.
Basmati rice is another long-grain rice packed with carbohydrates and is an excellent solution for resolving gastrointestinal problems in canines.
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How can feeding rice to my dog benefit its health?
Rice is a carbohydrate that has numerous health benefits for canines, including:
- It is low in fat and sodium
- It can help soothe upset stomachs and resolve gastrointestinal problems
- The fiber can help promote regular bowel movements and can improve the digestion
- The carbohydrates help boost the energy levels and improve the cognitive function of canines
- Vitamin D, phosphorus, and calcium found in rice are essential for bone health
- It contains antioxidants that can prevent diseases and improve the cognitive function of senior dogs
- The probiotic action of rice helps feed the good bacteria in the small intestines
- Wild and brown rice contain even more nutrients and have more health benefits for canines due to the bran. These include:
- Calcium and phosphorus for healthy bones, ligaments, and teeth
- Vitamins B and D help boost the metabolism and heart health
- Magnesium promotes the production of energy and healthy muscle movement
- Niacin is essential for the dog’s digestion, nervous system, and skin
- Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) helps support the metabolism and the production of cells
- Manganese helps fight the free radicals which damage the cells
- Selenium protects the cells from oxidative damage and promotes normal thyroid functioning and reproduction
Signs of allergies or intolerance to rice in dogs
Just like with most other foods, some dogs have intolerance or allergies to rice or yeast. If you are already aware that your dog has allergies, it is advisable to ask your veterinarian before introducing rice or any other new food to its diet.
Yeast allergies can be especially problematic when you wish to feed your dog rice.
Start with very small quantities of rice at first and monitor your pet closely for symptoms of intolerance, including:
- Hives and itchy skin
- Dry skin
- Hair loss or hot spots
- Inflammation of the paws and excessive licking of the paws
How much rice should I give to my dog?
Hopefully, your pup is already eating a healthy and well-balanced diet. If, for one reason or another, you want to add rice to its regimen, then make sure that the rice comprises only up to 10% of the total calories the dog eats per day.
If you feed the pup more rice, this can lead to weight gain or diabetes.
Larger pups can eat about 1/3 cup of rice 2-3 times a week. The quantity should be adjusted to your dog’s weight and calorie intake.
Start with small quantities and gradually increase the amount of rice over time if there are no signs of negative reactions to it.
The best way to prepare the rice for my dog
Veterinarians can prescribe plain boiled white rice and boiled chicken to resolve dogs’ gastrointestinal problems. This means no added salt, fat, or other seasoning and ingredients.
White rice can help normalize the digestive functioning before your pup is ready to return to its regular dog food once again.
Brown rice is not suitable for resolving digestive issues in canines because it is much harder to digest.
To prepare the white rice properly, make sure you rinse it thoroughly under running cold water. This will help remove as much of the extra starch.
Then you can proceed to boil the rice in plain water in a pan or a rice cooker.
Although you may be tempted, do not add any salt, fat, or broth to the rice, especially if you are serving it for digestive issues.
If the pup is healthy, you can add some vegetables and even some healthy meats to the rice.
You can prepare a healthy soup by adding some sodium-free broth too.
Another way to prepare the rice is to add some healthy beans rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and protein. Remember to cook the beans until they are tender, and choose dog-friendly beans such as kidney beans, black beans, or green beans when cooking rice and beans for your pup.
Some ideas for dog snacks and treats with rice
You can prepare homemade dog food with some rice or make some of the many different snacks and treats that contain rice.
There are various recipes you can find online. We recommend the rice and peanut butter, the chicken and wild rice, or the chicken cheddar and the brown rice dog treats.
Remember to adjust the number of treats and snacks for your pup in accordance with its weight, age, and health, and try to keep them to fewer than 10% of the whole daily calorie intake of the dog.
Related – Can Dogs Eat Rice Cakes? Are Rice Cakes Safe for Dogs?
Final verdict – Can dogs eat rice?
Yes, rice is not only among the most common foods in the world, but it is good for our dogs too.
This is only true if the rice is prepared without added fat, salt, seasoning, onions, garlic, and other potentially harmful ingredients.
Plain boiled white rice is commonly prescribed alongside some plain boiled chicken for resolving digestive upsets in dogs.
Before adding rice to your dog’s diet, speak with your vet. If approved, start with small quantities at first until you reach the recommended portion size for your pup.