In recent years, it has become common knowledge that grain heavy dog foods are possibly the worst thing you could feed a dog. And since most of the commercial dog foods available in stores are grain-based, better dog food alternatives have become important. However, they are often expensive, which is why homemade meals are the best option.
But while looking for grain substitutes that still provide carbohydrates, naturally, rice comes to mind. But can dogs eat brown rice? In fact, you might be wondering: can I feed my dog rice at all?
Introduction – Can Dogs Eat Brown Rice?
What Exactly Is Brown Rice?
Brown rice is widely accepted as the healthiest variant of rice there is. Brown rice is nothing but the entire grain of rice. That includes the bran, which is the fibrous husk cover, and the germ layer covering the grain. (The ‘germ layer’ has nothing to do with ‘germs’, it’s only the name for the outermost seed layer).
When brown rice is dehusked, the outer fibrous layer is removed. Then, the process of polishing the outermost layer removes most of the germ layer. This is how natural brown rice is transformed to white rice. But in this ‘beautification’ process, a lot of the nutritional benefits are lost.
Is Brown Rice Good For Dogs?
Yes! Brown rice is an extremely nutritious source of carbohydrates for dogs. Being unrefined, brown rice retains the husk and the germ layer, and is more nutrient-packed as a result.
In addition to providing easily digestible carbohydrates, brown rice also offers the following:
- Extra fibre, from the bran layer. This adds to the total roughage your dog is getting from his food. It adds bulk to the meal, helps your dog have healthier stools and ‘go’ more regularly, and helps keep his intestines in top shape.
Eating a good amount of fibre is also directly linked to increased fat excretion. That is particularly helpful for dogs who need to (or you need to) watch what they’re eating.
- Vitamin B complex, especially Riboflavin, Thiamine, and Vitamin B6. The B complex vitamins are essential for proper growth, development, and repair of nerve cells. They also play essential roles in digestion, production and function of important enzymes, etc.
Some B vitamins like B6 are not only important to keep your dog healthy, but essential for life. Brown rice is a solid source of these B vitamins.
- Vitamin D, which is essential for growth and maintenance of your dog’s bones, teeth, and skeletal tissues. Not to mention, it also helps regulate metabolism.
- Minerals. Brown rice is a superfood source for minerals such as Manganese, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Sodium, and Potassium.
How Much Rice Can A Dog Eat?
Brown rice is a carbohydrate rich source for dogs. A half cup of cooked brown rice contains:
- Fat: 1 gram
- Protein: 6 grams
- Carbohydrates: 23 grams
Clearly, it is a nutrient dense food. This is one of the reasons it can be used generously while feeding large dogs or very active dogs.
Unfortunately, this also means that it should be used sparingly for small dogs, or dogs that are very sedentary. Otherwise it can contribute to making them overweight and sluggish.
So: is rice good for dogs? Dogs rely on both protein and carbohydrates for their nutritional needs. Being omnivorous, they have no problems digesting carbohydrates. But sources like brown rice can be a little too heavy to feed them every day.
If your dog is not exceptionally active or not a working dog, consider feeding him brown rice 2-3 times per week. Or, you can consider feeding smaller divided amounts over the entire day.
For example, for a dog that weighs less than 5 lb, you should be feeding him no more than half a cup of cooked brown rice split between meals. For a medium sized dog between 30-50lb, you can add 1.5-2 cups of rice to his food mix. For large dogs, such as those weighing over 100lb, you can divide 4-5 cups of cooked rice over multiple meals.
You should always increase or decrease the amount of rice depending on your dog’s weight range and level of activity. A large dog who barely moves doesn’t need 5 cups of rice if he’s not going to utilize that much energy.
Not to mention, brown rice is very easy to prepare, whether you have a rice steamer or not. It’s also very versatile, and you can combine it with various protein sources like chicken, turkey, fish, lamb, beef, etc. and added vegetables. It cooks in no time, and your dog will definitely appreciate the variety!
Is White Rice Good For Dogs?
White rice is nothing but extra-refined brown rice, with the outermost layer polished and removed. Herefore, it loses some of the nutrients that brown rice contains.
Generally speaking, white rice is not bad for dogs. It is a good source of carbohydrates, provides adequate amounts of vitamins like the B vitamins, and is easy to digest. In that regard, white rice is good for dogs.
Is Brown Rice Better For Dogs Than White Rice?
Broadly speaking, brown rice is better for dogs than white rice. Brown rice is a whole food, is less processed, and has not undergone unnecessary cosmetic refining that takes its vitamin content away.
Brown rice is also higher in fibre, which helps soothe irritated gut linings in dogs, help restore normal bowel movement cycles, help increase cholesterol excretion, increase the growth of healthy gut bacteria, and does the whole thing while being low in fat and low in sodium.
White rice cannot provide all the same benefits because of its low fibre content. However, this can be advantageous in some cases.
For example, white rice is better for a dog who has diarrhea, because the lower fibre content will not provoke more bowel movement. In this case, plain boiled white rice is the best option for your dog.
Also, while feeding dogs rice it is important to remember that brown rice is not a substitute for protein or fat in their food. It is a carbohydrate source. So if you are feeding your dog rice, he will not need additional carbohydrates.
Can Dogs Be Allergic To Rice?
In rare cases, yes. You might be wondering if brown rice is okay for dogs if you’ve recently started feeding your dogs rice for the first time.
You should suspect that your dog has an allergy to rice if that is new to his diet, and he shows signs like
- Dry, itchy skin
- Flaking on his skin
- Constant upset stomachs
- Whining and signaling abdominal pain
- Excessive licking or chewing feet
- Losing fur or newly dry, dull coat in a previously healthy dog.
If you suspect that your dog does not tolerate rice very well, talk to your vet about other possible causes before switching his diet to a more suitable one.
What Benefits Will Avoiding Grains Have?
Grains like wheat, barley, and corn are heavily used in commercial dog foods as filler material. While dogs can digest these foods, over time, they have consequences.
Grain heavy diets cause intestinal irritation, carbohydrate overload, and repeated GI upsets in dogs. If uncorrected, the constant upsets can lead to issues like chronic IBS, celiac disease, and carcinogenic changes of the GI tract in dogs.
This is especially problematic in dogs that are predisposed to these conditions, or have multiple age related diseases, or other comorbidities.
So if you’re wondering. ‘Can I give my dog brown rice safely?’, the answer is: yes!
Which Dogs Benefit Most From Brown Rice?
Lean dogs that need assistance gaining weight benefit the most from rice. It is a nutritious food that provides a balanced amount of good carbohydrates, and appeals to dogs very well.
At the same time, any dogs in the growing stages, dogs who lead active lifestyles, and dogs that have wheat allergies, sensitive stomachs, cannot tolerate heavily corn-based dog foods etc. all benefit from brown rice in their diets.
And even if your dog is a slow, tiny couch potato, he will still benefit from having brown rice in tinier amounts. After all, it is a superfood for dogs.
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