As long as it is well-cooked and adequately used, rice is a beneficial human food for dogs. Dogs like the rice’s sweet taste and soothing texture.
Grown for over 5000 years, Oryza sativa or rice is among the oldest grains in the world. It is easily available and has a long shelf-life. Plus, rice is inexpensive and very simple to prepare.
These features are the reason rice is a staple food in over half of the world.
Your dog enjoys munching starchy carbs, rice in particular, but you are not sure how to incorporate this food item into its diet. In this article, we will discuss the most common questions regarding dogs and rice.
We will review the benefits and risks of feeding rice to your dog. Finally, we will explain how to prepare the rice so you can maximize its nutritional value.
Introducing new food to your dog’s diet can be a risky and tricky business.
To avoid upsetting the stomach, the rule of the thumb is to start small and gradually work your way up. If there are no digestive issues, you can start increasing the amount and frequency of feeding rice.
What Does Rice Contain?
Rice is a healthy food packed with nutrients.
Basically the carbohydrates group includes starches, sugar, and fiber. Carbohydrates serve as an easily digestible energy source.
In addition to fueling the body, carbohydrates promote adequate digestion and help regulate the blood’s cholesterol levels. Rice is particularly rich in starches and moderately rich in fiber.
Manganese is a trace mineral, vital for several bodily functions. Manganese is responsible for proper carbohydrate metabolism. It also regulates the metabolism of cholesterol and amino acids.
Manganese plays an important role in glucose production and utilization thus regulating blood sugar levels. It is also necessary for adequate bone formation, reduction and management of inflammation processes, and proper blood clotting.
Thiamine or vitamin B1 is a water-soluble vitamin that enables the body to use carbohydrates as an energy source. Thiamine also aids glucose metabolism.
This vitamin promotes a healthy and properly functioning heart, muscles, and nerves. Thiamine deficiency is a serious and life-threatening condition.
Niacin is a water-soluble vitamin from the B-complex. Like most B vitamins, it plays an important role in the metabolism of sugar – it aids the conversion of carbohydrates into glucose. Niacin participates in the fats and protein metabolisms, too.
Niacin promotes a healthy and adequately functioning nervous system. Finally, niacin is important for the proper production of stress and sex-related hormones, thus influencing the blood’s cholesterol levels and circulation.
Selenium is a powerful and essential mineral necessary for the normal function of the thyroid gland. It is also involved in several metabolic processes and the production of DNA.
Plus, selenium protects the body from oxidative damage by fighting free radicals.
Magnesium is an important factor in over 300 enzyme systems responsible for controlling a wide array of bodily functions, such as blood glucose control, muscle and nerve functioning, protein synthesis, and blood pressure regulation.
Magnesium is essential for sugars to break down and production of usable energy.
7. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is vital for proper calcium and phosphorus absorption and utilization.
It is also responsible for keeping the ratio between these two minerals under the control.
Iron is important for red blood cell production and functioning. As part of the hemoglobin molecule, iron is responsible for carrying oxygen around the body. Iron is also necessary for many enzymatic processes.
9. Pantothenic Acid
Pantothenic acid or vitamin B5 is responsible for converting the food into usable energy and making and breaking down fats.
Pantothenic acid helps make steroid hormones, cholesterol, neurotransmitters, and hemoglobin. Finally, pantothenic acid promotes the liver’s elimination of certain toxins and drugs.
Phosphorus is one of the main building blocks for strong and healthy teeth and bones. It also affects the body’s usage of fats and carbohydrates.
Phosphorus is crucial for the production of proteins necessary for growth, maintenance, and tissue repair. Plus, phosphorus helps the muscle contract and ensures adequate nerve functioning.
Riboflavin or vitamin B2 is vital for body growth and maintaining overall health. It participates in fats, carbohydrates, and protein metabolisms and promotes red blood cell production. As with most B vitamins, riboflavin supports nervous health.
12. Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 helps keep the blood sugar levels within the normal range, breaks down proteins, and maintains a normal nerve function. Vitamin B6 is also vital for the production of antibodies and hemoglobin.
Copper is a mineral vital for adequate red blood cell production. Cooper is also responsible for maintaining healthy nerves, blood vessels, and bones.
Additionally, copper supports the immune system’s strength and ensures proper immune responses. Finally, copper is important for normal iron absorption.
Folate is a water-soluble vitamin from the B-complex, vital for making genetic material and DNA. It promotes normal cell growth and tissue reparation.
Folate works together with vitamin C and vitamin B12 to create, use and break down proteins. Finally, folate participates in the production of new red blood cells.
Brown rice is rich in antioxidants, especially lignans and ferulic acid. These antioxidants fight free radicals and have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. They are also beneficial for diabetes prevention.
Benefits For Dogs
There are several benefits of feeding dogs rice. Some of them are:
Rice Fuels The Body
Carbohydrates are the main source of energy and rice is abundantly rich in them. Rice also contains a moderate amount of proteins, which also serve as energy sources.
The minerals and vitamins found in rice work on various levels and help several metabolic processes which indirectly leads to higher energy levels.
Rice Is Suitable For Dogs With Gluten Sensitivities
Rice is the most popular gluten-free grain. Not only rice lacks gluten and cannot inflame even the most sensitive dog stomach, but it also has anti-inflammatory properties.
All in all, rice is a healthy food choice for dogs with gluten sensitivities and allergic reactions.
Rice Promotes Healthy Nervous System
Packed with vitamin from the B-complex, rice is particularly good for maintaining the nerves and neurotransmitters healthy and properly functioning.
What is more, its energetic components fuel the brain and keep it well-nourished and maintained.
Rice Promotes Digestive Health
Rice ensures a healthy functioning digestive system, adequate intestinal motility and production of normal poop.
The high fiber content eliminates the risk of constipation and the high starch content helps dogs with diarrhea to produce more solid stools.
Rice Is A Natural Diuretic
Rice helps eliminate the excess water from the body. This antidiuretic property is beneficial for dogs with high blood pressures. Eliminating the excess water is also good for maintaining a healthy body weight which is useful for dogs trying to lose weight.
Rice Helps Lose Weight
In addition to its diuretic properties, rice helps weight management through its high fiber content.
Namely, the fiber will make the dog feel satiated for long after eating the rice. Plus, rice is low in fats, cholesterol, and sodium which also aids the weight loss.
Rice Promotes Healthy Heart
Rich in antioxidants and equipped with anti-inflammatory properties, rice promotes a healthy heart and keeps the blood vessels free of atherosclerotic plaque accumulations.
Rice Manages The Blood Sugar Levels
Rice is an amazing food choice for dogs with blood sugar issues. This blood sugar regulator acts by lowering the blood sugar levels and keeping them within the normal range.
How Much To Feed?
There is no straightforward, vet-approved guide to how much rice to feed your dog.
It all depends on the rice’s purpose and type. Is it part of the dog’s regular daily menu? Is it used as a part of the bland diet, recovering dogs must eat? Or, is it incorporated in dog treats? And finally, are you using white or brown rice?
Basically, on the canine food pyramid, rice can be categorized as either staple food, main carbohydrate source, or a treat.
If using the rice as a staple food, in a combination with a healthy protein source, it is advisable to talk to a vet or canine nutritionist regarding portion size.
The same advice applies if using the rice to enrich your dog’s regular kibble.
If used as an occasional treat, incorporated in dog-friendly cookies or delicacies, the rice should not account for more than 10% of the dog’s daily caloric intake.
When it comes to feeding dogs rice, there are two potential risks – heavy metals and antinutrients. It should be noted that these risks are not specific to dogs, but generally associated with consuming rice in both animals and humans.
1. Rice From Polluted Areas Can Contain Heavy Metals
Rice grown in certain areas of the world (near industrial zones and mining areas) can be contaminated with some heavy metals such as chromium, cadmium, nickel, arsenic, mead and mercury.
These heavy metals accumulate into the body and eventually may exert their negative impact.
2. Inadequately Produced Rice Main Contain Antinutrients
Rice contains an antioxidant called phytic acid or phytate. The phytic acid is classified as an antinutrient because it impairs the absorption of several essential minerals such as zinc and iron.
Several procedures like soaking, sprouting and fermenting, decrease the levels of phytic acid in the rice.
Preparing The Rice
If preparing rice-containing homemade meals for your dog, the sky is your limit. There are a plethora of healthy, complete, and nutritionally balanced meals with rice for dogs. You can find some amazing recipes, here.
Dogs recovering from certain conditions benefit from a bland diet. Bland diets are defined as soft and highly digestible meals that are low in fats and proteins and rich in carbohydrates.
The goal of the bland diet is to give the digestive system a rest – to make sure the stomach and intestines recover without being burdened by the digestion processes.
The most popular bland diet recipe consists of 25% boiled lean chicken (no skin and no bones, preferably chicken breast) or lean ground beef (preferably sirloin) with 75% boiled, plain rice.
This homemade mix can be kept in the refrigerator for as much as 48 hours. Before use, the meal can be slightly warmed.
When preparing rice for dogs, the accent is put on cooked (boiled) and plain. Boiling is the best preparation method. Fried rice may be tastier but it is full of unnecessary oils that may upset the dog’s digestive system.
By plain, we mean no spices, no seasoning, and no condiments. The dog’s digestive system is not equipped to handle these food enhancers.
Is All Rice The Same?
No, not all rice is the same. Generally speaking, there are two types of rice – white and brown.
The white rice is more processed and has its husk, bran, and germ removed. The brown rice is closer to its natural state and less processed which means it retains its husk, germ, and bran.
Although nutritionally similar, white and brown rice are not the same. Namely, white rice is richer in carbohydrates and higher in calories.
On the other hand, brown rice is richer in proteins and fats. Because of the retained husk and bran, brown rice is richer in fiber and antioxidants. However, the retained bran and husk are not always beneficial – heavy metals tend to accumulate in these structures. Therefore, when compared to white rice, brown rice is also more likely to be contaminated with heavy metals.
Because of the slight differences in the white and brown rice’s nutritional components, each type has its specific use. Namely, white rice is a better alternative for dogs with upset tummies and older dogs incapable of digesting protein-packed foods.
Brown rice, because of its low glycemic index is better suited for dogs with diabetes. It should be noted that brown rice has a coarse texture some dogs may find unappealing.
As already explained, if wondering whether dogs can eat rice, the answer is yes. From the tiny teacup Chihuahua to the gigantically enormous Great Dane, all dogs can enjoy the taste of rice. That is as long as they actually like how rice tastes.
In addition to being a healthy source of easily digestible carbohydrates, rice has several health benefits and it is the foundation of feeding dogs and puppies with digestion issues and dogs recovering from certain conditions.
All in all, as long as it is well-cooked and adequately used, rice is a beneficial human food for dogs.