While dogs are most famously meat eaters, in truth they lean far towards being omnivores than we often give them credit for.
This is why your pooch is always more than happy to have an optimistic sniff at whatever you’re eating, to see if he or she wants it themselves.
And with grains like rice being such a staple in our diet, what about our pets? Can dogs eat rice? Indeed they can – in fact, your dog might well already be doing so! Let’s find out more.
Is rice good for dogs?
Eaten in moderation, rice is indeed good for canines and their diets – providing it’s served up in a properly prepared way.
Dogs shouldn’t eat raw rice any more than people do, but the differences between dogs eating brown rice and dogs eating white rice are not that pronounced.
In short, both kinds of this healthy grain are more than welcome in your dog’s diet.
As we have already hinted at, rice is often already part and parcel of a dog’s diet, sometimes without the knowledge of even the most conscientious dog owner.
That’s because rice, much like corn, is a staple grain that is often used to bulk out and round up the nutritional value of dog food.
However, if you’re thinking about adding rice to your dog’s diet, keep in mind that your pup is unlikely to want it to the same degree as we human beings.
Whereas we might treat rice as the core component of a given meal, adding flavours and sauces and meats to it and enjoying it that way, rice is more a supplement to be added sparingly to an existing balanced meal for your pet.
In keeping with this, it’s also worth bearing in mind that just plain boiled rice is often the best way to feed your dog this nutrition.
While the idea of eating plain rice seems quite bland and unappealing to use, smartly mixing it in with your dog’s food lets the flavours dance together nicely.
Not only this, but dogs just don’t mind those kinds of bland flavours – although of course, every dog is an individual, and we have all met a pooch who’s a fussy eater.
Nevertheless, try to avoid rice with added sauces, salts and flavours. These add extra sugar and salt to your dog’s diet that can add to the potential for weight gain longer term, and pretty much override the nutritional benefits your pet would otherwise gain from rice.
Also watch closely for any prepackaged rice, and read those ingredient lists on the back of packets carefully.
Even a hint of onion or garlic in these ready-made meals can cause serious harm – both onions and garlic are incredibly toxic to dogs, and need to be avoided at all costs.
If in doubt, stick with the rice that is sold in no-frills packages, free from flavouring and preservatives.
Health benefits of rice for dogs
Leading brand names in pet food aren’t just throwing rice into their specially formulated dog food for no reason.
Dogs can eat rice because it’s not only more easy to digest than a number of carbohydrates, but also because it has some good nutritional value.
That ease of digestion is especially important, too. Dogs have evolved to have highly different ways of digesting their food than human beings.
While they can process and gain nutrition from a lot of things that people find difficult, the reverse is also true – a lot of what experts call ‘people food’ is remarkably difficult for dogs to digest.
Yet luckily, it’d take a lot of rice to cause an upset stomach in a dog, whereas other carbohydrates bring those unfortunate aches and pains to your dog’s abdomen much more rapidly.
In terms of the benefits of dogs eating rice, it essentially comes down to goodies like Vitamin B and plenty of minerals to help add to their strength, robust long-lasting energy and overall health.
Some boosted immunity is sure to come from this too, and rice is also something of a good home remedy for those dogs with an upset stomach.
Indeed, mixed in with some nicely cooked chicken and served to your dog, it can balance out their digestive system and overcome any aches and pains they might be suffering for having eaten something else.
Similarly though, rice eaten to excess can cause just those kinds of tummy upsets too – but more so if it’s a rice-derived product.
That means that while a dog can capably eat rice pudding or rice cakes, and will certainly likely enjoy doing so, those kinds of things have added sugars and syrups that are far too fatty and difficult to digest compared to just some smartly cooked rice.
How much rice can a dog eat daily?
While rice is good for dogs, it’s not the sort of thing that canines ought to have as the focal point of their dinner.
For instance, while we human beings can enjoy a rich curry or a chilli con carne and have the rice really round out the meal – the more the better – that just isn’t how dogs gain nutrition from it.
Even the largest breeds of dog need far less than we human beings to have rice be beneficial to them.
In fact, big dogs would need only the equivalent of a quarter of a cup of rice per day to have all the benefits without any drawbacks – and smaller dogs, or puppies, would need no more than a tablespoon of it.
It’s best these portions of rice are mixed into your dog’s existing meals, as this allows them to eat it easily and enjoy it in combination with the flavours of their favourite meats or biscuits.
The calories in rice are much higher to dogs than they are to humans, so overdoing it will mean that your dog might gain weight surprisingly quickly from adding it to their daily diet.
If in doubt, use it sparingly – and certainly introduce any new component to your dog’s daily diet slowly but surely, little by little.
When preparing rice for your dog, feel free to just cook or boil it plain – added butter, sauces and the like only make it fattier and reduce the nutritional value of it.
And if you’re wondering what kind of rice is best for dogs, there’s no hard and fast answer – but brown rice tends to have more in the way of fibre to offer your pet.
If you’re trying to up the fibre intake of your pet, brown rice is an excellent solution, and perfectly safe.
What to do if your dog eats rice
Even the most loyal pooches have a talent for mischief, and that’s especially true if your dog wants to eat some rice without your say so.
It’s very unlikely your dog would try to eat any raw rice, as it’s quite unappealing – but if they do, have some water close at hand and be prepared for them to cough it back up, as uncooked, rice really has little to offer them beside being a nuisance in the tummy.
However, if you have, for example, instead caught your dog eating a rice dinner with other ingredients, sauces, meats and the like that someone has dropped, you might feel a sense of panic.
There’s no need for any alarm though, unless the spilled meal happens to be high in onion or garlic content.
These are very toxic to dogs, and if your pooch begins showing severe lethargy and whining, consider contacting your vet straight away.
However, in terms of your dog simply eating a rice meal more fit for human consumption, or eating more than their fair share of plain boiled rice by perhaps convincing someone to give them a touch too much, you have little to fear.
The effects of sauces and syrups on the likes of rice dishes or rice pudding will only really give weight gain to dogs if they consume it long term, so a one-off is more a disciplinary concern than a health issue.
However, if your dog is somehow helping him or herself to more rice daily than you know is good for them, definitely intervene.
Not only are you preventing the calories from racking up over the long haul of your dog’s life – you’re also making sure that he or she isn’t going to suffer the more immediate discomfort of a stomach ache and a risk of vomiting.
Dogs can eat rice, providing it’s served up as plain as possible, and in moderation.
There are no toxins in this grain that can harm your dog, and the only major difference between white rice and brown rice for dogs is that the latter has a higher amount of fibre.
Keep this in mind when serving your dog rice, best done as mixed in with their regular meals.
Try to avoid flavours, preservatives and additives that do more harm than good to your pet’s long term health, and you’ll find your pooch is a lot more energised and healthy from welcoming rice into their dinnertimes.