The short answer about whether dogs can—or should—eat rice is yes, but with a few caveats. If you look at the ingredients in many commercial dog foods, you’ll often find rice or rice flour as a carbohydrate source. It’s also a major component of prescription diets, especially for pets with digestive issues or allergies.
Benefits of Rice
Your veterinarian may suggest giving your pooch rice if he’s had a bout with GI distress. It’s essential that it is bland and prepared with water and nothing else. The food is easily digestible and won’t upset your dog’s sensitive system. It’s an excellent way to transition him back to solid food after withholding it while he recovers.
However, you must use white rice instead of brown. That may seem counterintuitive from a nutritional perspective. After all, brown rice has complex carbohydrates and more vitamins and minerals because it has minimal processing. Unfortunately, that’s the problem if you’re giving it to help settle your pup’s stomach.
Think of what you want to eat or drink after getting sick. Foods like bland rice and chicken broth are going to sound good and go down a lot better than a greasy hamburger. It’s the same with your pet.
Nutritional Value of Rice
The main component of white rice is its carb content at 90 percent per 1 cup serving. Proteins come in at 8 percent. It does have a decent lineup of essential amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. These are the ones that your dog’s diet must supply because his body can’t produce. It’s the same case with people.
White rice also has a fair amount of other vital nutrients. Overall, it’s not the worst food you can give your dog while he’s recovering. However, we must also address another critical caveat about it that may turn the table on whether it’s okay to give to your pet.
Glycemic Index and Blood Sugar Response
Glucose or blood sugar is an easily digestible form of energy for all organisms. The pancreas, with its release of insulin, regulates the amount in the bloodstream. This organ responds to the amount of sugar entering the digestive system. Of course, not all foods generate the same reaction. Think of how you feel after a steak dinner. The first thing you probably want to do is veg on the couch.
Your dog shares your feelings.
Other foods release their glucose quickly because they’re easily digested. That’s great if you need a quick pick-me-up, but not so much if you’re a diabetic dog. The way this process of glucose release is measured is through a food or beverage’s glycemic index. The glycemic index of table sugar is the baseline at 100. Consequently, the higher the figure is, the fastest it gets into the bloodstream.
White rice is relatively high at 73, plus or minus 4.
That can spell trouble for a pet with diabetes. That’s why it’s imperative to contact your vet before you give your dog white rice or any other foods with a high glycemic index. Following a particular diet allows him to prescribe the correct dose of your pup’s medication. An abrupt change can severely impact your dog’s blood sugar level.
What Else Do You Need to Know About Giving Your Pooch White Rice?
As we mentioned earlier, it’s best to prepare it bland. Sudden changes in your pup’s diet can upset his stomach and lead to GI distress. We suggest following the general rule of thumb of introducing only small portions of anything new. Your dog will also have an easier time handling it if you rinse the rice until the water is clear. That will remove the excess starch that could also trigger a reaction.
The other thing you must understand is that white rice is not a complete protein. It doesn’t supply all the essential amino acids your pup needs. That’s why it’s an ingredient in foods and not a replacement for a commercial diet.
The question of whether you can feed your dog rice comes with some conditions. White rice is preferably as long as your dog doesn’t have diabetes. The effects on his blood sugar make it a risky practice. If in doubt, ask your veterinarian for advice. For occasional GI distress, it is usually an excellent way to weather the storm.
Featured image credit: ImageParty, Pixabay