Is Rice OK for Dogs to Eat? | Pros and Cons of Rice

There are countless contradictory opinions and perspectives on whether dogs should or should not eat rice. After exploring the pros and cons and advice given on the types, amounts, and ways to prepare rice, I hope you will be better able to make an informed decision.

Though unessential to their diet, dogs can eat rice in moderation. The type of rice and how you cook it will influence its value. Rice is often prescribed to help with medical-related upsets, but caution still needs to be taken if dogs are diabetic, have gut issues, are overweight, or are sensitive to gluten.

Dog eating white rice in a green bowl while the other dog is looking and waiting.
Dog eating white rice from a bowl while another dog is looking on

Is it OK for Dogs to Eat Rice?

Rice is healthy for dogs to eat if they do not have any sensitivities or medical conditions aggravated by gluten. Dogs typically enjoy the nutty taste of rice, and there is no harm in providing them with rice as a treat or as part of a balanced diet.

If you pick up a pack of commercial dog food, you may be surprised that a significant number will have rice on their ingredients list.

Rice is a low-cost alternative to traditional grains.

It would be best if you were cautious of dog foods with high rice quantities. It has been advised that rice or carbohydrates should only comprise approximately 10% of a dog’s daily diet. If your dog is more active, you can go up to 20% in carbohydrates.

How Much Rice Is the Right Amount of Rice?

If you are already feeding your dog good quality kibble, there is no need to add additional rice to their diet. Good quality dog foods typically provide the correct daily amounts of calories and nutrients. Adding to this diet could lead to a fat and unhealthy pooch.

If you are keen to treat your dog to some rice, reduce the kibble amount and add a tablespoon or two of rice to their meal. I would not add rice to their meal more than three times a week as a treat.

Serving rice to your dog as its solitary meal is not recommended, as they will not get all the nutrients they require to remain healthy. The rice needs to form part of a varied diet.

Several dog owners prefer to provide their dogs with a homecooked meal rather than commercial dog food. There is no problem doing so, but please visit your vet for advice on the ratio of rice, protein, vegetables, and other ingredients needed to ensure they retain a healthy diet.

What Type of Rice is Best?

There are over 120 000 varieties of rice worldwide, but brown, white, or wild rice are typically the top picks for dogs.

The nutritional value of rice is dependent on how it has been milled. With brown and wild rice, more bran remains after milling, causing the rice to contain greater nutrients than white rice varieties where the bran is removed during milling.

Wild rice is one of the most nutritious types of rice, packed full of antioxidants and fiber. Dogs love the nutty flavor but can suffer stomach upsets due to its high fiber content.

Similarly, brown rice is higher in vitamins and fiber than white rice, but the higher fiber content can also make digestion more challenging.  Dogs’ blood sugar levels don’t spike as much and are better stabilized when eating brown rice.

Three rows of rice varieties; brown, wild , and white rice.
Three rows of rice varieties; brown, wild, and white rice.

Despite the advantages of brown and wild rice, white rice is dogs’ most fed grain. It is the least expensive rice type and is known to cause fewer stomach upsets.

Consider whether your dog is overweight or suffering from diabetes, candida, or GI upsets before choosing the type of rice to feed them. Most veterinarians will be more than happy to advise you.

How Do I Safely Prepare the Rice?

Preparing rice for your dog could not be simpler. Unless otherwise advised by your vet, boil or steam the rice and keep it plain with no seasoning. Avoid frying the rice, which is unhealthy and richer for their tummies.

Always freshly cook rice for your dog; if freezing, freeze the rice immediately after it is made to avoid any bacteria build-up that may be dangerous when ingested.

I would also recommend that you rinse your rice before cooking it. This will not only aid in removing any excess starch but boiling the rice in extra water helps lower any arsenic content.  

Research by the FDA has revealed that if you cook rice similarly to how you would cook pasta, you can reduce 40 – 50% of its inorganic arsenic content.

Finally, if feeding rice to your dog as a complete meal, add vegetables or lean meat to the mix to improve its nutritional value and flavor. Verifying the safety of your homemade rice dish with your veterinarian before regular feeding is also advised.

The Uses and Benefits of Feeding Your Dog Rice

Rice is routinely recommended by veterinarians, predominantly for the treatment of GI upsets.

GI Upsets

White rice is commonly fed to sick dogs to help aid digestion. The rice is low in fiber and can help bind loose stools in the event of a stomach upset.   

White rice is a natural probiotic that feeds good bacteria in your dog’s intestines. This aids with digestion and eases any unwanted imbalances in the intestines.

Energy Boost

A dog that is unwell or recovering from illness may benefit from eating white rice to help temporarily boost its energy levels for a faster recovery.  A veterinarian will usually advise adding a tablespoon or two of rice to their food when dogs are unwell.

Rice Feeding Advice and Cautions

Occasionally feeding rice to dogs can be beneficial. Nevertheless, it is wise to consider your dog’s physical condition and whether they suffer from any health conditions that may be aggravated by the addition of rice to their diet.

Here are some points to consider:

Blood Sugar Levels

White rice is high in fast-acting carbohydrates, which can cause blood sugar levels to rise dramatically and quickly.

If your dog suffers from diabetes, you can still give them the occasional spoonful of white rice, but the rice should not form part of their regular diet. Gobbling down white rice regularly can cause a spike in your dog’s blood glucose levels which can be dangerous to their health and wellbeing.  

Digestion Issues

Provide brown and wild rice to dogs with caution. The high fiber content of the rice can be tricky for their sensitive stomachs to handle and can cause unwanted diarrhea or constipation.

If you decide to add brown or wild rice to your dog’s diet, add it to their diets slowly and in small quantities to help their bodies get used to the increase in fiber. 

Weight Considerations

Consider the number of carbohydrates your dog is getting in their diets before adding additional rice to their diets. Too many carbohydrates in a dog’s diet can lead to undesirable weight gain.

Carbohydrates are essential in a dog’s diet. Nevertheless, if your dog is already overweight or a low-activity dog, you need to adjust the quantity of rice you provide or cut the rice treats out entirely until their weight is back under control.

Allergies

Always start slow when adding rice to your dog’s diet. Additionally, keep an eye on any behavioral changes that may indicate they are not reacting well to the rice add-on.

If you notice your dog is itchy, vomiting after eating, has inflamed paws, dry skin, rashes, or even hot spots, this usually is a good indication of some form of intolerance.

More subtle changes such as hyperactivity, weight loss, aggression, or lack of energy can also present over time and can be harder to pinpoint.  

Although allergic reactions are rare, it is usually safest to contact a local vet if any of these listed symptoms develop following the introduction of rice to their diet. Wheat gluten allergies should be treated promptly to avoid more complicated health issues.

Arsenic Warnings

The FDA, as well as other health organizations, have issued potential warnings about arsenic loads in white rice.

By cooking it correctly, you can lessen the exposure. However, several experts have suggested that when eaten in moderation, any arsenic effects are negligible.

If this concerns you and you have chosen to add rice to your dog’s diet daily, do your homework and choose a good quality white rice from a responsible supplier.  

Related Reading: