Rice is a common ingredient in dog food. It’s normally added to aid digestion, although it can also help to supplement the animal’s requirement of various essential minerals and vitamins.
However, most dog foods tend to contain white rice as opposed to brown rice. Which begs the question, can dogs eat brown rice too?
The answer is a resounding yes. Dogs can eat brown rice as much as they can eat white rice. In fact, brown rice packs more nutrients than white rice, making it the better option between the two rice varieties.
However, brown rice also has its inherent dangers to dogs, ranging from gastrointestinal side effects to choking hazards. That underscores the importance of proceeding with caution while feeding this food to your pooch.
Below is a series of frequently asked questions about brown rice and dogs, along with a detailed explanation for each.
What Is Brown Rice?
Brown rice refers to whole grain rice, with only the inedible outer hull or husk removed. This variety of rice is often contrasted from white rice in that it has its bran and cereal germ layer intact. The presence of the bran and germ layer is what gives brown rice its distinct brown or tan color.
Therefore, both brown rice and white rice come from the same plant. The difference is that white rice is the grain without the husk, bran layer, and germ.
Is Brown Rice The Only Whole Grain Rice?
Although brown rice is the most popular whole grain rice, it’s not the only one. Other common whole grain rice varieties include black or purple rice, red rice, and gold rice.
As you may have noticed, the only difference here is the pigmentation of the outer layer.
Why Is Brown Rice Considered Safe For Dogs?
A common misconception among many pet parents is that dogs are carnivores. However, dogs have evolved over the years to become omnivores. Part of this evolution happened hundreds of years after domestication by man.
As an omnivore, your canine friend can safely consume both animal and plant products.
But unlike humans, a dog’s diet tends to lean more toward meat than greens. So, while your pooch can comfortably eat plant-derived foods like brown rice, he’s probably more at home with animal products.
What Nutrients Does Brown Rice Provide?
A 100-gram serving (3.5 ounces) of brown rice provides the following nutrients;
• Energy – 1,548 kilojoules or 370 kilocalories
• Protein – 7.85 grams
• Carbohydrates – 77.24 grams
Dietary fiber – 3.52 grams
Sugars – 0.85 grams
• Fat – 2.92 grams
• Water – 10.37 grams
• Vitamin B1 (Thiamin) – 0.40 milligrams, representing 35% of the recommended daily intake (RDI)
• Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) – 0.09 milligrams, representing 8% of the RDI
• Vitamin B3 (Niacin) – 5.09 milligrams, representing 34% of the RDI
• Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid) – 1.49 milligrams, representing 30% of the RDI
• Vitamin B6 – 0.50 milligrams, representing 39% of the RDI
• Vitamin B9 (Folate) – 20 micrograms, representing 5% of the RDI
• Calcium – 23 milligrams, representing 2% of the RDI
• Potassium – 223 milligrams, representing 5% of the RDI
• Iron – 1.47 milligrams, representing 11% of the RDI
• Zinc – 2.02 milligrams, representing 21% of the RDI
• Selenium – 23.4 micrograms, representing 33% of the RDI
• Magnesium – 143 milligrams, representing 40% of the RDI
• Phosphorus – 333 milligrams, representing 88% of the RDI
• Manganese – 3.74 milligrams, representing 178% of the RDI
NOTE: The recommended daily intake values are based on human consumption. That said, most of the vitamins and minerals in brown rice could still benefit your dog in various ways.
How Might Your Dog Benefit From Brown Rice?
1. Brown Rice Is a Great Source of Protein
Dogs require more protein in their diets than carbohydrates and fats combined. Much of this protein comes from meat and other animal products. However, you can always supplement your pooch’s intake of animal-based protein using protein-rich plants like brown rice.
Protein acts as the building block for muscles, bones, tissues, and skin. It’s also involved in the synthesis of antibodies, which makes it an important nutrient in boosting your dog’s immunity.
Protein also acts as hormones and enzymes, facilitates the transportation of nutrients, and serves as the energy source during periods of inadequate fat and carbohydrates. Plus, it maintains a healthy acid-base balance in the body.
2. Brown Rice May Aid Digestion
Brown rice is relatively high in dietary fiber, a nutrient noted for its crucial role in aiding digestion.
Dietary fiber falls into two categories, namely soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. Both types of fiber are instrumental in promoting healthy digestion.
Soluble fiber is fermented in your dog’s gut, where it nourishes the animal’s gut microbiome. Keeping these microorganisms nourished is a proactive way of guarding against certain digestive diseases, such as a leaky gut and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
On its part, insoluble fiber adds bulk to your dog’s stool, thereby enhancing bowel movements. This can help fight constipation and an upset stomach.
3. Brown Rice May Promote Hydration
About 10% of brown rice constitutes water. You probably already know that water is involved in all physiological processes in an animal’s body.
Besides, moisture-dense foods may come in handy when dealing with picky drinkers.
Unlike cats, dogs aren’t known to be fussy eaters or drinkers. But certain medical and mental conditions may cause your pooch to lose interest in food, potentially leading to dehydration. It’s during such times that moisture-rich diets can help.
4. Brown Rice May Encourage Weight Loss
The combination of protein, dietary fiber, and water might help encourage weight loss in dogs. And it’s reassuring to know that brown packs a decent amount of all three nutrients.
Foods high in fiber, protein, and water can keep your dog fuller for longer. This helps in curbing appetite and hunger pangs, thereby preventing weight gain triggered by overeating.
5. Brown Rice May Support Your Dog’s Heart
The high amount of dietary fiber in brown rice may reduce the risks of heart disease in dogs.
Besides, brown rice contains other compounds noted for their roles in promoting a healthy heart. They include lignans and magnesium.
Lignans reduce the risks of heart disease by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels while also dilating constricted arteries. On the other hand, magnesium regulates blood sugar levels and heart rate.
6. Brown Rice May Protect Your Dog From Infections
Brown rice is loaded with flavonoids such as flavones and tricin.
Flavonoids act as antioxidants. An increased intake of these compounds can protect your dog against certain chronic illnesses.
Flavonoids are particularly effective against inflammatory diseases like cancer and arthritis.
The following are additional potential benefits of brown rice for dogs, depending on the other minerals and vitamins abundant in the food;
• Vitamin B1 – May support your dog’s nervous system and vital organs
• Vitamin B3 – May improve your dog’s coat while also minimizing the risks of heart disease and type 2 diabetes
• Vitamin B5 – May support your dog’s mental and psychological health
• Vitamin B6 – Plays a role in energy synthesis while also maintaining the vital organs
• Zinc – Aids metabolism and nerve functions
• Selenium – Acts as an antioxidant
• Phosphorus – Is useful in the formation of bones and teeth
• Manganese – Plays a role in the formation of blood clotting factors, connective tissues, and sex hormones
Are There Risks Of Feeding Brown Rice To Dogs?
Brown rice may be more nutritious than white rice. But it’s also tougher, hence harder to digest. Therefore, brown rice can present choking risks if fed to dogs in excess.
Brown rice may also present significant risks of unhealthy weight gain. That’s due to its abundance in carbohydrates. Note that carbohydrates constitute more than ¾ of brown rice. Unfortunately, dogs only require minimal amounts of carbs in their diets. Excess consumption of high-carb foods like brown rice can mess up your dog’s blood sugar and cholesterol levels. This might increase the risks of lifestyle diseases like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
Last but not least, brown rice may trigger allergic reactions in some dogs. That’s especially true for dogs consuming an excess amount of this food for the first time.
Brown rice is chockfull of nutrients that dogs can benefit from. These range from dietary fiber and protein to all B vitamins, manganese, and magnesium, to mention but a few.
However, there are precautions to take when feeding brown rice to your pooch.
First, be sure to cook brown rice before serving it to your dog. This helps minimize choking risks.
Also, only feed brown rice to your dog as an occasional treat. Never should the food replace your pooch’s regular diet.
And if you notice any adverse effects, stop feeding brown rice to your dog and contact your vet immediately.