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Rice in Dog Food

Overview of rice as a dog food ingredient in commercial food

If you are considering grain-based ingredients for your dog following the FDA’s investigation that linked grain-free dog diets with the occurrence of dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), then rice may be a good ingredient to consider. While many dog owners are hesitant about feeding their dogs grains, it is important to understand the nutritional value of ingredients like rice before making a decision.

Rice is a staple food for millions of people around the world and has been consumed for thousands of years. It is a type of grain that comes from the grass species Oryza sativa or Oryza glaberrima. There are several varieties of rice, including white, brown, basmati, jasmine, and wild rice.

White and brown rice are the two most common varieties with similar nutritional composition. They are primarily composed of carbohydrates and also provide some protein while being low in fat and sugar. When cooked, rice absorbs a significant amount of water, constituting nearly 70% of its total weight.

Rice Nutrition:

Here is the nutritional composition of rice per 100 grams:

  • Carbohydrates: 79.2 grams
  • Water: 13.3 grams
  • Protein: 6.5 grams
  • Total Lipid/Fat: 0.52 grams
  • Ash: 0.54 grams
  • Energy: 358 kcal
  • Carbohydrate factor:4.16
  • Protein factor:8.37
  • Fat factor:3.82

Carbohydrates:

According to the USDA Nutrition Database, rice is primarily composed of carbohydrate, which makes up 79.2% of its total dry weight. With a carbohydrate factor of 4.16, rice provides a significant source of energy for dogs. Most of the carbohydrate in rice is starch. Starch is the most common form of carbohydrate in foods. Starch is made up of long chains of glucose called amylose and amylopectin.

Protein:

Rice also contains protein, with an average of 6.5 grams per 100 grams serving. While this may seem low compared to other sources of protein, rice is considered a complete protein as it contains all essential amino acids. However, the quality and quantity of protein in rice can vary depending on the variety and processing method.

Fat:

Rice is relatively low in fat, with only 0.52 grams per 100 grams serving. This makes it a suitable option for dogs that may be prone to weight gain or have specific dietary needs. However, it is important to note that rice does not provide essential fatty acids, which are necessary for dogs’ overall health and well-being.

Fiber:

According to the USDA Nutrition Database, Brown rice contains a higher amount of dietary fiber than white rice, about  1.6 g per 100 g. This is because white rice loses the bran, or seed coat, which contains most of the fiber during processing. The bran primarily consists of insoluble fibers, such as hemicellulose, while containing minimal amounts of soluble fiber. Both white and brown rice contain resistant starch, which plays a vital role in promoting gut health. It increases the production of butyrate in the intestines, which in turn helps reduce inflammation, enhance gut barrier function, and lower the risk of colon cancer. Read more about fiber as a dog food ingredient here.

Other Nutrients:

In addition to carbohydrates, protein, and fat, rice also contains other beneficial nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. These include:

  • Thiamine (B1)
  • Niacin (B3)
  • Vitamin B6
  • Folate (B9)
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium

Is rice good for dogs?

Rice is a highly digestible dog food ingredient and is considered non-toxic and is safe for dogs to eat when cooked. It is also a great source of energy and can be beneficial for dogs that are active or require extra calories. Rice is often recommended as part of a bland diet for dogs with upset stomachs, as it is easy to digest and can help soothe gastrointestinal discomfort.

However, rice should not be the sole source of nutrition for dogs, as it lacks essential amino acids and fatty acids that are necessary for a balanced diet. It is important to consult with a veterinarian or do research on proper canine nutrition before making any significant changes to your dog’s diet.

Benefits of Rice in Dog Food:

  1. Easily Digestible: As mentioned earlier, dogs can easily digest cooked rice compared to other grains.
  2. Provides Energy: Rice is a good source of carbohydrates and provides energy for your dog’s daily activities.
  3. Fiber: Rice contains soluble and resistant starch, which can improve gut health and reduce the risk of colon cancer in dogs.
  4. Gluten-Free Option: For dogs with gluten sensitivities or allergies, rice can be a safe and nutritious alternative to wheat-based grains.
  5. Helps with Digestive Issues: Due to its gentle nature on the digestive system, cooked rice is often recommended for dogs with diarrhea or other GI issues.

Types of Rice Used in Dog Food:

  1. White Rice: The most commonly used type of rice in dog food, it is highly digestible and provides quick energy to dogs.
  2. Brown Rice: This whole grain option contains more nutrients than white rice but may be harder for some dogs to digest.
  3. Wild Rice: A healthier and more nutrient-dense option, wild rice is a good source of protein and fiber for dogs.
  4. Rice Bran: The outer layer of the rice grain, it is rich in vitamins and minerals and often used as a supplement in dog food.

Can Dogs eat brown rice?

Brown rice is a safe option for dogs to consume. It boasts a lower glycemic index compared to white rice and is rich in fiber. A low glycemic index is beneficial for dogs with diabetes or obesity as it helps regulate blood sugar levels. However, some dogs may have trouble digesting brown rice due to its higher fiber content, and is therefore not recommended for dogs with diarrhea. It is always best to consult with a veterinarian before making any major changes to your dog’s diet.

How about Jasmine rice?

Jasmine and Basmati rice which are classified as long-grain white rice are safe for dogs and are preferable to brown rice as they contain less fiber and are more easily digestible. However, it is important to note that Jasmine rice should only be fed in moderation as overconsumption can lead to weight gain.

Can I feed my dog rice cake?

Rice cakes are not recommended for dogs as they often contain added flavors and seasonings that may be harmful to them. Additionally, rice cakes are typically low in nutrients and do not provide any significant health benefits for dogs. It is best to stick with plain cooked rice as a source of carbohydrates for your dog’s diet. If you want to feed your dog a rice cake, consider doing so only occasionally and feed them those with low calories without added salt, spices, or artificial flavors. Read this guide for more details about feeding your dog rice cake.

How about feeding my dog Rice Krispies?

Similarly, make sure you feed your dog Rice Krispies in moderate amounts and occasionally as they are formulated for humans and may not be as easy to digest for dogs. Rice Krispies are known to have high sugar levels that can cause your dog to have stomach upset and vomiting. Homemade rice krispies treats may be better than processed rice krispies as they can be made with healthier ingredients and less sugar.

Ancient rice vs modern rice for dogs

Ancient grains such as quinoa, amaranth, and brown rice have gained popularity in recent years due to their higher nutritional content compared to modern grains.

In a study conducted in 2021 entitled “Ancient grains as novel dietary carbohydrate sources in canine diets,” researchers conducted experiments using ten adult female Beagles. These dogs were fed one of five different dog food formulations, which included either up to 40% rice or one of four ancient grains: amaranth, white proso millet, quinoa, or oat groats. The dogs followed their assigned diets for 10 days, after which the scientists analyzed their feces and urine for an additional four days. Blood samples were then taken on the following day for further analysis.

The study’s findings revealed that when used as the primary carbohydrate source in extruded adult dog foods, ancient grains are well-received and suitable for adult dogs. Even at inclusion levels as high as 40%, there were no adverse effects on stool quality or macronutrient digestibility. The researchers concluded that the dietary inclusion of amaranth and oat groats specifically helps shift fermentative end products, indicating a beneficial butyrogenic effect. Butyrogenic is the process of producing butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid that has anti-inflammatory properties and provides energy for colon cells.

Compared to modern rice, ancient grains have lower glycemic indices, or GI. The glycemic index is a measure of how quickly carbohydrates in food are broken down into glucose and absorbed into the bloodstream. A low-GI diet can help regulate blood sugar levels, which can be beneficial for diabetic dogs. Rice has a higher GI compared to ancient grains, meaning it will quickly raise blood sugar levels after consumption. However, this does not necessarily mean that rice is unsuitable for dogs with diabetes. If used in moderation and alongside other low-GI ingredients, such as proteins and fibers, rice can still provide necessary nutrients without causing significant spikes in blood sugar levels.

Aside from their low GI, ancient grains also offer a range of other nutrients that make them a good ingredient in dog food. Amaranth is high in protein and contains essential amino acids, making it a valuable addition to vegetarian or vegan dog diets. It is also rich in antioxidants and minerals such as iron, calcium, and magnesium. Oat groats are a good source of fiber, helping with digestion and weight management in dogs. They also contain vitamins B1 and B5, which are important for energy metabolism, and vitamin E, an antioxidant that promotes healthy skin and coat.

Overall, incorporating ancient grains such as amaranth and oat groats into a dog’s diet can provide numerous benefits. These include lower glycemic index, improved blood sugar regulation, higher protein and fiber content, and essential vitamins and minerals. However, it is important to introduce these grains into a dog’s diet gradually and in moderation to avoid any potential adverse reactions or digestive issues. As with any dietary changes for your dog, it is always best to consult with a veterinarian before making significant adjustments to their diet. They can help determine the best ingredients and portions for your dog’s individual needs and health requirements.

Rice vs Brewers Rice:

Another commonly used ingredient in dog food is brewers rice. This type of rice is a byproduct of the beer brewing process and is often seen as a lower-quality option compared to regular rice. Brewers rice lacks many of the nutrients found in whole grain rice and may contain higher levels of sugar. Therefore, while it may still provide some benefits to dogs with diabetes, it is generally not considered as nutritious of an option compared to whole grain rice. It is important to carefully read the ingredients list on dog food labels and opt for whole grain rice over brewer rice whenever possible.

Read more about Brewers rice as a dog food ingredient here.

Which dogs should eat brown rice?

Brown rice is safe for most dogs to eat, but it may be particularly beneficial for dogs with certain health conditions.

  • Dogs with Diabetes: Brown rice can be a good option for dogs with diabetes as it has a lower glycemic index and can help regulate blood sugar levels.
  • Dogs with digestive issues: It can also be helpful for dogs with digestive issues or food allergies, as it is easier to digest and less likely to cause adverse reactions compared to other grains.
  • Senior dogs: Brown rice is a good source of energy for older dogs, as it provides complex carbohydrates that are slower to digest and can provide sustained energy throughout the day.
  • Here is a list of 50+ dog food diets with brown rice:

Which dogs should eat white rice:

White rice can also be a safe option for most dogs, but it may be more suitable for some dogs compared to others.

  • Dogs with upset stomachs: White rice is often recommended by vets as part of the “bland diet” for dogs with gastrointestinal issues, as it is gentle on the digestive system and easy to digest.
  • Dogs with kidney or liver disease: White rice is low in protein and can be a good option for dogs with kidney or liver disease who require a low-protein diet.
  • Puppies: Since puppies have small stomachs and may have trouble digesting complex carbohydrates, white rice can be a good option for them to get the necessary energy and nutrients.

Here are 10+ dog food brands with white rice.

How to safely feed your dog rice:

If your dog is experiencing gastrointestinal issues, your veterinarian may recommend a bland diet with white rice as a key ingredient. If you choose to cook the rice at home, it is best to prepare it plain without any common additives like butter, as they can be harmful to your dog’s health. However, you can add a small amount of boiled boneless, skinless chicken or turkey to the rice. When feeding your dog rice to aid with ongoing digestive problems, it is important to use a 2:1 rice-to-protein ratio, as the rice helps to bind your dog’s stool in cases of diarrhea.

The binding properties of white rice can also be beneficial when transitioning your dog to a new food. Mixing in some cooked, plain white rice with the new food can help ease any digestive upset that may occur during the transition period.

How much rice to feed my dog?

The amount of rice you should feed your dog will depend on their size and specific dietary needs. It is important to consult with your veterinarian before making any significant changes to your dog’s diet.

In general and as per PetMd’s recommendation, for an adult extra-large dog weighing 91+ pounds, it is recommended to serve approximately 1/2 cup of cooked white rice. For a large dog weighing between 51 and 90 pounds, a portion size of around 1/3 cup is suitable. A medium-sized dog weighing between 31 and 50 pounds can be given approximately 1/4 cup of cooked white rice. For a small dog weighing between 21 and 30 pounds, a portion size of 2-3 teaspoons is sufficient. For an extra-small dog weighing between 2 and 20 pounds, a portion size of 1-2 teaspoons is recommended. These serving sizes can be adjusted based on the specific needs and dietary requirements of your furry friend.

You should feed your dog the appropriate amount of rice based on their size and needs, being careful not to overfeed them. Rice should only be given as a supplement to their regular food, not as a full meal replacement.