Can Dogs Eat Rye (Rye Bread, Seeds, etc.)

Rye in Dog Food

If you’re unsure about the safety of feeding your dog rye bread with seeds, rye seed, or sourdough rye bread, this comprehensive grain guide will provide you with all the necessary information. I have specifically focused on rye as an ingredient in dog food, and hope it will empower you to make the right choice in feeding your dog rye.

This guide is a part of our series on dog grain diets. We have already discussed various grain ingredients including white and brown rice, wheat, corn, barley, and oats. While all these grains are good sources of carbohydrates, not all may be suitable for your dog. Let’s delve into the details of rye.

What is rye in dog food?

Rye, a cereal grain closely related to wheat and barley, serves a variety of purposes. It is utilized for flour, bread, beer, crispbread, certain whiskeys, some vodkas, and even as animal fodder.

From the image below, you can see that it is very similar to grass and is referred to as a grain cover crop.

image of rye plant
Image of rye plant

Below is an image of rye grain seeds:

Image of rye grain seeds
Image of rye grain seeds available on Amazon here.

Can my dog eat rye?

When it comes to feeding your dog, it’s important to keep in mind that rye, including rye bread, should only be given occasionally as a treat and in small amounts. This is because rye’s nutritional composition is quite similar to that of wheat. If your dog has wheat allergies or a gluten-sensitive stomach, it’s best to avoid feeding them rye altogether.

Furthermore, it’s worth noting that rye has a relatively high sugar content, sodium content, and saturated fat compared to other grains such as rice. High sugar levels can lead to weight gain and other health issues in dogs, while high sodium levels can be harmful to their kidneys. Similarly, high levels of saturated fat can contribute to obesity and heart disease in dogs.

However, compared to wheat, rye possesses lower gluten levels and higher fiber content, making it a preferable choice for dogs with sensitive stomachs. Additionally, it serves as an excellent carbohydrate for regulating blood sugar levels due to its low glycemic index, promoting better heart and digestive health. It is also rich in Vitamin B which supports a healthy immune system, nervous system, and blood cell formation.

Although there are advantages to feeding rye instead of wheat, it’s crucial to recognize that every dog is unique, and their dietary requirements may differ. Even though rye has lower gluten levels compared to wheat, they are still higher than the gluten-free option of rice. All forms of rice – white, brown, or wild are gluten-free. If your dog has a sensitive stomach, it’s recommended to stick to rice or explore other suitable alternatives. Here is a list of dog foods with white rice and another with dog foods with brown rice you can consider as an alternative to rye-based dog food diets.

Can I feed my dog sourdough rye bread?

Sourdough rye bread, also known as “sourbread,” is a type of bread made from natural fermentation. This bread usually contains no added yeast, but instead utilizes wild yeasts and bacteria to create its unique flavor and texture. The process of fermentation allows the sourdough rye bread to develop probiotics, which can have some benefits for your dog’s digestive system but some studies suggest that the common methods of making sourdough rye bread is destroyed by heat during the baking process.

To err on the side of caution, it is important to note that some dogs may have trouble digesting sourdough bread due to its high acidity levels. If your dog has a sensitive stomach, it’s best to avoid giving them sourdough rye bread or any other acidic foods.

Rye seeds: a possible choking hazard to small-breed dogs:

While rye is considered safe for dogs to eat in small amounts occasionally, it’s important to be cautious when feeding them rye seeds. Rye seeds are small and round, making them a potential choking hazard for dogs, especially small breeds. Similar to rye bread or rye flour, rye seeds have high levels of sodium, sugar, and saturated fat that make it unsafe for your dog to eat in large amounts. In addition, dogs with allergic reactions to gluten or with stomach sensitivities may cause stomach issues if you feed rye seeds.

If you do choose to incorporate rye seeds into your dog’s diet, make sure they are ground or crushed to prevent any potential choking incidents.

In addition, rye seeds contain phytates, which can inhibit the absorption of certain nutrients in dogs. This is why it’s important to limit the amount of rye seeds in your dog’s diet and ensure they are properly processed before being consumed.

Nutritional benefits of rye to dogs:

Rye is a great source of nutrients for dogs. It contains high levels of fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals such as iron, magnesium, and phosphorus. These nutrients are important for maintaining your dog’s overall health and well-being.

When compared to rice, rye is richer in Manganese, Fiber, Phosphorus, Copper, Magnesium, Vitamin B5, Zinc, Vitamin B2, Iron, and Vitamin B3. Manganese is beneficial for promoting healthy bone growth and development, while fiber helps with digestion and maintaining a healthy weight. Phosphorus is essential for maintaining strong bones and teeth, and copper plays a vital role in producing red blood cells.

Rye is also a good source of B vitamins, which are important for energy production, cell metabolism, and nervous system function. This makes rye an ideal ingredient for active and energetic dogs.

In addition to being a good source of nutrition, rye also has anti-inflammatory properties which can be beneficial for dogs with joint pain or inflammation. It can also help regulate blood sugar levels and promote digestive health in dogs.

Check out this post on commercial dog food diets with rye ingredients.

How to incorporate rye into your dog’s diet:

There are several ways you can incorporate rye into your dog’s diet. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Add cooked, ground, or crushed rye grains to your dog’s regular meals as a source of fiber and nutrients.
  • If your dog has gluten sensitivities, you can try using rye flour instead of wheat flour in homemade dog treats or avoid any food diets with rye and wheat.
  • If you still want to feed your dog rye, use rye flour as an alternative to wheat flour when making homemade dog treats.
  • It is recommended to feed your dog small amounts of rye occasionally, as it provides minimal nutritional benefits. Some dogs may be allergic to rye, and the potential negative health impacts may outweigh its benefits.

Which dogs should avoid rye?

  • Dogs with kidney problems: Because rye is high in phosphorus, it may not be suitable for dogs with kidney problems or other conditions that require a low-phosphorus diet.
  • Dogs with gluten allergies or celiac disease: Dogs who are sensitive to gluten or have celiac disease should avoid rye and opt for grain-free diets instead.
  • Rye is high on Magnesium and should be avoided for dogs with allergies to it.

Things to consider:

While rye is generally safe for dogs to consume, it’s important to keep a few things in mind: in small amounts to avoid digestive upset.

  • Make sure your dog is not allergic to rye before incorporating it into their diet.
  • Avoid giving your dog rye bread or other baked goods containing rye as they may contain ingredients that are harmful to dogs such as raisins, chocolate, or xylitol. Stick to using plain, unprocessed rye grains or flour.
  • Always consult with your veterinarian before making any significant changes to your dog’s diet, especially if they have existing health conditions or allergies.



Rye is a nutritious and safe ingredient for dogs when consumed in moderation. It can provide them with essential nutrients, help improve digestion, and serve as an alternative grain for dogs with allergies. However, it’s important to be cautious when feeding them rye seeds and always consult with a veterinarian before making any changes to their diet. With proper research and guidance, you can safely incorporate rye into your dog’s meals and ensure they have a balanced and healthy diet. So, if you are considering adding rye to your dog’s diet, make sure to weigh the potential benefits and risks and consult with a professional to determine if it is the right choice for your furry friend.