Can Dogs Eat Brown Rice Safely?

Can dogs eat Wild Rice Safely?

If you care about the nutritional value of the food you provide for your canine companion, you likely study the ingredient list on the kibble or canned food. Have you noticed how many commercial dog food recipes include brown rice? At the same time, dog owners are told to avoid grains, and that dogs are carnivores that need nothing but meat! That begs the question: Can dogs eat brown rice safely?

In this article, we’ll look at the nutrients in brown rice, and the health benefits it offers. We’ll compare brown rice with other grains and discuss when and why you should avoid feeding your furry friend brown rice. We’ll explore the ways you can work brown rice into your dog’s diet, and how much of it is enough.

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Are Dogs Carnivores?

Firstly, let’s get this matter out of the way. Dogs might have been descendants of wolves and carnivores centuries ago before they were domesticated, but humans are descendants of cave dwellers and look how we have evolved. Similarly, dogs have evolved into omnivores. Omnivores are animals that have the ability to eat and survive on both animal and plant matter. They obtain nutrients and energy from animal and plant matter, digest carbohydrates, protein, fat, and fiber, and metabolize the nutrients and energy of the sources absorbed.

What is the Difference Between Brown and White Rice?

So, is rice good for dogs? All rice consists primarily of carbohydrates, along with small amounts of protein and almost no fat. However, brown rice is a whole grain. That means each kernel contains all parts of the grain — the fibrous bran, the nutritious germ, and the carb-rich endosperm. It is chewy and takes longer than white rice to cook due to its tough bran exterior. Brown rice has fewer calories than white rice because brown rice contains more nutrients such as vitamins, minerals,

Contrastingly, white rice has had the bran and germ removed. Because these are the most nutritious parts of the grain, white rice is left with significantly fewer nutrients. However, it is softer and cooks quicker.

Is Brown Rice a Superfood?

If you wondered whether brown rice deserves to be called a Superfood, and a place in your dog’s diet, here’s why. The following are some benefits of brown rice:

1. Antioxidants: The bran of brown rice contains many powerful antioxidants, that help neutralize harmful free radical compounds, reduce inflammation in the dog’s body, and help prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

2. Fiber: Brown rice is one of the best sources of fiber, which can help regulate your canine companion’s bowel movements and cholesterol levels.

3. Amino Acids: Brown rice lacks only one essential amino acid, threonine, making it one of the highest quality sources of plant-based proteins you can include in your doggy dude’s diet.

4. B Vitamins:

  • Vitamin B1, Thiamine, and B2, Riboflavin, help your dog break down carbs, sugars, and fats, and transform them into fuel and energy for his body
  • Vitamin B3, Niacin, plays a major role in metabolic function as it helps communication between different areas of your dog’s body to ensure everything is working in harmony.

5. Vitamin D: Essential for a dog’s strong teeth, bones, and muscles, and also its heart health.

Essential Minerals: Brown rice contains all the beneficial minerals listed below.

  • Magnesium helps control a dog’s blood sugar levels.
  • Phosphorus and iron help with your pooch’s metabolism functions.
  • Manganese plays a role in the health and maintenance of bone and cartilage in dogs’ joints and the manufacture of fatty acids.
  • Zinc benefits the dog’s immune system and thyroid function.
  • Selenium is essential for the canine body’s antioxidant function, thyroid metabolism, synthesis of DNA, and reproduction.
  • Potassium is vital to your dog’s health to aid in functioning electrical charges in the heart, nerves, and muscles.
  • Calcium is an important part of your dog’s diet and contributes to their growth, healthy bone and teeth maintenance, proper muscle building and function, a strong heart, and a healthy nervous system.

Having the right balance of these nutrients in your dog’s health plan is crucial.

When is White Rice a Better Option for your Dog?

White rice is not as nutritionally dense as brown rice, due to the refining process it went through. White rice has more starch but less fiber. Your vet might have advised you to feed your precious pooch a bland diet consisting of boiled white rice and lean meat to get over an upset tummy. That is because your pup can digest refined cooked rice much easier than the unrefined brown kernels with nutrient-rich coatings intact.

However, that also results in white rice being less nutritional. White rice also has a higher glycemic index, meaning it can cause raised blood sugar levels. If your furry friend has diabetes, it’s important to be careful of how much white rice you give it, as it may raise the blood glucose levels significantly. You may still be able to feed your dog a smaller amount of white rice to soothe an upset stomach, or you can ask your vet for other ways to relieve your dog’s symptoms, naturally or with medication.  

Are some Dogs Brown Rice Intolerant?

Most dogs can tolerate fully baked and tender whole-grain brown rice, and it can even soothe the digestive tract. Fully cooked whole-grain brown rice is even recommended for dogs with certain environmental allergies, or sensitive stomachs, because of its ability to regulate the digestive tract and reduce overall stress in the dog’s system.

Nevertheless, some canines are intolerant of grains, including brown rice. Those are the dogs with sensitive guts, experiencing gastrointestinal issues that cause vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, nausea, or excessive gas would be better off avoiding brown rice. In fact, those are the dogs that might be prescribed grain-free diets by the vet.

Beware of Carb Overload

Pet nutritionists also warn that dogs whose diets are already rich in carbs should not eat rice at all. Excessive carbs typically mean excessive calories and a nutritional imbalance that could cause weight gain and even obesity.

Is Brown Rice a filler?

No, brown rice is not a filler. Fillers are ingredients added to dog food recipes for the primary purpose to make dogs feel full without contributing any nutritional value. It is widely accepted that adding fillers brings down costs, thereby boosting the manufacturers’ bottom lines.

The following are the most common ingredients deemed fillers:

  • Grain, wheat, corn, and gluten products, such as wheat and corn: These products serve as a sugar source with little or no nutritional value for dogs. These products mostly leave the dog’s body in the same form as when it entered, without being absorbed or broken down by the digestive system at all.
  • Soy: Reportedly, soy is responsible for a considerable portion of pet allergies that can result in sneezing, itching, swelling, anaphylactic shock, and death.
  • Seed hulls: Cottonseed and peanut hulls

Other Healthy Grain Options

There are many whole grains your dog can enjoy that are beneficial to its health and safe to eat. Grains carry a variety of nutrients that are important to your dog’s health, including B vitamins like riboflavin, thiamine, and minerals like magnesium, iron, protein, fiber, iron, and potassium. 

While your dog eats brown rice, it may lead to stomach upset, it can be difficult to digest, and it may lead to an overconsumption of carbs when given alongside already nutrient-rich dog food. The decision to feed your dog brown rice is yours, but there are two alternatives that provide the same benefits without the risks.


Oats are a high-quality whole grain that your canine can eat safely. It is an easily digestible grain that is full of fiber, nutrients, antioxidants, and minerals, beneficial to your doggo’s health. This grain is especially great for canine skin and coats. 


Quinoa is one of the best whole grains to look for on the dog food label. It is a superfood, packed with fiber, amino acids, fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that will benefit your furry friend. 

Notes for Feeding Brown Rice to Your Dog

If you are a pet owner with time on your hands to prepare home-cooked meals for your precious pooch, you need not ask: Can dogs eat brown rice safely? But, you should keep the following in mind when you prepare brown rice for your canine pal:

  • Never add seasonings or spices to the rice you prepare for your dog.
  • Don’t add butter to the rice.
  • Avoid adding salt.
  • Keep rice plain and simple with no additional ingredients, such as onions or garlic, which are toxic to dogs.

Brown Rice without any additives is safe to feed your dog. However, be mindful of the amount you serve. Brown rice and other grains are nutritious, but they are high in calories. Keep the serving size within the 10 Percent Treat Rule. The calories from the rice should make up no more than 10 percent of your dog’s daily calorie amount. If you exceed that rule, you will certainly help your doggy dude on the route to obesity.

Settling for commercial pet foods, will not leave you with a struggle to find kibble formulated with brown rice. Dog Food Care recommends the following to suit all budgets.

Made without corn, wheat or soy, providing the ultimate in canine nutrition. With brown rice and nutrient-packed fruits and veggies like apples, blueberries, carrots, and spinach. All with natural fiber to help with overall digestion. Available in 28-lb bags at $1.43-lb.

Superfood ingredients paired with deboned chicken, turkey, and whole grains like brown rice, barley, and oats. It is suitable for weight management and also overall health maintenance. Available in12-lb bags at $5.02-lb

Key Takeaways

So, can dogs eat brown rice safely? Brown rice may help improve blood glucose levels and metabolic health. White rice may support those with digestive issues and sensitive stomachs. Brown rice is more nutrient-dense than white rice, but both can provide health benefits as part of a balanced diet.

Hopefully, we answered your questions about brown rice for your dog.

Here, you can learn more about Grain Inclusive diets for your dog.
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Mari Serfontein