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December 11, 2020 4 min read

It's one of the staple foods for people all over the world, and it's one of the most versatile ingredients out there. There are dozens of varieties and an endless number of ways to cook it - we're talking, of course, about rice.

Whether you're eating rice and beans or having a creamy truffle risotto, you might be wondering whether you can sneak a bite or two to your pooch. So let's spend a minute going over the important question - can dogs eat rice?

CAN DOGS EAT RICE?

If you've browsed the food aisles of any major pet store lately, you've probably seen that many major dog food brands make heavy use of rice, with chicken and rice being one of the most common flavors of kibble out there. From this, you can probably surmise that rice is, in fact, safe for dogs.

That said, it's not quite that straightforward - first of all, there are many varieties of rice that, and second, it depends very much how the rice is prepared. So with that in mind, let's dig a bit deeper into the question of whether dogs can have rice.

can dogs eat rice

IS RICE GOOD FOR DOGS?

Again, yes and no. For the sake of simplicity, we'll look at two different kinds of rice here - brown and white. While there are different types of both kinds (long- and short-grained, for example), those don't have huge differences on dogs' ability to eat rice.

Brown rice is generally considered the healthier of the two, because it has a lower glycemic index and thus doesn't cause blood sugar to rise as much as white rice. Additionally, brown rice has greater nutritional value, so in terms of including rice as a regular part of your dog's diet, brown is generally preferable.

That said, white rice is often prescribed by veterinarians, along with plain foods like boiled chicken, for dogs with gastrointestinal issues. If stomach troubles are the reason for feeding your dog rice, then stick to white, as it's easier from a digestive perspective. When you need a bland diet for dogs, white rice will typically be a good part of it. 

We've also been asked if dogs can have basmati rice. When most people say basmati rice, they mean white basmati rice, though it comes in both white and brown varieties. Ultimately, basmati rice is just a particular variety of long-grain rice, so it's fine to feed it to dogs. You should choose brown or white based on the information above and your dog's particular situation.

One last note - when we say rice, we mean literal rice. These days there are lots of rice substitutes, particularly made with vegetables - think things like cauliflower rice. These aren't actual rice, just vegetables shaved down into small pieces to achieve a similar size and texture as rice. They may be okay for your dog, as many vegetables are, but the advice here definitely doesn't apply to them!

RISKS OF GIVING RICE TO DOGS

While rice can be a valuable part of your dog's diet (and may be already if she is eating kibble that's made with it), that doesn't mean you should be giving it to her regularly. There are a couple of main things to think about when considering whether your dog can have rice.

First, because rice and other grains are often ingredients in kibble, adding more outside of your dog's regular food can make for too carbohydrate-heavy of a diet, which can lead to issues like weight gain. Make sure you know what's in your dog's food, so you can add on appropriate snacks (and don't go overboard on the snacking regardless).

Second, your dog should only be given plain, boiled rice. Risotto is a no-no, as is rice cooked with spices. Dishes that start with rice but have a lot of different ingredients added in, particularly sauces or liquids like soy sauce or chicken stock, are going to end up having too much salt, sugar or other additives to be good for your dog. Chicken fried rice may seem good, since it's just rice, veggies and chicken, but the amount of soy sauce in it makes it a really bad choice for your pooch. It's the same story with similar dishes from other cultures - Indian biryani, for example, should be kept away from dogs. Once you start adding things, you risk giving your dog that could be problematic, so keep it simple and only give plain rice.

SO CAN DOGS EAT RICE?

Not only can dogs eat rice, sometimes it's the cure to their stomach woes. Many dogs eat rice every day, so it's definitely possible to make it a safe part of your dog's diet. That said, it may be best to buy a healthy, nutritious kibble with some rice in it and stay away from rice on the side. If you want to make your dog's food yourself and include rice, then we definitely recommend that you talk to your veterinarian to make sure that you're using the right type of rice in the right amount to fulfill all of your dog's nutritional and caloric needs.

In terms of feeding your dog rice as a treat on the side, the key is to keep it plain and understand how it fits in with all of the other things your pup is eating. Stay away from rice dishes that have lots of other ingredients or significant amounts of sauce. Plain rice with plain chicken or vegetables makes a great snack, so keep it simple and your dog will be happy and healthy!