Can Dogs Eat Rice Safely?

Here’s what to know about dogs and rice 🍚

dog with a bowl of white rice

If your dog’s begging for food while you’re eating some rice, you might wonder if it’s OK to give him some.

Dogs can eat plain, cooked rice in small quantities, and it actually has some health benefits for your pup, too.

We spoke to Dr. Michelle Burch, a veterinarian with Paramount Pet Health, and Dr. Corinne Wigfall, a veterinarian spokesperson for SpiritDog Training, to find out the answer to the question: Can dogs eat rice?

Can dogs eat rice safely?

Rice is totally fine for most dogs to eat, and it’s actually an ingredient in most dog foods.

Dogs are omnivores, which means they need to have meat and vegetables in their diet and are able to digest most carbohydrates, such as rice.

White rice is also often fed to dogs as a bland meal to settle an upset stomach since it doesn’t have a lot of fiber and is easy to digest.

“Cooked plain rice is very helpful for dogs who are having tummy upsets and showing signs like vomiting or diarrhea for a few days,” Dr. Wigfall told The Dodo. “Rice is an easily digestible carbohydrate source, and it’s often much easier for the body to digest and use the energy from this particular food group, [carbs].”

You can also give your pup a little plain rice as a treat, too. But keep in mind rice shouldn’t make up a large part of your dog’s diet since it doesn’t have all the nutrients dogs need.

Is rice healthy for dogs?

Even though you might not think of rice as being super nutritious, it actually has some health benefits, even for dogs (which is why it’s included in so many dog foods).

“White and brown rice are a good source of carbohydrates, vitamin D and B, calcium, iron, and riboflavin,” Dr. Burch told The Dodo. “Brown rice is a good source of fiber compared to white.”

Brown rice is healthier for dogs than white rice is (just like for people) because it contains more nutrients, but some dogs might have more trouble digesting it.

“Brown rice can be difficult for some dogs to digest and may cause gastrointestinal problems,” Dr. Burch said.

White rice has a higher glycemic index than brown rice, which means it raises your dog’s blood sugar levels more, so it isn’t a good snack for pups who have diabetes. You also shouldn’t feed rice to an overweight or obese dog because eating too much can make your dog gain weight due to the amount of carbs.

Rice allergy in dogs

According to Dr. Wigfall, rice allergies in dogs are pretty uncommon.

If your dog does have a rice allergy, you might notice symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss and skin irritation.

“[Gastrointestinal] signs can be seen with or without skin irritation: scratching at the skin, red patches, hair loss, smelly ears, or scabs and crusts on the surface of the skin,” Dr. Wigfall said. “If you think your dog is allergic to rice in particular, it's worth having this tested with a veterinary dermatologist to confirm the diagnosis, as so many foods we feed dogs contain some elements of rice.”

If your pup’s definitely allergic to rice, your vet can recommend a dog food that’s OK for him to eat that doesn’t include it. They might have you start your pup on a hypoallergenic dog food.

“Dogs with rice allergies can utilize potatoes, oats or tapioca as a carbohydrate source,” Dr. Burch said.

Be sure to confirm with your vet that your dog has a rice allergy before switching him to grain-free food because foods that don’t include grains have been linked to dogs developing dilated cardiomyopathy, and most dogs should have grains as a part of their diet.

How to feed your dog rice

You can give your pup plain, boiled rice with no seasonings or butter. Treats should only make up around 10 percent of your dog’s caloric intake, and rice is included in that if you’re giving it to him as a snack, so just give him a little bit.

If you’re feeding your dog rice for an upset stomach, you can try giving him plain, boiled chicken with it to add some protein and nutrients, Dr. Wigfall said. “Feeding rice for tummy upset is a short-term solution, and if no improvement is seen within one to two days, veterinary advice should be sought,” Dr. Wigfall said.

Rice can also be used as an ingredient in homemade dog foods or treats if you like to cook for your pup.

“Rice can be fed as a treat or combined with protein and vegetables to create a well-balanced homemade diet,” Dr. Burch said. “Ensure to obtain homemade diets from a reliable source, such as your veterinarian or a veterinary nutritionist, as not all recipes are balanced or complete, leading to health problems.”

And definitely don’t give your dog fried rice. Fried rice has extra fat and salt, and it can contain ingredients that are poisonous to dogs, like onion.

Be sure to talk to your vet to find out how much rice is OK for your dog to eat or if you think he might be allergic to rice. In most cases, though, a little plain, cooked rice every so often is a perfectly safe and even healthy snack for most pups.