There is a lot of interest recently in red rice as it has become one of the latest superfoods.
Purple (and blueberries) are out and red rice is well and truly in.
All of this fuss centres around human health and not dog health of course.
But if red rice has been something that you have become interested in lately, then in this article I will look at whether you can share it with your dog and how it might benefit them nutritionally…
But first, let me start with a definition.
What is red rice?
There are several varieties of natural red rice, which isn’t surprising as there are over 40,000 varieties of rice overall.
The red comes from a natural pigment called anthocyanin, which is very high in antioxidants and is what all the excitement is about.
Perhaps the three most common varieties of red rice include West African, Bhutanese (Himalayan) and Thai cargo.
Now to make our lives a little bit more complicated, red rice can also refer to a recipe in which white rice is coloured red using tomatoes.
This dish is popular in some of the southern states of the US and in Mexico.
But first let me concentrate on natural red rice.
Is natural red rice good for dogs?
As I have already said, red rice is held up by some people as a super food because of anthocyanin.
As well as providing the rice with a beautiful rich colour, anthocyanin is also an antioxidant.
And people get very excited about antioxidants because of how they can boost immune systems and protect humans (and dogs) from diseases such as heart disease.
Now, we have all heard how healthy brown rice is?
Well, red rice is supposedly healthier because of these antioxidants.
OK, that all sounds very promising.
The rice sounds very exotic, how available is it?
Where can you buy red rice?
A quick look on Amazon and on the Walmart website shows that there are a few options when it comes to buying packs of red rice.
And I’m sure that your local international store will also stock some types of red rice.
Nothing like the huge range of brands and products that you have to choose from when it comes to white rice.
But that is to be expected.
The real shocker with red rice isn’t the lack of variety, it is the price.
One of the cheapest packs of red rice that I could find at Walmart was nearly $5 per pound of rice.
Compare that to a premium brand of white basmati which is about $1.40 per pound.
Which makes red rice nearly four times the price!
Is red rice good for dogs?
In writing an answer to this question, it would be easy to get carried away with the “miracle” properties of anthocyanin.
I have already written about the possible health benefits that antioxidants in food bring to dogs.
Red rice is also high in fiber- containing between 3 and four grams of fiber per 100g grams.
And fiber plays an important role in the health of your dog’s digestion system.
And most importantly for owners, the consistency of their stool…
Lastly, red rice contains a nice amount of iron.
And iron is important when it comes to creating and maintaining red blood cells.
But, set against these pros is a fairly big con.
And that is red rice, like all varieties of rice, is about 80% carbohydrate.
And this is something to seriously consider because dogs don’t need any carbohydrate in their diet.
Why dogs don’t need carbohydrates
This is a bit of a strange one, particularly for those of you who have looked at the list of ingredients on your dog’s bag of kibble.
Brown rice and sweet potato are two much lauded ingredients in kibble and they are obviously carbohydrates.
So why, might you ask, are carbohydrates added to dog food if they don’t need them?
Well carbohydrates are a very cheap form of energy compared to the types of food that dogs need to get their energy from.
Dogs only need fat, protein, minerals and vitamins in their diet.
There is a group of experts who are responsible for calculating what dogs need in their diet and they have created a very precise list- look on pages three and four of this document.
So, if that is the case, should you be feeding your dog any red rice at all?
Why should I feed my dog red rice?
I don’t think that any dog needs red rice added to their diet.
Even with all the talk of antioxidants, fiber and minerals.
Any boost that your dog might gain from this will be lost in the cost of buying such an expensive type of rice.
Importantly, if you eat red rice and you have some left over then there will be nothing wrong in feeding it to your dog.
If there is a lot of red rice leftover just remember to feed it to your dog in small portions (because of the carbohydrates.)
Also, if you have heard that rice is a good home remedy for diarrhea then remember that only applies to white rice not red rice.
Red rice, like brown rice, might even make the diarrhea worse because these two forms of rice contain too much fiber which will probably agitate a sensitive stomach even more.
How much red rice shall I feed my dog?
How much red rice is too much?
Unfortunately I can’t offer you a calculator which will spit out the perfect portion size for your dog.
Instead, I will say that if you have a small dog think in terms of a few teaspoons and if you have a larger dog think in terms of tablespoons.
Any food or treats that you feed your dog which aren’t part of their main meals, are extra calories.
And so we need to be careful even if it is just “plain” red rice.
Just sprinkle the rice over their canned food or kibble and if necessary feed it to them over a few days.
Which just leaves us to talk about how the rice should be prepared.
How shall I prepare long grain rice for my dog?
As I said in the previous section, unless you have just won a lottery, and you are thinking of moving your dog onto a diet of red rice and caviar, your dog should only be eating your leftover red rice.
The best way to prepare rice for dogs is the same way that we would prepare it for ourselves.
Red rice, like brown rice, will need to be cooked for much longer than white rice because it is unrefined and has a harder outer layer.
It will also need to be cooked in more water than white rice.
Red rice will take about 30- 40 minutes to be soft enough to eat.
For the final part of this article, I want to discuss the other sort of red rice that I mentioned at the beginning of this article.
This is red rice which is made by combining white rice and tomatoes and is commonly called Mexican red rice.
Can dogs eat Mexican red rice?
Mexican red rice is also called Arroz Rojjo.
The main ingredients of red rice are:
- White rice
- shallots/ onions
- Tomato paste
- Vegetable broth.
As far as your dog is concerned most of those ingredients aren’t dog friendly.
I mean, white rice is fine for your dog to eat in small quantities.
Vegetable broth, while not toxic for your dog, will probably contain lots of salt which isn’t great.
My dogs have a bad reaction (and by that I mean diarrhea) whenever I give them any scraps that contain tomatoes.
There must be something in it which my dogs find too rich.
Dogs can eat ripe tomatoes (it is the unripe or green tomatoes which are said to contain toxins.)
From the list that just leaves us with shallots, onions and garlic.
These are all part of the allium family of vegetables and in the wrong quantities these are highly poisonous to your dog.
I have written detailed articles to help find out more about how much is too much.