If you’ve clicked on this article, you’re probably a human who is wondering how to correctly feed their dog.
I’m a nine-year-old Border Collie called Bailey, and I am somewhat of a connoisseur when it comes to what foods dogs can and cannot eat (after years of trial and error!).
Whilst most humans may assume that we dogs are carnivores, this can’t be further from the truth. We are omnivores who need a balance of meat and plant-based foods so we can get all of the essential nutrients to keep us healthy.
Barley is actually a healthy treat for dogs like myself! Barley is filled with fiber and antioxidants which are ideal for supporting our immune systems.
However, it is a carbohydrate that can lead to weight gain if not fed in small portions.
Can dogs be allergic to barley?
This question entirely depends on the dog. Like humans, each dog will have different tolerances to foods than other dogs.
I once met a German Shepherd who couldn’t tolerate grain without having an allergic reaction, for example.
As barley is a grain, it is important to avoid feeding your dog foods that involve barley as an ingredient if they show signs of grain allergies.
Although barley is generally healthy for most dogs, this can cause a great deal of discomfort that you don’t want to put your dog through.
Dogs can also be gluten intolerant, so it’s important to keep an eye on your own dog’s reaction to food. If you are ever curious about why they are refusing to eat or if they have stomach upset, it’s important to book an appointment with the dog doctor (the vet) to get this checked out.
Is barley a good ingredient in dog food?
In short, yes – barley is a good ingredient in dog food!
The key thing to remember is that barley is a carbohydrate, and therefore should be consumed in moderation.
It is therefore important to opt for foods that have meat as the first ingredient because we dogs work best on high-protein and low-carb diets.
A high-protein and low-carb diet is ideal for our energy levels. Whilst some dogs are notoriously lazy (I’m looking at you, pugs), our metabolisms are generally quite fast so we need high-protein foods to burn off the energy on our walkies. Carbohydrates, whilst tasty, can lead to weight gain because we aren’t designed to live off carbs.
Barley is really high in fiber. Fiber isn’t the most essential nutrient to look for in dog food, but it can help us with the consistency of our stool, prevents diarrhea, improves our colon health, and can help weight management.
Not only this, but barley is filled with Vitamin B, Phosphorus, and Manganese – which are great for helping puppies grow and develop properly.
How do you cook barley for dogs?
I have noticed that humans love flavor, so they naturally assume that we dogs love flavor too. Whilst we will eat just about anything, barley needs to be prepared in the blandest and most unflavored way possible for us.
The best way to cook barley for dogs is to boil it. This can be served with our normal dog food or some meat. My human often does this if my stool has been runny because the fiber firms it up.
It’s really important that you don’t flavor the barley with onions or garlic because these foods are very harmful to dogs.
Whilst I wouldn’t personally recommend feeding your dog dry barley by itself, this is fine in some dog foods. Us dogs can be very picky, after all!
Is barley better than rice for dogs?
Both barley and rice offer similar nutritional value and health benefits. As my human mostly has rice in the house, she is more likely to feed me a sprinkle of cooked rice in my food if my stomach has been upset. Like I said before, barley is also a good option!
However, it’s best to feed your dogs a little bit of barley or rice at a time. Not only is this to limit the carbohydrate intake, but also so you can see how your dog takes to it.
If anything, rice is probably better than barley for most dogs. Rice is super plain and offers minimal allergy risks compared to barley, and it is a great way for smaller dogs to gain weight.
I once knew a Yorkie who was too preoccupied with getting cuddles from his humans rather than eating his food, so he was thin for ages. His human incorporated rice into his food, and he gained a healthy weight quickly.
Can barley upset dogs’ stomachs?
As wheat and grains aren’t necessarily an essential part of a dog’s diet, some dogs can develop intolerances and allergies.
Likewise, if a dog is fed too much wheat or grain, this can contribute to weight gain, constipation, or diarrhea.
If you notice that your dog reacts badly to barley, make sure you take them to the vets. We cannot communicate with humans with words, so it’s up to you to keep an eye on our behaviors and reactions to food.
My top tip is to stick to minimal portions. Fortunately, most dog foods that include barley only offer a small amount. If you like to cook your dog their food, make sure to stick to small portions at a time. Too much can cause an upset stomach!
What grains should dogs avoid?
The most common dog allergies are from ingredients that are not whole grains. These include wheat, soy, and corn.
These ingredients are essentially fillers that work to fill a dog up for a short amount of time, after which they will want to eat another bowl.
This will cause fast weight gain which could lead to other health complications, which humans should definitely avoid doing.
The best whole grains are barley, brown rice, and oatmeal. We don’t like eating rice flour, gluten, wheat flour, or wheat gluten – all of which are other common allergens for dogs.