Barley is a widely consumed grain in America. It’s used as a source of fermentable material for beer and in various food items like bread, soups, and stews.
In fact, barley is also a commonly used ingredient in dry dog food. It’s a nutritious and easily digestible grain that complements a meat-based protein nicely.
In this article, we'll discuss the various health benefits of barley and how you can incorporate this ingredient into your dog’s diet.
5 Awesome Health Benefits of Feeding Barley to Dogs
Below are the 5 amazing health benefits of feeding barley to your dog:
1. Improves Digestive Health
Barley contains both soluble and insoluble fibers that play a vital role in maintaining your dog’s digestive health.
This grain is particularly rich in beta-glucan, a soluble fiber that tends to swell into a gel-like substance and coat the lining of the dog’s gut. This lining slows down the digestion and absorption of nutrients making your dog feel fuller for longer.
Furthermore, beta-glucan gets fermented to produce short-chain fatty acids that prevent the overgrowth of bad bacteria and promote the growth of good bacteria in the dog’s intestines.
On the other hand, insoluble fibers present in barley add bulk to the dog’s stool and accelerate the movement of food through the digestive system. It’s extremely helpful in preventing constipation in dogs.
2. Supports Heart Health
The soluble fibers present in barley absorb the LDL (bad) cholesterol and eliminate it through the dog’s stool. This prevents the body from reabsorbing the cholesterol into the bloodstream. It helps manage the cholesterol level in your dog’s body and helps reduces the risk of many heart diseases.
3. Provides Essential Minerals
Barley contains many essential minerals that are required for the proper growth and functioning of your dog’s body. It’s especially rich in iron which is directly involved in the formation of red blood cells and hemoglobin. It also supports various enzyme functions in your dog’s body.
In addition to that, barley also contains manganese which helps in the absorption of proteins and carbohydrates, and copper which helps in the absorption of other minerals like iron and calcium.
4. Rich Source of Vitamin B
Barley is chock-full of B complex vitamins that are required for various vital functions in a dog's body.
Below is a small breakdown of all the different types of B vitamins present in barley:
- Niacin (B3) - Helps convert fats and carbohydrates into energy and also improves cognitive function
- Thiamine (B1)- Promotes brain and motor function
- Vitamin B6- Responsible for glucose generation, immune response, and niacin synthesis
- Riboflavin (B2)- Heavily involved in the production of red blood cells
- Pantothenic acid (B5)- Aids in energy metabolism
- Folate (B9)- Supports immune function, cell division, and normal blood formation
5. Good Alternative for Diabetic Dogs
Barley is a great food ingredient for diabetic dogs as it has a lower glycemic index compared to other grains like wheat and rice. It also contains soluble fiber that can slow down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. Thus helping reduce the risk of a sudden spike in blood sugar levels.How to Feed Barley to Your Dog?
There are so many ways in which you can feed barley to your dog. But before that, let’s talk about the two most common types of barley available in the store - whole grain and pearl barley.
Pearl barley comes without the outer husk and bran layer whereas whole grain retains the bran layer. As a result, pearl barley is less nutritious than a whole grain but it takes less time to cook.
If you want to cook with whole grain, you can try pre-soaking it for a few hours to reduce the cooking time. You should also properly wash and rinse the barley with running water before cooking.
Now let’s discuss a few different ways in which you can feed barley to your dog.
Dry Dog Food
The most convenient way to incorporate this grain into your dog’s diet is by using a store-bought dog food that already contains barley.
Often times barley isn’t the main ingredient in dog food or treats and won’t be mentioned or shown on the front of the package. To find out if barley is included in a recipe you can read the full ingredient list.
Boiled or Cooked Barley
You can easily cook rinsed barley like you would cook rice. Add some water and let it boil for 30 minutes until it becomes chewy. Keep adding some water if the pan dries out. Once it’s cooked, you can drain the water and fluff the barley with a fork.
At this point, barley will be relatively tasteless so it might not be appetizing. But you shouldn’t add any salt or seasoning for flavor as that can be harmful to your dog. Instead, you can add boiled barley to your dog’s regular kibble meal to lure them into eating this high-fiber grain.
You can also take things up a notch by adding some boiled, unseasoned vegetables and meat to make a stew with barley. If you have some dog-friendly bone broth at hand, you can use that to cook barley instead of plain water.
Just remember to add small amounts of barley to your dog’s diet and use it only as a supplement to a healthy and well-balanced diet.
Dogs can safely eat barley flour. You can make many delicious treats for your dog using this flour, but make sure you follow a dog-friendly recipe and don’t add any ingredients that can be harmful to your dog.
Dogs can eat barley grass in moderation. In fact, you can find barley grass powder in many stores. But since it’s made for human consumption, you won’t find it in the pet aisle.
Also before buying, check the ingredients as they shouldn’t contain any other ingredients, seasonings, or artificial flavors that can be harmful to your dog’s health.
You can also consult with your veterinarian if you want to add barley grass powder supplements to your dog’s diet.
Dogs can safely drink barley water. It's considered a healthy tonic for dogs recovering from any surgery or illness. This water is also good for dogs suffering from kidney issues because it facilitates proper urinary function.
To prepare barley water, just soak some pre-rinsed barley in plain water for a few hours then strain and serve the water.
But since barley water is also rich in fiber, drinking it regularly can cause bloating and gas. Thus you should serve it in moderation and don't replace it with their regular water as a primary source of hydration.
Some Precautions While Feeding Barley to Your Dog
Barley is a nutritious grain that you can safely add to your dog’s diet. But it contains high amounts of fiber that can negatively affect your dog’s health if consumed in large amounts. Thus, it’s important that you feed moderate amounts of barley to your dog.
Also, there's a small chance that your dog can be allergic to gluten in the barley. Look out for any of the following signs of gluten intolerance or allergy in your dog:
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Constant itching and licking
- Red & inflamed paw pads
- Dry, itchy, or inflamed skin
- Ear infection
If you notice any of these signs of gluten allergy in your dog, contact a veterinarian immediately.
Barley is a versatile grain with an impressive nutrient profile. It’s a rich source of fiber that can help improve your dog’s digestive health and manage their cholesterol levels. Even the vitamins and minerals present in barley work together to keep your dog happy and healthy.
You can either buy dog food made with barley or cook barley dishes at home. In fact, there are countless ways in which you can incorporate this healthy grain into your dog’s diet.
If you are interested in adding barley to your dog's regular diet it is always a good idea to consult with your veterinarian first.
Let’s answer some frequently asked questions about feeding barley to your dog.
1. Can a dog eat barley?
Yes, dogs can eat barley. It’s a high-fiber grain that contains many vitamins and minerals that can perfectly supplement your dog’s diet.
2. Can a dog eat cooked barley?
Yes, you can cook barley for your dog. But avoid adding any seasoning as it can be harmful to their health. You can either serve cooked barley on its own or mix it in with some cooked, unseasoned vegetables and meat to make it more appetizing.
3. Can a dog eat barley flour?
Yes, dogs can safely eat barley flour. You can make many delicious treats for them using this flour, but make sure you follow a dog-friendly recipe and don’t add any ingredients that can be harmful to your dog.
4. Can a dog eat barley grass?
Yes, you can feed barley grass to your dog. You can also buy barley grass powders to help improve the digestive health of your dog.
It is always a good idea to consult with your veterinarian before adding any supplements to your dog’s diet.