Barley is a cereal grain from the same family as wheat. For both humans and dogs, it provides essential nutrients, including potassium, minerals, dietary fiber, B vitamins(including niacin), vitamin E, and more.
The grain also contains a good amount of soluble fiber, which aids in keeping the intestinal tract functional. This makes it a good substitute for rice or pasta in canine diets. Alternatively, one can serve barley raw to add more flavor and variety to a dog’s diet.
Health Perks of Barley for Dogs
Barley being a cereal grain, can be cooked or eaten raw as a breakfast side dish or used to make soups, desserts and stews. One will find several benefits in trying to bring out the precise positive effects of barley on dogs.
Protein and Vitamins
The cereal is high in protein, helping dogs maintain their overall health. With loads of B vitamins and carbohydrates, barley is a source of energy, keeping your pup lively and playful.
Antioxidants and Gluten
Manganese is an antioxidant found in barley, a mineral that comes in handy in protecting the dog from oxidative damage to cells brought about by stress and toxins.
Other studies suggest the presence of antioxidants in barley extracts or fermented barley gear up the protective measure from free radical damage.
Barley grain contains gluten and high protein levels, qualifying it as a substitute for cereal-based components in commercial dog food.
The grain is rich in soluble and insoluble fiber, which may help improve digestion and ease intestinal flow while regulating blood sugar levels. It acts as a natural laxative to a dog’s digestive tract and can ease discomfort caused by constipation.
Barley has been proven helpful in reducing dogs’ cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations and heart disease risk.
The Risk in Feeding Dogs Barley
A dog owner should feed their canine barley in moderation. Cooked barley should not constitute more than 25% of the entire meal if incorporated into a dog’s diet. The reason is it may contain high concentrations of sugars and starches.
A dog eating too much barley may experience gastrointestinal upsets, including vomiting and diarrhea. When feeding your dog barley, a single serving should be the same as that of rice or corn.
Barley cannot be outright classified as toxic to dogs and will not cause poisoning. It is true, however, that a dog’s stomach cannot digest large quantities of fiber at a go. Too much of this cereal can cause pancreatic inflammation and hinder digestion.
Too Many Carbs
The biggest downside of barley is that it contains plenty of carbs. If your dog consumes the grains often and in large amounts, they can become obese and acquire heart diseases.
Barley may be an allergen to some dogs, causing sneezing, coughing and itching. You should contact your vet if you notice any negative response after feeding your dog barley.
If the response is positive, ensure to serve the cereal grain to your dog in moderation. To be safe, monitor the dog after feeding it barely for the first time.
Varieties of Barley for Dog Consumption
If a dog has had barley for the first time and does not have a bad reaction, you can consider changing the form in which it comes every time to add more life and avoid boredom. There are many acceptable forms.
1. Cooked Barley
Dogs can consume a moderate amount of cooked barley, but you need to be careful about how you prepare it. Avoid cooking it in soy sauce or garlic, which are harmful to dogs. You may make homemade dog food with barley, been and veggies.
2. Dry Barley
Most dogs may not like to have dried barley alone, but it is a safe ingredient in commercial dog food. You can sprinkle it on their homemade food to make it more palatable.
3. Boiled Barley
Putting water and barley in a pot and boiling the grain is one of the safest modes of barley fed to a dog. You may mix some meat with it during boiling. There is no need to add any spices, including salt. It is wise to avoid flavored food for dogs following their sensitive stomachs.
4. Pearl Barley
Also known as cracked pearl barley, it is a common ingredient in dog food. Pearl barley contains high levels of protein and dietary fiber that benefit your pup.
5. Barley Grass and Grass Powder
The grain used in dog food comes from the barley grass seed. So, can a dog consume the grass itself? The grass will not harm your dog, but it should be served in small amounts. It contains pretty much the same nutrients as the grain itself. However, the grass is a natural laxative and can lead to diarrhea if taken in massive quantities.
The grass powder contains various nutrients and has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties too.
6. Barley Soup
The soup is safe as long as it doesn’t contain too much salt or other ingredients that are unsafe for dogs. Therefore, check the ingredients list before buying it from your local store.
How to Make Barley for a Dog
It is okay to feed a dog either whole grain or pearl barley. The whole-grain barley takes more time to cook as opposed to pearl barley. You can pre-soak it for a few hours to reduce cooking time.
Both types of barley and other forms, like barley flour, can be cooked in different ways, including in a slow cooker or on the stovetop.
Yes, You May Feed Barley to a Dog
When served in moderated portions, barley grain is safe for a dog. Watch how much you give it, whether in powder, grass, liquid, pearl, cooked, boiled, or barley flour. If homemade, avoid using spices or ingredients that are upsetting to dogs.
It is worth noting that if a dog exhibits any signs of gluten sensitivity, do not give them barley. It, too, has gluten in it.
In the case of any concern or question, always consult a trusted veterinary doctor.