Can Dogs Eat Calrose Rice?

by Martha Adams
    Some rice is suspected of harboring hidden harm.

    Some rice is suspected of harboring hidden harm.

    George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images

    In spite of the furor over arsenic in rice, the jury is still out on just how much rice -- and what kind -- pet owners should feed dogs. California-grown rice has been shown in multiple studies to contain less arsenic than rice grown in other parts of the U.S.

    Calrose is not a brand name, but a variety of rice. It has medium grains so it's used mainly in dishes like risotto and other applications, such as sushi, in which a soft texture and slight stickiness is desired, rather than the fluffy consistency and separate grains of long grain varieties. It's grown mainly, but not exclusively, in California.

    Rice absorbs arsenic from the soil and water it is grown in. Arsenic is naturally present in some areas, while the soil in other areas was once treated with arsenical compounds to control insect pests. Since standards for arsenic content have been set for drinking water, but not food, no one is sure how much arsenic is actually dangerous, but a 2007 study published by the National Institutes of Health calculated the arsenic level in rice equivalent to the FDA standards for water and deduced that a human would have to eat more than 115 grams of high-arsenic rice daily and consistently to reach that level. The average American eats about 12 grams of rice a day, but some ethnic groups and individuals on special diets average higher. It's unlikely that any dog would be fed enough rice as part of a varied and balanced diet to cause arsenic poisoning.

    Calrose rice as a variety is no better or worse than any other rice. It absorbs no more or less arsenic than other varieties. The determining factor is the arsenic content of the soil in the growing area, so check the label on various brands of rice to see if it shows where the rice was grown. In general, rice grown in California has a lower arsenic content than that grown in Arkansas, Missouri and Louisiana, and brown rice contains more arsenic than white rice, so white Calrose rice grown in California may be the safest U.S.-grown choice for both you and your dog.

    If you're worried about the arsenic content of rice you feed your pet, Consumer Reports recommends that you wash the raw rice well before you cook it, cook it in 6 cups of water for every cup of raw rice (instead of the usual 3 cups of water) and drain off the extra water before serving; you may lose some nutrients, but you'll also lower any arsenic level. White Calrose rice, like any other variety, is mostly starch and should represent only about 10 to 15 percent of a dog's daily diet. Brown Calrose rice offers some B vitamins, but is still rice. Other grains, such as rolled oats and quinoa, offer as much or more nutrition and add variety. Talk to your vet about creating a homemade diet plan for your pup.

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    About the Author

    Martha Adams has been a rodeo rider, zookeeper, veterinary technician and medical transcriptionist/editor. She traveled Europe, Saudi Arabia and Africa. She was a contestant on "Jeopardy" and has published articles in "Llamas" magazine and on the Internet. Adams holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin.

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