Potatoes and white rice have both gotten a bad reputation as starchy simple carbohydrates with little nutritional value. If they're consumed in excess, or make up too much of a dog's diet, this can be true. They do, however, have a place in a healthy diet since carbohydrates are necessary for energy. Potatoes and white rice provide a quick energy burst, while brown rice fuels your dog's body a little slower.
Both rice and potatoes can be an important source of carbohydrates in dog food. These carbohydrates are mainly simple, rather than complex, which means they can give your dog a quick burst of energy. While energy is important for every dog, this extra energy is important for working or hunting dogs getting ready to perform. It can also help your pup before a long run, a vigorous game of fetch, swimming or hiking. Your dog's body turns rice into energy quicker than other carbohydrates like potatoes, but rice also causes a spike in blood sugar. Both rice and potatoes should be combined with the right amount of fat in the dog's diet, since fat provides a steadier source of energy.
Unfortunately, instead of being used solely for their positive benefits, like providing carbohydrates, rice and potatoes are often used as inexpensive fillers. Many manufacturers started using potatoes as fillers following consumer backlash against grains like wheat, corn and barley. According to Tufts University, however, potatoes do not provide the same amount of fiber and nutrients as grain, and are a worse filler choice than grain. While rice is considered a grain, processed white rice does not offer the same benefits as whole grains since much of the fiber and nutrients are stripped in the refining process. The important consideration, however, is whether the potatoes or rice are being used as an inexpensive filler to replace more expensive healthy ingredients; or whether they are used in the right proportions with the other ingredients in the dog food.
Diabetes, heart conditions and cancer are all serious health conditions that can be affected by your dog's diet. Both potatoes and rice are high on the glycemic index, which means that they can both rapidly raise your dog's blood sugar levels. This can cause difficulties not only in diabetic dogs, but can put stress on the heart. Brown rice, however, is a more complex carbohydrate and may be more acceptable than white rice or potatoes. The starch in both ingredients also feeds cancer cells. Talk with your veterinarian before including rice or potato in your dog's food if your dog has a chronic health condition.
The practice of growing rice in former cotton fields has led to high levels of arsenic in the grains due to pesticides remaining in the ground. A memo released by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2011 noted that arsenic levels in dog food were not above tolerable limits, however, Consumer Reports testing on humans found that arsenic levels were 70 percent higher in those who consumed two rice products than in those who consumed none. Fiber-rich brown rice was also found to contain higher amounts of arsenic than processed white rice. The FDA has not suggested that humans stop consuming rice, but the agency has recommended that people eat a wide variety of grains to avoid the hazards that might be associated with continual consumption of a single grain. Mike Sagman of Dog Food Advisor believes that it would be wise to apply the advice to a dog's diet as well.
- Tufts University: Frequently Asked Questions about General Pet Nutrition
- University of Florida: Feeding the High Performance Bird Dog
- Dog Food Advisor: Arsenic in Rice May Also Affect Dog Food
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: FDA Looks for Answers on Arsenic in Rice
- Dog Cancer Advice: The Dog Cancer Diet: Be Cautious of Bad Advice