Can I Give My Dog Barley?

Can I Give My Dog Barley?Barley is an excellent dietary choice, but is it something the family dog can also benefit from? Wanting to share some of your food with your buddy is perfectly normal, especially if it’s an appropriate choice for a canine.

What’s certain is that barley isn’t what your dog would be eating on their own. They’d much prefer protein packed meat. In any case, you’ll be happy to know this popular grain will have no ill effects when eaten in moderation.

But providing your pet with any human food requires more consideration than simply verifying its safety. You want your pet pooch to receive useful nutrients in order to thrive. It’s okay to give your dog barley but, more importantly, should you.

Can I Give My Dog Barley? Answer: Yes, in moderation

There will likely be no issues and, in fact, barley is a common ingredient in very high quality dry dog food.

That said, giving your dog barley too often is something you should try to avoid. If they accidentally got into some barley, you most likely have nothing to worry about as there is no known toxic effect. If you’ve run out of food and are looking for a way to hold them over until you can get to the store, barley will do. However, as an everyday food, in pure form, we’re recommending against it.

Dogs and Carbs

Depending on who you ask, dogs either need or don’t need carbohydrates to be healthy. The case can be made that dogs share a common ancestry with wild dogs, like wolves and coyotes, that subsist on a largely meat-based diet. This means that if you feed your dog meat-focused foods, they will thrive.

The flip side of that argument is that dogs have been domesticated for a long time and are basically scavengers, eating anything they can for sustenance. A lot of today’s dog foods contain a fair amount of carbohydrates such as barley. Some say that this doesn’t have any ill effect on their canines. Many dogs fed these formulated foods live long and healthy lives. The debate continues!

The K9 Digestive System

Dogs break down foods differently than humans. While barley takes a longer time for humans to fully digest, a dog will burn through it much faster. If you do give your dog barley, be sure they’re also getting enough protein from animal sources. There’s no reason to get carried way by feeding them anything resembling a vegetarian diet.

Barley & Other Grains

Barley is a hearty grain that’s loaded with gluten. When considering feeding your dog grains and wheat, it’s important to realize that these are man made items that wouldn’t normally be available to them. These types of foods, including barley, have been cultivated in order to be edible. They have been separated from the shaft and so on.

These concepts are very foreign to dogs and so it’s an unnatural food for them. It’s true even though we regard barley as a wholesome natural food.

Choosing Dog Food

When you choose food for your dog, make sure that the top ingredient is an animal-based protein. It’s okay if there are some vegetables, grains, and barley, but you don’t want them to make up the bulk of what your dog is eating.

Remember, the species’ natural instinct is to hunt down prey if it’s available, while eating anything that they come upon in-between meals. If you keep that in mind, you’ll be able to feed your dog without worrying if they’re getting all of their nutritional needs met.

Conclusion on Barley

Yes, you can feed your dog with some barley on occasion. Probably a better way to provide it consistently, and in a healthier way, is to get a quality dog food containing barley and meat protein. Barley is an excellent grain but, on its own, isn’t an essential component for canine health. Yet, there is no harm in sharing it in moderation.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Jane March, 2016

Hill’s Science Diet has changed their product line and so I’m in the process of trying the new canned and dry food for my dog. They took away turkey and chicken stew with veggies, which was great for my dog. There was no reaction, no allergies. So now it’s turkey and chicken entrée with barley, and the dry food is chicken with barley.

I’ve noticed over the last few days she has been itchy, not all the time, and she just got groomed, no fleas/ticks. So I’m wondering if she is having some kind of reaction to the barley? There is nothing else I’ve changed for her.


Josephine January, 2016

I use green lentils as a base and soak them overnight. The next day I drain in a strainer and wash in cold water, let the water drain. Then put in pot add hot water, cook for a few minutes (don’t overcook). Then drain and strain in cold water again. Usually cook up 2 packets so I have it in bulk and use as needed for meals by microwaving a portion of it for 1 min – 1 min 20 seconds.

Then add chicken, lamb, tuna, salmon or sardines plus a little olive oil as well as a little mixture made up of yam (sweet orange potato) broccoli and turmeric (again made in bulk) Medium Yam x 1, 1 – 2 cups of broccoli, 1/2 tsp of Turmeric. Normally served with a handful of doggie kibbles. Yum she loves it! I’m using different meats or fish gives her the variety.


Betty September, 2014

I cook stews for my Jack Russell, i.e. beef, chicken, fish, whatever I have on hand. I add mixed veggies to the stew and have been using barley as a thickener. I serve it to him over a dry kibbled commercial food. Is this a healthy diet for a 14 year old dog? He seems to be in good health and is still fairly active.


Nina September, 2014

You may want to try chick peas as an alternative. Also, Indian supermarkets carry a variety of lentils especially red lentils or Moong, which are inexpensive. Just throw them into your stew. It’s a great source of protein and gluten free.

When you serve your pet, add some plain yogurt, which is a probiotic, and a teaspoon of oil like Safflower or Olive oil to your stew. Herbs like oregano or mint add flavor and a pinch of Turmeric has many benefits including cancer prevention. I would however avoid commercial kibble.


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