Have you found yourself reading the ingredient list of your dog’s favorite food and come across something called Brewers Rice?
Well, you aren’t alone; this poorly understood ingredient features in many dog food recipes as a minor or major ingredient, but what exactly is it, and is it good for your dog?
What Is Brewers Rice?
Brewer’s rice is a by-product of rice processing and consists of small fragments of rice kernels that have been separated from the larger kernels of rice that are milled.
These small fragments of rice kernels were traditionally used in the process of brewing alcohol which is where the phrase ‘brewer’s rice’ is thought to have originated from.
It would be common for breweries to purchase huge orders of Brewers Rice to produce their products, and while some breweries have moved to alternatives, some still use Brewers Rice.
However, the Brewer’s Rice that is found in pet food products is unlikely to have come from a brewery and is instead more likely to have been produced at a large rice processing facility.
The reason that these fragments of rice are a by-product is that they are not aesthetically pleasing enough for consumers to see or consume in their products.
The visually pleasing kernels are separated from these less visually pleasing kernel fragments and used in human food.
However, much of the non-visually pleasing rice kernels are milled into Rice Flour, but some of these broken and fragmented kernels are sold for other purposes such as pet food.
However, to be fully transparent, we will mention that whether the ingredient is aesthetic isn’t particularly important in comparison to its nutritional value, especially for pets.
Brewers Rice In Dog Food
Brewers Rice can be regularly be found in dog and cat food recipes, although these recipes are usually those that are lower-cost or lower-quality.
However, there are some instances of Brewers Rice findings its way into more recognizable or mid-range pet food brands, which we will discuss later.
This Brewers Rice is often one of the most abundant ingredients in these pet food recipes and can provide a large portion of the recipes plant-based content.
Many within the pet food industry describe grain by-products such as Brewers Rice as “Floor Sweepings” or other similar derogatory phrases.
While this may seem like a joke, some strongly believe it is not and that this description is not an inaccurate representation of these types of ingredients.
Along with Rice Flour and Brewers Rice, other examples of low-quality grain by-products that can be extremely controversial are Rice Bran and Rice Gluten.
Rice is a grain ingredient, and some in the industry discourage dog owners from feeding their dogs with formulas with a high proportion of grain ingredients.
However, not all grains are looked at so poorly, and whole grains, such as Brown Rice and Oatmeal, can be valuable components of a dog food recipe thanks to their other benefits.
However, the consensus among the majority is that Brewers Rice is, a low-quality grain ingredient and a low-cost filler that should have no place in dog or cat food.
Brewers Rice Nutrition
To make a long story short, Brewers Rice offers very little nutritional value to dogs. The only notable nutrition that Brewers Rice does offer dogs is a generous portion of carbohydrates.
As we regularly discuss on this site, dogs do not need a significant portion of carbohydrates in their diet and are often better suited to a diet higher in animal-based protein and fat.
You can learn more about what kind of nutrition dogs should be consuming, along with other critical information in our Dog Food Guide.
In addition to this, many believe that it is preferred that dogs get their carbohydrates from higher-quality sources such as whole vegetables or whole grains.
Classic examples of these “higher-quality ingredients” could include Pumpkin, Sweet Potatoes, Lentils, Brown Rice, and Oatmeal.
One of the reasons that these ingredients are preferred is that they can provide other benefits beyond their carbohydrate content, such as high levels of vitamins and minerals, dietary fiber, and low glycemic indexes.
Sadly, the carbohydrates offered by Brewers Rice are far from ideal when compared to these alternatives.
They are a very dense source of carbohydrates, with a high glycemic index, which could enable or cause obesity in some dogs, as well as potentially worsen serious diseases such as Diabetes.
Moreover, low-quality grain ingredients such as Brewers Rice, Wheat, and Corn can often cause allergies and irritations in many dogs.
These allergic reactions are unique to each dog but can manifest in many forms, such as rashes, diarrhea, and other symptoms.
You can find out more about common dietary allergies in dogs and how hypoallergenic dog food can help combat this in our article Best Hypoallergenic Dog Foods Guide.
This in-depth article will guide you through everything you need to know and suggest some of the better recipes available today.
Dog Food Brands That Use Brewers Rice
It will come as no surprise that many of the lower-cost or lower-quality dog food brands make use of Brewers Rice as it is a very cheap ingredient compared to the alternatives.
For those of you more familiar with our site, you’ll know that several of these brands are featured in our popular article The 11 Worst Dog Foods.
While Brewers Rice is often not the primary carbohydrate ingredient in recipes from these brands, there is almost always a notable portion present which means we can not disregard it.
If you want to find out if a specific recipe from one of these brands includes Brewers Rice, we recommend having a detailed read of the recipe’s ingredient list.
Why Do Purina and Royal Canin Use Brewers Rice?
While it’s easy to pick on extremely poor-quality and low-cost brands like Gravy Train and Pedigree, observant pet owners will discover that some of the largest and most established brands, like Purina and Royal Canin, use Brewers Rice in select formulas.
Why would brands like these, who have huge research and development departments turn to ingredients like this?
While it’s hard to find a definitive answer, some suggest that Brewers Rice could be advantageous to certain dogs who need a very specific diet or need to consume food that has minimal effect on their digestive system.
For example, Royal Canin has a veterinary recipe that uses Hydrolyzed Protein alongside Brewers Rice for dogs with extremely dietary sensitivities who struggle to consume animal-based protein.
While this example is extreme and not applicable to the majority of dogs, it is a genuine use case that should not be ignored.
Moreover, a little-known 2015 study of Brewers Rice suggested it could have the potential to help dogs with liver and kidney problems.
While a single study is not conclusive, it is well put together and shows that Brewers Rice may have some niche uses in dog food for those with health problems.
However, while it’s hard to prove or relay into numbers, many of the Purina recipes that used to contain Brewers Rice have had it phased out over the last few years.
For example, their extremely popular Purina Pro Plan 30/20 Chicken & Rice formula used to contain a considerable portion of Brewers Rice. But it now lists “Rice” in its ingredient list instead.
Whether this rice is any different isn’t clear, but it’s evident Purina does not want to appear to use Brewers Rice.
However, when it comes to Brewers Rice, we do not feel comfortable promoting any recipe that uses it.
We believe that for the vast majority of dogs, Brewers Rice, alongside a long list of other poor-quality ingredients, has no place in dog food recipes, and we hope its use by lower-cost brands diminishes over time.
Most dog owners who would be considering a dog food recipe that contains Brewers Rice are on a tight budget and do not have significant cash to spend on premium dog food.
We, therefore, recommend you check out our Best Cheap Dog Food article to see what options are out there that are affordable yet nutritious.
Alternatively, you want to check out some of our brand reviews below, as these brands offer affordable food without sacrificing ingredient quality.