The No-Carb Kick Needs to Be Checked

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Feeding overcooked white rice is an age old method to curb mild diarrhea in dogs. White rice does rank high on the glycemic index so I suggest only feeding it for a very short period of time and in moderation. Better still, feed well-cooked brown rice instead. (Persistent diarrhea needs to be attended to by a veterinarian.) If your dog has an intolerance to rice and not to oatmeal, you could substitute the rice with gluten-free oatmeal.

Do both concepts almost seem too antiquated, too simplistic and too “grainy”?

A distinction exists between unhealthy grains that rank high on the glycemic index (GI) such as wheat, corn, and white rice (not brown rice) and the healthier, unrefined grains like millet, gluten-free oatmeal, quinoa and other gluten-free grains. [Note: millet is a goitrogen (a food that can suppress thyroid activity) and this activity increases when it is cooked; so dogs with thyroid conditions should avoid millet.]  High-GI grains trigger the body to produce a chronic inflammatory response that can contribute to a variety of health problems including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and cancer.

By extension, carbohydrates often have been labeled as bad for us and our pets. But oatmeal (only use if labeled as gluten-free) provides a healthy source of carbohydrates that benefits the gastrointestinal tract. All fruits and vegetables are carbohydrates and some provide functional vitamins, minerals and nutrients necessary for supporting optimal health at the cellular level. Phytonutrients are chemicals that occur naturally in plants. Carotenoids – including alpha-carotene and beta-carotene – are the red, orange and yellow pigments that give vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots and pumpkins their hue. Flavonoids, another class of phytonutrients, include anthocyanin pigments that give berries and other dark-colored fruits and vegetables their blue, purple and red tints. Phytonutrients have potent antioxidant properties and research shows that they protect against heart disease and cancer, and block tumor activity.

Functional carbohydrates for your dog’s diet may include:
• Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage. [These are goitrogens which lose some of this activity when cooked.]
• Fresh, whole fruits, such as apples, bananas, berries, cantaloupe and watermelon.
• Legumes, such as kidney beans, pinto beans, black-eyed peas, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), lentils, lima beans and peas.

Yes; dogs do not have a specific dietary requirement for carbohydrates.  But, that is not the point. The point is to sustain life and the best health possible of your beloved companion.

W. Jean Dodds, DVM
Hemopet / NutriScan
11561 Salinaz Avenue
Garden Grove, CA 92843

Dodds, Jean, DVM, and Diana Laverdure, MS. Canine Nutrigenomics: The New Science of Feeding Your Dog for Optimum Health. Wenatchee: Dogwise, 2015. Print.

(To find out if your dog has an intolerance to rice or oatmeal, consider running a NutriScan panel.)

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