Rice cakes are okay for dogs to eat, I would have said five minutes ago. After all, rice cakes are considered healthy and low in calories. They are ideal for on-the-go and have a long shelf life. Sounds like the perfect snack and a convenient treat for your dog. There’s just one catch. Because rice cakes are not completely harmless because the rice can be contaminated with arsenic.
Rice cakes for dogs as diet food
However, rice cakes also have their advantages. One rice cake contains only about 30 calories. Nevertheless, they are nutritious and filling. For the small hungriness, the rice wafers are quite suitable. Also, as a treat for your four-legged friend. Basically, dogs can digest rice cakes well. Because rice cakes have a lot of fiber and stimulate intestinal activity.
How are rice cakes made?
Rice cakes consist of puffed rice grains. Similar to how corn is made into popcorn, the puffed rice is made from rice grain. The manufacturers heat the rice grains with steam. During heating, the grains puff up. This happens due to the natural reaction of starch and moisture. Eventually, they pop. When puffed, the rice grains grow to many times their actual size. Therefore, a rice wafer consists of very few rice grains. There is something for every taste in the supermarket. Rice cakes are available sweetened with honey or chocolate coating, salted, or with sesame seeds. Likewise, plain rice cakes are very popular with young and old. This is also true for most dogs.
High arsenic content in rice cakes
The big catch with rice cakes is arsenic. Arsenic is a natural substance. However, inorganic arsenic has a very toxic effect. For this reason, there are stricter limits for the arsenic content in rice and rice products. Rice plants absorb arsenic through the roots and water. In this way, arsenic accumulates in the rice grains.
A certain amount of arsenic is present in all rice products and other foods such as milk, cereals, and even drinking water. However, rice cakes are particularly contaminated with arsenic. This is due to the production process and the areas where the rice is grown. In order for the rice grains to pop open at all, they have to be strongly heated. This removes water from the grains. Arsenic is, therefore, more concentrated in the wafers than in other rice products.
How toxic is arsenic?
Arsenic is considered a carcinogenic semimetal. It is naturally present in the soil. Additionally, it enters our environment through pesticides. If you or your dog ingest arsenic regularly, it can cause damage to the nervous system. Or cardiovascular disorders.
Keep arsenic exposure low
You and your dog do not have to give up rice cakes completely. However, when eating them, you should be careful not to eat too much of them. The same applies when feeding your dog. Unfortunately, you can’t grow and offer rice and rice products completely free of arsenic. Arsenic accumulates mostly in the outer layers of the rice grain. So, as a general rule, hulled rice contains less arsenic than whole grain or brown rice.
To keep arsenic intake as low as possible, wash rice well. Boil it with plenty of water. Then pour off the boiling water. In this way, you will transport a large amount of arsenic down the drain before eating it.
Rice cakes as a healthy snack
Personally, you can eat rice cakes in the hearty version, topped with sausage or cheese. Or as a sweet snack with jam or chocolate coating. The following rules apply to rice cakes for dogs:
- Without chocolate
- Without salt
- Remember that rice cakes contain mainly carbohydrates
If your dog has eaten too many rice cakes, they may be heavy in the stomach. Normally, however, this does not have any long-term effects on his health. Many dog owners give their dogs low-calorie rice cakes in small pieces as a diet treat. Add a little yogurt or cottage cheese. This tastes twice as good to your furry nose. As long as you only feed your dog small amounts in between meals as part of a balanced diet, you have nothing to worry about.