Can Dogs Eat Barley?


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If you’re a new dog owner, you probably know little about the plethora of dog foods stacking the markets. Unfortunately, not everything you’ll find will make for a healthy diet for your dog, which is why you need to make sure that what you buy for your furry friend is safe food.

There’s also been a long, ongoing debate regarding the “can dogs eat barley” question, and that’s why we’ll give you a detailed answer in this post! We’ll tell you whether or not barley is suitable dog food, its health benefits and risks, and how to serve barley to your pet dogs if you decide to add it to their diet.


Can Dogs Eat Barley: The Short Answer

In simple terms, yes. Dogs can pretty much eat barley and stay in good health. However, like a lot of foods, too much barley can be harmful.

On the positive side, dog barley is high on dietary fiber, making it the optimal dog food and natural laxative if your little puppy suffers from constipation issues. Yet, too much fiber will have the opposite effect entirely – your pup will go on bathroom breaks more frequently due to a gastrointestinal upset.

Other than causing a stomach upset, barley is full of carbs like most whole grains, so you might be helping your dog gain weight.

If you’d like to know more about these benefits and risks, keep on reading.

The Benefits

It’s important to know whether certain ingredients in a dog’s food are safe for them or not. If that’s your dilemma with barley, here’s all you need to know.

The Benefits

Good Source of Carbohydrate

As mentioned, barley could potentially lead to weight gain. However, it doesn’t necessarily have to if you control the amount of barley you give to your dog. After all, dogs still need carbs, but in moderate amounts. Similarly, if you’re going to feed your dog barley in its polished form (pearled barley), make sure not to overdo it (it should be less than 10% of your dog’s weekly rations).

Alternatively, you can buy dry dog food containing barley and meat-based protein as the main ingredient. That way, your dog will reap the benefits of barley while not consuming much of it.

Contains Antioxidants

As your four-legged friend grows older, it’ll need a healthy amount of antioxidants, like vitamin E, to keep its muscles in optimal shape. If that’s the case, be sure to make your dog eat foods containing barley, pearly barley, or barley grass. You can even have them drink barley water.

High Fiber Content

Barley has a significant amount of soluble fiber, even more than other grains like brown rice or white rice. So, if you’re worried about your canine’s digestive system, know that barley can easily improve digestion and, therefore, it’s safe for dogs.

Also, note that you need to balance out both soluble and insoluble fiber in dog foods because having only one type will disturb your pup’s digestion process either by causing constipation or diarrhea.

Good for Diabetic Dogs

If you have a diabetic dog, you already know that their diet should mainly consist of meat proteins and small-carb content. But since barley contains large quantities of carbs, is pearl barley safe for diabetic dogs? The answer is yes.

Whole grains like barley, oat bran, and wheat are okay as long as they’re not the main ingredient in their food.

It’s Not an Allergen

Many dog owners are very careful about the dog food they buy if their pets have allergies. Gluten sensitivity, for example, could cause serious problems if your dog eats foods full of gluten regularly. The same goes for dogs with a wheat allergy.

You might be a little bit apprehensive if your dogs eat wheat, but guess what? An excellent replacement for wheat is barley! So next time you decide to make baked goods for dogs that show allergic reactions to wheat flour, you might find barley flour a better alternative.

The Potential Risks

The Potential Risks

As much as we’d love to say that barley is useful for dogs, there are some health risks that you need to keep in mind. Here are the main ones:

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Gain Weight

If dogs eat a certain cereal grain like barley too much, they’ll quickly become overweight.

That doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll be tough to get rid of this extra weight, but following a grain-free diet and adding exercises to your four-legged friend’s routine won’t be as easy as managing how much barley you add to its diet.

In short, make sure to manage the amount of barley you add, whether it’s in your dog’s food, staple food, barley soup, or cooked barley.


Although barley isn’t going to cause an allergic reaction to your furry friend in itself, you need to be very careful if your dog has a gluten allergy.

The reason is that barley contains gluten in large quantities, just like wheat. So if your dog’s stomach can’t stand wheat gluten, it probably won’t stand barley gluten as well.

If you don’t know whether or not your dog has a gluten allergy, it’s best to pay a visit to the vet.

Increases Stomach Upset

Too much fiber isn’t always good for dogs. While it’s true that barley can protect against constipation and boost your canine’s health to combat any heart disease, it can also lead to diarrhea in no time.

That’s why it’s recommended to make meat or protein the main ingredient in any dog’s diet. Relying on any grain will always have the opposite effect.

You Can’t Feed It to Your Dog on the Go

Let’s face it; not everyone likes to overthink their dog’s diet. I mean, yes, we do love dogs, but we don’t always have the time or luxury to nick and pick different ingredients for a canine’s daily meals.

If you’re like that, it’s best that you avoid barley, wheat, or any grain-based diet for your pup, as you’ll have to monitor how much it consumes of that food constantly. So instead, opt for a grain-free, meat protein diet to save time and effort.

How to Serve Barley to Your Dog

Dog Biscuits

By now, you must’ve made up your mind on whether or not to serve barley for your pup by now. Here are some ideas that’ll help you out if you choose to feed them barley!

Dog Biscuits

If you’re a fan of preparing homemade dog biscuits, then you can easily switch the wheat flour with barley flour and garner all its benefits! Plus, you can easily find barley flour anywhere, unlike its other forms.

Barley Water

Is this is your first time hearing about this water? Don’t worry; it’s easy enough to make at home! Soaking barley in water for about four hours then straining the barley is all you need to do.

Barley water is an incredible healthy tonic for dogs recovering from a surgery or illness. Similarly, if your pooch is tired after a long exercise day, this water will also be great for them.

Pearl Barley

Topping dogs’ food with treats is a good way to serve barley. To get the most nutritional value out of it, remove the outer bran and hull, and voila! You now have the healthiest topping you can provide for your dog!

Just make sure to top the food with small quantities of pearled barley since, as you know, barley isn’t exactly gluten-free.

Barley Soup

You can cook barley soup with barley by mixing other vegetables with it. However, given that this is a treat, you shouldn’t serve this soup to your furry best friend regularly.

Here are the ingredients you’ll need to prepare this soup:

  • Barley
  • Potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Tomatoes

Add a cup of water to all of these ingredients in a saucepan, and let it simmer over medium heat for about fifteen minutes.

Barley Grass

Dogs eat barley grass as much as they eat oat or wheatgrass. So if you don’t know how to incorporate barley into your dog’s diet, starting with small amounts of barley grass is a pretty good idea. This way, you’ll also increase the antioxidants it can get out of barley.

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Bottom Line

Can dogs eat barley? The answer is yes, but with limits. So now you have the answer and more! You now know the benefits, risks, how to integrate this cereal grain into dogs’ diets, as well as use it as you see fit. So, with all of that said, we hope you found this article helpful!