Hepper is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Can Dogs Eat Barley? Is Barley Safe for Dogs?

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

can dogs eat barley2

So, when you’re looking at dog food ingredients, you may see barley and wonder just what this grain is and whether it’s perfect for your pooch. Barley seems to be growing in popularity as an alternative grain, overtaking common food fillers like corn, wheat, and soy. So, can dogs eat barley? Yes, they absolutely can!

But before you get too excited, that doesn’t mean it’s good for every dog. Some dogs might have sensitivities to grain entirely. But let’s learn a little more about barley and how it benefits your dog.

divider 9

Can Dogs Eat Barley?

Barley Seeds
Image Credit By: egroll, pixabay

Barley is a common ingredient used in many modern-day dog food recipes. It’s easily digestible, so your dog’s body doesn’t have to work so hard to process the grain.

There’s a good reason lots of recipes have included barley in their formulas. It has a bunch of health benefits for your canine buddy.

High in Water Soluble Fiber

Fiber helps keep your dog’s digestive system regular. It will keep them from diarrhea or constipation and aid in gut health.

Full of Complex Carbohydrates

Carbs digest more slowly than fiber. Dogs use these sugars as the enzymes breakdown to provide adequate energy to the body.

Has Lots of Beta-Glucans 

Barley has lots of beta-glucans, which help with skin health and lowering cholesterol.

Packed with Selenium

Selenium is a highly beneficial nutrient that helps with your dog’s immune system and thyroid function.

Using Barley in Homemade Dog Food

If you’re trying to pick the best grain for homemade dog food, barley is a brilliant choice. Not only does barley work very well in your dog’s digestive tract, it’s also relatively cheap to buy.

There are plenty of dog food recipes on the web that you can try out for your pooch—lots of people like this alternative when creating their own limited ingredient diet.

However, you want to make sure that you’re adding all of the necessary ingredients to cater to your dog’s dietary needs. If you leave out vital nutrients, it could cause a wide range of other issues that you can easily avoid.

Before you offer any homemade meal regularly, always consult with your veterinarian to make sure that it’s suitable.

Dog on Barley Field
Image Credit By: Froghoppity, pixabay

Barley Isn’t a Natural Part of Your Dogs Diet

In the wild, dogs wouldn’t eat barley as a natural part of their diet. But, if you mix the barley with a protein source, it can benefit their overall digestion and nutrition. After all, domesticated canines have come a long way from their wolf roots.

If you cook barley, make sure to leave out any spices or seasonings, too. Many of these additives are dangerous to dogs. So, simply cook and serve the barley plain, preferably with a delicious meat source of some kind.

Can Barley Trigger Allergies in Dogs?

Even though barley has proven to be one of the most digestible grains that dogs can have, it doesn’t mean every belly is compatible. Some dogs have grain sensitivities or gluten allergies. So, it doesn’t matter how easy it may be on the gut—your dog just can’t have any.

For these types of pooches, a grain-free diet is the only solution. Luckily, you can find lots of recipes on the market that are gluten-free, so your pup can have smooth digestion.

Common symptoms of allergies or sensitivities include:

  • Itching
  • Hair loss
  • Yeasty skin
  • Poor coat
  • Weight loss
  • Ear infections
  • Chronic diarrhea

If your dog has been having a few of these symptoms, but you haven’t been able to put your finger on it—definitely mention it to your vet. If they do wind up with a gluten allergy, they aren’t compatible with barley.

Free-Photos from Pixabay

Types of Barley

Some ingredients you might commonly see associated with barley are:

  • Barley flour
  • Pearled barley
  • Hulled barley
  • Hulless barley


Barley in Commercial Dog Food

If you don’t have a gluten-sensitive dog, barley is a fabulous alternative to try for your pooch. Many limited ingredient diets and organic recipes have barley listed as a primary grain. Like oats, barley has a better reputation for being easier on your dog’s overall gastrointestinal tract.

You’ll want to make sure all nutritional bases are covered, of course. Dogs always need protein as the number one ingredient, no matter which diet you select. Having a whole protein source keeps their muscles in top-notch shape.

Divider 4

Dogs and Barley: Final Thoughts

So, now you know that dogs can eat barley with no problem most of the time. If you suspect your dog might have a food allergy, your vet can help you figure out potential triggers. Remember, never switch your dog’s diet based on assumptions since it could do more harm than good.

And if you want to try your hand at making a homemade recipe, make sure you include every vital nutrient for optimal health.

Featured Image Credit By: congerdesign, pixabay

Related Articles

Further Reading

Vet Articles

Latest Vet Answers

The latest veterinarians' answers to questions from our database