What is Barley in Dog Food?

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Before you can go ahead and make an informed choice regarding what dog food to feed your precious little friend, it is important to understand the different ingredients contained within the food and what they might mean for your pet. 

If you have gone through the little nutritional label on the bag of the package, one of the ingredients you may have noticed is barley.

If you are unsure regarding whether or not barley is a good and healthy ingredient to feed your dog, don’t worry. 

This article will go through the nutritional pros and cons of barley in dog food.

Now you can make a choice about what to feed your dog to keep them healthy and meet all their nutritional needs.

What is Barley in Dog Food?

Barley in dog food

Barley is a grain that is traditionally cultivated for human or livestock production.

It is similar to wheat in that it is mainly a carbohydrate, with some minerals and a decent amount of fiber

Unlike most of the ingredients within your dog food, it is not a particularly significant source of protein.

Instead, the barley that has been included serves as a source of carbohydrates for your pet.

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Is Barley Good for Dogs?

Barley, when given in the right quantities, can be a useful supplemental addition to dog food[1].

This is because it can serve as a good source of carbohydrates and give your pet the energy it needs to go about its day. 

Moreover, it also contains some trace elements like selenium and copper.

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These can be hard to otherwise come across and are important for your dog’s internal functions.

Another thing to note is that barley acts as a crucial source of fiber in your dog’s diet.

It promotes healthy gut activity and keeps them happy and in good health. 

Is Barley Bad For Dogs?

Despite all these benefits, it is important to remember that barley is not a natural component of a dog’s diet.

In the wild, these animals would not have access to grains such as barley or wheat. 

As a result, you should make sure your kibble doesn’t have it in excessive amounts.

Related: Do Dogs Need Grain-Free Dog Food? Is it Right for Your Dog?

Too much of it could lead to nutrient deficiency[2] and other digestive problems.

Moreover, barley contains gluten. This ingredient acts as an irritant for people who have celiac disease.

Similarly, dogs can also suffer from this disease. In that case, barley may aggravate their condition.

Sources of Barley in Dog Food

As the name suggests, barley is a plant-based grain. Hence when it is added to dog food, it is usually in a powdered or otherwise crushed form.

It is added during the mixing stage of the process. This allows it to combine with the rest of the ingredients.

How Much Barley Do Dogs Need?

Dogs are naturally carnivores. They would not eat barley in the wild.

As such, minute quantities are more than enough to keep your canine friend happy.

High-quality dog foods may list it towards the end of the ingredient list.

However, if barley is the first or second ingredient on the list, that’s a red flag.

The label on dog food lists ingredients in order of quantity, and if barley is high up, that is not a good sign.

Such food should only be fed as an occasional treat and not make up the bulk of the animal’s diet.

Dog Foods With Barley

Barley helps if you are looking to add some grains or roughage into your dog’s diet. So consider one of the following options.

These kibble brands contain barley and help dogs suffering from constipation or other digestive issues.

1. Wellness Complete Health

Wellness Complete Health

This dog food contains barley as well as oats in order to provide your dog with a grain-inclusive diet.

Moreover, the fat-to-protein ratio is also only about 50 percent—all in all, a healthy choice for your animal.

2. Purina Pro Plan Focus

Purina Pro Plan Focus Dog Food

This top-rated dog food has a variety of grains in its ingredient list and is a solid option if you want to add roughage (ruff-age?) to your pet’s diet.

The fat-to-protein ratio for this formulation is also about 46 percent, due to which it is a suitable choice for use in the long run. 

3. Canidae All Life Stages

Canidae All Life Stages dog food with barley

This budget-friendly dog food includes cracked pearled barley, rice, and millet for an additional nutrient boost.

Although it has a somewhat higher fat-to-protein ratio of 60 percent, it is still a well-rounded meal choice to give your little companion. 

Dog Foods Without Barley

If your dog suffers from an allergy to gluten or celiac disease, you may be looking for dog food options without the inclusion of barley or other grains.

The following are a few such options to consider from. 

1. Wellness Core Grain-Free Kibble

Wellness Core Grain-Free Kibble without barley

This grain-free option replaces carbs with extra healthy fat and protein within the formulation.

Moreover, the grain-free nature of this food makes it suitable for dogs that cannot consume gluten.

The fat-to-protein ratio is also 44 percent making it one of the healthiest options on this list so far. 

2. American Journey Grain-Free

American Journey Grain-Free dog food with no barley

This is another healthy option that comes without grains and has a focus on animal proteins as a well-rounded source of nutrition for your dog.

Moreover, the low fat-to-protein ratio of 44 percent also helps make this option suitable. 

3. Taste of the Wild Grain-Free

Taste of the Wild Grain-Free dog kibble

Finally, this budget-friendly option includes protein from meat as well as plant sources but skips on the grains.

Although the fat-to-protein ratio is a bit higher at 56 percent, it is still a healthy option for most dogs. 


Many dog foods available on the market contain barley.

Although this is not a natural part of the animal’s diet, as long as your dog has no medical conditions and you only feed small amounts, barley in dog food should not be a problem!


  1. https://www.petmd.com/dog/nutrition/evr_dg_contrasting_grain_based_and_meat_based_diets
  2. https://digitalcommons.library.umaine.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1181&context=honors
  3. https://vetmed.tamu.edu/news/pet-talk/grains-or-no-grains-addressing-pet-owner-concerns/
  4. https://www.tasteofthewildpetfood.com/health/is-a-grain-free-or-grain-inclusive-diet-right-for-dogs/

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