Horchata is gluten-free and one of my favorite plant-based drinks. It is rich and creamy, can be customized to whatever you want, and can easily be paired with lumpia or enjoyed alongside Korean corn dogs.
I can barely go three days without having some horchata. While it is safe and very beneficial for humans, can dogs have horchata? Here is everything you need to know.
What Is Horchata?
Horchata is a refreshing drink that originated in North Africa. During the 11th century, it began to make waves in Spain and Portugal (then Hispana). The term “horchata” is a general name for plant-based beverages in Spain.
There are varieties of horchata in the modern day: we have horchata de coco made with coconut milk, horchata de chufa made with tiger nuts, horchata de melon made with melon, and a whole lot of varieties.
Irrespective of the grain used in making this refreshing beverage, the method of preparation stays the same: Soak the grains overnight in water, grind them with cinnamon and vanilla extracts or your preferred spice and flavors, separate the solids from the liquid, add milk (optional), refrigerate, and serve.
Can Dogs Drink Horchata?
Horchata is safe for dogs, and they can have a cup of homemade horchata occasionally. However, if you intend to give your dog some commercial horchata, ensure it doesn’t contain harmful artificial flavorings and preservatives, rum, or sweeteners like xylitol, which could be toxic to dogs.
Further, lots of sugars are used in horchata when sweeteners are not, and this could open up the doorway for periodontal diseases, weight gain, and diabetes if fed to your dog constantly. A safe sweetener for dogs is stevia.
Also, some variations of horchata may not be dairy-free, as they add some milk to achieve a creamier taste. While this is okay for most humans, adult dogs cannot process lactose as they lack the essential lactase enzyme to break down lactose, leading to lactose intolerance symptoms. If you must add milk to your horchata, consider using coconut milk, which is plant-based and free from lactose.
How is horchata safe for dogs to drink if uncooked rice is not safe?
Uncooked rice is not unsafe per se, but it contains pathogens that could be problematic. These pathogens are eliminated by pouring boiling water over the rice before it is used for the horchata recipe, or by making sure you buy from quality rice producers.
Also, soaking the rice overnight can reduce the amount of bacteria, but there are versions of horchata that can be made on the go without soaking overnight, and these versions are boiled before being blended and strained, eliminating any bacteria present.
What Is in Horchata?
Here’s a table indicating the safety of each ingredient commonly used in making traditional rice-based horchata:
|Safety for Dogs
|Safe for dogs in moderate amounts; a source of carbohydrates.
|Safe for dogs; essential for hydration.
|Generally safe in small amounts; can add a hint of flavor.
|Not recommended in large amounts; excessive sugar is harmful to dogs.
|Generally safe in small amounts; check for alcohol content.
|Some dogs are lactose intolerant; use lactose-free milk if included.
|Safe for dogs; a refreshing addition if they enjoy it.
Benefits of Horchata for Dogs
Horchata can be a very beneficial drink for dogs, especially when they are offered sorghum, tiger nuts, melon, and other nutrient-dense grains. For rice, you can consider using brown rice varieties like jasmine rice for horchata, as they still contain their bran and are very nutritious for dogs.
Horchata, prepared with sesame or almond seeds, is a great source of calcium and vitamin E. To keep your pooch’s teeth and bones healthy and to help prevent osteoporosis, calcium is essential. However, vitamin E is a strong antioxidant that helps your dog’s body fight off harmful free radicals, which can cause illnesses.
Resistant starch is present in rice, which is the main component of horchata. This particular starch travels to the large intestine due to its inability to be readily broken down in the small intestine. There, it feeds the good gut bacteria and promotes their growth. These beneficial bacteria support a healthy digestive tract as they proliferate and grow. So, by encouraging a balanced gut microbiota, beverages like horchata can indirectly help your dog’s digestive health.
These are some of the many benefits your dog can get from moderately having some horchata.
Other Healthy Drinks to Offer Your Dog
There are a variety of plant-based drinks that can be a healthy addition to your dog’s diet, offering both hydration and essential nutrients.
- Coconut water: Coconut water stands out as a natural source of electrolytes and is particularly low in calories, making it a refreshing choice for dogs. It’s important to opt for unsweetened coconut water and, as a precaution, refrain from offering it to dogs with kidney problems.
- Carrot juice is rich in vitamins and minerals and is another wholesome option for canine consumption, providing hydration and antioxidants while being mindful of its high sugar content.
- Broccoli juice is abundant in essential nutrients and is yet another hydrating choice, but moderation is key due to its relatively high fiber content.
Dog-Safe Horchata Recipe
Here is a dog-friendly recipe that you can easily put together. You can also use tiger nuts, sorghum, melon, or any other nutrient-containing grain that is safe for dogs (ensure to soak them overnight or cook them):
- 1 cup of unsweetened coconut milk
- 1/2 cup of cooked white rice
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- In a blender, combine the cooked rice, coconut milk, cinnamon, and vanilla extract.
- Blend the mixture until it is smooth and creamy.
- Pour the mixture into a bowl and let it chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
- Serve the horchata to your dog in a small bowl.
Can Dogs Drink Horchata De Chufa?
This is a very popular version of horchata in West African countries like Mali and Nigeria, where it is referred to as kunu aya. It is made from soaked and ground tiger nuts.
Horchata de chufa is safe for dogs, as tiger nuts are not toxic and can be an inexpensive source of protein that dogs can enjoy in moderation.
Can Dogs Drink Horchata De Arroz?
This is the Mexican version of horchata, and it is made with traditional horchata ingredients but has added milk. It is not recommended for your dogs to have horchata de arroz, as it could trigger lactose intolerance symptoms.
Can Dogs Drink Horchata De Ajonjolí?
Horchata de Ajonjoli is derived from toasted ground sesame seed and is safe for dogs to have some as it is a great source of iron, calcium, manganese, and Vitamin B and E, which could prevent high blood pressure, help build strong bones, and uphold bodily function.
Is Horchata Bad For Dogs? Final Thought
Horchata is not bad for dogs when consumed in moderation as an occasional treat, as it boasts lots of vitamins and minerals that could be beneficial to your dog. But ensure no animal milk, reduced sugar, rum, or artificial sweetener is used in the horchata you give your pooch.