A dog eating sandwich, slices of bread, and even entire bread loaves is no rare sight. In most Western countries, bread is a staple breakfast item. But does that mean dogs should be fed or allowed to eat bread too?
Dogs can eat both white and brown bread – if done in moderation and provided the dog is not allergic to the food. Most importantly, the bread should be plain and not have added ingredients, particularly no raisins or nuts. Raisin bread is, in fact, advised against even if the raisins are removed.
Keep reading to learn why bread is not considered ideal dog food and also ways in which it could be hazardous to your pet.
Risks Associated with Feeding Bread to Your Dog
Bread by itself is not toxic. It’s also not nutrition-packed at the same time. But there are certain variables that render bread consumption highly inadvisable for dogs.
Bread Could Cause Your Dog to Put on Weight
Bread is essentially filler food, loaded with carbohydrates. It’s a high-calorie food, with high glycemic index scores. Bread is usually not consumed for the nutrition it offers. If your dog is obese and you want to help your pet canine lose weight, bread should be avoided. If your dog likes bread, however, you may feed it small pieces and in limited quantities. Consult your vet to devise a proper feeding plan.
The Added Ingredients Pose Danger
As mentioned before, bread with raisins is strictly advised against for dog consumption. Raisins are bad for dogs as they are extremely toxic, affect the kidneys of dogs, and could even be fatal. Besides raisins, there are other substances that are problematic for canines. Those include garlic, nuts, and seeds.
- Garlic and Onion
Commonly used in bread, garlic and onion could be toxic to canines. They could cause major side effects in dogs, which include abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, and weakness.
Garlic, in particular, is strictly advised against as it could cause damage to your dog’s red blood cells. Not just garlic and onion, all vegetables that belong to the allium (onion genus) family are toxic to dogs. The other vegetables in the family include shallots, chives, leeks, and rakkyo (also called Chinese onion).
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Besides garlic, garlic bread is likely to contain large quantities of butter, cheese, oil, and/or herbs that could rattle your dog’s tummy too. Not to mention, these ingredients increase the fat content and calorie count of the bread, without offering any nutritional benefit in the process.
- Nuts and Seeds
Though seeds and nuts add flavor to bread and increase their health profile, they are not supposed to be consumed by dogs. The nut that is particularly notorious for its toxicity is macadamia nut. Macadamia nuts are extremely fatty, which is not how dogs should have it.
The nut could also cause problems in your dog’s pancreas. Even nuts that aren’t viewed as hazardous as macadamia nuts could cause pancreatitis and stomach irritation in dogs, due to their increased fat content.
Also, steer clear of the commercial bread varieties that have additives to boost the flavor, texture, color, and shelf life of the bread. Not just your dog, but you should also not be consuming such types of bread.
Bread and Mold
Any bread that is stale or has mold must be completely avoided. Dogs, like humans, could suffer from mold’s toxic effects or mycotoxin, a type of poisonous chemical released by mold. When ingested, your pet could exhibit signs of body tremors or muscle spasms.
A bread can grow different kinds of mold – which include penicillium, aspergillus, Rhizopus, and mucor. Unlike certain molds – like the ones used for making blue cheese – most molds are toxic and not meant to be ingested.
The challenging part is that it’s not easy to distinguish different kinds of molds or differentiate ingestible molds from the hazardous ones. It’s, therefore, best to assume all molds are bad and do not eat bread that has any visible mold presence.
Oftentimes, mold may not be apparent. If you think you could avoid the moldy part by eating just the visibly unaffected portion of the bread, you could be treading dangerously. This is because the mold roots could spread quickly through bread, even if you cannot see them.
Moreover, you or your dog need not eat moldy bread to be affected by it. Even sniffing the bread could cause health problems, such as asthma and other breathing issues, as fungus spores can be inhaled.
Bread Dough Can Be Dangerous for Dogs
If you have ever seen bread being made from scratch or made one yourself, you should know that the dough must rise to become bread. The ideal environment for the dough to rise is typically moist, warm, and draft-free (related to air currents). Strangely, the environment inside a dog’s stomach mimics the same conditions bread doughs typically rise in.
If your dog happens to eat bread dough, the optimum conditions inside it would cause the dough to rise and cause various hazards. The yeast present in the dough will cause the dough to rise continually, causing the stomach to swell and release dangerous levels of ethanol (simple alcohol) into the bloodstream. The increased ethanol levels could make your dog feel intoxicated, besides causing a host of other issues in your pooch.
The rising dough’s pressure leads to bloating. However, the actual danger lies in the alcohol toxicosis that occurs. If you suspect your dog consumed unprocessed bread, talk to your vet immediately. Here are some symptoms of alcohol toxicosis that you should watch out for:
- Weakened central nervous system
- Drunken, unsteady gait
These symptoms are likely to surface anytime between 30 minutes and a couple of hours after consumption of the dough.
Does Bread Subside/Remedy Certain Stomach Issues in Dogs?
Bread could help calm down your dog’s upset stomach. However, a rice diet or any bland food is a much better option than bread. Bread, particularly white bread, is loaded with carbohydrates and could cause bloating. It’s, therefore, not considered ideal to alleviate stomach concerns in dogs. Cooked white rice along with some low-fat cottage cheese or boiled skinless chicken is a lot more effective at combating gastrointestinal problems.
Before you resort to feeding your troubled dog rice, however, make sure you have the vet’s approval. Also, these remedies are short-term or stopgap solutions. If your dog’s stomach issues persist, you must seek proper medical treatment for your pet.
Incorporating Bread into Your Dog’s Diet
If you’d like to increase your dog’s fiber intake, grain-based or whole wheat bread can help with the same. Other bread types, particularly French or plain white bread, contain much less fiber and are, therefore, not recommended.
If you are considering feeding your dog bread, here are a couple of things you must know or adhere to:
Keep the Quantity Limited
As mentioned above, you can feed bread to your dog in limited amounts. In snack-sized proportions, the bread won’t do any damage. If your dog is underweight and you want to help your pet put on some weight, you may increase the quantity of bread. Talk to your vet before using bread to increase the weight of your pet as it’s imperative you help your dog gain weight in a safe and healthy manner.
Make sure bread doesn’t constitute more than 5% of your dog’s everyday food intake. Never serve an entire loaf to your dog. Also, bread need not be a daily affair. If your dog can go without bread for days together or you don’t eat bread a lot yourself, you need not buy bread specifically for your dog.
Opt for Whole Grain Breads
Whole-grain bread is ideal for dogs. This bread type usually doesn’t contain ingredients that harm your pet. The bread, besides being safe, packs in dietary fiber that could help your dog with its bowel movements. If your dog is gluten-intolerant, opt for gluten-free bread.
Kindly note, gluten-free bread is meant only for dogs who genuinely have the issue. If your dog has no real wheat allergy, feeding it gluten-free bread would only rob it of the fiber and some other important nutrients that whole grain bread would have provided it otherwise.
Plain white bread is also fine if your dog is not allergic to it or its consumption won’t cause stomach issues in your pet.
Among various household pets, dogs tend to fancy human foods the most. Quite a few of the human foods they yearn or crave for are perfectly fine for them to consume. There are some foods, however, that are not permissible at all. Bread is positioned somewhere in the middle of the two food types.
Therefore, as a dog owner and caretaker, you should not just keep a constant tab on your dog’s bread consumption, but you must also make sure flavored bread, bread with added ingredients such as nuts and raisins, etc. are completely avoided.
Bread doesn’t pack in any beneficial nutrients. If your dog is already on a healthy and balanced diet, bread is not required. But if your dog likes bread or you would want it to help pack up those pounds, it’s okay to introduce bread, under your vet’s supervision.
Shawn Manaher is a serial entrepreneur but when he isn’t working, he loves dogs. He’s owned different pets over the years, and always gives a part of his heart to each pet.