Can dogs eat bread?

Bread is a common staple in most kitchens, and many dogs have enjoyed a sandwich crust left too close to the edge of the kitchen table or counter. But, is it safe for dogs to eat bread? Here’s what you need to know about dogs and bread.

Is it safe for dogs to eat bread?

For the most part, bread is safe for dogs to eat, as long as you only offer plain white or wheat bread. If you’re sharing a slice with your pooch, be sure to avoid breads containing these ingredients:

  • Nuts — Macadamia nuts are especially toxic to dogs. And, all nuts are high in fat, which  can lead to pancreatitis in your furry friend.

  • Chocolate chips — Even though banana bread is a delicious treat, it’s often paired with chocolate. Keep your pup’s paws off this sweet snack.

  • Raisins — Thick slices of raisin-studded bread make excellent toast in the morning, but don’t let your dog join you for breakfast. Raisins can quickly cause kidney failure in dogs.

  • Onions and garlic — Your canine companion already has doggy breath, and adding onions and garlic on top of that is unappealing. What’s even worse than stinky breath? Onions and garlic can cause anemia by destroying your dog’s red blood cells.

  • Xylitol — Beware of dessert breads or breads containing peanut butter sweetened with xylitol. This sugar substitute can lead to dangerously low glucose levels and may also cause liver failure.

If you enjoy making your own homemade bread from scratch, beware of the dough when your dog is around. If your pup scarfs down your bread dough while your back is turned, her stomach will provide the perfect conditions to allow the bread to continue to rise and expand. Rising bread dough can lead to stomach bloat, but the real issue is the ethanol released from the yeast. As ethanol is absorbed into your dog’s bloodstream, she can quickly fall victim to alcohol poisoning. Be aware of these signs, which will appear anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours after your pet ingests bread dough:

  • Elevated heart rate

  • Unproductive retching and vomiting

  • Distended abdomen

  • Neurological depression

  • Hypothermia

  • Low blood pressure

  • Seizures

  • Unsteady gait

  • Respiratory failure

  • Weakness

  • Coma

Bread dough ingestion is considered an emergency, and you should seek veterinary care as soon as possible.

As with any special treat, be sure to only dole out small portions of bread to prevent your pup from gaining weight.

Are there health benefits of eating bread?

When you have an upset stomach, you may eat dry toast to settle it. And, many dog owners assume the same is true for dogs experiencing gastrointestinal upset. Instead of using bread to soothe your pup’s tummy, opt for a bland diet. The Merck Veterinary Manual recommends feeding a mixture of cooked white rice and boiled boneless skinless chicken or lowfat cottage cheese for gastrointestinal issues and avoiding carb-laden, sugar-filled white bread that can lead to bloating.

However, this recommendation is for short term use only as it is not nutritionally balanced. It is best to consult with your veterinarian for their recommendation specific to your pet.

If your dog ingests a sharp object, such as beef and pork bone shards, which should not be fed to your pet, bread may help but it is always best to check with your veterinarian first. It is thought that bread can serve to “pad” bone fragments or wood chips to prevent intestinal perforation and wad up string if swallowed. But, if your pet is vomiting, has persistent diarrhea, is painful, or is not acting like herself, skip the toast and head straight to your veterinarian.

If your dog suffers from bowel issues, speak to your veterinarian about adding in a bread that is rich in fiber, such as whole wheat or grain-based breads. Stay away from plain white bread and French bread, since these types carry few nutritional perks. Most pets don’t require supplementation if fed the appropriate, high-quality, balanced dog food.

How to incorporate bread into your dog’s diet

Baking for your best friend allows you to create treats free from preservatives, sugar, and salt. Choose high-quality ingredients and rest assured knowing exactly what is in your pet’s treats. Check out this tasty recipe from Amy Tokic, editor of PetGuide, that will have your dog drooling:

 

Banana Bread

Ingredients:

  • 2.5 cups whole wheat flour

  • 2 bananas, mashed

  • ⅛ cup honey

  • 1 egg

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon

  • ½ cup almond milk

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and cinnamon, mixing well.

  3. In a small bowl, mash bananas with a fork.

  4. Add the honey, egg, and almond milk to the bananas, and whisk until combined.

  5. Mix the wet and dry ingredients together.

  6. Place dough into a loaf pan, making sure it’s level.

  7. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes.

  8. Ensure the bread has cooled completely before serving.

In addition to being delicious, this banana bread boasts other benefits. Bananas are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, strengthening the immune system. Cinnamon provides a variety of benefits—it aids in digestion and serves as an anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and anti-fungal ingredient.

Enjoy baking for your best friend? Try whipping up these other doggy delights (we recommend the carrot cupcakes with cream cheese icing!).

If baking isn’t up your alley, try a simple snack of a mini peanut butter sandwich. Just a small bite is enough for your dog to enjoy this treat. You can also turn this snack into a variation of a pill pocket to hide your pet’s daily medications or supplements. Remember, always choose plain white or wheat bread, free from xylitol, nuts, or raisins.