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Bread for Dogs – Safety, Risks, Benefits & FAQ

A pet lover passionate about educating readers about animal health and care. Love reading studies and recent research.
Published on
Sunday 2 February 2020
Last updated on
Tuesday 9 May 2023
bread for dogs
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Bread for dogs is safe but not recommended. It’s one of the most common table scraps given to pets as it is seen as bland and not spiced, therefore thought to be totally safe. Yet, while bread is not toxic to dogs, it is providing unneeded calories.

Multiple household foods and meals can negatively affect our dogs both minorly and severely. Ingredients such as garlic, onion, and chocolate may all cause acute intestinal distress along with other health issues. Therefore, we much check our food before we give a scrap of them to our beloved pets. Today we will be explaining if dogs can eat bread or if there are specific bread types suitable for dogs.

Certain ingredients in different bread types are either not well known or not understood to damage dogs when ingested. The most common bread types and their ingredients will be summarised here. So that you know when giving your dog a treat, that they will remain healthy.

Can dogs eat bread?

Dogs can eat most types of bread. This is because the way a dog’s body reacts to bread is similar to ours. Any bread should be consumed in moderation but particularly white bread. It is also not only dependant on what ingredients are used in the bread, but the ratio, too.

Different types of bread are regularly questioned for safe consumption in dogs. Pizza dough, bagels, and even potato bread are common searches for owners. Simply answered, this depends on all the ingredients included in each loaf. Types of bread, toppings, and cooking methods and the amount can all affect whether the bread is toxic. These can also affect the amount of toxicity in the loaf which may affect your dog.

Can dogs eat white bread?

White bread, also known as wheat bread, is not harmful to dogs. As long as they are not allergic to any of the ingredients. White bread is very high in fat and carbohydrates including sugars and therefore not a healthy snack for your pup. However, they are able to have some occasionally.

Can dogs eat wholewheat bread?

Similarly to white bread, wholewheat bread is safe for dogs. As long as they are not allergic to any of the ingredients. Also known as brown bread and the healthy alternative to white bread. It is considered better for dogs to consume brown bread rather than white. Although it is important to remember all bread types are high in carbs, fats, and sugars. Therefore they should be considered a treat.

Is bread healthy for dogs?

Bread is a source of carbs (energy) but dogs can only eat bread in moderation. Note that bread should never be part of their regular food. Eating too much bread may result in deficiency or health issues.

Although bread is not immediately detrimental to your dog’s health, it should not be considered part of their normal or regular diet. Of course, bread has positives, such as being a great source of carbs and therefore is wonderful for both immediate and stored energy. Due to this though, the energy stored can easily become an excess weight and increase health risks. These can vary from heart disease, high blood pressure, and joint problems.

unhealthy bread for dogs
Bread for dogs, just like for humans, tends to be unhealthy due to its carbohydrate density.

What are the main disadvantages of feeding bread to a dog?

Feeding bread to your dogs can come with many negatives towards their physical and biological health. Often, owners will not be aware of the various disadvantages that come with giving a small amount of bread regularly. Consequences can be brief and long term and even fatal depending on the ingredients in each piece of bread.

Not part of the wild canine diet

Dogs are omnivorous, this means not only are they able to eat both meat and vegetables, but this is encouraged. However, their diet does not consist of high carb or wheat-based products like bread. Due to how their body stores fat and what food types are most beneficial to their health, bread is low on the list. Their diet should predominantly be meat, vegetables and usually low fat and low carb ingredients. This returns to the argument that although a dog can ingest bread, it does not mean they should do so regularly or at all. Furthermore, they certainly do not need bread.

Weight gain

A dog’s body and biology are adapted for high protein, vitamin and mineral diets. However, it is not accustomed to high carbohydrate diets nor high fat, both of which can originate from consuming bread. As dog’s ancestors, wolves, would not naturally have bread, when their body received fat or carbohydrates, these immediately become stored. Therefore, the now-domesticated dog still retains this biological function to store nearly all provided carbohydrates and fats. Thereby immediately increasing their weight regardless of the rest of their diet and even exercise levels.

Bad for their teeth (because of simple carbs)

Carbohydrates are formed with a large percentage of stored sugars, these can be detrimental to multiple areas of your dog’s health, including their teeth. The sugar in the bread will attach itself to your dog’s teeth which attracts bacteria to it. The bacteria feed on the sugar on your dog;s teeth, produce acid and this is what causes your dog’s teeth to rot.

Upset stomach

A small amount of bread should not upset your dog’s stomach, but even dogs without allergies can become ill when fed too much bread. Protease, a type of digestive enzyme in the stomach, specifically digests protein. This means if large amounts of carbohydrates are given to your dog, they may be able to begin digesting them but not fully. This is what usually leads to an upset stomach.

Intake of potentially toxic ingredients

Depending on the type of bread given to your dog, it may not only be damaging to your dog but potentially lethal. For example, garlic bread is toxic to a dog and even a small amount can cause diarrhea and vomiting.

These factors may all lead to more serious biological and behavioral reactions including weakness, depression, unsteady gait, hypothermia, negatively affected nervous system and even a coma.

What are the benefits of bread for dogs?

In small amounts, however, bread can actually be beneficial to your dog’s health.

Pads any swallowed foreign materials

As owners, we cannot watch our dogs every moment of every day, and unfortunately, this can lead to them finding small objects and swallowing them. These objects may include thread, bone shards or sticks. This can be hugely concerning when our pets have consumed items like this, worries could span from intestinal blockage or even just slight discomfort we wish to alleviate. Feeding your dog small pieces of bread and making sure they are drinking regularly can help to minimize intestinal pain and prevent blockages, allowing the item to pass through naturally. This should only be done after receiving veterinary advice, each case needs to be evaluated upon the individual and what item has been consumed.

Reduces pain

If your dog has mild abdominal pain, bread can help reduce the pain. This is because of the nutrients within them, both white and brown bread can help to settle a stomach but white, in particular, can do so. A small amount is all that is recommended, a quarter of a piece of bread usually.

Helps digestion

This is mainly seen with brown bread, also known as whole wheat bread. Brown bread has a large amount of fiber, a nutrient that can help bulk out fecal matter and increase the number of healthy bacteria in the gut. Healthy bacteria aids to settle a churning stomach or IBS (Irritable bowel syndrome) in dogs with high anxiety. This, in turn, leads to a more regular digestive pattern and minimizes vomiting and diarrhea. Stools will also be bulked out, preventing diarrhea but softened enough to avoid anal tears or constipation.

Is softened bread good for puppies?

It is important to remember that a puppy’s digestive system is more sensitive than that of an adult dog. Although the same rules and advice already discussed apply to puppies, in order to maintain a healthy digestive system, they will require a smaller amount of bread. This will prevent the disruption of a healthy digestive system.

Is bread dough safe for dogs?

For a dog to ingest raw bread dough could be deadly for multiple reasons. Firstly, bread dough will continue to expand until it is baked, this means it may do so inside of your pet, leading to intestinal blockages which can usually only be treated by high-risk surgery. Furthermore, bread dough will release ethanol, also known as alcohol. The alcohol will quickly move through your dog’s stomach to their bloodstream and this can quickly lead to alcohol poisoning.

What are the types of bread that can cause harm to my dog?

All of the bread mentioned below are ones that will cause your dog harm. We have collected the most common and unknown types so you are fully informed when treating your dog.

toxic bread for dogs
Some types of bread contain additional ingredients that may be toxic to dogs and other pets.

Raisin Bread

When raisins are ingested by your dog, they immediately begin poisoning them. Within a few hours, the raisin bread can lead to kidney failure and death without treatment. Even a piece of bread without a raisin can still posses a risk if it came from a loaf with raisins in. Avoid feeding your dogs these at any cost. If you do so, get immediate vet treatment.

Onion and Garlic Bread

Onions toxicity level depends on the amount given, this is not to say that onion given in small amounts is okay, but that it is simply less dangerous. Some food types even given in minimum can cause death but onions have increased deadliness with the amount given. So what is the problem with onions? They contain a chemical called tn-propyl disulfide which can damage your dog’s red blood cells. This can lead to trouble breathing and transporting oxygen.

Similarly, garlic affects blood cells in dogs. Although, many argue for the positive qualities of garlic such as a tick repellent. It is recommended to only give to a dog in very small amounts, furthermore, toxicity builds up so even if you give your dog small amounts, it will become more deadly each time you feed it to your dog.

It is recommended that you stay away from these ingredients when giving your dog treats, but if you do decide to feed your dog these, make sure they are not pregnant or puppies. This is because they remain particularly vulnerable at this time.

Banana Bread

Bananas themselves are not toxic to your dog, nor is banana bread. However, this treat must be considered in moderation as excess sugar can be found in this loaf and can cause obesity or fat storage on inner organs if given too regularly.

Bread with Nuts

The safety of bread with nuts is dependant on the nuts within the loaf. Those with are considered health risk free include almonds and cashews, disregarding their level of fat if fed in excess. Loaves with black walnuts or macadamia nuts can be very toxic to dogs and should not be given at all. This is because these nuts can cause very low blood sugar in dogs and even liver failure if fed in a large amount.

Bread with too much sugar

Veterinarians and experienced dog carers often tell owners to keep their dog’s diet and treats sugar-free or as minimal as possible, but why is this? Sugar can damage your dogs teeth, leading to cavities and jaw pain. Increased weight is another concern as it can impact your dog’s overall health and even lead to other illnesses such as diabetes type two. Furthermore, being a heavier weight can reduce mobility and enjoyment of life for your dog.

Milder issues may include an upset stomach for your dogs but this can still lead to weight loss from vomiting and diarrhea, stomach pain and discomfort for your dog. Regardless of the taste of the bread given, it is not worth the consequences.

Chocolate Bread

Regardless of whether chocolate is given directly to your dog or within the bread, the consequences may be deadly. Chocolate contains theobromine, this is something that humans can use, digest and make energy from very easily, hence why we are not harmed by chocolate. For dogs, they convert this into usable substances very slowly and therefore it will accumulate and become toxic in a very short amount of time. This is another type of bread that is recommended to be avoided at all times.

Bread with artificial sweeteners (xylitol)

It is often thought that artificial sweeteners are a healthy substitute for dogs as they are for humans, but this is not the case. Breads using artificial sweeteners contain an ingredient called xylitol, another ingredient non-toxic to humans but deadly to dogs. When artificial sugars are ingested, dogs’ bodies will interpret this to be regular sugar, so when it is absorbed, a large amount of insulin will be released. This is opposite to humans whos bodies do not release insulin upon eating artificial sugar. The large amount of insulin in the dog’s bodies can lead to a high drop in blood sugar, liver failure, seizures, and death.

Ironically, the artificial sweetener is much more toxic than regular sugar for dogs, but both have negative and potentially fatal consequences to your pet’s health.

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