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Can My Dog Eat This?

Can Dogs Eat Bread?

The short answer: yes — in moderation. It’s better to go easy on this carb-heavy treat.

by Daniela Lopez
November 22, 2012
A woman cutting a slice of bread from a loaf in a cutting board in front of her Dachshund dog
Pekic / iStock

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Bread baking is a trend (ahem) rising in kitchens everywhere so if you’ve attempted baking during the last few years, you aren’t alone. Approximately 30% of people reported trying out baking skills during the height of the shutdown. So, as a pet parent, of course, you might be curious if your dog can partake in this bread-baking delight. Here’s a look at the pros and cons of bread for dogs and a recipe to try making your own bread at home.

Can dogs eat bread?

Yep — Dogs can eat bread, but this carb-heavy treat should be shared in moderation and only after you’ve checked the ingredients first. While feeding your pup plain white bread as an occasional treat is perfectly safe, that doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Bread is low in fat and high in carbs and offers few nutritional benefits. Carbohydrates — broken down by the body into sugar — turn into fat if unused, which isn’t ideal for keeping extra pounds off your pup. Depending on the type of bread, it can provide some light dietary benefits. Whole-grain wheat, sourdough, and rye offer additional nutritional benefits for dogs and make great alternatives to white bread.

Whole wheat bread has a higher nutritional value than white bread, with fewer calories and more vitamin B6, magnesium, and iron. And whole wheat bread is not only better for your pup, but the higher fiber in whole wheat bread can aid in relieving constipation.

Rye bread is a denser whole-grain bread that contains less gluten than wheat bread. As an occasional treat for your dog, it’s a healthier choice — as long as it’s whole grain. Keep an eye out on the label to ensure you’re getting the healthy stuff. Rye has more fiber than wheat and is known to be more effective at treating constipation.

Dogs can also eat cornbread, a non-yeast bread that’s a good source of phosphorus. As an occasional treat, cornbread is safe for dogs. But cornbread is high in carbs, sodium, and sugar and lacks the benefits of other whole-grain bread.

If your pup has allergies, gluten intolerance, or a sensitive stomach, bread might not be a good choice for them. Each dog is an individual, so if you’re unsure, it’s better to check with a pro. “Before feeding your pet any human foods, remember to always check with your veterinarian or a veterinary nutritionist. Every pet is different so what may be okay for one may not be okay for another,” says Lindsey E. Bullen, DVM, Board Certified Veterinary Nutritionist at BluePearl Specialty and Emergency Pet Hospital. “It is also important to keep pets with chronic illnesses or diseases on their prescribed diet, as any deviation could result in sickness and a trip to the ER.”

Some bread is bad for dogs.

For a healthy dog without allergies or a gluten intolerance, bread isn’t all bad. But not all bread is created equal. Some ingredients in certain types of bread aren’t suitable for any dog — they can be downright dangerous. Here are types of bread (and toxic ingredients) to watch out for in order to keep your dog safe.

Raisin bread

Can dogs eat raisin bread? This is a definite no. Raisins (and their juicy counterparts) are toxic to dogs. Raisins can cause kidney failure, which makes them extremely harmful to dogs, so keep loaves containing raisins stored safely in areas where your dog can’t reach them.

Banana bread

Can dogs eat banana bread? Nope, dogs shouldn’t eat most banana bread. Bananas are perfectly safe for dogs; in fact, they’re a pretty healthy treat with plenty of nutritional benefits. But banana bread is often baked with nuts like macadamia nuts or walnuts, which should not be given to dogs — they’re both a choking hazard and potentially toxic. Excess sugars in sweet breads like banana bread aren’t doing your dog any favors either, so it’s best to skip this one.

Garlic bread

Can dogs eat garlic bread? Like raisins and macadamia nuts, garlic is a no-no for dogs, which, by extension, makes garlic bread bad for dogs. Garlic and other allium plants, like onions, are toxic to dogs and cause stomach aches, vomiting, and diarrhea. In high quantities, garlic can also cause hemolytic anemia.

Gingerbread

Can dogs eat gingerbread? While a bite or two of gingerbread is unlikely to harm your dog, it does contain another toxic ingredient: nutmeg. A component of nutmeg called myristicin is toxic to dogs in large quantities. Myristicin toxicity can cause stomach upset, high blood pressure, increased heart rates, and hallucinations. Because of the potential for toxicity, it’s best to keep gingerbread away from your dog.

Other bread dangers

Watch out for extra ingredients like chocolate and xylitol (a sugar substitute), which are both toxic to dogs. Breads high in sugars or fats can cause stomach irritation in some dogs or, worse, cause pancreatitis. Then there’s raw bread dough which is dangerous for dogs. Uncooked yeast dough can expand in a dog’s stomach, causing obstruction and alcohol poisoning. “The real danger is from the resulting alcohol toxicosis which causes depressed central nervous system, weakness, an unsteady, drunken gait, hypothermia, seizures, and coma,” says Dr. Bullen.

How should I give my dog bread?

While bread doesn’t offer your pup many nutritional benefits, there are plenty of ways you can use it as an occasional treat. If you bake your own bread, not only does it fill the house with the nothing-better-than aroma of freshly baked bread, but it also provides the crunchy delight of olive-oil-laced crouton snacks for your pup and abundant, tasty breadcrumbs for their turkey meatloaf.

For croutons: Slice bread into small cubes (or whatever size you prefer), place in a bowl, and add olive oil, mixing well. Place cubes on a cookie sheet and cook at 350 degrees for 15 to 30 mins, depending on how crunchy your dog likes them. Add a little homemade peanut butter to them for an extra special dog treat.

For bread crumbs: Heat up some day-old (or older) bread, cut it into large cubes and place it in a blender or food processor. Pulse a few times until it is the consistency you desire, then bake the crumbs in the oven for a few minutes. Bread crumbs can be frozen to store for later use.

Whole Wheat Dog Bread Recipe

Here’s a recipe for nutritious bread for dogs. This no-knead bread recipe has been adapted slightly to combine 3 different flours — about 2/3 cups of whole wheat flour, a couple of tablespoons of rye, and topping it off with spelt flour (all 3 different types together equal one cup). Be sure to use bread flour with higher protein and not all-purpose as the main flour. Enjoy this delicious bread recipe and share some with your pup.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups bread flour

  • 1 cup whole wheat (or a mix of whole wheat, spelt, rye) flour

  • 1 ¼ tsp. salt

  • ½ tsp instant or active dry yeast

  • 1 ⅓ cup (plus a scant tbsp.) cool water

DIRECTIONS

  1. Put all dry ingredients into a medium-sized mixing bowl, and using a wooden spoon or your hands, mix all the dry ingredients, making sure that the flours are well integrated.

  2. Next, pour all the water into the bowl, covering as much flour as possible. Then mix it all with a spoon or your hands for 30 seconds to a minute.

  3. Cover the bowl with plastic and let rise for 12 to 18 hours at room temperature. It should double in size. (The warmer the room, the less rising time, but 12 hours is always the minimum amount of time for the bread to ferment slowly — an important aspect of this recipe.)

  4. After the dough has risen, generously flour a surface (like a cutting board or countertop) and your hands, then remove all the dough from the bowl. You can also use a plastic bowl scraper because it might stick to the bowl. Try to get it all out in one piece.

  5. With your well-floured hands, shape the dough by folding and refolding (a few times) and then forming it into a round ball (it will be around 6 inches in diameter).

  6. Gently move the dough onto a well-floured tea towel (do not use terry cloth). You can use cornmeal or bran instead of flour, then cover with either another tea towel or the edges of the towel.

  7. Let the dough rest for 1 to 2 hours in a draft-free spot. The dough is ready for baking when it leaves a slight impression after a gentle poke with your finger. If it doesn’t, wait another 15 minutes and test it again.

  8. Halfway through this second rise, preheat the oven to 475 degrees, and remove all the racks from the oven except for one on the lower third portion. Add your pot. It is very important that the pot you’ll bake the bread in stays covered during the preheating and the first part of the baking process.*

  9. When the dough is ready, carefully remove the pot from the oven, making sure not to place the pot on a cool surface (especially if using a La Cloche); remove the cover, then working quickly, gently flip the loaf over into the pot, so the “bottom” of the dough becomes the top of the loaf. Cover the pot, and again, working quickly, place it on the oven rack.

  10. Bake for 30 mins. The first blast of heat causes the fermenting dough to become “bread” in what is called “over spring.” After 30 minutes, remove the lid from the pot and bake the bread for another 10 to 20 minutes.**

  11. Remove the loaf from the pot and cool on a rack — while it should be easy to remove it from the hot pot, you might need to use a spatula to gently pry it up from the bottom. I know it is irresistible, but do not cut into the loaf until it is fully cooled.

*Here’s the important part of what makes the magic of this simple baking method work —Lahey’s “oven within an oven” discovery. You will be baking the bread in either a heavy covered 4 ½ quart to 5 ½ quart pot, like an enameled cast-iron Dutch oven, or a 5-quart Lodge cast-iron pot. You might find it easier to place the dough loaf onto a La Cloche instead of “flinging” the loaf into a higher-sided pot.

**The time depends on how hot your oven is and how dark you like your crust.

Recipe by Claudia Kawczynska adapted from Jim Lahey from the Sullivan Street Bakery

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daniela lopez

Daniela Lopez

Daniela Lopez is a digital media specialist and long-time contributor to The Bark.