The answer to the question is, a conditional yes. Plain white bread is safe enough, but only in moderation. It is not the same as how much human beings consume bread in all its various forms. Still, it is to be avoided if your dog has any allergies. Bread is nothing but a filler and has zero nutrients. As long your dog is well-fed on a balanced diet and gets the required amount of exercise each day, a few pieces of bread on and off will be acceptable.
There are many differences between the human digestive system and a dog’s digestive system. There are also differences in the way food is consumed starting with the mouth’s movements, the teeth used for chewing the food, the saliva for lubricating, and the oesophagus that is designed differently.
Jaws and Teeth: Human beings have jaws that can move in all four directions, up, down, and side to side. The teeth are used for grinding the food. Dogs, on the other hand, can only move their jaws up and down. Their teeth are sharp and designed so that they can grind more dense items and have a three-root system.
Saliva: The saliva in human beings is to lubricate the process of digestion. But, in dogs, saliva is for more than mere lubrication of food. It does not have the required enzymes that would help break down the food particles. Dog’s saliva has enzymes that kill bacteria.
Oesophagus: Oesophagus, in human beings, helps keep the food away from the windpipe and helps keep the food in the stomach. However, in dogs, if the food does not go down the throat and into the stomach, it simply comes back out with a gag reflex.
Digestion: Once the food reaches the stomach, it takes around an hour to get digested in human beings. On the other hand, a dog’s stomach keeps the food in for a much longer time because the stomach has more acid than in human beings. It takes time for the acid to break down the food into animal protein, fats, and bones. This is one of the reasons that dogs do not get hungry as often as human beings do.
In human beings, all food absorption takes place in the intestines. In dogs, the digestive tract is smaller than the one in human beings. So, the dogs do not have as much time to absorb all the nutrients. It is easier for dogs to derive the nutrients in smaller pieces of food such as bones or organs. Apart from this, bread as such is a filler and cannot be considered as a meal.
Aren’t dogs carnivores?
Not necessarily. Since dogs are considered descendants of wolves, it is assumed that dogs must be as carnivorous as wolves. Over time, dogs have evolved, and each breed now has its own nutritional habits. While they continue to enjoy meat, they have adapted to eating plant food and grains.
Can dogs eat bread?
If you give your dog bread, it should only ever be a small amount as an occasional treat. Even this little bit is to be avoided if your dog is sensitive to certain food types. Some loaves of bread come with nuts or dried fruits, and these are also to be avoided as they are high in fat content and the dried fruits are toxic; and are not suitable for dogs.
Is gluten-free bread better for dogs?
Wheat is high in fibre and is an excellent source of energy. So, can dogs eat wheat bread? Typically, gluten will be safe for your dog. But, if your dog is allergic to wheat, you may want to remove them from the diet. You would do well not to remove other grains such as maize, oats or rice because they provide a lot of nutrition.
Risks of Feeding Bread to Dogs
While bread may not be toxic to your dog, bread dough can be. Bread dough rises in a warm and moist environment, and that is what will be available inside the dog’s stomach. Therefore, if you give your dog bread dough, the yeast will allow it to rise, and this will cause the stomach to bloat and release high levels of ethanol into the dog’s bloodstream. If your dog has either been fed some dough or grabbed it off the counter, you may need to look for the following symptoms: weakness, anxiety, depression, seizures, and in some cases, coma. But, regardless of symptoms, you would need to take your dog to the vet for a check-up.
Other loaves of bread that are highly risky include bread with raisins, garlic, nuts, etc. Raisins are found to be highly harmful to dogs, and it is best to avoid giving any part of the bread that has been baked with raisins.
Garlic may be highly tempting to your dog, but it causes vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and is to be avoided.
Since bread is high on sugar, it can be harmful to dogs. In recent times, xylitol is being used as a sweet substitute and is toxic to dogs.
In general, check the list of ingredients whenever you consider feeding baked goods to your dog.
The information contained in VOSD Vet Advice™ is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical action which is provided by your vet. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information. For any emergency related to a dog’s health, please visit the nearest veterinary clinic.
Do you find this information useful? For more advice, visit the VOSD website.