There are very few things we eat that our dogs won’t try and beg for. Bread is certainly no exception. In fact, you’ve probably found any time you sit down to enjoy toast for breakfast or a sandwich for lunch, you have a pair of puppy eyes staring at you, willing you to toss them the crust.
Most owners have probably unwittingly fed their dogs bits of bread anyway, but can dogs eat bread? Thankfully for those of us who’d tossed them an unwanted crust, or offered a bite of a burger in a bun, bread is usually safe for dogs to eat. They seem to love it, too! But that doesn’t mean it’s good for them to eat in excess. Not to mention, some kinds of bread can make your pooch sick. Read on to find out what bread dogs can eat, if it’s good or bad for dogs, and if they can eat dough or toast too.
Standard, plain bread is generally safe for dogs to eat. It is unusual for bread to cause stomach upset for dogs unless they have a gluten or wheat allergy, or they have eaten too much.
Bread is full of carbohydrates which will give your pooch a boost of energy but is a highly processed food. The fibre might also help their digestion. However, bread has very little nutritional benefits for dogs so it’s best kept as an occasional treat, and it certainly shouldn’t make up a significant proportion of their regular diet. Also, if you're feeding your pup bread with something on, such as butter and jam, this could have detrimental effects on your dog.
As long as the bread doesn’t contain any ingredients that are toxic to dogs, white bread is safe for dogs to eat. Although brown bread is the “healthier” alternative, your dog shouldn’t be eating enough bread for the choice to have any noticeable difference. In fact, it’s far more im-paw-tent that the bread you feed your dog is free from any harmful ingredients and served plain, rather than deciding between white or brown.
Yes, dogs can eat brown bread as long as there are no seeds or other potentially harmful ingredients. Brown bread is seen as the “healthier” choice of bread for people, and the same is true for pooches. Brown bread has higher amounts of fibre and fewer carbs. However, your dog should only be eating very small amounts of bread, regardless of if it is white or brown.
Because bread is very filling but not very nutritious, you shouldn’t feed much to your dog. Bread can also cause bloating, which is a serious problem for our furry friends. Because of this, you should only feed your dog a very small amount of bread as an occasional treat. A crust is fine, but a whole slice is too much. And if your dog somehow manages to eat an entire loaf, you will need to contact your vet.
Since toast is just bread that’s been cooked again, it’s still safe for dogs to eat as long as your pooch isn’t allergic and the bread used has no harmful ingredients. Many dogs really enjoy toast, so feeding them a small crust every now and then won’t hurt them but will definitely get their tails wagging!
Just like bread, toast is pretty safe as an occasional treat provided it is fed in moderation alongside a complete diet that is accompanied with regular exercise.
Bread is safe to eat, but it won’t provide your pup with any particular benefits. It certainly isn’t “good” or healthy for a dog to eat regularly or in large quantities.
Being a filler food, bread is high in carbohydrates but doesn’t offer much nutrition. It can make a dog feel full and cause them to skip eating their dinner, which isn’t ideal as they need to eat a complete, balanced diet to ensure that they ingest all the essential nutrients they need to stay healthy. (And they certainly won’t be getting any vitamins or minerals from the bread unless it is fortified.)
Because bread is packed full of carbohydrates and sugar, it can contribute to weight gain and obesity if your dog is overfed. If your pooch is on a controlled diet and you want to give them a tasty treat, paw-haps offer them a stick of carrot instead of a slither of bread.
Although plain bread does not usually cause stomach upset in dogs, some pups might still become sick or have diarrhoea after eating some. Just like any food, bread has the potential to cause gastrointestinal upset depending on your dog’s individual sensitivities.
If your pup seems to suffer from an upset stomach or diarrhoea after eating bread, particularly if it reoccurs, it is possible they have a gluten intolerance or a wheat allergy.
In the case of gluten intolerance, their body cannot properly digest gluten protein and it causes discomfort. Setters are particularly prone to gluten sensitivity, but otherwise, it is quite a rare condition. Meanwhile, a wheat allergy is more common. An allergy causes your dog’s immune system to overreact to the wheat and attack it as if it is a harmful pathogen. If your dog has a wheat allergy, they will have to avoid all wheat products which will include foods like pasta. However, gluten can be found in many products both with or without wheat.
There are a lot of other allergens a dog may be sensitive to, and meat proteins like beef and lamb are usually more common than an allergy to wheat. If you suspect your dog might have an allergy, be sure to consult with your vet to rule out other possible causes.
There’s an old wives tale that feeding your sick dog bread or toast will help to settle their stomach. Paw-haps it started because we humans often eat toast when we are unwell. However, bread and toast aren’t the most helpful foods you can offer an unwell pup. But can dogs eat bread to settle their stomach?
If your dog has an upset stomach or diarrhoea, the best thing they can eat is a highly digestible, healthy dinner. There are other additional foods that you can give to your dog to help settle their upset stomach that are far healthier and more effective than bread. For example, grated carrot. You should always consult your vet about any dietary changes or illness your dog has to make sure they are appropriately diagnosed and treated.
While plain white or brown bread is safe for dogs to eat there are other loaves you need to prevent your pooch from ever eating.
You should never feed your dog raw bread dough. If eaten, raw bread dough can pose a real risk to dogs and cats.
The dough can rise in the warmth of their stomach, causing serious discomfort, bloating, and swelling. Dog bloat, known as gastric dilatation-volvulus, is a medical emergency for dogs and will be fatal if they do not receive urgent veterinary care.
Additionally, the fermentation process of the yeast produces carbon dioxide which will bloat the stomach and can potentially be absorbed into the blood. Alcohol is also produced by this process, and will also be absorbed into your pet’s blood. This can potentially intoxicate your pet and lead to problems with their blood sugar and blood pressure. If a dog ingests a lot of alcohol, it can cause seizures and respiratory failure, which is almost always fatal.
Never feed your dog any bread that contains ingredients that are toxic to dogs. Obvious examples of bread to avoid are seeded loaves, chocolate brioches, or cinnamon and raisin bagels.
There are many kinds of bread that contain ingredients that are dangerous to dogs. Some of these are ones many owners already know are harmful, such as chocolate and raisins, while others are less well-known.
If your bread contains any of the following, do not feed it to your dog.
Nuts (Macadamia nuts are especially toxic to dogs.)
Xylitol (A common sweetener.)
These ingredients are all toxic to dogs on varying levels and will almost certainly make your pet ill. Reactions to these ingredients range in severity too. Mild cases can cause stomach upset and diarrhoea, while more serious cases can lead to conditions such as acute pancreatitis and kidney failure. If severe or left untreated, these illnesses are potentially fatal. That’s why it’s best to completely avoid these ingredients and never feed them to your dog, and never feed them any bread that contains these toxic foodstuffs.
Yes, dogs can eat bread provided it is a plain white or brown loaf. It doesn’t matter if the bread is as-is or toasted, just make sure it is kept plain. Do not feed your dog a lot of bread though, as it is carb-heavy and provides very little nutrition.
Rather than feeding your dog bread to fill them up, give them a complete and balanced meal such as Pure, it contains all the nutrients and the correct amount of carbs your dog needs to keep them fuller for longer. The carbs in Pure are complex, stimulating a slow sugar release, giving your dog the right energy to sustain them throughout the day, rather than the sugar rushes and crashes that often happen with some chemically-fuelled dog foods.
Written by: Dr Andrew Miller MRCVS
Andy graduated from Bristol University in 2010 and sees nutrition as a foundation for our pet's wellbeing and takes a common-sense approach. We are what we eat, and it shouldn't be any different for our pets.