Is it safe to give your dog bread?
Bread is a staple food commonly seen in most household kitchens worldwide and is consumed by most people on a daily basis. Bread is usually included in many common dishes such as sandwiches, pasta, and soup, and has many different flavors, types, and varieties. Humans consumed around 100 million metric tons of bread in 2019, and this is expected to grow. Imagine how much available bread there is worldwide! With its abundance, it’s also one of the common human foods that dog owners share with their canine friends. But is it okay to give our dogs bread? And are there any benefits to it? In this article, we’ll discuss the health implications of giving your dog bread.
Is bread good for dogs?
A bread’s nutritional value is mainly due to its high carbohydrate content. Bread’s high digestibility makes it a great source of readily available energy, part of the reason why it’s popular and has been a staple for the past thousand years. A small bread treat for dogs can provide enough energy for different activities.
Bread is also a good source of dietary fiber. Certain types of bread, like whole-wheat bread, have high fiber content that helps in maintaining a healthy digestive tract. Dietary fiber regulates the transit of ingested food along the intestinal tract and helps control diarrhea and constipation in dogs.
The insoluble fiber component of bread has prebiotic properties and serves as food for the dog’s gut microflora. Fermentation of the insoluble fiber by the beneficial bacteria in the intestine produces short-chain fatty acids that provide energy for intestinal cells and help prevent the over-growth of troublesome intestinal bacteria.
Despite the energy that bread provides, it contains very little fat, making it an ideal treat option for dogs that have health issues such as liver insufficiency and heart problems. Giving your dog bread will not cause the blood cholesterol to shoot up and can help treat or manage gall bladder problems. There is also very little risk of your dog developing pancreatitis from eating bread.
Bread can also be fortified with different vitamins and minerals that can help in various body functions. B-vitamins in bread help maintain proper skin and nerve health and prevent anemia in dogs. Trace minerals like calcium and phosphorus are essential in keeping bones and joints healthy.
In general, bread is safe to give to dogs. It doesn’t have any toxic components that can cause serious health problems, and it has nutrients that can even help meet a dog’s daily nutritional needs. However, bread can have health hazards if not given properly. Dog owners must be aware of these concerns before feeding their dogs bread.
Things to Consider Before Feeding Your Dog Bread
While bread can be a great source of energy due to its high carbohydrate content, giving too much to dogs may cause more harm than good. Carbohydrates are a good source of energy because they’re the first nutrient being metabolized by the body to provide fuel for the dog’s daily activities. However, if a dog is getting more carbohydrates than it needs to use, the excess will be stored by the body in the form of fat.
Giving too much bread to dogs can eventually lead to excessive weight gain and obesity. Overweight and obese dogs have an increased risk for serious health problems such as diabetes mellitus and various cardiac problems. They’re also prone to developing osteoarthritis, a painful joint condition in dogs that often requires lifetime medication and supplements to control and manage.
Too much bread can also disrupt gastrointestinal function because of its high fiber content. Dietary fiber, if given in appropriate quantities, helps maintain proper gastrointestinal health. Too much of it, however, can lead to delayed gastrointestinal movement leading to constipation. If constipation is left undetected and untreated, it can lead to bowel obstruction and may need surgical intervention to address.
Another common health problem associated with bread is food allergy. While bread is generally safe, the wheat it contains can trigger an allergic reaction in dogs. Food allergy to wheat can present in 2 different ways: gastrointestinal or dermatological signs. Skin manifestation is the common form of food allergy in dogs, with signs ranging from itching to severe skin inflammation and secondary infections. Gastrointestinal signs often include vomiting and uncontrolled diarrhea.
Safe Ways to Give Your Dog Bread as a Treat
Despite the listed health hazards associated with bread, it is still very safe to give, provided it’s not done in large quantities and on a regular basis. Dogs need a well-balanced diet to maintain their health. A well-formulated diet consisting of protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals is important to meet a dog’s daily nutritional needs. Giving bread as the sole source of nutrition is never recommend as it cannot fulfill a dog’s nutrient requirement even if the bread has been fortified with different vitamins and minerals.
The best way to give bread to dogs is in smaller portions, preferably as treats. Most dogs love the taste of bread and if given as treats, it can serve as a positive reinforcement reward during training. White bread is generally the preferred bread type as it’s easily digested and has a tolerable fiber content, just enough to help with digestion without causing problems if given at the right amount.
Bread that contains fruits or ingredients that are toxic to dogs, such as raisins and certain nuts, should be avoided. High-fiber, whole wheat bread can be given, but dog owners should closely observe for signs of possible constipation or indigestion.
Giving bread dough should be avoided at all costs. A dog’s gastrointestinal system provides the right environment for bread dough to expand. If a dog ingests uncooked dough, it can expand inside the stomach or intestine, causing extreme discomfort, indigestion, or obstruction.
It’s best to discuss with your vet first before starting your dog on bread treats. Your vet can give you sound advice and can come up with a proper plan on how to incorporate bread into your dog’s diet.
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