Homemade bread. It’s delicious any time of the year! The wonderful aroma as it comes out of the oven. The satisfaction you feel from making wholesome food from scratch. The smiles created from sharing your craft with family and friends. Perhaps, the worst part of homemade bread making is waiting for the bread to proof? Or is it that eating unbaked bread dough is one of the many possible food toxins to pets?
When your dog eats unbaked bread dough, it can lead to alcohol toxicity and stomach bloating. Cats are usually more discriminating and leave your dough to proof in peace. However, a cat could be at risk for toxicity if they do eat the unbaked dough.
How does eating bread dough lead to alcohol toxicity?
The alcohol is produced from fermenting yeast as the dough rises in a warm environment, such as your pet’s stomach. Therefore, any homemade dough with yeast is a potential concern if eaten by a pet.
Unlike the consumption of liquid alcohol, the symptoms of alcohol toxicity from eating dough are not immediately visible. When Fido eats bread dough, he may experience a bloated abdomen, vomiting, and unproductive retching prior to showing symptoms of drunkenness. As the yeast ferments, it also produces gas that leads to stomach bloating. In severe cases, the stomach can twist. This creates the surgical emergency of a gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV).
How do veterinarians treat dough ingestion?
If Fido is NOT displaying any symptoms for alcohol toxicity:
- Your veterinarian will induce vomiting. This will get the rising dough out of Fido’s stomach.
- X-rays may be recommended before your veterinarian induced vomiting to make sure the stomach has not twisted.
- X-rays may be recommended after Fido vomits to determine the amount of remaining stomach contents.
If Fido is displaying symptoms for alcohol toxicity or if Fido ate a large quantity of bread dough:
- If Fido is drunk, it is NOT safe to induce vomiting because it can lead to inhaling stomach contents and aspiration pneumonia.
- If Fido ate a large quantity of bread dough, it is also not recommended to induce vomiting because the bread dough may not be effectively removed. Typically, only 40-60% of the stomach contents are removed when vomiting is induced.
- A gastric lavage will be done to “pump the stomach.” This procedure is performed under general anesthesia to remove the stomach contents while also protecting the airway with an endotracheal tube.
- For patients who ate a large quantity of bread dough, a gastric lavage is performed with cold water to reduce the fermenting process.
We hope your homemade bread making adventures do not involve an emergency trip to the veterinarian! To prevent tempting your pets from eating any bread dough, we recommend keeping your rising loaf in a safe and inaccessible place to your pets. The countertop may seem safe, but we’ve certainly seen our share of counter surfers!
If your pet does eat bread dough, please call your family veterinarian or local veterinary emergency hospital for advice!