Did you know that raw dough is dangerous to dogs? Here’s why
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Did you know that raw dough is dangerous to dogs? Here’s why

Dogs
Health & Safety

Baking bread and making other dough-based products at home like pizza is something that has become really popular in recent years, and it is a lot easier than it used to be historically thanks to equipment like bread makers, which take a lot of the hard work out of things!

The smell of freshly baked bread and cutting into a newly cooled loaf is absolutely irresistible to most of us, and dogs feel exactly the same way.

Whilst bread isn’t good for dogs and isn’t something you should share with them or give to them as a treat, unless it contains other ingredients that are dangerous to dogs or your dog has a gluten or wheat sensitivity, it is not actually harmful to them.

However, raw or unbaked dough, which might be left out proving and rising or otherwise be found within the home in your dog’s reach, is actually very dangerous to dogs if eaten, and can make them acutely ill.

If you like to make bread at home, this article is essential reading to keep your dog safe. Read on to find out why bread dough is dangerous to dogs, what happens if a dog eats dough, and how you would know if your dog had ingested bread dough.

Why is unbaked dough dangerous to dogs?

There are two different risks involved if your dog eats unbaked dough, which are quite different and serve to make eating dough one of the more dangerous food poisons for dogs.

The first risk is that yeast, which is used to make bread rise, does this by means of fermentation, which essentially means that it produces alcohol; ethanol, in this case, during the rising stage.

Alcohol is toxic to dogs and so eating unbaked bread dough if it is going through the rising and fermenting stage can mean ingesting this alcohol.

The second risk involved in a dog eating raw dough is that as mentioned above, dough is designed to expand and rise. When the dough reaches your dog’s stomach, the warmth and moisture within it will continue to support the expansion process, and this causes gases to be given off, including carbon dioxide. This results in your dog’s stomach expanding far more than it was meant to as a result of the amount of gas being produced, resulting in serious bloating.

This gas doesn’t pass from your dog’s body in the normal way like regular gas that results in flatulence, and as it expands ever further, it can also serve to cut off the exit at either end of the stomach so that no gas can escape at all.

What happens if a dog eats bread dough?

As mentioned, there are two key risks involved in a dog eating raw dough.

The first of these is that they develop alcohol poisoning from the ethanol produced by the yeast in the fermentation process. Alcohol poisoning in dogs can be fatal on its own.

However, the second and more common and acute threat that develops if a dog eats unbaked dough is that they will quickly develop an acute case of bloat or GDV.

Bloat is the name given to the condition that develops when you dog’s stomach fills with gas and expands dangerously large, and GDV or gastric dilation volvulus is a secondary complication of this that can develop from an initial case of bloat and also, happens very rapidly.

GDV results in the gas-filled and so unbalanced stomach flipping or twisting over, nipping off the tubes into and out of the stomach, which often proves fatal very quickly and that will not resolve itself. GDV is fatal in around 25% of all cases, even with prompt treatment.

How might a dog come into contact with unbaked dough?

Unbaked dough is something that dogs might well eat if they have the opportunity to do so, and for many people baking at home, there might not seem to be any harm in giving the dog a little ball of dough if they do not know the risks.

However, it is more likely that your dog would come across dough left rising and without supervision, and decide to help themselves, or as a result of getting into the bins and finding discarded dough that didn’t make the grade.

What are the symptoms of raw dough ingestion in dogs?

If your dog has eaten raw dough, you should contact your vet as a matter of urgency even if they appear fine.

However, if you’re not sure, or your dog appears to be not quite right but you don’t know why this is, the following symptoms might provide some pointers to the onset of bloat or GDV:

  • A hard, taut, overly large or expanding stomach and abdomen.
  • Lots of gassy and bubbly sounds from the stomach; or alternatively, total silence.
  • Acute signs of pain, distress and discomfort in the dog’s stomach region.
  • Dogs may take on strange stances to try to relieve the discomfort, such as standing with their backs sloped and their hindquarters in the air.
  • They may also be constipated, although bloat and GDV are very fast in onset and so this will not usually be evident.
  • Your dog might also show signs of distress and restlessness, including pacing around, crying, drooling, and hacking or attempting to vomit.

Ethanol or alcohol poisoning in dogs that ate raw dough is less common, but may result in symptoms such as erratic behaviour, slow responses, incoordination or staggering, confusion, panting, being hyperactive, and nausea or vomiting.

Bloat and GDV constitute acute emergencies in dogs, as does alcohol poisoning. If your dog has eaten dough, contact your vet immediately even if they appear to be fine.

If you’re not sure if your dog has eaten dough but they’re displaying clusters of symptoms for either gloat/GDV or alcohol poisoning, once more, contact your vet immediately, as either condition can prove fatal in short order.

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