Food Fact – Is It Safe to Feed Bread to Dogs and Cats?
Bread is a staple food for people around the globe. For many of us, our day feels incomplete without having a slice of bread. Whether it’s having sandwiches at our favorite joint or making roti (Indian flatbread) at home, at least one meal of ours consists of it.
In the Roman & British medieval times, bread was supposed to be consumed by only the rich and the wealthy and was considered a status symbol. Whereas today, with the addition of additives & preservatives humans are advised to consume bread in moderate portions, as it can cause cancer if consumed in large quantities for a long time. So, like humans, can dogs eat bread in moderate quantities too?
The answer is – NO. Bread for dogs is a poor choice as it does more harm than good to your pet’s body, and can lead to extreme abdominal discomfort if not digested properly. Although many people in India feed their dogs bread, you are strictly advised to not do so for both dogs & cats. It is highly unsafe for them and your pets might even have an allergic reaction towards wheat or gluten.
So where does Bread originate from?
Bread has existed in our world for thousands of years. The earliest Bread is said to have originated in the Middle East, specifically Egypt in around 8000 B.C. The Egyptians crushed the grain, left it for leavening and later made flatbreads out of it. Later, as the usage of bread increased in Rome; the Romans invented milling.
The breakthrough in the history of bread came about in 1834 when the steel roller mill was invented in Switzerland to separate the endosperm, germ & bran. This made bread accessible to gluten intolerants. Addition of chemicals started in the 20th century and the bread became whiter, softer & long lasting. Now, in the 21st-century bread is made of varieties of grains like whole wheat, oats, rye, multigrain, etc which are a much healthier options than white bread (for humans, not so much for pets)
What makes Bread popular in India?
If you are raised in an Indian household, you know that a traditional Indian meal is incomplete without Roti. The Indian flatbreads are made in various forms like roti, paratha, puri, etc and have been eaten for centuries. Also, with the popularity of Western culture increasing in India there is a growth in the consumption of fast food items like sandwiches, burgers, pizzas, etc which use bread as their base.
What is the Nutritional build-up of Bread?
There is a saying that, “The whiter the bread, the sooner you are dead” which is true for us since bread does more harm to our body than most other food items. 1 slice of bread contains 80 calories and 1 g of fat. The fiber content is 0.3% in white bread and it contains minerals like magnesium, phosphorous & iron. However, white bread is made of highly processed simple carbs and has a very high glycemic index. This causes an immediate spike in blood sugar levels. The lack of dietary fiber in bread makes the person feel less full and will leave him craving for more.
Bread also has a high gluten content which can lead to gluten intolerance in a person and Potassium Bromate (a common food additive used in commercial breads) can cause cancer in humans. Apart from gluten intolerance, the sugar, salt & preservatives added in bread can prove equally harmful to the human body and cause weight gain or allergies towards certain chemicals.
So is Bread harmful for Dogs too?
Dogs have a completely different digestive system than humans. The calories in white bread might be appropriate for us but they are way more for canines. It even lacks the required number of vitamins and minerals. Bread for dogs is harmful to them as it has added sugar & preservatives and can cause stomach pains and allergies. Obesity is another issue for dogs. The high amount of carbs may cause weight gain in your pooch.
Ethanol poisoning and toxicosis can occur if the bread yeast ferments in your dog’s stomach. It may cause bloating of stomach and eventually prove fatal for your dog. Xylitol present in bread is another thing to be careful about.
What is Gluten Intolerance in Humans & Pets?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye & barley. Many people are intolerant towards gluten and its consumption can lead to diarrhea, constipation, bloating (swelling of the stomach), abdominal pain, fatigue, etc. in humans. Many people confuse gluten intolerance with celiac disease which is an auto-immune disease, but they both are completely different. The only way to reduce gluten intolerance is by avoiding gluten-rich food like breads, roti, etc.
Like humans, dogs can be highly intolerant towards gluten. If your dog is gluten intolerant and eats bread, then it may inflame their small intestine and damage its lining as a result of abnormal protein reactions in the small intestine. This allergic reaction weakens the immune system of a dog and causes diarrhea, abdominal discomfort, weight loss, itchy skin, develop poor hair & coat and even be fatal in some cases.
SEE ALSO: How Roti is Slowly Killing Your Pet
What about the different variants of Bread? Are they harmful too?
To reduce the problems caused by white bread, we have invented different alternatives like multigrain bread, whole wheat bread, oatmeal bread and even flavored breads that tingle our taste buds like the banana bread or garlic bread. These work as a great alternative for humans as they are low in gluten and rich in complex carbohydrates, vitamins & minerals. Even doctors advise consumption of whole wheat & multigrain bread over white bread.
While it works out fine for humans, it might not be the same for your pets. Like humans, dogs might also crave for flavored bread; however, it is advised to not feed them to your dogs. The chocolate chips present in banana cake can be toxic for your pets and the onion & garlic in garlic bread can damage the RBCs of your pet. And while the ingredients may be pet-safe, the preservatives & food additives may still hurt your baby. Hence, bread and pets is a bad combination!
Also, the nuts & seeds present in different bread types can cause stomach irritation & pancreatitis in your pooch. Raisins are another ingredient to steer clear of as its highly toxic and affect the kidneys of your dog.
In case your dog still eats bread, make sure it is in small quantities and is inspected for mold. Stale bread and uncooked dough are other items which are a big fat NO for your dogs & cats.
The Final Verdict
Bread for dogs and cats are unsafe because of the number of carbs, preservatives, and yeast present in them. If your dog eats bread by mistake, make sure you keep them away from it. If they show any allergic reactions, consult your vet immediately. Even the different varieties of bread are equally harmful and may cause abdominal pains. It is not at all filling and once tasted, your dog will beg for more and more. In India, it is considered normal to feed dogs and cats bread but it is out of sheer ignorance of its harmful effects. It is strongly advised to not feed bread to your pets as well as the stray dogs in your locality!
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