The smell of bread dough rising in a warm place—what can match that? You look forward to eating some freshly baked bread, warm and melting with butter. Yum! That’s a wonderful scenario; however, your fur baby may also be drooling over that unbaked bread and the scents it’s sending around the kitchen!
Has your dog eaten some bread dough? Can bread dough make him sick?
The Chemistry of Rising Bread Dough
Basic bread dough is made with flour, water, yeast, and salt. This is what pulls the dough together. After it’s mixed, the dough is kneaded and then left to rise before being baked. This is the simple version of making bread. What’s happening in the dough is much more interesting!
The flour used to make bread dough contains proteins, which are called glutenins and gliadins. When water is added to the flour, the proteins line up and form bonds together, creating a large gluten chain. This passes all through the dough. When you knead the dough, these bonds strengthen in the dough.
Then there’s the salt. This helps to strengthen the network of gluten and makes the dough more elastic. Of course, it also adds flavor. Next, the yeast makes the bread rise. The yeast breaks down the starch in the flour into sugars, creating ethanol (alcohol) and carbon dioxide, which are released during baking.
This is a little simplified, but you get the idea. It’s a very interesting process! However, the gases produced by the yeast can cause a problem when eaten by a dog.
Unbaked Bread Poisoning in Dogs
Dogs can become poisoned if they eat unbaked bread. The problem is that in the dog’s stomach, the yeast stays active and keeps working on breaking down the starch in the dough. As they do this, the dough releases ethanol and carbon dioxide in the dog’s stomach. The dough continues to rise and can even grow so much that the dog’s organs are pressed, including the lungs.
Another problem is the development of ethanol in the dog’s stomach. This grows high enough to raise the dog’s blood alcohol level to levels that are harmful. So, the dog can develop alcohol poisoning.
Symptoms of Unbaked Bread Poisoning in Dogs
You may notice these symptoms if your dog has eaten unbaked bread dough:
- Distended stomach
- Retching/unproductive vomiting
- Difficulty breathing
- Excessive salivation
- Low body temperature
If your dog is showing any of these symptoms, then it’s time to call the vet. This could be a medical emergency.
Treatment of Unbaked Bread Poisoning in Dogs
At the vet’s, they will give your dog an exam and take blood work. They may be able to diagnosis unbaked bread poisoning by checking your dog’s blood alcohol levels. Your fur baby may also need x-rays to check for blockages.
The vet may choose to induce vomiting, but this isn’t usually recommended. Instead, they may give your dog cold water to help cool the stomach and slow the yeast. From there, your canine companion may need an IV, which makes it easier to inject other medications that may be required. The goal of treatment is to get the dog stabilized and then get the bread out of his stomach. This may involve surgery in some cases.
The good news is that dogs who receive prompt medical care usually go on to a full recovery after bread dough poisoning.