The short answer is yes, dogs can eat some breads. It is safe and non-toxic as long as it doesn’t have any additional unsafe ingredients. The better question might be: should dogs eat bread? These days, there seems to be a lot of debate over dogs eating human foods; as well as grain vs. grain free diets. It’s my personal belief that grains are not bad for dogs, unless they are specifically allergic or sensitive, but I also believe that overdoing grains could be a mistake. Therefore, we feed Luke grain free food, but he does get treats with grains in them.
In this post, we’ll tell you not only why Luke occasionally gets bread as a treat, but we’ll show you a fun game we’ve learned using bread!
Should Dogs Eat Bread?
Of all the human foods you can feed your dog, bread may not be one you’ve thought too much about. While all my dogs might have liked my last bite of toast or bagel, I never thought too much about it either. It was many years ago when our beagle Kobi showed us just how much some dogs really love bread. It was my habit to throw stale bread out under the bird feeders for the wild birds (which, by the way, they now tell you not to do, at least not white bread, as it has no nutritional value for birds!). Our bird feeders at that house were just outside the dogs’ fenced-in yard (because Kobi also loved bird seed!).
One day when we left the house to go for a walk, Kobi pulled me right over to the bird feeder so he could eat that bread I had thrown out! He had not forgotten about it, and he really wanted it. Every time I did that, he would go after it when out of his yard. But other than that, I still never thought too much about it.
We thought so little about it, that both the Dadz and I, on more than one occasion, left slices of bread out within our Lab mix Luke’s reach, either while making a sandwich, or getting bread ready to take out for our own birds (you saw here how much they love it as a treat!). We were just a bit surprised when Luke happily stole that bread and ate whatever he could before we could get to him and take it away!
So, I already knew that bread was not harmful to dogs, at least not our boys anyway, since it never bothered them when they ate it. I was still a bit surprised when reading the course work for the online class Luke and I are now taking and found a treat game involving bread. Our course gives us several different distraction games to try with our dogs, involving treats, toys, or body awareness. We are supposed to choose 3 to work on, and they will be used later to help with recall.
When I saw the game called “Hansel & Gretel”, involving leaving a trail of bread crumbs for our dog to follow, I knew it was one Luke would enjoy! It also got me thinking about whether or not bread really was good for our dogs, so I did a bit of research.
What I found was not surprising: bottom line, yes, most bread is fine for dogs to eat, but it’s probably not something you want them eating all the time. Things to consider:
- Some dogs are sensitive or allergic to grains, though it’s also said that meat allergies are more common.
- Just as with humans, whole grain breads are healthier, and some grains are better than others.
- While not toxic, consider that it is high in carbohydrates, probably not wise for overweight dogs, or dogs with cancer (carbohydrates are converted to sugars, and cancer feeds on that – corn and wheat are the worst). High fiber bread is better. When we had our golden retriever Sheba on a cancer diet, we stuck to oats and brown rice for grains.
- For example, I use freshly ground oat flour when baking the organic dog treats we sell in our shop. Oats are lower glycemic, meaning they release lower levels of sugar into the bloodstream, and oats are higher in protein than wheat.
- The benefits to grains can be similar to what they are for humans: they fill us up more.
- Never, ever raisin bread and avoid bread with nuts or garlic as well. Check all ingredients for safety! Raisins are toxic, some nuts are toxic, and they are also high in fat. Garlic is one of those things always under question and up for debate. Avoidance seems prudent.
- Up the quotient: Commercial bread may have ingredients you don’t want: preservatives or additives, salt and sugar. As much as possible, for both humans and animals in the household, we buy organic or bakery fresh breads, or at least more natural options. Best would probably be homemade since you know exactly what’s going into it, but never allow your dog near yeasty dough, as that can cause huge digestive problems.
- As with any special treat, moderation is key! Too much bread could lead to weight gain or diabetes. I’m only using bread for Luke’s special game we’re going to tell you about; with the exception of when he steals it or gets that last bite of my toast!
A Fun Dog Game with Bread
“Hansel & Gretel” is a fun game you can play with your dog. If you’re still not comfortable with your dog eating bread, you can use any kind of treat for this game. Some dogs may not get excited about bread, so you may want a higher value treat anyway.
The class we are taking is on recall, but relationship building exercises are included to make walks more interactive, interesting and fun, with the hope of getting Luke to pay more attention to me when out on walks.
The game is simple; make a trail of bread that your dog can follow, with a big bonus at the end (for us it was just a bigger piece of bread). You can start with the bread around 4 inches apart, for a total of 16 feet or so, though I went further apart so the bread could go further. It’s also fun to put a little curve in the trail.
Our instructor recommended that we let our dog watch us set up the trail, but I couldn’t do that in our house with the setup. I put Luke in the entryway with the glass door, so he could see I had bread, and he knew I went down the hall with it. I had also put him outside another time and he could see me from there. For the purpose of the video I took, it was snowing out, so I used the entryway. You could also tether them or have someone else hold them on leash. I knew Luke would get too excited so felt we needed the door between us.
Lead them to the trail on leash, so you can slow them down to get each bite if needed. You can see in our video that Luke blew by one piece anyway, but he came back and got it afterwards. As time goes on, and our weather gets better, we’ll take the game outside and then hopefully on our walks! We’re using it for training purposes too, but for now just as a game, inside the house is fun for Luke! Watch our short video to see him in action:
Does your dog like bread? Do you think he/she would enjoy this game?