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?
Jodi Stone says
For sure my guys would like it. They are labs, anything with food is fun. I did this a while back with carrots and loved hunting them. I can’t wait to see how Luke does outside!
I think Luke would be happy to play this game with any kind of food too! I can’t wait to see how he does outside too….just waiting for the snow to melt! We’re starting to get some bare ground in areas, so we’re getting there!
Our dog Jake eats bread quit a lot. I better stop giving it to him!!
Or…play this game with him so he’s getting a little bit of exercise along with his favorite treat! 🙂
Bell Fur Zoo says
I don’t eats much bread but I love it!! I do get a bit of rice wif every meal cause it helps my tummy. Will has to try dis Hansel & Gretel wif Mama and I has da pawfect treats in mind to do it 😉
Matt (& Matilda)
Yay, we hope you have fun playing the game, Matt!! xxoo
JoAnn Stancer says
My gang is always stealing loafs of bread and eating them.
I can certainly picture that!! 🙂
The Island Cats says
We’re not bread eaters here…but Wally used to chew on the bag. 😀
Our angel cat Katie used to LOVE to chew on plastic bags!!
M. K. Clinton says
The boys love bread but since Pierre’s tummy issues, they don’t get it anymore. It helps that we don’t keep it in the house. LOL!
Are you saying you and Skipper don’t eat bread either? I’m not sure we could live without it. LOL
Ellen Pilch says
That does sound fun. When we had a dog, she was stealing the bread I was drying out for my rabbits. I thought I was forgetting to put it out until I caught her in the act 🙂
It seems like animals want to show us something new every day! Like the time Luke stole the fresh eggs right off the counter, and ate them shells and all. I didn’t see that one coming!!
LLB in Our Backyard says
What a fun game! I think we’d do it with our Zuke’s as Arty has a bazillion different allergies, and we minimize the people food too.
Thanks for the informative post!!
I had also thought of using Zuke’s treats instead of bread. We eat very little bread and the gluten-free vegan bread we eat isn’t really something to make a dog salivate. So, I thought about the Zuke’s treats. We are having a blizzard today – the perfect day to give something like this a try as a diversion!
I think Zuke’s would be perfect for this game too. I hope you all were able to give it a try!
Our Little Bit was allergic to many things and had to have two shots every month. We didn’t feed her people food very often and only with the help of our vet. Just not worth making your babies sick.
Loved the video and I saw where Luke missed that one piece of bread. Cute.
Have a woof woof day, Luke. My best to your mom. ♥
Thank you! I know that having dogs with allergies can be a really tough thing to deal with. It sounds like you did all you could for Little Bit. ♥
Monika, Sam & Elsa says
Fascinating. Had never thought about utilizing bread as a treat. The mere idea makes Elsa wiggle with joy-she LOVES bread, especially croissants!
Elsa has refined tastes! Now Luke thinks he needs to try croissants too. BOL
That looks like fun, and our food-obsessed dogs would adore it. Thanks for sharing!
You’re welcome! Hope your crew gets to give it a try, it sounds like they’d definitely like it! 🙂
Molly the AireGirl says
This sounds like a fun game to me, Luke, and look how rewarding it is! I’m in!
We love to share the fun things we find with our friends! Hope you get to give it a try, Molly!
Phenny played hansel&gretel yesterday without us… he threw marks bread on the floor and followed the line ;O)
LOL….I love it!!!
Brian Frum says
That does sound like a fun game, when we had dogs they really didn’t like bread but they loved pizza crust.
Crust is my favorite part of the pizza, so Luke doesn’t often get that. LOL!
I’m not a big fan, but Bailie loves bread. She gets a small piece every day when Mom makes her lunch. We don’t have any grain issues, or weight problems, so getting bread hasn’t been a problem for us.
Oh boy, if Luke reads this about Bailie, I’m in trouble…he’ll be wanting a piece every day when I make lunch too! 🙂
Interesting. I dog-sat for one person who buried pills in smashed up bread for his dog. I also dog-sat for two dogs that ate everything BUT dog food. Not kidding. Even chocolate chip cookies! What a fun game!
Oh my goodness, some people would freak out over dogs eating chocolate chip cookies! I never would have thought of putting pills in bread for the dogs!