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Can Dogs Eat Bread? A Veterinarian Shares the Crumby Truth

dachshund against a background of bread slices
dachshund against a background of bread slices

Somrudee Doikaewkhao / EyeEm / Leung Cho Pan / Getty

Mmm, bread. Is there a better smell or taste than freshly baked bread? (We'll wait!) Whether you're having a slice of toast or eating a grilled cheese sandwich, it's likely Fido is flashing you those big puppy eyes, drooling for just an itty bitty bite—and by "itty bitty bite," we mean basically your entire meal.

Like us, you've probably wondered, 'Can dogs eat bread? Or is it a crummy food to feed?'

The short answer: Dogs can eat bread, but it depends on the kind. Certain types of bread are best in moderation—even if they're considered to be "healthy" choices—while others should be avoided altogether.

Is Bread Good or Bad for Dogs?

As tasty as bread is for us humans, the question of whether it's "good" or "bad" depends on each person's dietary needs, preferences, and allergies. The same applies to our canine companions, too.

"While [bread] is not bad for dogs, it is typically not recommended unless there may be a medical benefit from it, as dogs are not meant to digest bread," says Laura Robinson, DVM, Lead Veterinary Advisor to Pawp. "In general, it is safe if you are feeding plain white or wheat bread, but some ingredients are not recommended because they are either toxic or can make them sick."

RELATED: Is Bread Tasty or Toxic for Cats?

How Much Bread Can Dogs Safely Eat?

While some of us may love snacking on slices of bread in one sitting, it's a totally different story for our canine companions. In fact, it may even surprise you how much (or little) bread they can eat! Or in this case, should eat.

"I wouldn't give more than a couple bites on occasion (i.e. a few times a month)," Robinson says. "If you give too much, it can cause vomiting, diarrhea, or even a blockage, as the yeast can cause the bread to expand."

Bread can also cause weight gain in your dog if fed often. A slice of bread, depending on the kind, is typically 100 calories. It's best to keep your dog's size in mind, and portion accordingly.

RELATED: How Many Calories Should My Dog Eat?

What Kinds of Bread Can Dogs Eat?

There are dozens of different types of bread. That's great news for us but can be confusing when it comes to which we are able to feed our pups. But fear not, the list of options your dog can eat is short and sweet!

Robinson says your four-legged can safely snack on plain white bread, wheat bread, and rye bread. However, she adds that it's important to avoid bread that contains ingredients including: nuts (macadamia nuts, especially), chocolate, grapes and raisins, onions, garlic, and xylitol. Here are the do's and don'ts to keep in mind when it comes to all types of bread:

  • Garlic bread: Garlic is toxic to dogs and can cause damage to red blood cells, Robinson says. While savory for us humans, garlic bread is a big no-no for dogs.

  • Whole wheat bread: Good news: as long as it's plain, whole wheat bread is generally safe.

  • Banana bread: Robinson says banana bread is safe to eat—that is, if it doesn't contain a lot of sugar, butter, or toxic ingredients (e.g. chocolate chips, nuts, or xylitol).

  • Sourdough bread: Sourdough bread is not a safe option for dogs to eat due to the yeast, Robinson says.

  • Rye bread: You can share a few bites of rye bread with your canine companion if it doesn't contain potentially harmful ingredients.

  • White bread: White bread is another safe bread you can share with Spot!

She also explains why you should never feed your dog unbaked bread dough. "[Raw bread dough] can cause stomach bloat as the dough rises and expands," Robinson says. Raw bread dough contains ethanol, or ethyl alcohol, which can result in severe, potentially fatal symptoms including: vomiting, low blood pressure, increased heart rate, coma, and seizures, and is considered to be an emergency if eaten, Robinson says.

Note: If your dog eats any of the toxic foods listed above, call your veterinarian right away or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.

RELATED:Human Foods You Can Safely Share With Your Dog

Does Bread Help Dogs With an Upset Stomach?

Some pet parents wonder if bread can help dogs if they're experiencing signs of gastrointestinal upset, like vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.

But does it actually help soothe our dogs' tummy ache?

"No, it doesn't," Robinson says. "The only times we sometimes use [bread] are if a dog may have eaten something sharp that could cut the intestines. Sometimes, by eating bread, it can help create a barrier around the sharp object to help it pass safely."

For dogs with an upset stomach, Robinson and other experts recommend a bland diet, which usually includes rice—and not bread.

In general, when it comes to feeding your good boy or girl bread: keep it plain, check your portion sizes, and feel free to enjoy the safe kinds with your pup in moderation.