Dogs are supposed to love meat, right? My dog goes nuts for a bit of steak. However, they also beg for a piece of bread. In fact, more than once, they’ve stolen an entire loaf and devoured it. Why do dogs love bread? Is it good for them?
Why does my dog love bread so much?
You may be surprised the first time your pooch chows down on a slice of bread. We think of dogs as meat eaters, but the truth is they can enjoy a wide variety of foods.
Dogs are Omnivores
Dogs have an interesting evolution. Their ancestors, wolves, are strictly carnivores. They do not eat plants at all. Yet dogs do.
It turns out that dogs have genes and enzymes that digest carbohydrates in much higher amounts than wolves do. In simple terms, this means that dogs can eat a diet of meat and grains, while wolves can’t.
It’s theorized this occurred because as wolves began hanging out with humans, they were fed the scraps from human meals. Since humans eat a wide variety of foods, dogs evolved to eat the same foods. Wolves, however, had no need to change their diet, because their living environment didn’t change.
It is important to note that protein and fat should make up a large portion of your dog’s diet, and bread doesn’t really offer them any nutritional value.
Dogs seem to have preferences for different foods just as humans do. Some dogs will love bread. If you placed a hamburger and a slice of bread in front of them, the dog would go for the bread first. Others crave meat or salty foods.
Because You Are Eating It
Dogs love human foods, particularly when you share what’s on your plate with them. This is another reason they love bread. It seems like a special treat because it’s a food that you can enjoy together.
If you give your pooch a sandwich, they will probably eat the bread as well as the meat. This may not be because they love bread itself, though. There will be meat flavor and smell on the bread, which can make them love it because it tastes like their favorite food, meat.
Should dogs be eating bread?
We know that dogs can eat grains because they’ve evolved to do so. In fact, some grains are even good for your pooch as part of a balanced diet. They are also found in many commercial dog foods.
Some grains are fairly healthy for your pooch. These include brown rice, barley, oats, and whole wheat.
Whole wheat bread, or bread made with whole grains like oat, rye, or barley, are an ok part of your dog’s diet. They offer vitamins, minerals, and energy from carbohydrates. However, they should not be the majority of your pooch’s diet.
You know what I’m going to say. White bread isn’t really healthy for us, or our dogs. It won’t cause them any harm, but it doesn’t provide any nutritional value.
Think of white bread as an empty calorie treat, not a staple of your dog’s diet.
Standard bread won’t hurt your pooch, but some added ingredients can. Raisins are toxic to dogs, so the raisin bread in your cabinet is off limits. Bread with added sugar isn’t a good idea either.
I love nut breads, but some nuts, like macadamia nuts, are also toxic to dogs. These should be avoided.
Lastly, never let your dog eat raw bread dough. The fermentation process will create alcohol in your dog’s system. In addition to alcohol poisoning, this can cause a dangerous condition known as bloat.
How much bread is too much?
It’s difficult to say how much bread is too much. This will depend on your dog’s size, health, and their overall diet. Let’s take a look at the details.
Commercial dog foods contain from 30-60% grain. Unfortunately, these are usually corn or wheat, because they are inexpensive. However, they aren’t great choices for your dog’s health.
Some raw food advocates believe that grains aren’t needed. However, others claim that an overall grain intake of 6-10% is perfect for most dogs. Other experts say that between 25%-30% of your dog’s diet should be made of grains.
As you can see, there’s a wide range of grain in different dog diets. When considering how much bread to give your dog, think about how much grain they are already consuming. If they are eating a commercial dog food, you should strictly limit their grain intake. An occasional slice of bread is ok, but it hsouldn’t be given regularly.
If your dog is eating a raw or homemade diet, you may need to supplement with bread and other grains. Give only whole wheat, or preferably whole grain, bread.
Health and Weight Issues
You probably know that extra carbohydrates turn to sugar in your system. This is also true for your dog. White bread really contains no nutritional benefit either, so it’s empty calories.
If your dog is overweight, you should avoid feeding them bread. If you feed them bread at all, choose a high fiber whole grain bread.
Dogs with diabetes will need to limit their carb intake as well. it’s best to avoid giving these dogs bread.
If you have a chihuha, give them a few bites of bread. If you have a large golden retriever, a slice of bread is probably ok. Just like feeding them dog food, you’ll need to scale the food to your dog’s size.
The 10% Rule
If you are not feeding your pooch a whole grain bread as a part of a homemade diet, you should follow the 10% rule. This states that no more than 10% of your dog’s diet should come from treats.
This includes anything that’s not a regular part of their diet, from bread to dog treats.
Bread Alternatives for Dogs
There are other things you can feed your bread loving dog. Brown rice, oats, barley, and rye are healthy grains your dog can enjoy. Brown rice, particularly combined with boiled chicken, is great for dogs with an upset stomach.
If your dog loves bread as a snack, consider making your own from one or more of the healthy treats listed above. Oats are easy to work with, and can be a great base for dog treats. Combine with barley, rye, or quinoa for a great tasting healthy treat. Consider adding chia, flax, or pumpkin seeds for a satisfying crunch. Fresh fruits and vegetables can also be a good alternative for your pooch.