Ingestion of uncooked dough containing yeast can cause serious conditions in our pets, including stomach bloat, signs of ethanol poisoning, and dangerous drops in blood sugar.
With the uptick in baking during the Covid-19 pandemic, sourdough starters and other baking projects are increasingly common items found in our kitchens. While humans are unlikely to be tempted by dough rising on the countertop, our dogs are not as discriminating and may find uncooked dough to be a tasty treat.
Unfortunately, bread dough is dangerous to dogs and cats for a few reasons. Consumed in large enough quantities, dough can act as a foreign body in a pet’s stomach, disrupting normal gastrointestinal function. Raw dough made with yeast can expand in the warm environment of the stomach, causing dangerous bloating and distension. In some dogs, such as large breeds with deep chests, bloating can lead to gastric-dilatation volvulus, which is a very serious condition where the stomach twists and loses blood supply, or even stomach rupture, which can be fatal. Dogs with bloat will show signs including a distended abdomen, vomiting, and restlessness.
Fermentation of yeast in the stomach also results in the production of ethanol (alcohol). Ethanol is readily absorbed by the stomach, causing high blood alcohol levels. In our pets, this will present as abnormal behavior and mentation, vocalization, unsteady gait, urinary incontinence, and recumbency.
Because of its danger to our pets, uncooked yeast dough should be kept out of pet’s reach, and it should never be fed to a pet as a treat. If you discover that your pet has ingested uncooked dough, even if they are not showing any clinical signs, it is important to seek veterinary advice immediately as your pet may require urgent medical treatment. Prognosis is typically good with early treatment however, delayed treatment may result in complications that worsen prognosis.
Kelly Mahoney, DVM student extern, University of Minnesota, Class of 2022
Kelsey Perkins, CVT, Veterinary Information Specialist