Golden Retriever Poisoned by Thanksgiving Bread Rolls

The Details

Unbaked Yeast Dough Can Be Deadly to Dogs and Cats

Pippa, a playful pup from Knoxville, Tenn., has a history of retrieving things from her family’s counter tops and trash. Last Thanksgiving, that hunger and curiosity almost ruined the family’s celebration when the then two-year-old Golden Retriever had a severe reaction after consuming bread dough that was rising in the kitchen.

“I had left a dozen unbaked bread rolls on the kitchen counter to rise, covering them with a towel,” said Rebecca Collins, Pippa’s pet parent. “When I went to put them in the oven, I found that half of them were gone. I knew I didn’t eat them, but it took me awhile to figure out what happened. It didn’t occur to me Pippa would be interested in bread dough.”

“I noticed that Pippa was acting sleepy,” Collins continued, “which is very unusual for her. Normally she’s running around when company is over. Once I figured out that she must have eaten the rolls, I called Pet Poison Helpline®. We discussed what and how much Pippa had eaten, and they instructed me to take her to the veterinary hospital.”

“Unbaked bread dough that contains yeast can be dangerous when ingested by dogs and cats,” said Dr. Renee Schmid, a senior veterinary toxicologist at Pet Poison Helpline®. “When ingested, the unbaked bread dough expands in the warm, moist environment of the stomach and releases carbon dioxide gas, which can result in a bloated or distended stomach. The carbon dioxide gas is what makes bread rise. Although it is less common, this can progress to twisting of the stomach, also known as gastric-dilatation volvulus (GDV) or bloat. Signs of bloat or GDV include vomiting, non-productive retching, a distended stomach, an elevated heart rate, weakness, collapse and death.”

“Potentially even more concerning, when the yeast use sugars in the unbaked dough (a process called fermentation), they produce ethanol,” added Dr. Schmid. “Ethanol from the fermenting yeast is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and results in alcohol poisoning. Ingestion of alcohol can cause dangerous drops in blood sugar, blood pressure and body temperature. Severely intoxicated animals can potentially experience seizures and respiratory failure.”

When Pippa arrived at Animal Emergency and Specialty Center of Knoxville, the hospital’s medical team was already in communication with the toxicology experts at Pet Poison Helpline®. Since it had been more than five hours since Pippa had eaten the rolls, they recommended against inducing vomiting, as it could cause more damage. Her heartrate was elevated, her abdomen was distended on deep palpitation and imaging showed her stomach was distended and 90% of the lumen was filled with potential dough material. She was placed on IV fluids and was given ice and cold water to help counteract the rising process. Rather than inducing emesis, the medical team decided to wait for her to pass the dough naturally. If Pippa had not been able to pass the blockage on her own, she may have required surgery. She was monitored closely overnight with aggressive supportive care and was released the next day.

“Luckily, it didn’t come to surgery,” added Collins. “It was a very expensive Thanksgiving Day at the dog ER, but she’s back to full health now.”

Pet Poison Helpline® created Toxin Tails to educate the veterinary community and pet lovers on the many types of poisoning dangers facing pets, both in and out of the home. All the pets highlighted in Toxin Tails have been successfully treated for the poisoning and fully recovered.


About Pet Poison Helpline®

Pet Poison Helpline®, your trusted source for toxicology and pet health advice in times of potential emergency, is available 24 hours, seven days a week for pet owners and veterinary professionals who require assistance treating a potentially poisoned pet. We are an independent, nationally recognized animal poison control center triple licensed by the Boards of Veterinary Medicine, Medicine and Pharmacy providing unmatched professional leadership and expertise. Our veterinarians and board-certified toxicologists provide treatment advice for poisoning cases of all species, including dogs, cats, birds, small mammals, large animals and exotic species. As the most cost-effective option for animal poison control care, Pet Poison Helpline®’s fee of $85 per incident includes follow-up consultations for the duration of the case. Based in Minneapolis, Pet Poison Helpline® is available in North America by calling 800-213-6680. Additional information can be found online at