A Thanksgiving Cautionary “Tail” for Pet Owners to Acquaint Themselves with Immediately

With the holidays fast approaching, reminding readers about foods and decorations that could be dangerous to their pets is front and center. By now many, if not most, people are aware of the usual list of perishables containing toxins that lurk in people food, but there is one you may not be aware of. And frankly, even we were surprised.

The info comes to us from the Pet Poison Helpline (PPH). If you’re not familiar with them as a pet parent you really should be. A lot of pet owners have their helpline number and web address posted on the door of their fridge right next to their vet’s contact info for easy access in case a potential emergency arises.

golden retriever
Photo: Pixabay/MBurdich

Unbaked Dinner Rolls

PPH recently highlighted a cautionary tale about Pippa, a golden retriever from Knoxville, Tennessee, whose natural curiosity and excitement for people food got the better of her. During the hustle and bustle of holiday food preparations, we’re often short on space and creating makeshift prep or staging areas. This can lead to dogs sniffing out food items in trash cans, on countertops, and on tables. Last Thanksgiving, Pippa’s nose directed her to a tray of unbaked bread rolls left on a kitchen counter to rise.

“I had left a dozen unbaked bread rolls on the kitchen counter to rise, covering them with a towel,” Rebecca Collins, Pippa’s human, shared. “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 a while to figure out what happened. It didn’t occur to me Pippa would be interested in bread dough.” Unfortunately, Pippa started acting strangely during the course of the day.

“I noticed that Pippa was acting sleepy, 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.”

raw dinner rolls
Photo: Pixabay.ArtByRM

Yeast and Pets

Collins learned from the Pet Poison Helpline that unbaked bread dough containing yeast is, in fact, dangerous for dogs and cats to ingest. This is what Dr. Renee Schmid, a senior veterinary toxicologist at Pet Poison Helpline, had to say on the subject:

“Unbaked bread dough that contains yeast can be dangerous when ingested by dogs and cats. “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 (known as fermentation), they produce ethanol. 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.”

Emergency Medical Intervention

After learning this from the Pet Poison Helpline, Collins immediately took Pippa to the Animal Emergency and Specialty Center of Knoxville. The animal arrived with an elevated heart rate and a severely distended stomach. Vets there placed Pippa on IV fluids, gave her cold water to try to counteract the rising process, and kept her there for observation to see if the dough would pass naturally. If the dog did not pass the blockage on her own, she would likely require surgery. “Luckily, it didn’t come to surgery,” Collins said. “It was a very expensive Thanksgiving Day at the dog ER, but she’s back to full health now.”

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