Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Toxicology Tuesday, November 20

Are you doing any holiday baking this week? Be careful where you leave those yeast breads and rolls to rise, until you answer this question. Is bread dough

Toxic or Not?

Answer: Toxic

Most of those who commented on this week's post correctly identified bread dough as a potential GI
foreign body. As the dough continues to rise in the warm, moist environment of the stomach, it expands to the point of abdominal distension, and may result in bloat (GDV: Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus, a life-threatening complication), or possibly even rupture of the stomach. Signs of GI obstruction include active vomiting or non-productive retching. Remember, though, obstruction is not the same as toxicity (poisoning.)

Many of this week's comments also mentioned the aroma of baking bread, which results from the ethanol produced when yeast ferments. A sufficient quantity of unbaked yeast dough will cause alcohol poisoning, and therein lies the toxicity problem.

Signs of ethanol (alcohol) toxicity include
alterations in blood chemistry, ataxia (stumbling and incoordination), depression and abnormal mental status, seizures, coma or death.

Treatment involves removal of the dough by cold water gastric lavage ("pumping the stomach") and supportive care, with IV fluids, monitoring cardiac status, and drugs to control vomiting or seizures, if needed.

Recovery takes 12 to 24 hours, but the prognosis is good with prompt treatment.


holly said...

I'm going to go with yes, just on a hunch. JMHO, but I would guess that bread dough would cause bloating (bread rising internally from body heat?), abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting.

As far as treatment, not sure.

Lisa said...

I know the (multi-part) answer to this one, so I'll let everyone else play!

KGMom said...

Katdoc--I am too mesmerized by the lovely rising bread loaf to even hazard a guess.
Wow, does that look good. I LOVE home made bread (sadly, I have to limit my carbs intake).
Where was I? Oh, yes, bread dough toxic or not.

littleorangeguy said...

I know for a fact that it makes a warm bed for wee little poodle puppies. The little guy in the picture with me took to sleeping on the tub of rising bread dough (my mother made a seven loaf batch every Monday) so often in his puppyhood that the dough had to be locked away. 35 years ago, and I still miss him!

Had he eaten it, I'm sure he would have gotten very ill, or at least very uncomfortable.

Kathy said...

I have read in the past that unbaked bread dough is toxic for dogs to eat.

Sara said...

I agree with kgmom, that bread looks delicious. Let's see, is there any proofable yeast in my frige ? But the rising will take place up and out of harms way, as the expanding, unbaked dough is dangerous for our critters !

Marvin said...

Maybe not technically "toxic", but I assume eating very much yeasty dough would cause extreme digestive distress. Toxic for all practical purposes.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like a cartoon, but I've heard that the bread dough continues to rise in the stomach and may cause obstruction. I think the yeast fermentation releases alcohol, so could that be a problem as well? Is there enough to cause the dog to be intoxicated? Or have alcohol poisoning?

Anonymous said...

That is one lovely loaf of bread. I can almost smell it already. And I've got plenty of sourwood honey to spread over it.

I don't think it would be good for the doggie, but I don't know of any specific toxicity.

holly said...

Kaaathi - today is What-is-the answer-Wednesdaaaaaay!!!!

Anonymous said...


I know I usually post the answer on Wed, but I was at my Mom's over night for T'giving Day prep and won't be home till some time Thursday PM. I will get the answer up later today.

Hint: this is a multi-factorial problem, but only one person has the TOXIC part right so far.


Sara said...

Happy Thanksgiving KatDoc !

Many thanks for your blog, for sharing knowledge, taking us on adventures, and for those subtle bits of humor that make me laugh. I appreciate your fine blogging.


holly said...

Hope your T'giving was great, Kathi!

(PS. I was just joking about the answer - I knew you'd get to it when you had the chance!)

Mary said...

Happy Thanksgiving, Katdoc!

I'm late and I would have guessed incorrectly. Thanks for another good lesson. It's a wonder dogs live a long life, considering what they have stolen from kitchen counters.

A friend of mine had a black lab who ate a pound of butter (box, paper, and all - stolen from the kitchen counter) and we thought she'd die because she was so ill...luckily, she was fine in 24 hours.

Julie Zickefoose said...

I'm astonished that rising dough could exert enough pressure to rupture a dog's stomach. Seems like the acids and heat would kill the yeast before that would happen. Man. It sounds like an urban legend, but I'm taking your word on it. You learn something every day. It's a wonder I haven't ruptured, as much rising bread dough as I've stolen.
I reluctantly threw out my yeast not long ago. It was three years old and when my bread machine broke I decided not to replace it. Bawww. But it caught up with me and I had to swear off it.

KatDoc said...


The stomach rupture thing is a theoretical possibility, it hasn't been reported in the literature (to my knowledge.) Stomach rupture probably wouldn't occur as a primary function of the dough rising (a la a cartoon character) anyway, but secondarily, as a result of pressure necrosis of the stomach wall, which has been known to happen with other GI foreign bodies and in bloat.

The actual details are too gross for general consumption.

Bread dough MACHINE? No, no, no - the only way to make homemade bread is by hand!

~Kathi, glad to have the Chimp playing along with Tox Tues