Giving a dog burnt toast is not as good an idea as it's thought to be. Whether you're considering giving Rover a slice of toast you burnt due to not paying attention to your toaster's setting or are thinking about using it to absorb some toxins he accidentally ingested, you may be doing more harm than good. The reasons for this are several, so let's take a look at some issues.
The Issue of Burnt Toast as a Treat
If your toaster's settings were messed up or you forgot all about your toast while you were chatting on Facebook or tweeting, you may feel tempted to give that burnt toast to Rover. If you have a dog that looks at you with imploring eyes as if tossing something in the trash was almost an immoral act, you can't be blamed. Don't give in.
For starters, consider that any bread-based treats shouldn't encompass more than 5 to 10 percent of Rover's total caloric intake, according to the ASPCA. While the occasional slightly darker shade of toast (not burnt) may not be a big deal, it's best not to make feeding such leftovers a habit.
Now, fully burnt toast is a whole different issue, and it's not about taste or adding calories to Rover's diet. The issue is that charred toast may contain dangerous acrylamide, a potentially carcinogenic (cancer-causing) compound often seen in foods cooked at high temperatures. This compound, which is harmful to both humans and pets, can be reduced by cooking toast to only light shades of brown, suggests the Food and Drug Administration.
The Issue of Burnt Toast as an Antidote
My dog ate chocolate, can I give it burnt toast? This is a common question we were asked at the veterinary clinic. There are many issues with this. First and foremost, burnt toast isn't the equivalent of activated charcoal. Many may have heard about the folk remedy of using burnt toast as a substitute for the powerful activated charcoal you would find in human and veterinary hospitals. This is not the same.
Differences Between Activated Charcoal and Burnt Toast
For starters, activated charcoal is made by burning special wood and then exposing it to high temperature via steam or air for the purpose of increasing its absorption power. On the other hand, with burnt toast, we're simply talking about charred fats, proteins and carbohydrates, and of course along with that, those harmful acrylamide components.
Burnt toast shouldn't be used as a substitute for activated charcoal, explain veterinarians Julie Ann Lutz and Johanna Heseltine in an article for Vet Learn. It's inert and ineffective. Dr. Fiona, a veterinarian working for Just Answer, claims "it isn't adequate as a replacement for 'activated charcoal.'" Worst of all, dog owners who search for home remedies such as milk, vegetable oil and burnt toast for dogs who ingested a potentially harmful toxin, are ultimately wasting precious time and likely are also failing in giving the correct type of first aid.
Then What's a Better Solution?
So if burnt toast isn't the life saver you thought it was, then what should you do if your dog ingests a toxin? Depending on the toxin your dog ingested, every second counts, and for each toxin there's a different antidote and solution. The Pet Poison Helpline warns about using home remedies such as milk, peanut butter, vegetable oil, or salt without consulting with a veterinarian first.
To play it safe, immediately call your vet or poison control. Have the bottle or wrapper of the toxic food ready so you can read off the ingredients, give your dog's weight and let them know how long ago the toxin was ingested. Your vet or poison control should tell you if you should induce vomiting or not and if there are any antidotes you can use to delay absorption.
Don't give activated charcoal unless your vet says so. For instance, you may not be aware that hydrogen peroxide should never be given to a dog who ingests a caustic substance (you don't want the substance to cause burns twice, once on the way down and again on the way up). Also, activated charcoal should never be given to dogs who have ingested caustic products as these are not absorbed systematically and can mask oral and esophageal burns according to the ASPCA.
It's not a bad idea to keep hydrogen peroxide and compressed activated charcoal tablets in your dog's first aid kit (see Dr Mark1961's article on how to make a dog first aid kit), but as mentioned, you'll need to heed your vet's advice first. Depending on the toxin, you may be asked to induce vomiting and/or give activated charcoal while on your way to the vet.
So is burnt toast totally useless? You may have seen many websites recommending burnt toast, but if you think about it, if burnt toast was really a cure-all that works for all possible types of toxins and poisons a dog would ingest, you would see all veterinary and human hospitals stocked heavily with Wonder Bread and it would be included in first aid kits. Instead, it's not, and for many good reasons.
Veterinarian explains how to induce vomiting
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Kyle on November 02, 2017:
My dog got in the trash a little bit ago and I'm sure he got at least one or two pieces of dark burnt toast. He's a germanshephwrd, really big, should I be worried?
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on February 17, 2013:
Thanks for stopping by Alicia C! I'm happy to hear you found my article on the risks of giving burnt toast useful, kind regards!
Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on February 17, 2013:
Thanks for the useful information and advice, alexadry. I appreciate the details about treating poisoning in dogs.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on February 10, 2013:
Thank for the votes up Bob!
Bob Bamberg on February 10, 2013:
I'm glad you explained the difference between activated charcoal and burnt toast. It's understandable that people can equate the two, but your hub does a good job of setting the record straight. Voted up, useful and interesting.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on February 09, 2013:
Despite the bad taste, yes, dogs will likely eat it if given the opportunity.
Gypsy Willow from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand on February 09, 2013:
Useful knowledge. Thank you. I shall have to watch her foraging though as she would gladly eat it!
Nancy Yager from Hamburg, New York on February 09, 2013:
I never heard of burnt toast being used for anything. Anyway, it tastes so bad.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on February 09, 2013:
Thanks for stopping by Mary615! I also give the occasional piece of bread, especially the homemade bread I make with my bread machine. Thanks for the votes up!
Mary Hyatt from Florida on February 09, 2013:
I am guilty of giving my Baby (Schnauzer) pieces of bread when I'm eating a sandwich, but never burnt toast! I've never heard of it being used instead of charcoal.
Informative Hub as usual. Voted UP
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on February 08, 2013:
That's a good idea, Jaye Wisdom. It looks like also overcooked french fries can get acrylamide, there are so many health dangers out there for both humans and pets!
Jaye Denman from Deep South, USA on February 08, 2013:
Thanks for this useful info, alexadry....I'm on my way to turn the setting on my toaster down. Unfortunately, I've gotten in the habit of toasting my bread a bit too dark (not quite burned, but almost). I don't feed it to my dog, but if it isn't good for her, it isn't good for me either!