Turning your ripe bananas into tasty bread can be a satisfying tradition for the whole family. Because the whole family can include pets, you may wonder whether it’s safe for them to feast on this classic treat. So can dogs eat banana bread?
A Look at Canine Diets
Dogs are natural and opportunistic scavengers. That means they will eat whatever they find left behind by other animals. While humans have bred and domesticated canines to look unrecognizable from their ancient wolf ancestors, their digestive needs have remained largely intact.
The bulk of your dog’s nutritional needs should come from animal sources. In the wild, over 90% of a canine’s diet is composed of meat. Traditionally, wild dogs ate plants only in times of famine or when they missed a fresh kill.
Despite being carnivores, dogs can tolerate some plant foods such as fruit. Modern domesticated dogs are considered omnivores because they enjoy eating both foods sourced from animals and those that aren’t. You’ve probably noticed your dog trying to sneak a few bites of your sweet snacks, for example.
What’s in Banana Bread?
There is more than one way to make banana bread, and you probably enjoy throwing in an occasional surprise ingredient. It’s thus helpful to break down banana bread composition to understand what elements are safe for your dog to eat and which ones aren’t.
A key ingredient in any bread is flour, which is typically of the wheat variety. It’s important to know that not all dogs will tolerate wheat the same. Some dogs are highly sensitive to grains, and consuming them can result in recurring health problems such as ear infections or gut issues.
Like humans, some dogs may find that gluten is especially problematic. If you know your dog is allergic or sensitive to gluten, opt for a gluten-free grain option rather than wheat. Another thing to keep in mind is that white flour holds no nutritional value, as it’s highly processed. Whole wheat flour made from the wheat kernel is a safer bet.
If you don’t want to use wheat flour for allergy reasons or your banana recipe calls for a different kind, you may consider other types of flour such as almond, coconut, or oat. You will have to adjust your recipe for each type, and sometimes significantly to get the right texture.
Eggs are an excellent source of protein, fats, and vitamins. Dogs can receive several benefits from this healthy food source, especially since it’s animal-derived. Unless your dog has a sensitivity or allergy, eggs are not one of the ingredients in banana bread you should worry about.
Butter and milk are rich sources of vitamins such as A, D, and K2. However, it’s common for adult dogs to be somewhat lactose intolerant. Depending on your dog, even a tad of milk and butter in your banana bread batter may cause indigestion.
Sugar is an inflammatory food and isn’t good for health, regardless of whether you’re a dog or person. That said, a little bit of sugar used sparingly is ok and isn’t considered toxic. Artificial sweeteners are more likely to pose a health risk to your dog, if they are used.
As a low-calorie fruit, bananas are generally safe for dogs. That said, they are high in sugar content and can contribute to weight gain if given too often. Occasional bananas are fine and won’t hurt your dog.
Though plain banana bread is delicious by itself, it’s always nice to add in something special. Nuts, chocolate, and raisins are the most common add-on ingredients for many banana bread recipes. While these are great for humans, however, they’re not so great for your dog.
Out of all dessert foods, chocolate is the most notorious for being harmful to dogs. In particular, theobromine in chocolate is toxic and can ultimately be fatal to dogs when consumed. The caffeine content in chocolate is another concern because it’s a stimulant and has a diuretic effect.
Though some dog owners will insist that their dogs “eat chocolate just fine” remember that the dose creates the poison. The amount of theobromine a dog can handle may vary by size, breed, and unique genetic makeup. Additionally, not all chocolates contain the same amount of theobromine or caffeine.
Both grapes and raisins are highly toxic to dogs. Though science has yet to determine the exact reason, raisins are poisonous to canines and often result in kidney failure.
When you make banana bread you plan to share with your dog, go easy on the nuts. Though some nuts are ok in small quantities, they can be prone to mold which makes them toxic. Additionally, because of their high fat content, nuts are not easy for dogs to digest.
Nuts that are nontoxic include:
- Brazilian nuts
Macadamias are the only type of nut that is inherently toxic to dogs. Recovery from macadamia ingestion usually takes a few days, but can be fatal in larger quantities.
If you’re afraid your dog has had too many nuts, you should watch for toxicity signs, which may take up to 12 hours to show up. Poisoning cues to watch for include:
The Verdict – Can Dogs Eat Banana Bread?
Banana bread is yummy and even a little addictive – it’s no surprise your dog may be intrigued when he smells it come out of the oven. Though in most cases it’s harmless to let your dog have a little banana bread, you want to make sure that you don’t share too much.
Aside from checking the quantity, you should also be diligent with checking any ingredients in the banana bread. Nuts, chocolate, and raisins should be avoided altogether to be safe.
Lastly, be aware of your pet’s unique sensitivities and food allergies. Even ingredients that are nontoxic may still present health issues like indigestion or allergy flare ups. When in doubt, contact your vet.