Authentic rye bread (such as the German Pumpernickel bread) is just made with rye flour.
However, most rye breads which are sold are made by using a combination of rye flour and wheat flour.
And the main differences between the two are that pure rye bread is a rich dark brown bread- it is almost black in colour.
Whereas, blended rye breads are much lighter in colour.
Secondly, pure rye breads are smaller and shorter.
Rye flour doesn’t rise as much as wheat flour.
Rye bread has its origins in the Middle Ages in Europe.
It is thought that the Saxons introduced it to Britain about fifteen hundred years ago, around 500 AD.
Rye bread is most commonly associated with Jewish communities around the world- indeed it is the most popular type of bread in Israel.
Which is all well and good but can dogs eat rye bread?
Can dogs have rye bread?
For all of you breadaholics out there, the great news is that dogs can eat rye bread just as long as it is an occasional treat.
Breads are an important source of carbohydrates which is a nutrient that dogs need in their diet.
The simple truth is that your dog probably already has enough carbohydrate in their diet so be mindful of how many mouthfuls or slices of rye bread your dog is eating.
Having established that rye bread is a safe if not ideal food for your dogs to eat, I next want to take a look at the individual ingredients that are used in rye bread and what impact they might have on dogs.
What are the ingredients in rye bread?
Rye and wheat flour
As I have said already, the amount of rye flour or wheat flour that is in your rye bread will be different depending on the brand that you buy or in the case of home bakers, the recipe that you follow.
Any type of flour is generally safe for dogs to eat as long as they aren’t gluten intolerant.
No one truly knows how many people are gluten intolerant worldwide (it is thought that it affects .5% of the worldwide population) and there are no reliable figures available for dogs.
But a tiny percentage of dogs will be gluten intolerant and symptoms include stomach problems, skin conditions and excessive scratching.
Rye flour contains much less gluten than wheat flour but it still contains some gluten.
However, rye flour is also recommended as a wheat free alternative to people who are gluten intolerant.
Although rye flour contains lots of different nutrients, about half of it is carbohydrate which is neither toxic or a very healthy choice for your dog.
And this is something that I will explore in a later section.
Vitamins and Minerals
Most brands of rye bread that you will buy are enriched with various vitamins and minerals.
The most common ones that you will come across include lots of B vitamins, such as niacin, thiamin, riboflavin and folic acid.
But iron is often added as well.
None of these added vitamins and minerals will harm your dog because they are present in such small amounts.
So small that I suspect that even I couldn’t claim that they would help give your dog a vitamin boost.
Although perhaps I should point out that B vitamins are known to boost a dog’s immune system and help with their metabolism.
Yeast is an interesting ingredient as far as your dog is concerned.
When it is an ingredient in baked bread, it is absolutely harmless.
But when it is used in home bread making and it has been added to the bread but the bread hasn’t been cooked, it can be incredibly dangerous.
If a dog eats uncooked dough that has yeast inside it, then the danger is that once the dough is eaten it will continue to expand in the dog’s stomach.
How dangerous this is will depend on the size of your dog and the amount of dough that they consumed…
I still have four ingredients that you might find in rye bread that I want to briefly discuss with you.
I don’t want to spend too long on any of them because if they are in the rye bread that your dog has eaten, they will only be there in very small quantities.
First up is vegetable oil. This won’t do your dog any harm at all.
Salt in large quantities can be a real menace to dogs. But in rye bread the amount used is tiny and so it shouldn’t cause your dog any bother at all.
It is the same story for sugar as it is for salt. For the amount that is used in rye bread, it will have zero effect on your dog’s health.
I’m not that familiar with caraway seeds.
Whilst I have been researching for this article I have discovered how frequent caraway seeds seem to be included in rye bread.
And you know what?
Caraway seeds are a known poison for dogs as this article from a trusted source explains.
But detailed information is hard to come across and so it seems safe to presume that caraway seeds, in the quantity that they are used in rye bread, are perfectly safe for your dog to eat.
And by discussing an individual ingredient that is potentially toxic for dogs, leads me nicely onto my next topic, which is about dogs and other sorts of breads.
Breads that are dangerous for dogs
Unless dogs are gluten intolerant bread is normally a safe human food for a dog to eat.
And by this I mean that there aren’t any flours which are poisonous to all dogs.
The danger is with individual ingredients that might be in various types of breads.
Three of the biggest dangers would be raisins, onions and garlic.
I challenge you to find a bread with all of those in!
No, that was just a joke.
Raisin bread could potentially kill your dog, even just one raisin might kill your dog no matter how big a breed they are.
Vets are unsure why raisins, currants or grapes kill dogs- they just know that they do.
Breads that contain onions and garlic should also have a large “do not feed to the dog” label on them.
Bear that in mind when you are eating some of that delicious garlic bread with your next lasagne!
To finish this article, I want to return to a topic that I briefly touched on earlier in the article.
And that is the hot topic of carbohydrates.
Let’s face it, bread mostly consists of carbohydrates.
They are a very contentious topic as far as the human diet goes, but what role should they play in the eating life of a dog?
Do dogs need carbohydrates in their diets?
The Association of American Feed Control Officials is the body that sets out what nutrients are needed for animals in their feed.
Dogs need six nutrients in their food and carbohydrates are one of the six although they are nowhere near as important as fats and protein.
And we know this because there is a legal minimum requirement for fats and protein in dog food but the amount of carbohydrates that they need isn’t specified.
That is not to belittle the role of carbohydrates in a dog’s life-they are an important source of energy and they provide fiber which is crucial in for a dog’s digestion.