You did it again. You got distracted until a terrible burning smell reminded you about that slice of toast you left in oven a few minutes ago. Scruffy, meanwhile, doesn't think the smell's so terrible. Ignore his pleading eyes and wagging tail, and toss the toast in the trash. Charred toast is unhealthy.
As tempting as it may be to feed your dog scraps such as toast, it's not a good idea to make it a habit. While the occasional piece of toast that's simply cooked to a slightly darker shade of brown shouldn't do any great harm to your dog, consider that bread-based treats shouldn't exceed more than 5 to 10 percent of your pooch's caloric intake, according to the ASPCA.
In the case of charred toast, more serious concerns exist than adding a few extra calories to Scruffy's diet. Some foods cooked to high temperatures produce dangerous compounds. In the case of toast, you'll need to be concerned about acrylamide, a potentially carcinogenic chemical. You should toast your bread to a light brown color to reduce the amount of acrylamide, and avoid serving very brown areas, according to the Food and Drug Administration.
A folk remedy calls for burnt toast as a substitute for activated charcoal for dogs who ingested toxins; but burnt toast is not charcoal, and it's a far cry from the powerful activated charcoal used in hospitals for food poisoning. Charcoal is obtained from burning wood and then exposing it to steam or air at elevated temperatures to increase its absorptive power, whereas burnt toast consists of charred proteins, fats, carbohydrates and mineral salts. Burnt toast is also inert and as such is ineffective; so it shouldn't be used as a substitute for activated charcoal, according to Julie Ann Lutz, a veterinarian of the University of Hawaii at Hilo, and Johanna Heseltine, a veterinarian and Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine at Oklahoma State University.
The burnt toast remedy and many other home remedies such as giving milk, salt or vegetable oil may cause you to delay Scruffy's treatment or fail to give him inappropriate first aid. Many types of toxins require immediate treatment from a veterinarian. Also, every type of toxin requires a precise course of action. Consult with your veterinarian or poison control to determine if the product Scruffy ingested was a poison to begin with, what antidote to use, and whether inducing vomiting is medically indicated. If burnt toast was indeed so effective and a cure-all for all types of toxins, then ambulances and veterinarian hospitals would certainly store stacks of Wonder Bread toast rather than boxes of activated charcoal.
- ASPCA: People Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Pets
- FDA: Additional Information on Acrylamide, Diet, and Food Storage and Preparation
- Vet Learn: Five CommonToxins Ingested by Dogs and Cats
- Tuskegee University Vet Med Toxicology Class: Management, Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention of Toxicosis
- Insider's Health: Charcoal: A New Look at the Old Remedy of Charcoal
- John Howard/Lifesize/Getty Images