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Yeast dough poisoning, also known as bread dough toxicosis, is a dangerous condition that can develop after a dog consumes raw yeast dough. A packet of yeast granules contains billions of single-celled organisms that quickly multiply, ferment, and grow in a dog's stomach. The biochemical and physiological reactions that can result from yeast dough poisoning are a serious health risk for canines.

Symptoms of Yeast Dough Poisoning in Dogs

Symptoms of yeast dough poisoning come on quickly due to the rapid replication and fermentation of yeast. Below are some common symptoms of yeast dough poisoning in dogs. 

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Causes of Yeast Dough Poisoning in Dogs

Most cases of yeast dough poisoning are accidental — this can happen when a dog gets into dough that's been set out to prove or by sneaking raw dough scraps from a used mixing bowl or unlocked trash can.

Yeast dough negatively affects dogs in two very different ways. For one, the dog's body heat causes yeast dough to expand in the stomach cavity, which can cause bloating and even trigger gastric dilatation-volvulus (GVD).

GVD is often fatal without immediate veterinary attention. This condition happens when the stomach inflates (in this case, because of yeast dough) and contorts, cutting off blood flow and compressing vital organs. What's more, if the dog's pancreas becomes deprived of blood, it begins releasing toxic compounds into the body, which can cause a dog's heart to stop beating.

Secondly, ethanol (a type of alcohol) is a byproduct of yeast fermentation and can lead to alcohol poisoning in dogs who consume raw yeast dough. Alcohol poisoning can also be life-threatening if not treated right away since alcohol consumption can cause a canine’s blood glucose and blood pH levels to plummet. Severe cases of alcohol poisoning can also cause respiratory failure in canines.

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Diagnosis of Yeast Dough Poisoning in Dogs

Diagnosis of yeast dough poisoning can be tricky since it shares similar symptoms with several other conditions (like GVD, antifreeze poisoning, and the ingestion of certain narcotics).

The vet will begin their assessment by questioning the pet parents about the onset of the dog's symptoms and if the dog has eaten anything unusual recently. Vets may make a presumptive diagnosis if the pet parent catches the dog eating raw yeast dough or if the dog has a history of eating dough. The vet will then confirm the diagnosis through a thorough physical exam and blood analysis to check the pet's alcohol levels.

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Treatment of Yeast Dough Poisoning in Dogs

There are a few different treatments for yeast dough poisoning in dogs. The symptom severity and the amount of time between dough consumption and diagnosis will determine which treatment dogs need.

Inducing vomiting

With early intervention, inducing vomiting can reduce the severity of yeast dough poisoning. Typically, vets use an emetic called apomorphine for this procedure. Vets may choose to inject this medication or place it behind the eyelid to induce vomiting.

Unfortunately, this procedure isn't always effective when dogs consume large quantities of dough. Yeast dough is sticky and glutenous by nature and may be difficult to regurgitate. 

Stomach pumping

If inducing vomiting isn't successful, vets may choose to pump the dog's stomach using a procedure called gastric lavage. The vet will administer a sedative and insert an endotracheal tube. The endotracheal tube serves two purposes: to administer oxygen and anesthetics and to block stomach contents from entering the lungs during the procedure.

Once the endotracheal tube is in place, the vet team will place an orogastric tube into the pet's stomach and pour water down the tube. Typically, vets will use warm water during a gastric lavage, though in the case of yeast dough poisoning, vets will use cold water to deactivate the yeast and slow replication.

The water and stomach contents will then drain out of the tube and into a container. The vet may have to pump the stomach several times to remove most of the stomach contents.

Vets may also give the dog activated charcoal through the orogastric tube after pumping the stomach. The vet will closely monitor the dog's vitals throughout the process to ensure the dog is stable and isn’t having complications from the anesthesia.

Stomach pumping is a fairly routine procedure in the veterinary community but isn't without risks. Dogs may have complications from anesthesia, aspirate their stomach contents, or have irritation of the mucous membranes from placing the tubes. 

Fluid therapy and dextrose

Fluid therapy is essential for dogs with yeast dough poisoning — especially for dogs exhibiting signs of alcohol poisoning. IV fluids and electrolytes will help rid the body of alcohol faster. In addition to IV fluids, dogs will also receive intravenous dextrose, a form of sugar to stabilize the dog’s blood glucose.

In severe cases of alcohol poisoning where dogs lose consciousness, vets may administer a drug called yohimbine into their IV to help with breathing. 

Surgical removal

If vomiting and pumping the stomach doesn't remove the dough, surgical removal may be necessary. Surgery is a more invasive treatment option and will involve putting the dog to sleep.

The vet will create an incision on the dog's abdomen and cut open the stomach to retrieve the dough. After removing all the dough, the vet will sew up the tissue layers and take the dog to a kennel to recover.

If bloating from the ingestion of dough turns into GVD, the vet may need to perform additional abdominal surgery. During GVD surgery, the vet will place the stomach back into the correct position and access the condition of the stomach and spleen.

If the spleen or stomach shows signs of necrosis, they will remove the dead tissue and suture the organs. Since GVD has a high recurrence rate, the vet may suggest a prophylactic gastropexy, where the stomach is adhered to the abdominal wall to reduce the risk of stomach contortion in the future.  

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Recovery of Yeast Dough Poisoning in Dogs

Once the dog is stable, vets will work around the clock to keep the dog warm. Alcohol poisoning carries the risk of hypothermia since alcohol causes a dog's body temperature to drop.

The vet will likely want to monitor your dog in the hospital for a few days, especially if they are post-op. When the vet clears the dog to go home, the pet parent will need to make regular follow-up appointments to ensure their pet is recovering properly. 

The prognosis for yeast dough poisoning is good if vets catch it early, but it can cause deadly complications if left untreated. Yeast dough can trigger a chain of adverse reactions in the body, causing fatalities due to restricted blood flow, cardiac arrest, respiratory problems, and dangerously low blood sugar. 

Yeast dough poisoning can be expensive to treat. If you suspect your dog is at risk of yeast dough poisoning, start searching for pet insurance today. Wag!'s pet insurance comparison tool lets you compare plans from leading companies like PetPlan and Embrace. Find the "pawfect" plan for your pet in just a few clicks!

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Cost of Yeast Dough Poisoning in Dogs

Since there are so many different treatments for yeast dough poisoning, and the exact course of treatment depends on each individual case, the estimated cost range for treating this condition is tough to pinpoint.

Pet parents of dogs with yeast dough poisoning can expect to pay anywhere between $250 and $3,000 for veterinary care. If the dog requires surgery to correct GVD due to yeast dough poisoning, you can expect to pay upwards of $2,800 just for that surgery alone. 

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Yeast Dough Poisoning in Dogs Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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