We have a beagle. A middle-aged, lazy, blind beagle named Flopsy for her tendency to flop and fall asleep anywhere. She is a calm, easy dog (she doesn’t even howl) except when it comes to food. She will engage in amazing feats of agility to get to food. In the first year we had her (we got her when she was already middle-aged and blind) she got into grapes twice. Grapes are bad for dogs. Both times we rushed her to the emergency vet where they emptied her stomach and my wallet. After the second time, we just decided that having grapes at the house is not worth it and we banned grapes and raisins from entering the house (FYI, a shocking percentage of cereal and breakfast bars have raisins). Dark chocolate only enters the house in small amount and is stored in the highest cupboard. Teabags are never left close to the edge of the counter. We all have a list of things toxic to dogs memorized and are always scanning for dangers hoping to prevent a Flopsy disaster.
Or at least I thought we all had the list memorized. I had never told me family about yeast. Usually, dogs ingest yeast when it is in raising dough. If they ingest enough of it, the dough continues to raise in their stomachs potentially causing bloat or other kinds of major trouble. But I am the only person in the house who bakes and I always keep track of my dough so I had never impressed upon my family the danger of yeast.
My lovely wife was cleaning the fridge and dropped an open yeast package. She picked it up but didn’t know yeast is bad for dogs so she didn’t check carefully that none of the yeast spilled. Our floor is light brown so yeast blends really well. Then she noticed the beagle was licking the floor where the yeast had dropped. She checked in with me if yeast is OK for dogs and I freaked out (that is what I do when an animal might be in trouble).
I called the emergency vet but the vet on duty had never encountered a dog eating plain yeast and referred me to the pet poison hotline. They were very good and sounded thorough and competent. They also cost $59.95 for the consultation. A very calm woman explained to me that if there is food in the stomach, the yeast begins to ferment releasing ethanol gas. You essentially end up with a drunk dog. If there is too much ethanol, that is very, very dangerous and does require immediate emergency care. Luckily, it was right before feeding time so Flopsy hadn’t eaten in 6 hours. We were instructed to monitor at home and not feed the dog until the next day. Our dog is 30 lb and my estimate was that she ate less than a teaspoonful. If you have a smaller dog, a dog who ate more than a teaspoonful of yeast, or a dog who has recently had food, this is a vet emergency.
So, today’s money saving tip – double bag your yeast! It can save you thousands in vet costs! Here is a list of all the other things to watch out for if you have pets.