Nutritional yeast or yeast extract has garnered a lot of popularity amongst health-conscious eaters. Due to its cheesy and umami taste, it's often used as a nutritious flavor enhancer and cheese substitute in various dishes.
But can you share nutritional yeast with your dog?
The short answer is yes! Dogs can eat nutritional yeast but you shouldn’t confuse it with active yeast used for rising dough. They aren’t the same thing and while nutritional yeast is safe and healthy for a dog, active yeast can be very dangerous for their health.
To avoid confusion between these two and understand what nutritional yeast is, let’s start with some basics…
What is Yeast & How is Nutritional Yeast Made?
Yeasts are single-celled microorganisms that are classified as members of the fungus kingdom. Currently, there are at least 1,500 species of yeast recognized.
Baking and Brewer's yeast are two popular types of yeast that are used to convert the sugars of the fruit into alcohol and generate carbon dioxide gas that causes the bread to rise.
While shopping in a supermarket, you’re most likely to find baker’s yeast which isn’t safe for a dog. If your dog accidentally licks some of this yeast, you should contact a veterinarian immediately.
Brewer's yeast, on the other hand, is safe for a dog.
Another popular type of yeast is nutritional yeast, which is safe and healthy for a dog. It’s made by deactivating the yeast with heat, which is then harvested, washed, dried, and packaged to be sold commercially as a food product.
In a store, you’ll find nutritional yeast in many forms including yellow flakes, granules, paste, or powder. It can have a strong nutty or cheesy flavor that makes it a popular cheese substitute for vegans or people with lactose intolerance.
Health Benefits of Nutritional Yeast for Dogs
Below are the 6 amazing health benefits of feeding nutritional yeast to your dog:
1. Rich Source of Protein
Nutritional yeast is a complete protein as it contains all nine amino acids. This makes it a high-quality source of plant protein that you can add to your dog’s diet.
A complete and well-balanced meal enriched with protein supplements like nutritional yeast will help support many critical functions in your dog’s body. It’ll help contribute to their healthy skin & coat, muscle development, immune health, and tissue repair.
2. Contains B Vitamins
Nutritional yeast is often fortified with B complex vitamins. It contains high amounts of thiamine (B1) and vitamin B12, both of which help support brain health and boost cognitive function.
It’s also rich in vitamin B6 which is responsible for a healthy immune response, glucose generation, and nervous system function. Plus, it contains riboflavin (B2) which is heavily involved in the production of red blood cells in a dog’s body.
But please note that these nutrients are added to the nutritional yeast during the manufacturing process. Thus the exact nutritional value of the product will vary from one manufacturer to another. You can read the labels and ingredients to get a more clear understanding of which vitamins are present in the product.
3. Makes the Food More Appetizing
If your dog is a fussy eater who turns up its nose at a certain type of food, then you can try adding some nutritional yeast or yeast extract to lure them into eating. The strong cheesy and umami taste of this yeast enhances the flavor of the food and makes it more appetizing.
4. Provides Many Essential Minerals
Nutritional yeast contains many essential minerals like calcium, iron, selenium, zinc, potassium, magnesium, copper, and manganese. These minerals are required for the proper growth and development of a dog’s bones, muscles, and brain. They also support various enzyme functions in your dog’s body.
5. Can Reduce Inflammation
Nutritional yeast contains glutathione and selenomethionine, two powerful antioxidants. They help protect the dog’s body from oxidation or damage caused by free radicals. It prevents unwanted inflammation and reduces the risk of chronic heart diseases.
Furthermore, antioxidants can also help improve your dogs' skin and coat health and boost their immune system. If your dog is old, then the antioxidants present in nutritional yeast will also help relieve pain, stiffness, and swelling in the joints.
6. Gluten-Free Supplement
Nutritional yeast is naturally gluten-free, making it a great food supplement for dogs who suffer from gluten intolerance or celiac disease.
It's also dairy-free and vegan which means that it's highly unlikely that nutritional yeast will trigger any food sensitivity in your dog.
How to Feed Nutritional Yeast to a Dog
You can easily buy nutritional yeast or yeast extract from a supermarket or health food store. But make sure the yeast doesn’t contain any other ingredients, seasonings, or artificial flavors that can be harmful to your dog’s health.
You can also consult with your veterinarian and buy a brand that they recommend. They can also help you determine how much nutritional yeast you should add to your dog’s diet depending on their dietary needs, age, and breed.
Ideally, it’s advised to add less than a teaspoon of nutritional yeast to their daily meals. You can just add it to their daily kibble meal or wet food. If you like cooking homemade treats for your dog, you can add some nutritional yeast to the recipe as well.
Many dog food brands also use nutritional yeast in their recipes and there're many supplements in form of tablets and chews available for pets. You can either buy dog food that already contains yeast extract or consult with your veterinarian about adding supplements to your dog’s diet.
Precautions While Feeding Nutritional Yeast to Your Dog
Nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast packed with many health benefits for a dog. But just because this strain of yeast is safe and healthy for a dog, doesn't mean you can also feed them every other kind of yeast.
For example, baker’s yeast, which is found in almost every household, is not safe for a dog. Even the nutritional yeast made for human consumption can contain ingredients like garlic, salt, and sugar which can be harmful to a dog’s health.
Thus while shopping for nutritional yeast, make sure you properly read the labels and the ingredients or ask your veterinarian about the brands they recommend.
Nutritional yeast is safe and healthy for a dog. It is a complete protein that contains many essential nutrients and antioxidants that help support your dog’s health. The fortified nutritional yeast is also a rich source of B complex vitamins required for many important body functions.
But remember with nutritional yeast, a little goes a long way. You should add less than a teaspoon of nutritional yeast or yeast extract into your dog’s daily meal or add some to their homemade treat recipes.
It’s very unlikely that your dog will experience any negative effects from a small amount of nutritional yeast, but if you have some doubts, it's always a good idea to consult with your veterinarian before adding anything new dog’s diet.
Let’s answer some frequently asked questions about feeding nutritional yeast to your dog.
1. Can a dog eat yeast?
It depends on the type of yeast. For example, baker’s yeast is not safe for a dog but nutritional yeast or yeast extract is safe and healthy for a dog.
2. Can a dog eat yeast bread?
Yes, your dog can eat bread made with yeast. But they cannot directly eat the active baker’s yeast or the bread dough that has the yeast, as that can be harmful to their health.
Also, keep in mind that plain white or wheat bread is safe but unhealthy for a dog. It contains a lot of carbs that can lead to many health problems. So either try and avoid bread altogether or feed it in small amounts occasionally.
3. Can a dog eat brewer’s yeast?
Yes, dogs can eat small amounts of brewer’s yeast. This type of yeast is used for brewing beer and it contains many vitamins and minerals that can be beneficial for your dog. Many dog food brands also use brewer’s yeast in their recipes.
4. Can a dog eat yeast rolls?
Yes, dogs can eat yeast rolls in small amounts occasionally. But they cannot directly eat the active yeast used to make the dough of the yeast rolls as that can harm their health.
If, in case, your dog has accidentally licked active baker’s yeast, contact a veterinarian immediately.
5. Can a dog eat nutritional yeast extract?
Yes, dogs can eat nutritional yeast extract. But it shouldn’t contain any additional ingredients, seasoning, or flavors as these can be harmful to a dog’s health.
Try to buy nutritional yeast extract from dog-friendly brands and avoid those made for human consumption.
If you are confused or overwhelmed by the options, consult with your veterinarian to decide which brand of nutritional yeast extract you should buy for your dog.