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Are brewers grains safe for dogs?

Species: Dog
Breed: Golden Retriever
Age: 2-5 years
Are brewers grains safe for dogs? My husband wants to buy some dog treats that are made with brewers grains, but I thought I read somewhere that they are toxic for dogs.

What do you think?


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

I do not recommend feeding brewers grain to your dog. Although some dogs can handle this ingredient well, it can cause very serious problems in others.

Ingestion of brewers grain can cause a condition called malignant hyperthermia in dogs.

Malignant hyperthermia is a very serious condition. Dogs that get this condition have a genetic issue that causes them to be affected. The following breeds of dogs are known to possibly be susceptible to malignant hyperthermia:
  • Border Collie

  • English Springer Spaniel

  • Golden Retriever

  • Greyhound

  • Irish Wolfhound

  • Labrador Retreiver


If your dog has the genetic mutation that causes malignant hyperthermia then any of the following can trigger the disease:
  • Exposure to gas anesthetic, especially one called halothane

  • Ingestion of coffee or brewers grains

  • Excessive exercise


Symptoms of malignant hyperthermia include a high body temperature, muscle contractions and seizures. It can be life threatening and sadly there have been many cases of dogs dying after eating

Now, with all of this said, I think that it's possible that most of the treats that are out there that are made from spent grains are probably NOT going to cause your dog to get malignant hyperthermia. I suspect that in order to get ill, the dog would have to eat a large amount of brewers grains. There is probably not enough brewers grain in these treats to trigger malignant hyperthermia.

But, I personally would not recommend feeding these treats as we simply don't know enough about how brewers grain can trigger malignant hyperthermia.

While dogs love hops, they can be severely toxic and even cause death.
Here is a research article that talks about five dogs dying after ingesting spent grains.

Again, in small amounts spent grains are probably safe, but given that the risks are so high I would not want to take the chance.

---This question was asked in our Ask A Vet For Free section.---



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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

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