Potatoes are a staple dish for many families, and it's understandable that you might want to share this tasty food with your dog. If you've ever wondered whether potatoes are safe for dogs to eat, the answer is yes. However, this is dependent on the method of preparation and how much your dog ingests. Discover more about how to keep your dog safe when eating potatoes.
Potatoes Are Safe for Dogs in Moderation
Similar to corn, potatoes are considered a starchy vegetable. Although they do offer nutritional value, they also contain more calories and carbohydrates than other veggies. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. Dogs need carbs as part of a well-balanced, omnivorous diet, but these starchy vegetables can have negative health effects if eaten in excess.
Potatoes contain many essential minerals and vitamins, including potassium, iron, folate, fiber, and vitamins C and B6. These nutrients help promote healthy digestion and prevent diseases. Potatoes are also easily digestible and highly satiating, allowing dogs to feel full after eating them.
The manner of preparation is a big concern when it comes to this food. Many human potato dishes are fried in oil, such as potato chips and French fries, or topped with butter, increasing the fat content and making them extremely unhealthy for dogs. Avoid feeding any potatoes prepared with spices, butter, salt, or other ingredients intended for human consumption.
Can Dogs Eat Sweet Potatoes?
Yes, sweet potatoes are safe for most canines. These sweet taters are rich in antioxidants like carotenoids that enhance your dog's immune system, protect their eyes, and promote heart health. Purple sweet potatoes reportedly have even higher levels of beneficial nutrients due to their pigment.
Even though they're healthy, sweet potatoes possess about four times more sugar than regular potatoes, so they should be given in moderation. Consequently, dogs with diabetes or pancreatitis should avoid sweet potatoes.
How Much Potato Can Your Dog Have?
Although spuds have nutritional value, they shouldn't serve as a frequent snack for your dog. Extra additions to your pup's diet, like treats, should stay under 10 percent of their daily calorie intake. For example, about ½ cup of potatoes reach this limit for a typical 50-pound dog.
It's important to consult with your veterinarian before giving your dog new foods. Potatoes are a high glycemic index food, meaning they cause a dog's blood sugar to spike. This can be dangerous in diabetic dogs or pets with other conditions.
Potatoes Linked with Dilated Cardiomyopathy
A recent discovery is a link between grain-free diets and dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) or heart enlargement in dogs. Studies reveal that dogs who eat a marketed "grain-free" diet that contains legumes, peas, or potatoes as main ingredients have an increased risk of developing DCM.
Although the relationship is still being investigated, some veterinarians advise against feeding dogs long-term diets containing high volumes of these ingredients. It's unlikely that an occasional potato treat will cause heart disease in a dog, but this evidence is important to keep in mind if you're cooking for your dog or they eat a grain-free diet high in potato.
How to Prepare Potatoes for Your Dog
Follow these guidelines if you'd like to prepare a potato snack for your dog or cook potatoes to incorporate into their food.
- Wash and scrub the potato thoroughly.
- Cut out or shave off any eyes.
- Remove the skin before cooking.
- Avoid using any oils, butter, seasonings, or spices. Never use garlic or onion.
- Cook the potatoes by boiling, steaming, or baking.
- Remove any remaining skin.
- Cut potatoes into bite-sized pieces to prevent choking.
Potato-Based Dog Treats
Many dog treats use sweet potatoes as a key ingredient. Find products like Fruitables Sweet Potato and Pecan treats or WholeHearted Salmon & Sweet Potato treats at your local pet store. You could also consider whipping up a batch of homemade cookies with potatoes.
Potato Dishes to Avoid
Not all potato dishes are safe. Always make sure spuds are cooked before feeding them to your dog. Additionally, avoid potatoes prepared through any of these methods.
- Potatoes fried in oil
- Dishes prepared with onion or garlic
- Potatoes with spices or seasonings
- Large amounts of potato skin
- Green potatoes
- Potatoes with sprouted eyes
- Raw potatoes
Dangers of Potatoes for Dogs
Never give your dog raw potatoes, raw skin, potato sprouts, or green potatoes. These contain high levels of a naturally occurring compound called solanine, which can be toxic in excessive amounts. Dogs suffering from solanine poisoning can show the following symptoms and should see a veterinarian.
- Excessive drooling
- Neurologic signs
Spuds: Not Ideal for Couch Potatoes
The carbohydrates and sugars in potatoes are fine for healthy, active dogs, but pets with conditions like diabetes should avoid spuds. Speak to your veterinarian about whether this food would be a good addition to their diet. And if your dog ingests raw potatoes, green potatoes, or a large amount of potato skin, call your vet for guidance.