Spoiling our dogs is one of the joys of being a pet parent. When they give you the stare, it’s all too tempting to offer them whatever food we are eating, including French fries. But before you are swayed by those puppy dog eyes, take a minute to check if feeding fries to your dog really is a good idea.
The real question isn’t CAN dogs eat French fries — as one or two may not do any harm — but SHOULD they eat them? No, dogs shouldn’t eat fries, and if you feed them too often, you could make them very ill.
French fries are cut potatoes, usually deep-fried in oil. They are often seasoned with salt, sometimes spices, and served with sauces and dressings. Although tasty, fried food isn’t good for a dog’s health. Your pup definitely won’t refuse a fry offered, but dogs don’t always know what’s good for them! It’s up to you to keep them healthy and make the right food choices on their behalf.
Are French Fries Bad for Dogs?
French fries can be bad for dogs if you feed them in large amounts or very often. They are not toxic, but they are full of unhealthy fats, carbohydrates and loaded with salt. They also have zero nutritional benefits compared to the potato that they started out as.
What Happens When Dogs Eat Them?
Dogs often have vomiting or diarrhea if they are fed any human food, including Fries. As well as giving them a tummy upset, they’ll probably be thirsty because of the extra salt. More worrying is the risk of feeding fried food regularly. Any foods high in fats, salt, or carbohydrates can cause serious diseases such as:
- Heart disease
- Kidney disease
- High blood pressure
- Gut problems
Worse still, if your pup already has any of these illnesses, feeding the wrong food could make them suddenly and severely unwell. Part of their treatment might include a strict diet, usually prescribed by your veterinarian.
Dogs are also at risk of salt poisoning if they binge on salty food. Although they would have to eat a lot of fries, it’s worth remembering the risks. Symptoms of salt poisoning begin with vomiting or diarrhea and can progress to lethargy, shaking, and fits if not treated. Dogs that don’t have access to plenty of water are more likely to be poisoned by excessive salt intake.
Are There Any Other Dangers?
Before sharing your takeaway (or homemade fake-away) with Fido, consider what other hazards it could pose besides the unhealthy fats and salts!
- Sauces and dressings
- Raw potato
- Potato skins
French fries may not just be coated in salt but other seasonings that may cause harm. Popular fry seasoning often has garlic or onion powder which can cause anemia (a dangerously low number of red blood cells). If your dog is anemic, it may be lethargic, have rapid breathing, pale gums, a fast heartbeat, or be off its food. If you see any of these symptoms, it’s best to call your veterinarian for advice. Anemia can be life-threatening if not recognized and treated efficiently.
Sauces and Dressings
Whether you like ranch dressing, ketchup, mustard, BBQ sauce, or vinegar on your fries, it’s not a good idea to feed these to your dog! Ingredients like sugar, onion or garlic, spices, and acetic acid can cause illness in canines. Most will cause a stomach upset, but onion or garlic can cause fatal anemia if eaten in large amounts. Call your veterinarian if your pup is sick after consuming sauces or dressings.
Popular sides with fries might be hamburgers, fried chicken, corn kernels, corn on the cob, cheese, or coleslaw. Hamburgers and coleslaw might have onions or garlic added, putting your dog a risk of developing anemia. Cheese is high in unhealthy fats and is a common cause of pancreatitis in dogs. Pancreatitis causes vomiting, inappetence, and abdominal pain. Fried chicken with bones, and corn on the cob, can cause gut blockages if eaten by your dog. Whatever you have your fries with, the best way of keeping your dog safe is not to feed them human food.
If you’re making fries at home, Fido is probably at your feet waiting for food to drop from the counter. Be aware that raw potatoes contain solanine (also found in tomato plants) which in large amounts can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and drowsiness. Green parts of a potato, the skin, and the plant have the highest concentration of solanine. Cooked potato has lower levels of solanine, so if your dog eats a small amount of cooked potato, the risk of solanine toxicity is low.
Chunks of raw potato are also choking hazards, and if they are swallowed in large pieces could get stuck in their gut. If you’re worried about your pup and they have eaten potatoes, call your veterinarian.
Raw potato skins have higher solanine levels than the white parts of the potato, making them potentially toxic if eaten in large amounts. Once cooked, the solanine levels will be lower.
Potato skin is also very high in fiber. While fiber is an essential part of your dog’s diet, too much of it can give them an upset stomach. If you notice signs of illness after eating potato skins, call your veterinarian.
Are They Ever OK For Dogs?
So fried food is a definite no-no — but is there any way you can feed Fido some fries and reduce the health risks? Well…maybe.
The only way is for you to control the cooking method and preparation and make them at home. Avoid adding any oil or seasoning to the fries. Bake, microwave, or boil the potato rather than frying to eliminate the harmful risk of unhealthy fats being included. You should avoid feeding raw or cooked potato skins too.
Sweet potato is more nutritious than white potato and another popular way to make fries. Your dog can eat small amounts of baked sweet potato that is unseasoned and without oil. Sweet potato skins are thick and tough so remove them before feeding to prevent gut problems.
If you want to let your pup eat some sweet potatoes, do it in moderation. Sweet potatoes are high in vitamin A which can be toxic to dogs in large amounts.
Frequently Asked Questions
A few fries are unlikely to harm most healthy dogs. However, it’s not recommended that you intentionally feed your dog french fries. The high fat, salt, and carbohydrate content of fries can make some dogs vomit or have diarrhea. A dog fed fried food regularly might develop serious health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, or obesity.
You need to be extra careful of feeding unhealthy food to dogs who have underlying health conditions. All dogs need a well-balanced nutritious diet to keep them healthy and disease-free. If you need advice, the best thing you can do is consult your veterinarian.