Potatoes are something many of us regularly enjoy, in some form or another. It is a versatile vegetable that can be served boiled, baked, mashed, roasted, and fried. There are also many different types of potato that appear in a wide array of dishes.
As you tuck into your dinner, your pooch may put his head on you, as if to request some of whatever is on your plate. At this point, you may wonder, “Can dogs even eat potatoes?” And are they even safe for your pup?
This article explores this idea further and examines whether potatoes will cause any potential health issues. Dive in to see if it is safe for you to share some of your potato dish with your canine companion!
Are Potatoes Safe For Dogs?
Plain, cooked potatoes are usually safe for dogs to eat, but raw potatoes aren’t. Most types of plain cooked potatoes are safe. Typically sweet potatoes are used in commercial dog food and are the most popular.
But regular russet potatoes or golden potatoes are also typically fine, provided your pup doesn’t have a nightshade allergy. Cooked potatoes must be fed unseasoned and cooked in minimal amounts of fat to avoid complications. Examples of this include:
- The scooped-out flesh of baked potatoes (the skin can be tough and indigestible in large quantities)
- Boiled potatoes (boil without salt and serve plain)
- Mashed potato (made with minimal milk/butter and no seasoning)
- Potato wedges (roasted with minimal fat and no seasoning)
This does, unfortunately, rule out several other dishes, mainly because of the ingredients we add. Many of these can cause harm to our pets, including garlic and onions, which are members of the allium family. These cause hemolytic anemia, a dangerous condition where the red blood cells become damaged.
Creamy potato dishes containing large amounts of dairy products or fat can cause stomach upsets like vomiting or diarrhea. High levels of salt or other seasonings like chili flakes or spices could also cause digestive upset. So, stick to the plain types of potato mentioned above, and you should be fine.
In humans, the main thing potatoes provide us with is starchy carbohydrates. Carbohydrates help give us a source of energy, and they should make up about a third of our daily diet to keep us well.
Potatoes also contain vitamin C, which helps maintain healthy skin and a healthy immune system, and vitamin B6, which helps maintain good neurological health. If the cooked skin of the potato is also eaten, this can be an excellent source of fiber.
Dogs can also benefit from some of these nutrients, but not all. Vitamin C, for example, is not required by dogs. Like many other animals, dogs can manufacture their own vitamin C, so they don’t require an external source.
They also don’t need quite as many carbohydrates as we do, so it can be easy to accidentally overfeed them. Some beneficial nutrients found in potatoes, like potassium and iron, will also be found in their usual dog food.
The Pros of Feeding Potatoes to Dogs
There can be a few benefits to feeding Fido a few potatoes as an occasional treat.
- They are safe to give in their cooked form
- They provide a source of starchy carbohydrates for energy
- Cooked potatoes are usually easy to digest
- They contain vitamins, minerals, and fiber
- Potatoes can be inexpensive and relatively easy to get hold of
When Are Potatoes Bad
There are several situations where potatoes could be harmful to dogs. The addition of ingredients and certain ways of cooking potatoes can be problematic to our pets. In their raw state, potatoes can be toxic and can cause some potentially serious side effects.
Certain Potato Preparations Could Be Dangerous
Plain, unseasoned potatoes are usually safe for dogs to eat, but some types could cause problems. Some of the following preparations may cause side effects in your pet:
These are usually high in fat and salt and low in nutrients. They could trigger stomach upsets if given excessively, possibly even trigger a harmful episode of pancreatitis due to their high-fat content. While one is unlikely to do too much damage, don’t feed regularly.
Similar to fries in that they are usually cooked in high volumes of fat or oil, and then often seasoned. Only give your pup roasted potatoes cooked plain with minimal fat.
Potato Gratin or Dauphinoise
A rich dish containing cream and/or milk, often with garlic. Some dogs cannot digest lactose (a sugar found in cow’s milk) which can cause stomach upsets. Garlic is dangerous to dogs as it can cause hemolytic anemia, a severe problem with red blood cells. So these dishes should be avoided.
Don’t feed dogs potato chips as these contain little in the way of nutrition and are typically high in fat and salt. They are typically processed, which is also more difficult for our canine companions to digest.
Shepherd’s Pie or Cottage Pie
These dishes have a mashed potato topping, which in itself shouldn’t cause too much issue, but the meat filling of these pies can contain a lot of seasoning and onions. Onions can be harmful to dogs causing hemolytic anemia and destruction of the dog’s red blood cells.
Fried or Sauteed Potatoes
If french fried or deep-fried potatoes are fed to your pup in large amounts of oil or with the addition of onions or garlic, these could cause problems in your pet. You’ll need to keep an eye on the seasonings that are used and be very selective when feeding them to your pup.
Avoid any potato dishes containing toppings, such as melted cheese or other things like gravy and chili, which could cause tummy troubles. Buttered potatoes could also be problematic due to their fat and dairy content.
If your pup accidentally ingests a high volume of any of these dishes, it would be worth ringing your veterinarian for advice, especially if your dpup shows any signs of illness. Large amounts of onions and garlic are of particular worry and may require treatment.
Potatoes can cause serious problems in dogs if eaten raw. They are toxic when uncooked, and contain solanine, a glycoalkaloid poison. Particularly high levels of solanine are found in potatoes that are green or have sprouted, so these are especially dangerous.
Since the potato plant is a member of the nightshade family, it is also high in solanine. This poison causes a slow heart rate, stomach upset (vomiting and diarrhea), and possible vision problems. You must never feed your pup any raw potatoes or potato peelings.
To try to avoid accidents happening, keep potatoes up high out of reach of your pet or shut away in a cupboard. Take care in the garden if you are growing potatoes to ensure your dog can’t access and eat them.
If your pup does accidentally eat a large number of raw potatoes, ring your veterinarian for advice. As well as toxicity, they may be at risk of a blockage in his digestive tract if he has eaten large amounts of hard-to-digest raw potatoes.
The Cons of Feeding Dogs Potatoes
There are a few problems with feeding potatoes you should be aware of before offering any to your dog. These are:
- Potatoes are high in energy and will add extra calories to your pup’s diet
- They must be given to your pup plain, without seasoning
- Seasoning and various other ingredients can cause health problems in canines
- The nutrients they contain are minimal compared to other vegetables
- No real health benefits associated with feeding potatoes to dogs
- Can cause spikes in blood sugar, so care needs to be taken with diabetic animals
So, it may just be worth sticking to your pet’s usual complete commercial diet and only giving the occasional bit of cooked potato as a treat if your pup particularly enjoys them.
So, Can I Feed My Dog Potato?
Yes, as long as it is cooked, and not prepared with any ingredients likely to be harmful to dogs. You should only feed potatoes in moderation, as it will add extra calories to their diet, which could lead to unwanted weight gain. It’s best to reserve potatoes for an occasional treat.
The amount of nutrients they gain from potatoes is minimal compared to other vegetables. If you want to give your dog a health boost, try carrots, zucchini, and peas instead. Some dogs won’t want to eat potatoes at all, so don’t force them if they aren’t keen.
Frequently Asked Questions
Potatoes in certain forms can be safe for our dogs to eat, but there are no proven health benefits. You should, therefore, only give plain cooked potatoes as an occasional treat and not regularly. Certainly don’t give your dog any salty or creamy potato dishes.
If your dog does accidentally eat something he shouldn’t have, such as raw potatoes or a dish containing high amounts of onion or garlic, then call your veterinarian for advice.