It's no secret that potatoes are one of the most popular vegetables in the western culture. But can dogs eat potatoes and are potatoes for dogs safe to consume? Are there any benefits or side effects from feeding potatoes to dogs? In this article, we'll explore everything you must know.
If you've been wondering, “can I give my dog potatoes,” the short answer is yes – dogs can eat potatoes, but there's more to this that pet owners must be aware of.
In fact, potatoes as a carb-loaded vegetable can often be found on many dinner plates and in many dog foods. But are potatoes really necessary in the dog's diet?
What are potatoes?
A potato is an underground tuber plant that is very high in starch. As a member of the nightshade family (or Solanaceae), it tends to be rounded in shape with red or brown skin.
Potatoes are used for food in a variety of ways, most often baked, boiled, fried, and roasted in the human diet. For dogs, not all these cooking methods are recommended.
This is what regular potatoes (russet) look like:
Potatoes are rich in vitamins, particularly Vitamin C and potassium. They're commonly used to make potato chips, french fries, potato flour and bread.
Potatoes for Dogs 101
Can Dogs Eat Potatoes?
Yes – it's safe for dogs to eat potatoes.
Dogs are omnivores, and don’t really need a high amount of carbohydrates in their diet. As such, potatoes should be fed as occasional treats and not as a staple in your dog’s diet.
Potatoes are also often used as a source of dietary fiber in many dog food brands (source).
It's best to give boiled potatoes to dogs over raw, fried or deep-fried potatoes. Potato-based junk foods like french fries or potato chips are not healthy for dogs.
Here are the minerals and vitamins of potatoes that are most useful for dogs:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B
- Vitamin C
These vitamins and minerals are the main reasons why feeding cooked potatoes for dogs (boiled) may be a good idea, as long as you do so in moderation. Let's discuss the health benefits of potatoes for dogs.
4 Potential Health Benefits of Potatoes for Dogs
Potatoes for dogs are not only safe, but may also provide your canine with several health benefits when fed in moderation on a regular basis as part of an otherwise well-balanced, healthy dietary regime.
Here are four potential health benefits of potatoes for dogs:
1. Vitamin B6 helps with formation of red blood cells.
Potatoes are a good source of Vitamin B6 (also known as Pyridoxine).
Vitamin B6 is a class of B vitamins that's responsible for the formation of red blood cells in human and dog bodies.
Deficienes of Vitamin B6 in dogs can result in several health problems.
2. Vitamin C strengthens and improves the immune system.
There's also a good amount of Vitamin C in potatoes.
As a water-soluble vitamin, Vitamin C promotes the function of white blood cells, which strengthens your dog’s immune system. There are many other benefits of ensuring your dog has an adequate supply of Vitamin C from food.
3. Potatoes contain iron for healthy body function.
Potatoes contain a small amount of iron.
Some enzymes in the dog's body require iron in order to perform their functions. Iron is also needed to create hemoglobin, a molecule in red blood cells responsible for carrying oxygen. It's essential for the overall well-being of the dog, but it's also important not to overdose your dogs on iron consumption.
4. Potatoes contain potassium, an essential mineral.
Another important mineral found in potatoes is potassium.
Potassium keeps blood vessel function in order in the dog's body, replaces lost electrolytes, and strengthens a dog's muscle development. It may also improve dog's heart health based on human studies (however, it hasn't been tested with dogs).
“So can I give my dog potatoes?”
Yes, you can give your dogs potatoes, as long as they are cooked (boiled) and fed in moderation, and as part of a well-balanced and healthy dog diet.
Why in moderation? Because of their high starch level, too many potatoes can lead to potential health issues in dogs. These health conditions range from mild to serious, and I'll explain some of the side effects of potatoes for dogs below.
“Can I give my dog potatoes from the garden?”
No, you cannot give your dog potatoes if they're just from the garden (meaning, raw). Potatoes must be cooked (boiled) before you can feed them to your dog.
Bottom line: Cooked potatoes are safe for your dog to eat, as long as they are not fed as a main part of your dog’s diet and given in moderation.
READ ALSO: Can Dogs Eat Bananas?
3 Potential Side Effects of Potatoes for Dogs
As discussed above, potatoes are safe for dogs to consume only in moderation. If you make potatoes a staple of your dog’s diet, the following health conditions may develop.
A carbohydrate-heavy diet can lead to illnesses in dogs like pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas. The pancreas becomes incapable of breaking down sodium and fats and functioning properly in general.
Dogs with pancreatitis suffer from pain and discomfort. The stomach may be distended and tender; vomiting may occur if the dog attempts to eat. Pancreatitis requires a dog to be hospitalized and given antibiotics, IV fluids, and pain medications for recovery.
As long as you give potatoes for dogs in moderate amount, there will be no risk of this.
Potatoes are comparatively high in calories and extremely high in carbohydrates.
Giving dogs too many complex, starch-heavy carbohydrates in their diet, like potatoes, is a leading cause of weight gain in dogs. That weight gain may lead to illnesses and diseases as your dog ages, so make sure to give potatoes to dogs in moderation.
Diabetes is dogs is closely related to obesity.
A dog’s body recognizes carbohydrates as sugars and then stores them as fat. The carbohydrates, both simple and complex, can wreak havoc on a dog’s blood glucose, eventually leading to illnesses such as canine diabetes.
As long as you don't overfeed your dogs, there should be no problems.
More on Potatoes for Dogs
A Safety Precaution
Raw, unripe potatoes are a different story as they can be toxic to dogs.
Also, you cannot feed your dog the stem, leaves or skin of the potato because they contain a poison called solanine (found in most nightshade family vegetables).
The below are side effects that your dog may experience if he happen to ingest solanine poison from potato skin, stem or leaves:
- Slowed heart rate
- Blurred vision
- Obstruction of digestion
- Stomach upset
- Negative impact on the nervous system
Pet owners who grow their own potatoes must be especially wary. Keep a close eye on your dog if he’s near your vegetable garden, and make sure that uncooked potatoes are out of your dog’s reach in the kitchen.
Steer clear of potatoes in junk food form at all costs.
Plain, cooked potatoes for dogs are fine in small amounts, but potatoes in junk food form (such as processed french fries, harsh browns, etc.) are not. Salts, spices, seasonings, and frying oils are used with junk food potatoes and are not appropriate for a dog’s.
Never feed your dog any of these junk foods:
- French fries
- Loaded baked potatoes (sour cream, butter, cheese)
- Potato skins
- Potato chips
- Potato pies
These foods can upset your dog’s stomach and, if fed in large amounts over periods of time, can result in weight gain, several diseases and even death.
Can I Give My Dog Potatoes?
Cooked, plain potatoes in very small amounts are safe for dogs to eat in moderation.
Don’t make potatoes a regular part of your dog’s diet, however. Keep your canine's future health in mind by feeding him other vegetables that provide more nutrients and less calories.