If you follow our homemade dog food recipes here on Top Dog Tips, you may have noticed that some of them contain white potatoes. This may have you confused: isn’t this root vegetable dangerous to dogs and should be avoided? Not always. Here's why and when it's safe to include white potatoes in a homemade diet.
Why are White Potatoes Controversial?
Potatoes (like tomatoes) are a member of the nightshade family and contain a compound called “solanine.” Solanine is found in the leaves and stems (green parts) of the potato plant, and in lesser amounts in the flesh and skin of the potato.
In large doses (and especially for small breeds), solanine can be toxic. However, cooking the white potato does reduce the amount of solanine in them, making it much safer for dogs to consume.
However, a recent report from the UC Davis School of Medicine states;
“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued an alert about reports of canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs eating certain pet foods containing peas, lentils, other legume seeds, or potatoes as main ingredients. DCM is a disease of the heart muscle that leads to reduced heart pumping function and increased heart size. The alterations in heart function and structure can result in severe consequences such as congestive heart failure or sudden cardiac death. While the most common cause of DCM is genetic, on rare occasions other factors can also result in the condition, particularly in breeds that are not frequently affected.”
So How Much is Too Much?
In certain doses, raw potatoes can be dangerous. The conclusion here is that for a dog to be poisoned by white potatoes they'd have to consume copious amounts of them or consume raw potatoes every day for a long period.
Like humans, some dogs may have a lower tolerance to this root vegetable which could result in adverse side effects. However, the chances of a dog developing any damage from the consumption of a safe amount of potato included in tiny amounts in a homemade dog food recipe are low.
Using Safe Amounts of White Potatoes in Homemade Food
When it comes to using white potatoes in homemade dog food meals, none of the recipes of mine, or those developed by holistic veterinarians, use large amounts of them.
If you choose to feed your dog potatoes more often, it is recommended to use only a small amount of boiled or baked plain potatoes, mashed for easier digestion and only on occasion as a treat.
This dosage is likely to be safe for healthy adult dogs and will allow you to reap some of the health benefits potatoes can provide to your dog.
Be Mindful of Existing Health Conditions
Just like with any recipe, or ingredient, or drug, or even commercial kibble, observe your pet for any signs of sensitivities when feeding potatoes.
Also, be mindful when using potatoes that the above recommendation is for healthy adult dogs only, and those that do not suffer from certain conditions. When it comes to feeding potatoes to dogs, in some cases this may be more dangerous than in others. For example:
- Obese Dogs – Potatoes are a carbohydrate and therefore can be fattening. Do not feed obese dogs potatoes as this could result in further weight gain.
- Diabetic Dogs – since potatoes are considered a carbohydrate, a diabetic dog’s blood sugar could be affected by large amounts of potato.
- Heart Issues – Due to the recent study, dogs with underlying or pre-existing heart conditions should not be fed potatoes.
Consult with a holistic veterinarian before you begin feeding potatoes to your dog, as well as before switching to a homemade dog food diet plan. When using potatoes start slowly to avoid stomach upset and never exceed the recommended “dose” for your dog’s weight.
Note: NEVER feed your dog raw potatoes, the skin or the green parts of the potato plant as these can be toxic.
Potential Benefits of White Potatoes for Dogs
Opposed to corn, wheat, or soy, the potato can be beneficial to some dogs and is better than the aforementioned ingredients found in most dry dog foods.
a medium-sized potato contains:
- 120 calories
- 28 grams of carbohydrates
- 3 grams of protein
- 3 grams of fiber
Potatoes are also stuffed full of Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, niacin, manganese, folate, potassium, magnesium, iron, copper, and phosphorous.
Boost the Immune System – Because of the high antioxidant properties of the white potato, this veggie may boost your dog’s immune system and help prevent some types of cancer.
Promotes Energy – Because the potato is a carb they will provide your dog with fuel to help energize its body throughout the day.
Healthy Skin & Coat – The vitamins and minerals found in the potato can promote healthy skin and coat.