Every dog owner knows it’s true – if we are trying to enjoy some good old fashioned comfort food, our dogs are never far behind.
The big eyes come out to try and convince us to share our fast food, and before we know it, we’ve chucked our pup a few guilty pleasure snacks.
Is this wise? Can dogs eat French fries? Let’s look into the ins and outs of this tasty conundrum.
Are French fries good for dogs?
If you thought that perhaps, owing to how differently they digest food, dogs might catch a lucky break eating chips and French fries compared to their human masters, unfortunately, canines have no such luck.
French fries are certainly not part of a recommended balanced diet for human beings, and the same is the case for dogs.
In fact, it’s pretty much a given that, owing to the size of dogs compared to us, and the more sensitive digestive systems they have compared to us too, that pups can suffer a lot more of the bad health effects of French fries than we do.
Luckily, you can at least rest assured that French fries, as a rule, are not considered of an immediately dangerous nature to dogs.
Likewise, chips and French fries are not toxic to dogs, so there is no mortal danger to fret about if your dog snatches up some dropped French fries when you and your family are enjoying some fast food at home or the park.
It perhaps goes without saying that, even though one or two French fries going your dog’s way won’t do much harm, it’s certainly not something to get into the habit of providing.
There’s nothing in potatoes, which are the base ingredient of French fries and chips, that dogs can get any nutritional benefit from. That’s especially the case after they’ve been oiled, fried, salted and goodness knows what else.
It’s certainly in your best interests, to say nothing of those of your dog, to avoid handing overloaded fries to your pet.
That’s not just because loaded fries get supercharged with all those greasy guilty treats we love – cheese, spices, sauces and the like.
It’s also because those same sauces and ingredients can often include onions and garlic, both of which are incredibly toxic to your pet.
Those French fries you might be tempted to hand over, one or two at a time, as a tasty treat for your dog are best left as plain as possible.
This is not only to avoid any contact with onion and garlic but also to avoid any condiments, sauces or other ingredients that, while enhancing the flavor, make the fries very difficult to digest for your pet.
A dog with a tummy ache is a grumpy dog indeed.
Dangers of French fries for dogs
While there’s a good number of risks involved in feeding French fries to dogs, the one saving grace is that they’re long term complications to your pet’s health – but still best avoided, and still best known as far in advance as possible.
There’s certainly no reason to be giving big portions of chips or fries to your dog, neither introducing them as a regular part of your pet’s diet.
Perhaps the most obvious risk of dogs eating French fries is that of weight gain.
Dogs are not as skilled at digesting and healthily processing fats as people are, and it’s no surprise to consider that those heightened fats found in man-made foods do the most harm.
Giving lots of French fries to your dog will certainly lead to long term weight gain, and with that come lots of complications over the long term.
Your dog will begin to find it more difficult to exercise and run around and play, and he or she could instead become quite lethargic and even irritable from time to time.
French fries are also quite often covered in salt, which is very bad for your dog. It’s likely to lead to a speck of stomach upset in the immediate term, and more than likely some nasty side effects long term if your dog keeps getting it into their system through unhealthy eating too.
Sodium in dogs does nasty things to them. It can lead to your dog having a highly agitated sense of thirst, and even lead to health complications involving dehydration as their lives go on.
You might find that your dog begins to find it difficult to pass water too, and this can lead to a lot of discomfort and some false alarms in which he or she asks to go out for toilet time, yet can’t manage to pass anything.
At the highest end of the scale, there is even the risk of salt poisoning for your dog, but keep in mind he or she would need to be eating some pretty heavily salted French fries in a remarkably large volume to suffer such a nasty health affliction.
Another bad thing about giving dogs French fries is that they’re fried in oil.
This is not just related to the weight gain issues that we touched on earlier, but also relates to how difficult chips and French fries are to digest for dogs altogether.
Because they’re made of potatoes, this is made even more tricky for your poor pet. The carbohydrates and overall starchiness make them cloy and stick in the stomach and intestines while being very difficult for dogs to break down.
You might even find that, if your dog is very young, very old or otherwise just very sensitive to what he or she eats, those chips and French fries get thrown back up not long after they’ve been eaten.
How many French fries can a dog eat daily?
Well, ideally you ought not to be handing out French fries and other greasy fast food to your dog this regularly, but in the strictest scientific terms, your dog is certainly likely capable of eating one or two of them daily – certainly no more than five.
However, since they come with so very many health risks over the long term, not to mention a heightened risk of weight gain and diabetes, there’s no reason to offer French fries or chips to your dog daily, or even altogether regularly.
Consider these moreish treats a very occasional treat for your pet at the absolute most, and certainly don’t feel any need to try and insert French fries into your dog’s regular and balanced diet.
There’s no nutritional value in doing so, and you might well find all that oil, fat and salt that these snacks contain undoes a lot of the good work of other, healthier food your dog eats.
What to do if your dog eats French fries
It can be frightening to loving dog owner when you chance upon your faithful furry friend chowing down on things you know he or she shouldn’t have.
Chances are, your pooch knows he or she shouldn’t be having whatever it is either – but sometimes, even the most well-behaved dog just can’t help themselves.
If you’re wondering how best to react to your dog eating French fries, there’s little to worry about unless you happen to know that your dog is very averse to salt, or that the fries were prepared with garlic and onion ingredients in some way. In this instance, it’s recommended that you ask your vet for advice.
For the most part, though, there is very little reason to worry about your dog eating chips or French fries.
While it’s certainly not recommended, and absolutely behavior you are going to want to nip in the bud, there is nothing toxic in French fries for dogs to come to harm through eating.
However, if your dog is regularly sneaking French fries, trying to eat frozen ones, or cajoling them out of other people who don’t know any better, work with your dog to train them against this behavior, and to understand that there is a difference between people food and their own, specially formulated dog food.
After all, if left to continue over the long term, your pet is likely to suffer some nasty side effects – and certainly, some weight gain that’s going to make life overall more difficult and comfortable for them.
As a very occasional treat, handed over one or two at a time free from sauces and spices, French fries can be relatively harmless to your dog – but at the same time, hardly come recommended.
There’s nothing nutritional to be had from eating them, and they only serve to cause complications to their digestive system.
Over the long term, dogs who eat French fries and chips all of the time will find that they begin to bulk up in some unflattering and unhealthy ways.
Not only that, but the high salt content of French fries can mess with your pet’s ability to stay hydrated and healthy.
Emily started this blog out of pure passion. She LOVES her 3 dogs; Chew Barka, Cooper & Nelson, and spends countless hours every day playing with them.
When she’s not nerding out on dogs, you’ll find her on a snowboard or in the kitchen baking chocolate brownies.
She’s been featured in PetAware, Dogtime, and ModernDog.