There are delicious robustness and versatility to potatoes that has made them a mainstay in our cuisine for generations.
Boiled potatoes, mashed potatoes, fried potatoes, potato chips, French fries – and of course, the tangier taste of the sweet potato too – all make this healthy dietary staple hugely important to us all.
But many pet owners often wonder, can dogs eat potatoes? It all depends on how they’re prepared – read on to find out more.
Are potatoes good for dogs?
The short and perhaps frustrating answer is – yes and no.
There’s plenty in potatoes that benefits your dog as much as it would his or her masters, but also some aspects of this hardy vegetable that makes it perhaps a less effective way of getting vitamins and fibre into your dog than other options.
With all that said and done though, tiny potato pieces show up in enough varieties of professionally prepared dog food brands that they certainly must add something beneficial to your dog’s diet.
If you’re looking to take your own initiative in feeding your dog potatoes though, there are a few factors to keep in mind.
For instance, feeding raw potatoes to your dog is as much to be avoided as it would be feeding raw potatoes to people.
It would cause severe discomfort and an upset stomach to your dog if they were to eat a raw potato – not to mention the difficulty of it.
A raw potato is really tough, and it means that even though your dog’s strong teeth can likely make short work of potato peel and raw potato overall, it’s not going to do them a speck of good.
However, if you’re smart in how to prepare a potato for a dog, you’ll find that even the fussiest of canine eaters can be persuaded to put a few slices of it away.
Mashed potato for dogs is also another good option to consider, but it’s smart to keep on top of how you cook it.
Put simply, the additions we put into mashed potato or roast potatoes to boost the flavour, like butter, salt, cheese or gravy, all come with less nutritional value for dogs – and more complexity for their digestive systems.
We might think we’re doing our pets a favour by adding spices or flavours to potatoes, but it is actually a far less healthy option.
In fact, when making mashed potatoes for your dog, it’s best to keep it simple. Plain, wholesome and overall nice and creamy mash is the best way to feed potatoes to your dog – it removes any risks that come with the tougher way other forms of potato can have.
And of course, feeding French fries or potato chips to your dog, while harmless enough, is much more fatty, salty and oily than bare bones mashed potato with nothing added.
With all this in mind, can dogs eat sweet potato? Yes they can – in fact, sweet potato is a touch healthier for dogs than regular and more commonly eaten potatoes.
That said, don’t therefore think that sweet potatoes can be a main component of your dog’s meals any more than other kinds of potato can be – these are little additions or supplements to your dog’s meals at best.
Health benefits of potatoes for dogs
Dogs can get a lot of different vitamins and reinforcing nutrients from potatoes prepared the proper way, or diced up into little-cooked chunks and mixed in with their meals.
However, it’s important, before covering those health benefits, to go over the risks of dogs eating potatoes too.
In short, there is a component in potatoes called solanine that is something of a toxin to dogs.
However, not only is it more commonly found in the peel – meaning feeding dogs your baked potato or jacket potato leftovers is a bad idea – but it’s also far more active in uncooked potatoes.
This is a big reason behind why feeding dogs raw potato is such a dangerous idea – it can really mess with their health. Diabetic dogs should also never eat potatoes of any kind.
However, the positives of dogs eating potatoes that have been cooked the healthy way, free from added fats, oils, salts and flavours, is their nutrient content.
Good carbohydrates and plenty of iron are found in potatoes, making them quite beneficial to dogs when it comes to boosting their strength and well being.
You’ll also be handing your pup plenty of vitamins too – including Vitamin A, Vitamin B and Vitamin C.
All of these lead to bright eyes, wagging tails, lots of energy, a shiny set of fur all over and, perhaps most importantly, more resources in your dog’s body to fight off diseases and illness.
This powerful mix of vitamins and minerals makes potatoes pretty packed with the good stuff for dogs, although it’s also worth noting that potatoes are tougher for dogs to digest than they are for human beings.
Our internal needs are each very different from one another – but that makes it all the more commendable that you’re here today, ensuring you only feed your dog what’s safe for dogs to eat.
However, older dogs are perhaps better suited to other means of getting their vitamins and minerals than potatoes, unless they’re part of their preprepared dog food.
Keep this in mind as you move forward – and consult your vet, by all means, if you want advice more tailored to the elder pooch in your family.
How many potatoes can a dog eat daily?
As we’ve discussed, dogs have a tougher time working with potatoes in their diet than people – not to the extent that they should never eat them, but definitely to the point where it’s a good idea to plan accordingly how many potatoes to feed your dog.
Because of that, you’ll find that even the largest dogs need only a small portion of potato to get the same kinds of health benefits – sturdy constitution, increased immune system functions, overall energy and vitality – that their masters do.
Because of that, even one potato a day is more than enough to get these goodies into your dog’s systems – if anything, you’re better to keep potato in mind as an occasional addition to your dog’s dinner, when you want to bolster his or her hardiness or vitamin intake.
Remember, giving your dog a whole potato – even if you’ve boiled and peeled it completely – is probably not the best way to serve this vegetable to your pet.
Mashing it, or even dicing up a boiled potato for your dog without adding anything to flavour it or affect it with spices, will be a much more manageable way for your dog to get the nutrition he or she needs from a potato.
Feeding a potato to a dog daily is actually perhaps in excess of what they need, so perhaps stick to half a day, or a potato’s worth every other day if you want a strict regimen.
What to do if a dog eats a potato
Potatoes are not dangerous for dogs, but as we’ve discussed, it’s important that they’re prepared the right way to be at their healthy best.
Because of that, the question of what to do when your dog eats a potato defends very much on whether it was raw or cooked.
If your dog has dug through some leftovers or tugged out some mashed potato scraps from the garbage – even a few errant chips – then there’s not going to be much in the way of ill effects.
Of course, if there are potato peels involved, or if your dog has started eating potato peels found in the trash, this is going to cause potential health issues.
This is especially the case if your dog is eating raw potatoes. Raw potatoes are very tough – you might find it’s more a risk of breakages in your home if a young, vigorous dog tries thrashing a potato around trying to get inside it.
However, raw potatoes have the greatest risk of toxins to your dog, and you’re strongly advised to seek professional attention if your dog eats potato raw – especially if you know your pet has eaten more than one of them.
Potatoes contain toxins that can be pretty harmful to your dog’s health, but these fortunately only become a concern if the vegetable isn’t prepared properly for your pet.
That means not only avoiding raw potatoes and potato peel, but also making sure you give potato to your dog mashed or sliced up, as free from extras as possible.
Sweet potatoes can be even better for your dog than regular potatoes, but both kinds ought to be avoided if they;re cut into chips or French fries, or otherwise covered in spices, salt and butter.