It’s meal time, and you can feel it: your dog looking at you with big, round eyes, hoping for a bite of whatever you’re having. However, not all human indulgences are fit for dog consumption, so you’re wise to think twice before sharing food off of your plate.
One food that might seem innocuous is potatoes, but are they safe for our pets to eat? We spoke to Dr. Danel Grimmett of Sunset Veterinary Clinic in Edmond, Oklahoma, to see if dogs can have potatoes.
Can Dogs Eat Potatoes?
The short answer? Yes, dogs can eat potatoes, but that doesn’t mean they should. Potatoes are a good source of potassium and carbohydrates, Grimmett says, and they can often be found in certain prescription dog foods. As with most foods, however, there can be consequences if your dog eats too many potatoes.
“Dogs can consume potatoes as part of their regular diet or as a treat although it is not my first go-to [food].” she says. If you feed your dog potatoes, she recommends that they be served cooked without seasonings and mashed.
Before you prepare a potato for your dog, check the skin. If it’s green, that potato’s no good for your pup. Grimmett says the green color means a poison called solanine is present in the food which can irritate your dog’s stomach lining and esophagus.
“Cooking these potatoes does not destroy all of this toxin,” she says. “Therefore, I would avoid potatoes with green skin and in general always remove the peel prior to feeding.”
Health Risks of Potatoes for Dogs
Although your pup might enjoy the occasional potato, this vegetable is not without risks to dogs. The first risk is possible gastrointestinal obstruction.
“I would never advocate an owner feeding raw potatoes or even potato chunks,” Grimmett says. “Solid potato pieces are very difficult to digest and often obstruct the gastrointestinal tract of dogs.”
Vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea are symptoms of a potential obstruction, and you should contact your veterinarian if your dog has consumed raw potato and is experiencing any of these issues.
In the long-term, dogs who eat too many potatoes might also gain weight, Grimmett says.
“We have an obesity problem in dogs in this country and adding a simple carbohydrate source to a balanced diet could contribute significantly to weight gain,” she says.
Alternative Foods for Dogs
If you’d like to offer your dog some variety in food or treats, there are some human foods other than potatoes that you can give. Grimmett says that possible healthy foods for most dogs include baby carrots, small apple slices, pumpkin, watermelon and fresh green beans.
Of course, check with your veterinarian before adding anything to your pup’s diet.
“An owner should always consult their veterinarian to make certain any additions are appropriate and safe for their dog,” she says. “Personally, I’m allergic to strawberries. That does not mean they are not a health food. It simply means they are not healthy for me. Your dog is an individual as well and needs to be treated as such.”