Can Dogs Eat Mashed Potatoes?
Those fluffy white mashed potatoes dripping in butter certainly look delicious on your plate … and your pup's pleading eyes can be hard to resist. But can dogs safely eat mashed potatoes?
Here's what you need to know if you're thinking of sharing those yummy spuds that you enjoy so much with your doggo.
Are Mashed Potatoes Good or Bad for Dogs?
Since we usually think of dogs as meat-eaters, we tend to see them as carnivores. But they're actually omnivores that eat both meat and plant foods. A good, species-appropriate diet provides your doggo with the right mix and proportions of various foods.
White potatoes, for instance, are a plant-based carb. "Potatoes are often used as part of pet diets," says Justine Lee, DVM, DAACVE CC, DABT, and a double board-certified emergency critical care specialist, toxicologist, and consultant for the non-profit ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. "They're very high in carbohydrates and starch, and they're easy to digest. Depending on the size of the dog, I generally recommend not supplementing more than 10-20 percent [of your dog's diet with potatoes] without consulting your veterinarian, so that the caloric balance of minerals, vitamins, calories, etc., aren't affected."
It's better to think of potatoes more as an occasional treat than as a dietary staple─and most experts recommend staying away from serving them as a substantial part of your pup's everyday meals.
With all that said, are you still wondering if it's really OK to give your dog a spoonful of your mashed potatoes? Let's break it down.
Can You Give Your Dog All Types of Mashed Potatoes?
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
What if the mashed have garlic, chives, sour cream, or other spices in them? "Garlic and allium [the genus allium includes onions, garlic, chives, and leeks] are toxic to dogs and cats. Best to keep things as bland as possible, also to prevent gastrointestinal upset," Lee recommends.
Mashed Sweet Potatoes
An alternative to white mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes are a healthier option to share with your dog, as long as they are cooked and unseasoned, and again given in moderation. However, you're not going to want to share the sweet potato casserole that you made for Thanksgiving or Christmas, as spices like nutmeg are toxic for dogs and the added sugar, butter, and marshmallows aren't good for your pup, either.
Instant Mashed Potatoes and Baked Potatoes
"Baked potatoes and instant mashed are fine, but again, in small quantities or portions. Say no to French fries, as the fat content is too high and can result in gastrointestinal upset, pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), obesity, etc."
Never, ever feed your dog raw potatoes or potato peels of any kind. They contain solanine, a compound that is toxic to dogs. So if your pup gets into them from your trash or garden, call your vet right away.
Do Mashed Potatoes Actually Help Dogs With Diarrhea?
While mashed potatoes shouldn't be a replacement for vet-recommended medication or treatment, plain, unseasoned mashed potatoes may have some benefit for dogs with diarrhea. "Yes, in that they are bland and unlikely to cause any irritation to the gastrointestinal tract, and they have fiber. They are also easy to metabolize as a starch." Lee says.
Try One of These Thanksgiving or Other Holiday Foods That Are Safer for Dogs Instead
Are there better choices of foods or snacks if a pet parent wants to indulge their precious pooch?
"In general, I recommend sticking to a normal diet, as 40-60 percent of pets are obese and don't need extra calories. Instead, I'd prefer a higher fiber snack to help make your dog feel more satiated (e.g., green beans, small amounts of pumpkin, etc.). But sticking with a balanced AAFO-approved, age-appropriate diet is the most important. When in doubt, consult with your veterinarian or a board-certified veterinary nutritionist," Lee says.
With the holidays just around the corner, if you simply must share a seasonal treat with Fido, here are some other Thanksgiving or Christmas foods that are better for dogs to munch on:
- Cooked, unseasoned turkey meat (but not the cooked bones)
- Cooked, unseasoned ham (no glaze)
- Pumpkin (but not pumpkin pie)
- Green beans (but stay away from the green bean casserole)
- Cranberries (no sugar added)
- Apples (no core or seeds)
- Winter squash
- Corn (no cobs, as they can cause intestinal blockage)