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? It depends on how they're prepared.
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?
Potatoes, when prepared properly, are safe for dogs. But too many can disrupt your pup's balanced diet, says Justin Lee, DVM, DAACVE CC, DABT, who is a double board-certified emergency critical care specialist, toxicologist, and consultant for the non-profit ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.
"Potatoes are often used as part of pet diets. They're very high in carbohydrates and starch, and they're easy to digest," Lee tells Daily Paws. "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 for healthy dogs─and most experts recommend staying away from serving them as a substantial part of your pup's everyday meals. Dogs with diabetes should avoid potatoes entirely as they can cause blood sugar spikes. As always, the best diet for your dog is veterinarian-approved dog food that already has the recommended vitamins and nutrients your pup needs.
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 Dogs Have All Types of Mashed Potatoes?
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
If the mashed potatoes have garlic, chives, sour cream, or other spices in them, keep them away from your pup. "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.
Keeping things as bland as possible also means no potato skin. While you may enjoy the extra texture in your mash, potato peels are difficult for dogs to digest and contain higher levels of oxalates, which can be dangerous for your pooch in large amounts.
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 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.
Similarly, canned sweet potatoes often have added sweeteners that can be harmful for pets. If you opt for canned, make sure to check the ingredient list and remember: the simpler, the better.
Instant Mashed Potatoes and Baked Potatoes
"Baked potatoes and instant mashed are fine, but again, in small quantities or portions," Lee says. When it comes to instant potatoes, you'll want to check the ingredient list to make sure there are no toxic spices. Baked potatoes will also need to be prepared with no seasonings and have the peel completely removed before giving any to your pooch.
As for a quick potato snack in the drive-thru? Lee says it's best to avoid. "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."
All delicious mashed potatoes have a dollop of gravy, right? Unfortunately, your pooch shouldn't indulge in gravy made for humans as it's high in sodium and fat and typically contains onions and garlic. But if you're set on making a dog-safe mashed potato dish, dog food toppers like bone broths can serve as a gravy alternative.
Never, ever feed your dog raw potatoes or potato peels of any kind. They contain solanine, a compound that is toxic to dogs and can result in vomit or a diarrhea mess. So if your pup gets into them from your trash or garden, call your vet right away.
How to Safely Prepare Mashed Potatoes for Dogs
If you're making your own mashed potatoes and want to share them with your pup, it's easiest to make a separate batch, as our delicious added fats and seasonings aren't safe for Fido. When preparing mashed potatoes for dogs, completely remove the peel and boil the cubed potato in unsalted water. When it's ready to mash, add in a spoonful of plain yogurt or a splash of milk—and nothing more!
It's important to remember that some dogs are lactose intolerant. Mixing in a bit of milk will generally be OK, but if you already know your pooch is sensitive to dairy, it's best to avoid.
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. "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.
However, dogs shouldn't be on bland diets for more than a few days, as they're not nutritionally balanced. As always, if your pup is dealing with diarrhea, it's best to contact your veterinarian to diagnose the issue and provide specific advice.
Try These Thanksgiving or 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. But sticking with a balanced AAFCO-approved, age-appropriate diet is the most important. When in doubt, consult with your veterinarian or a board-certified veterinary nutritionist," Lee says.
If you simply must share a seasonal treat with Fido around the holidays, 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 or pumpkin pie filling)
- 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)
A previous version of this story included reporting by Denise Caiazzo.