Can Dogs Eat Potatoes? Sometimes, but It's Probably Not Worth the Effort
Dogs can sometimes eat potatoes—but only under certain conditions. Specifically, they have to be cooked, plain potatoes. Spiced, sautéed, or raw potatoes can cause your dog to get sick.
Though dogs can have those cooked potatoes, you still might not want to share them with your dog because they're not a useful part of the canine diet. Same goes for the saltier, high-fat snacks.
Here's what else you need to know about potatoes for dogs:
When Can Dogs Have Potatoes?
Dogs can eat cooked potatoes as long as they're plain—without spices, butter, sour cream, cheese, all the things we love to add to our potatoes. Pups can consume them boiled or mashed. They can even have plain baked potatoes as well.
You don't even have to worry about the spuds' wrappers. Dogs can have potato skins—brown, red, or purple skins are all fine.
Small bits of cooked sweet potato can be a tasty snack for your dog, too, assuming he's at a healthy weight, doesn't have diabetes, and his vet says it's OK. But peel them first, as some pooches might get an upset stomach from the skins of sweet potatoes.
Before treating your dog to a few occasional bites of potato, it's a good idea to first talk with your veterinarian to see if it fits into an overall nutrition plan.
RELATED: 10 Toxic Foods for Dogs
When Are Potatoes Bad for Dogs?
Dogs should not eat raw potatoes. They include a compound called solanine, which is toxic to many dogs and can cause what's sometimes referred to as potato poisoning.
University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine associate professor Richard Hill, VetMB, PhD, says the green sprouts and green potatoes are harmful, too. Sprouted potatoes have higher levels of glycoalkaloids, including the unsafe solanine.
So if your dog accidentally eats potato peels because he rooted through the trash while you were at work, call your veterinarian right away. A small amount might only make him vomit or temporarily have diarrhea, but it's best to schedule a checkup.
We've established that dogs can eat cooked, plain potatoes, so keep your canine friend away from garlic mashed potatoes. Garlic, onions, scallions, chives, and leeks contain thiosulfate, a chemical toxic to dogs.
RELATED: How to Make a Dog Throw Up
Can Dogs Eat Potato Chips?
Dogs really shouldn't eat potato chips because they contain too much sodium and fat. This also applies to french fries, potato skins, and other fried potatoes, as well as dishes such as potato salad.
It's best to just keep these types of potatoes away from your dogs, no matter how much they beg.
Should Dogs Eat Potatoes?
While dogs can eat certain kinds of potatoes, it's probably a good idea to simply avoid giving them to your dog altogether. That way you won't risk accidentally endangering them.
Hill, who's board-certified in small animal internal medicine and veterinary nutrition, notes that potatoes contain calories and aren't "complete and balanced," so they have the potential to disrupt a balanced doggy diet. (And only 10 percent of a dog's diet should come from treats.)
"Dogs need to eat a complete and balanced diet, i.e., the diet contains all the essential nutrients the animal requires in the right proportions and amount of calories to maintain a lean body condition," Hill says.
RELATED: Raw Food Diet for Dogs: Good or Bad?
Additionally, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2018 began investigating whether grain-free dog food is linked to dogs developing canine dilated cardiomyopathy, an often severe condition that affects both the size of the heart and its pumping function. Grain-free foods often use lentils, peas, and potatoes as carbohydrate substitutes.
The FDA's inquiry has yet to arrive at a conclusion, however.
Safe Human Foods for Dogs
In addition to an occasional cooked potato, you can reward your good boy with healthy snacks such as:
- Zucchini and other squashes
- Apple slices
- Peeled bananas
- Green beans
- Popcorn without butter or salt