Can Dogs Eat Potatoes?
YES, dogs can eat potatoes. They must be peeled, washed, cut into smaller cubes and boiled before you can feed them to your dog. Small bites of raw potato can be fed to your dogs, but with extreme caution (as described below).
The potato belongs to the Solanaceae or nightshade family whose other members include tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and tomatillos. They are the swollen portion of the underground stem which is called a tuber and is designed to provide food for the green leafy portion of the plant. If allowed to flower and fruit, the potato plant will bear an inedible fruit resembling a tomato.
Dangers for Dogs and Potatoes
Potato poisonings among people and dogs have occurred. Solanum alkaloids can be found in green sprouts and green potato skins, which occur when the tubers are exposed to sunlight during growth or after harvest. The relatively rare occurrence of actual poisoning is due to several factors: solanine is poorly absorbed; it is mostly hydrolyzed into less toxic solanidinel; and the metabolites are quickly eliminated. Note that cooked, mashed potatoes are fine for dogs, actually quite nutritious and digestible.
Potatoes are nutrient-dense, meaning you receive many nutrients for the amount of calories they have. The fiber is half soluble, half insoluble, so it helps to keep your dog regular and helps to lower his cholesterol. And slowing down digestion helps to keep the dog full longer. Phytochemicals in potatoes include flavanoids and a recently identified compound called kukoamine that appears to help lower blood pressure.
With the exception of vitamin A, white potatoes have just about every nutrient. Did you know potatoes are full of vitamin C? However, since dogs usually cannot eat potatoes raw, most of the vitamin C is lost due to the heat of cooking. Potatoes are known to be good for the heart. They are also very high in potassium, beating other potassium-rich foods. They are a good source of iron and copper, too.
Potatoes also contain a variety of phytonutrients that have antioxidant activity. Among these important health-promoting compounds are carotenoids, flavonoids, and caffeic acid, as well as unique tuber storage proteins, such as patatin, which exhibit activity against free radicals.
Just because dogs can eat cooked potatoes does not mean you can feed your dog potatoes that have just come out of the McDonald’s kitchen. Commercial fries are filled with salt and other additives. A high amount of salt (such as that found in a batch of fries from Burger King) can kill your dog. Dogs have been known to have salt poisoning, which is why the practice of making dogs vomit with salt is no longer acceptable.
American Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals considers green parts of a potato plant poisonous. These plants contain solanine and other toxic alkaloids, which, if eaten in large enough amounts, can produce drooling, severe gastrointestinal upset, including vomiting and diarrhea, loss of appetite, drowsiness, central nervous system depression, confusion, behavioral changes, weakness, dilated pupils and slowed heart rate. Therefore, a bit of ripe potato here and there shouldn’t cause any problems for your dogs, but you should be careful that they do not consume the rest of the plant.