Creamy mashed potatoes are popular around the world (and not just at Thanksgiving!) But can dogs eat mashed potatoes? Or are they unhealthy for our canine friends? Read on to find out more.
Regular consumption of mash, however, could be bad for dogs. Mashed potatoes are often laden with unhealthy ingredients, such as butter, milk, and cream. There’s also new research to suggest that regular consumption of potatoes can lead to disease of the heart muscle in dogs.
Let’s take a closer look at the potential consequences of dogs eating mashed potatoes.
Plain mashed potatoes aren’t regarded as toxic for your dog. If the potato is unseasoned, you don’t need to worry if your dog snaffles a little.
That doesn’t mean you should give your dog mashed potatoes on purpose though, especially if butter, milk, or other seasonings have been added. Aside from containing unhealthy fats, many dogs are lactose intolerant, which means they struggle to digest these ingredients. Some mashed potato recipes even include garlic or onion, which are both toxic to dogs.
There’s also little nutritional benefit to feeding dogs mashed potatoes. The potato is a starchy carbohydrate that doesn’t provide the same nutritional value as many other vegetables. Eating a lot could even lead to obesity, as the dog is consuming calories without the same density of vitamins and nutrients.
Arguably, the most compelling reason not to allow your dog to eat mashed potatoes is recent research concerning Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs. This heart disease affects the muscle’s ability to contract, and eventually leads to congestive heart failure.
DCM has often been linked with a genetic predisposition in certain breeds. New studies, however, are highlighting the potential link between diets high in legumes and potatoes and this disease.
While the research is ongoing, avoiding adding potatoes to your dog’s diet would seem a sensible precaution.
Dogs should only eat plain mashed potatoes. While potatoes are non-toxic in small quantities, the ingredients they are cooked with can be dangerous. Here are a few examples:
If you’re going to occasionally offer your dog a small amount of mashed potato, make sure you give it to them before adding extra ingredients.
Note: Dogs shouldn’t eat instant mashed potatoes (or other human processed foods.) These products often contain unhealthy additives.
It’s best to avoid giving your dog potatoes, for the reasons given above. If you decide to feed your pet potatoes, however, they should always be cooked first.
Many dogs might not like raw potatoes anyway. But, for pooches who are less picky about their foods, a hard raw potato could be a choking hazard.
Potatoes are also part of the nightshade family. These plants contain a glycoalkaloid poison called solanine, which is toxic to both humans and dogs.
Solanine is mainly present in the green skin, plant leaves, and sprouting green roots of a potato. Peeling green skin before cooking can reduce the risk, but for very green potatoes, it’s best to get rid of them.
Although your dog would have to eat a lot of green potatoes for it to be a problem, solanine can result in severe gastrointestinal issues.
If your dog is eating a high-quality and nutritionally complete dog food, they should already be getting the right balance of nutrients for optimal health. Adding potatoes isn’t necessary and could have negative health consequences.
There are a few potential nutritional benefits to dogs eating potatoes though. These include:
When you introduce any new food to your dog’s diet, it should always be done gradually. This allows you to monitor for any signs of allergies or intolerances.
Food allergies commonly result in itchy and irritated skin. They can also cause stomach upsets and, in severe cases, respiratory issues. If your dog has a reaction to any food, you should contact your vet immediately.
White potatoes aren’t toxic to dogs. Consequently, offering your dog a small amount of plain, unseasoned mash potato as an occasional treat shouldn’t be a problem.
Make sure, however, that the mash doesn’t contain seasonings or high-fat dairy.
Feeding your dog potatoes as a regular part of their diet isn’t recommended. This starchy carb can cause rapid weight gain. There’s also emerging research about the risk of dogs developing heart disease when it’s fed in high quantities.
Gemma is a freelance writer and official dog nut. With 15 years of experience in the pet industry, she is a passionate animal welfare advocate. She has worked for the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, ran her own specialist dog shop for ten years, has volunteered for her local rescue shelter, and is studying towards completing an Advanced Diploma in Canine Behaviour. Gemma is currently travelling around Europe with her wonderful rescue dog, Annie.