Can Dogs Eat Potatoes? Read before You Feed!

Thanksgiving Day is right around the corner. As we quickly approach the end of November, the holiday fervor is taking hold of Americans across the nation, as our thoughts center around crafting the perfect Thanksgiving dinner for our family and friends. But, of course, we cannot forget about our faithful canine companions, who give their dog parents thanks every day of the year. So this year, Volhard will help you include your dog in the Thanksgiving festivities as the faithful family member he is!

One of the key Thanksgiving dinner staples is potatoes. Whether roasted or mashed, sweet or spicy, potatoes are a drool-worthy component of any Thanksgiving menu. And it's not just humans who enjoy the inviting fragrance of a potato casserole - our canine friends do too! All you have to do is cook the optimal potatoes in the right way to whip up an easy Thanksgiving dish for your dog. Today, we will teach you the dietary differences between multiple potato varieties and how to transform the healthiest ones into a mouth-watering Thanksgiving treat.

Should I Feed Raw Potatoes to My Dog?

Potatoes are full of healthy nutrients and carbohydrates, but that also means you should be careful how much you give to your dog if you do not want to pack on the pounds. If their intake isn't controlled, potatoes will make your dog gain weight. The nutritional value of potatoes can are;

  • Vitamin C - Vitamin C is also known as ascorbic acid. It is essential for the growth and repair of all body tissue. It helps the body absorb iron and boosts the immune system. Vitamin C is one of the most consumed supplements in the world.
  • Vitamin B6 - Vitamin B6 is also known as pyridoxine. It helps the body use and store energy it gets from protein and carbohydrates.
  • Iron - Iron is essential for the creation of red blood cells. It is a mineral that helps the body grow and develop.
  • Magnesium - Magnesium is another essential nutrient found in potatoes. It helps with nerve and muscle function, blood sugar level, blood pressure, protein production, DNA, and bones.

The healthiest potatoes are those with darker-colored flesh, like purple and red potatoes. According to UMaine, while all spuds are low in calories, fat-free, and rich in complex carbs, darker-pigmented potatoes have up to twice as many antioxidants as their lighter relatives.

Aside from healthy nutrients, certain potato varieties contain compounds that are dangerous to your dog's health. The most dangerous compounds on the list are oxalates and solanine.

#1: Oxalates

Oxalates (oxalic acid) are a compound naturally occurring in plants. As the canine body processes raw potatoes, tiny amounts of oxalates bind to calcium and accumulate in the kidneys, gradually becoming calcium oxalate kidney stones. To avoid the accumulation of oxalates in the kidneys, dog parents can employ different cooking methods. A 2005 study showed that boiling is the most effective way to reduce oxalates in raw potatoes (30-87%), followed by steaming (5-53%) and baking (used only for potatoes, no oxalate loss). Therefore, always keep boiling and steaming in mind as cooking methods before feeding potatoes to your dog!

#2: Solanine

Potatoes are a part of the nightshade "family" of vegetables that contain a chemical called solanine. It is not the only vegetable containing solanine; tomato has it too. In larger amounts, solanine can be very toxic, and that is why you should avoid feeding your dog raw potatoes. When ingested, the canine gastrointestinal (GI) tract has a hard time absorbing solanine, causing local irritation. At the same time, the GI tract allows solanine to hydrolyze (i.e., break into different chemical bonds) into soladinine, which, once absorbed into the body, causes neurologic, cardiovascular, and respiratory issues.

The safe way to feed a potato to your dog is to cook it first. Cooking a potato will reduce the solanine levels and make it safe for your dog to eat. The second safe way to give your dog potato is baked. Baking will deplete the solanine levels in a potato, and it will also be safe for dogs to eat.

Your dog can manifest various solanine poisoning symptoms, such as:

What about Feeding White Potatoes to My Dog?

The calories in white potatoes and sweet potatoes are almost the same, and both are good sources of iron and potassium.

Iron is part of hemoglobin, a protein that carries oxygen from the lungs throughout the body. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), it also stores oxygen in your muscles so that it's readily available when you exercise, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). A 3.5-ounce serving of white potato meets 6 percent of your DV for iron.

And potassium is one of the electrolytes your body uses to stimulate muscles and nerves, per the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM). It also helps lower your blood pressure through two actions: It relaxes muscles in blood vessels and tells the kidneys to get rid of extra sodium. A 3.5-ounce serving of white potato has 11 percent DV for potassium.

According to the NIH, the sweet potato takes the nutritional win, offering higher amounts of vitamins A and C. Vitamin A supports growth and development, eye health, and the immune system. As an antioxidant, vitamin C neutralizes free radicals before they can damage cells, per the NIH. Your body also needs vitamin C to make collagen and support your skin, bones, tendons, and blood vessels.

All you have to do is adequately prepare the sweet potatoes before consumption. We adamantly discourage feeding raw sweet potatoes (and any other potatoes, for that matter) in order to avoid oxalates and solanine poisoning. There are multiple cooking methods, such as roasting and pureeing, that will help you process the sweet potatoes in a dog-friendly manner. You must also remove the potato's skin, plants, and leaves due to their high toxicity. Furthermore, sweet potatoes should make up only a tiny percentage of your dog's diet due to their high fiber composition. Limiting your dog's fiber intake to less than 10% of his entire diet is vital for healthy growth.

White Potatoes vs. Sweet Potatoes

Per 3.5 oz.White PotatoSweet Potato
Calories9289
Carbohydrates21.2 g, 7% Daily Value (DV)20.5 g, 7% DV
Fiber2.2 g, 8% DV3.3 g, 12% DV
Sugar1.2 g, 2% DV6.4 mg, 13% DV
Potassium530.9 mg, 11% DV471.3 mg, 10% DV
Iron1.1 mg, 6% DV0.7 mg, 4% DV
Vitamin A1 μg, 0% DV953.6 μg, 106%
Vitamin C9.5 mg, 11% DV19.4 mg, 22% DV

Source: USDA

The calories in white potatoes and sweet potatoes are almost the same, and both are good sources of iron and potassium.

Potato Comparison Table

Per 3.5 oz. bakedCaloriesCarbsFiberVitamin C
White Potatoes9221.2 g2.2 g9.5 mg, 11% Daily Value (DV)
Sweet Potatoes8920.5 g3.3 g19.4 mg, 22% DV
Russet Potatoes9421.3 g2.3 g8.2 mg, 9% DV
Purple Potatoes7317.2 g1.3 g18 mg, 20% DV
Yukon Golds7417.4 g1.4 g18.1 mg, 20% DV
Red Potatoes8619.4 g1.8 g12.5 mg, 14% DV

Source: USDA

The wonderful thing about sweet potatoes is that you can serve them in various ways, so go ahead and put your imagination and cooking skills to the test. In the meantime, we have come up with a few serving ideas for you to put into practice:

  • You can cook the sweet potatoes together with other dog-friendly vegetables, such as carrots and sweet peas.
  • You can slice the potatoes and shape them with bone-shaped cookie cutters, then bake them and feed them as treats to your canine. Check out the following website for multiple recipes!

Last but Not Least: Yams!

Finally, we could not leave another Thanksgiving favorite behind: yams! The more cylindrical and less sweet alternative to sweet potatoes enjoys a healthy nutrient composition: 70% water, 24% carbs, 1.5% protein, 4% fiber, no fat. Not only are yams a fantastic source of fiber, but they also contain high amounts of manganese and potassium, two nutrients responsible for healthy bones and a healthy heart, as well as copper and vitamin C. Let's not forget diosgenin, one of the compounds present in yams, which improve brain function and have impressive anti-inflammatory properties!

Akin to sweet potatoes, yams have to be cooked in a certain way before being fed to your dog. You can either boil them on medium-high heat for approx. 20-25 minutes until tender or bake the sliced yams at 350°F for 30 minutes. Whichever cooking method you choose, remember to keep the yams away from butter and seasonings.

A Parting Reminder

This year, we invite you to add an extra seat at the Thanksgiving table for your beloved canine friend! We assure you that he will be delighted by the potato dishes you have learned about in this blog. Make sure that you check out our second Thanksgiving blog for more scrumptious, dog-friendly recipes. For more advice on dog nutrition, health, and training, make sure that you contact us or check out our blog!