Can I Give My Dog Fries?
While we have never heard a dog tell us that French fries are the best part of any stereotypical American dinner, that’s how we feel, so we can only imagine that our furry friends would agree. We love hot, greasy, salty French fries in all their forms: steak fries, waffle fries, curly fries, sweet potato fries, crinkle-cut fries… the list goes on. In the American food pyramid, French fries have secured their own food group. We share them with our spouses, our kids, and the nearest and dearest of our friends.
But what should we do when our dogs come to the table, set their head on our knees, and start crying for a bite of our perfectly prepared potatoes? When the canine sitting shotgun starts to whine and wag his tail, should we share the delicious golden snacks? While most of us (hopefully) understand that French fries are not a health food by any stretch of the imagination, our Chihuahua’s infamous puppy dog pout makes a good argument.
Can dogs eat fries? Technically, Yes. If your dog gets ahold of the cold, crispy fries that fell on the floor of your car, you do not need to panic or take them to a veterinarian. There is nothing in your standard box of fast food fries that will be immediately toxic to your dog.
SHOULD dogs eat fries? No. From a nutritional standpoint, there is no argument in favor of giving your dog French fries. No matter how good they taste, there is not a single redeeming quality in this fast food side dish.
French fries are the very definition of a nutritionally empty food for both humans and dogs. For the most part, French fries—even the friendlier, more exciting sweet potato fries—are completely stripped of the health benefits found in whole, minimally processed potatoes.
Potatoes are low in fat and full of slow-digesting carbohydrates, but most of their nutritional value is found in the skin. Potato skins contain a fair amount of fiber, antioxidants, B vitamins, potassium, and magnesium. The vast majority of French fries, unfortunately, are made out of potatoes that have had the skin removed. This means that they are missing most of the fiber and nearly all of the vitamins and minerals found in whole potatoes. So your dog gets a lot of calories with no nutrition whatsoever! Diets high in empty calories often lead to obesity, which is just as bad for dogs as it is for us.
Potatoes, though starchy vegetables, also have the benefit of being a fairly low-calorie food. French fries, on the other hand, have a ton of added calories in the form of saturated fat—this is what makes them greasy, crispy, and altogether sinful. French fries are extremely high in unhealthy fats, which can be dangerous for dogs.
Things to Keep in Mind
A diet containing a lot of high-fat foods will put your dog on the fast track to developing pancreatitis, which is dangerous inflammation of the pancreas. This illness can range in severity from mild all the way to life-threatening, but it’s easy to miss until it’s too late. Symptoms include low energy, dehydration, fever, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain or swelling. Unfortunately, one episode of acute pancreatitis greatly increases the risk of subsequent episodes. This illness can be expensive, chronic, and fatal.
The other, more immediately dangerous, negative to feeding your dog fries is the high salt content. While many humans can eat unhealthy amounts of salt for a few years without suffering negative health effects, our dogs are not so resilient. Dogs who eat too much salt may suffer from salt poisoning, which is life-threatening. The first symptoms of salt poisoning are vomiting and loss of appetite, but if left untreated, the dog may become dizzy and disoriented. Some dogs also experience extreme thirst, fluid buildup in the limbs, and seizures. Eventually, a dog with salt poisoning can lapse into a coma and die.
Even without immediate salt poisoning, too much salt disrupts the electrolyte balance inside your dog’s body. This imbalance, if it is serious enough, can lead to permanent kidney damage—which is irreversible and inevitably grows worse as your dog ages.
Though you may be tempted to toss your dog a few French fries next time you hit the drive-thru, it’s better to steer clear of this greasy, highly processed food whenever possible. Eating a couple of fries every now and then will not immediately endanger your dog’s health, but it is not recommended by any stretch of the imagination. French fries are extremely high in fat and salt, which increase your dog’s risk of developing chronic or life-threatening health problems.
Instead of sharing your fries, consider investing in healthier, low-fat potato-based snacks for your dog. Or, even better, bake a sweet potato and put it in your dog’s dish when you get home. They will forgive you for hogging all the greasy fries!
Dog Eating Fries Video: