Can I Give My Dog Raw Potatoes?
Much of the time, eating plant foods feels like a chore. No matter how much you enjoy apples, kale, or purple carrots, you have probably had to force yourself to reach for a fruit or a vegetable instead of a package of cookies at least a dozen times in the last year. There is, however, one vegetable that we will always be excited to find on our plates: potatoes. Potatoes are not the only delicious root vegetable (carrots and turnips are awesome, too!), but they are the only one that satisfies our need for carbs the same way that half a loaf of French bread or giant bowl of pasta does.
Potatoes also differ from other vegetables in another way: we generally do not eat them raw. Carrots, leafy greens, and cruciferous vegetables are often recommended in their raw forms as healthy snacks, but you would be hard pressed to find a health magazine that recommended slicing up a potato and serving it raw.
On the other hand, many pet parents recommend feeding our canine companions raw foods exclusively—and that includes vegetables. So, if we are going to give Fido a carbohydrate-rich treat, is a chunk of raw potato a healthy option? Can dogs have raw potatoes?
The answer is no, dogs cannot eat raw potatoes (and, for that matter, neither should you!). Raw potatoes are bad news in pretty much every imaginable way: they are not a great source of nutrition for dogs, they are extremely difficult to digest, and they actually contain a poisonous compound that can cause serious, even life-threatening, illness! Even if you like to stress raw foods in your dog’s diet, there is no good reason to feed a dog any quantity of raw potatoes. There are no real benefits and a lot of risks. If you want to share your love for potatoes with your pooch, cook them thoroughly first.
Nutritionally, potatoes are far from ideal for our dogs. Dogs are true omnivores, which means that they can thrive on diets that contain both meat and plant foods (and, unlike cats, they can follow strict vegetarian diets). As true omnivores who evolved beside humans, they can digest moderate amounts of starch fairly well—this is why they can eat small quantities of many of our staple foods like beans, grains, and yes, potatoes.
Potatoes do offer some nutrition, though the nutrient density will vary based on the type of potato you buy. Sweet potatoes are the best option for pets, and they feature heavily in higher-quality dog food and treats. These delicious orange vegetables contain more fiber and micronutrients than other types, yet they also pack a lower caloric punch. Sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene, Vitamin C, and cancer-fighting antioxidants. They are also powerful anti-inflammatory foods.
White potatoes, on the other hand, are pretty low in protein, vitamins, and minerals, but they do provide a lot of energy and a moderate amount of fiber. Compared to other vegetables, starchy foods like potatoes are extremely dense in calories (energy), but they are also fairly low in many of the things that plague other calorie-rich foods.
Compared to meats and junk foods, potatoes are pretty low in fat, which can cause heart disease and pancreatitis, and added sugars, which can cause blood sugar spikes and tooth decay. This makes cooked potatoes an excellent food for dogs who are active or who need to put on weight. You can boost your dog’s calories easily without subjecting them to the health risks associated with fatty or sugary junk foods!
The moderate amounts of fiber in white potatoes can help curb blood sugar spikes, but they may also aid digestion: dietary fiber soaks up water and adds bulk to stool, which can help give your dog fuller, softer, more regular bowel movements. Dogs who deal with occasional constipation often benefit from increasing their fiber intake. Just remember to give your dog plenty to drink along with their fiber! If your pooch is dehydrated, increasing their fiber intake can actually worsen constipation. If their digestive issues are chronic or serious, see a vet.
They may be a great food for weight gain, but potatoes are lacking in many of the nutrients that help keep dogs strong and healthy, and raw potatoes are actually harmful. Without cooking, the starch in a potato is extremely difficult to digest. Dogs who eat raw or undercooked potatoes are likely to have a hard time digesting them at all, which can cause pain, gas, and bloating.
Things to Consider
But the real danger associated with raw potatoes is a chemical called solanine. Solanine, which is present in large amounts in raw potato flesh, skins, and leaves, can cause severe toxicity if it is consumed in significant quantities. If your dog eats raw potatoes, solanine can reduce the function of their organs and nervous system! Large dogs who only eat a very small amount of raw potato will usually get away with little more than an upset stomach, but dogs who eat a significant portion of a raw potato can become gravely ill.
Symptoms of potato poisoning vary, but they can include the following: raw or painful throat, confusion, labored breathing, irregular heartbeat, dizziness (as evidenced by stumbling or poor coordination), excessive drooling, high fever, pain in the head or body (especially tie abdominal region), vomiting, numbness, hypothermia, partial or progressive paralysis, tremors, seizures, swelling in the face, physical weakness, shock, and death. If you catch your dog eating raw potatoes, it’s a good idea to take them to the vet or contact a poison control center.
Though we constantly hear about the benefits of raw vegetables for us and for our dogs, potatoes are one of the produce items that we need to cook before serving to our pets. Raw potatoes are both poisonous and difficult to digest. There is no benefit to serving raw potatoes to dogs, but there are a lot of risks! If you want to feed potatoes of any kind to your furry friend, cook them first.