Written by: Allison Shalla, Dogly Wellness Advocate & Canine Nutritionist
You have likely shared a dollop of mashed potatoes with your furry friend at some point, and I bet your pup loved it! Most dogs do enjoy them. There are several kinds of potatoes, including white potatoes, sweet potatoes, baking potatoes, baby potatoes, and even colorful potatoes. Potatoes are considered carbohydrates or are sometimes referred to as a “starchy carb.” While some types of potatoes can be an excellent fresh food addition to your dog’s diet, not all types are created equal, so let’s learn about which ones are best to feed your dog.
While the short answer to this is “yes,” as mentioned above, there are several types of potatoes, some of which are much better options than others. The main difference is between white potatoes and sweet potatoes. White potatoes are a member of the nightshade family.
These vegetables contain solanine and can exacerbate inflammation. Additionally, white potatoes are currently thought to contribute to a diet-related heart disease called Dilated Cardiomyopathy, or “DCM” for short. White potatoes, along with legumes such as chickpeas and lentils, affect the absorption of an essential amino acid called taurine. Taurine is vital for the functioning of a healthy heart. It is generally recommended for dogs to stay away from any significant amount of white potatoes for these reasons.
On the flip side, sweet potatoes are NOT a member of the nightshade family and are not implicated in DCM. Sweet potatoes have more fiber and are slightly lower on the glycemic index than white potatoes, and therefore are an excellent addition to a dog’s diet. We’ll talk a bit more about the benefits below.
When adding any starchy carb, such as sweet potato, to a dog’s diet, one thing to keep in mind is added calories. Overdoing it can lead to weight gain and even obesity. One cup of sweet potato contains around 200 calories and 41.4 grams of carbs, so they are a very calorie-dense food - a little goes a long way.
Important Note: If your dog has had a history of calcium-oxalate stones, foods high in oxalates, including sweet potato, should be avoided.
Properly cooking sweet potatoes by boiling and mashing them makes them easily digestible and provides an excellent source of fiber in addition to beta-carotene. Never feed raw sweet potatoes to your dog, as most uncooked vegetables are hard on a dog’s stomach.
Beta-carotene is a precursor to Vitamin A, meaning the body must convert it to a usable form of Vitamin A known as retinol. While dogs have a limited ability to process this conversion, sweet potatoes are still beneficial as they are rich in antioxidants that protect your body from free radicals.
Sweet Potatoes also contain the following vitamins and minerals:
Any time you introduce new foods to your dog’s diet, it is essential to go slowly. If you are currently feeding a balanced commercial food, adding large amounts of “extras,” even fresh foods, can throw off the balance of things like Calcium and Phosphorus.
A good guideline is to use a 20% rule for human foods as toppers to commercial pet foods. What that means is that fresh food “toppers” should not account for more than 20% of your dog’s diet. So, if you feed your dog 2 cups of commercial food, you can replace up to 20% of that amount - 0.4 cups or 3.2oz - with fresh foods, like sweet potatoes. Other dog-friendly veggies that are low in calories and are easily digestible include green beans, broccoli, and spinach*.
*See the note above if your pet has a history of calcium-oxalate stones
Did you know that fruits and vegetables can provide vitamins and minerals not present in animal-based ingredients? Studies have shown that adding up to 20% fresh food ingredients to a dog's commercial diet can boost nutrition and extend life. Even the most high-quality kibble available on the market is subject to nutrient loss in the high-temperature rendering process. These nutrients need to be added back into the kibble in synthetic vitamins & minerals. Fresh foods often provide a much more bioavailable version of these nutrients.
Sweet potatoes can be an excellent option for a bland diet as well. I recommend using a 50/50 mixture of cooked turkey and mashed sweet potatoes as a bland diet. We commonly hear boiled chicken and rice being recommended for a bland diet when your dog has an upset tummy. Still, turkey is lower in fat than chicken making it easier on the stomach, and sweet potato can be more digestible than rice.
In addition to the many health benefits, adding a variety of fresh foods to your dog’s diet provides enrichment. Imagine eating the same dry food day in and day out for every meal... Boring! Adding variety helps your dog get excited about mealtime, provides mental stimulation, and improves satiety.
As aforementioned, sweet potatoes should be cooked for proper digestibility. This could be baked potatoes, boiled potatoes, or my favorite, pressure-cooked sweet potatoes. They cook quickly and easily in an instant pot or pressure cooker, and the potato skins peel right off! Once cooked, cooled, and mashed, you can add the mashed potatoes to your dog’s kibble.Can Dogs Eat French Fries and Potato Chips?
There are also some other great ways to feed sweet potatoes as treats! I like to make Sweet Potato French Fries or Sweet Potato Chips by dehydrating them in a food dehydrator. You can also purchase these at pet food stores.
For more information on sweet potatoes, check out our article on sweet potatoes for dogs.
For more wellness advice, join my Community on Dogly. You can ask questions and get 24/7 access to certified experts across nutrition, training & behavior, and wellness to give you and your dog your best life together.
If your dog could use some digestion help and a healthier gut to absorb and access all the good nutrients you’re feeding, check out Native Pet’s Probiotic, carefully created by their team of nutritionists and veterinarians.
What happens if a dog eats green potatoes?
Green potatoes are not suitable for a dog's health. The dog can suffer from green potatoes poisoning.
How many potatoes should my dog eat?
You can replace 20% of the commercial-grade dog food with sweet potatoes.
Apart from green potatoes, which food is dangerous for dogs?
Many foods might not be harmful to humans but can be dangerous for dogs. For example, apricot pit, avocados, cherry pits, or any alcohol is unsuitable for your dog.
Can I feed my dog mashed potatoes?
Yes, you can give a small amount of mashed potatoes without seasoning or any other ingredient. Please follow the guideline mentioned in this article.
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