Given that there are few things on this Earth as wonderful as French fries, it’s not surprising that you’d want to share a handful with your best friend — and they certainly know how to beg for them.
But should you? Is it safe to give your pup a fry or two?
The short answer for dogs is much the same as the answer for humans: Yes, they can eat French fries, but that doesn’t mean that they should.
For a more detailed answer, including reasons that fries are potentially dangerous for dogs, read on.
Are French Fries Safe for Dogs?
When people ask if a food is “safe” for a dog, they usually mean, “Is it toxic?” In that sense, fries are completely safe. Your dog won’t need to be rushed to the ER just because they snagged a fry or three.
However, fries are incredibly unhealthy for dogs (for humans too, really). It’s okay to feed them one every now and then, but if you make a habit of it, you could be putting your dog’s well-being at risk.
The biggest long-term concern if you feed your dog a steady diet of fries is that they’ll become obese. There are other, more immediate things to watch out for, though.
What Makes Fries Bad for Dogs?
Fries are bad for dogs for the same reason that they’re bad for humans: They’re loaded with salt and fat and offer little nutritional value in return. However, humans are better able to handle salt and fat than dogs.
If you down an entire order of fries, the worst that’s likely to happen is that you’ll feel a bit of indigestion. Your dog, on the other hand, could experience extreme gastrointestinal distress and possibly even pancreatitis, a potentially fatal condition. All the fat could also trigger a case of bloat, another deadly illness.
Also, some dogs are allergic to potatoes. The allergy usually isn’t serious (although it can cause killer flatulence), but it could be life-threatening in rare cases. If you don’t know how your dog responds to spuds, you’re probably better off not taking any chances.
There’s also the risk that your pooch could burn their mouths on hot fries. This is a minor concern, but do you really want to cause your dog any unnecessary pain?
My Dog Already Ate Some Fries. What Should I Do?
If your dog snagged a dropped fry or two, your biggest concern is likely going to be a bad case of puppy dog eyes as they beg for more. Just tell them no and keep eating.
If your pup was able to eat an entire order of fries, though, you may have more to worry about. It’s still unlikely that your dog’s life will be in danger, but there’s an increased risk of a more serious reaction.
The first thing you should do is make sure that your pup has plenty of water (you should do this anyway, of course, but it’s especially important now). All that salt is likely to make them thirsty, and you don’t want them getting dehydrated.
After that, simply monitor them. If their condition worsens, call your vet immediately.
Is There Anything I Should Be on the Lookout For?
If your dog experiences any issues at all, they’ll most likely be minor: an upset stomach and loose bowels being the most likely culprits. If they ate a massive amount, they may also regurgitate them (and they’ll likely try to eat them again, so be quick to clean up the mess).
However, there are a few symptoms that point to a much more serious reaction. In particular, watch for:
What About Condiments? Are Those Safe?
Most condiments aren’t toxic, but again, that doesn’t make them safe.
The primary issue is salt content. Ketchup is extremely high in salt, as are many other popular dipping sauces.
Some have other problematic ingredients, like garlic and onions. Check the ingredients list if you’re concerned.
Your dog shouldn’t be in mortal danger if they have a taste of your condiments, but you shouldn’t offer them any, either.
Are There Any Healthy Alternatives to French Fries?
As a general rule of thumb, you shouldn’t offer your dog anything that you get from a restaurant. Many restaurants go overboard with ingredients like salt and butter to improve the taste of their food. While that makes their dishes much more appetizing, it also makes them less suitable for pups.
If you want to make something at home that your dog can enjoy while you snack on fries, then sweet potatoes are a good alternative. Most dogs love them, and they’re very healthy, as they’re packed with fiber.
Skip the fryer, though; most dogs will eat them after they’ve been baked or steamed, and either alternative is much healthier.
If you’re looking for a less time-consuming way to give your mutt a snack, many pet stores also carry sweet potato treats. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that just because they’re relatively healthy that your dog can eat as many as they want, though.
You may even want to cook a hamburger patty for them — just don’t salt it. This isn’t super healthy, but as an occasional treat, it’s a much better choice than a French fry or a quarter-pounder with cheese.
How Do I Prevent My Dog From Eating French Fries?
The easiest strategy is to keep your dog outside, in another room, or in their crate while you eat. This stops them from begging entirely, and if you have multiple dogs, it eliminates the chance that a spat could break out over a dropped piece of food.
If you simply must have your dog by your side while you eat, teaching commands like “stay” and “leave it” are a good idea. They can stop your dog from snagging any unguarded food.
No matter how well-trained your dog is, though, it’s best not to push it. We wouldn’t recommend leaving them alone with your takeout bag, as that’s setting them up for failure. You’re better off keeping your food out of reach whenever you’re not there to protect it.
What’s the Verdict? Can Dogs Eat French Fries?
French fries aren’t toxic for dogs, so it’s unlikely that your pup will suffer any serious problems as a result of eating a few. However, serious issues can result if they’re allowed to eat too many.
There’s also no real reason to offer your dog a fry. They have virtually no nutritional value, and they can cause an upset stomach. If you absolutely must give your dog some of your meal, a bit of burger is a much better option.