Hash browns are a delicious treat at breakfast—or any time of the day—but are they safe and healthy for your dog? Unfortunately, dogs shouldn’t eat hash browns for several reasons, even in moderation.
Why Are Hash Browns Bad for Dogs?
Hash browns are a popular American breakfast dish made of julienned potatoes that are fried until golden brown. They may include chopped onions, garlic, salt, and fat, such as butter or oil.
Virtually all these ingredients are unhealthy—or plain dangerous—for your dog. Deep-fried foods like hash browns have too much fat 1, which can lead to pancreatitis. This potentially life-threatening disease 2 can happen from a high-fat meal, resulting in vomiting, abdominal pain, and loss of appetite.
Even if the high fat in hash browns doesn’t trigger acute pancreatitis, it can cause digestive upset and symptoms like diarrhea or vomiting, as well as obesity 3 over time. Keeping your dog at a healthy weight is vital for its long-term health. Obesity in dogs prompts an inflammatory reaction that increases the risk of diseases like cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, and heart disease.
Next are the seasonings, which could be harmful to dogs. Most hash brown recipes call for onion or garlic, members of the Allium that are extremely toxic to dogs in dried, powdered, liquid, cooked, or raw form. Concentrated varieties, such as dried onions or garlic powder, are even more dangerous.
Mild onion or garlic toxicity 4 can cause digestive upset like vomit, drooling, abdominal pain, nausea, or diarrhea. In severe cases, these herbs can damage red blood cells and deprive vital organs of oxygen (anemia). The symptoms may include an increased heart rate, elevated respiration rate, weakness, collapse, and death.
Another risk with hash browns is the compound solanine, which is found in the nightshade family. Solanine 5 is more concentrated in green potatoes, but cooked potatoes still contain trace amounts that can cause toxicity if your dog eats a lot. The symptoms may include difficulty breathing, digestive upset, and heart problems.
What Should I Do If My Dog Ate Hash Browns?
If you knowingly shared your hash browns with your dog—or it stole a bite or two—don’t panic! A small amount may be fine but keep an eye out for symptoms like excessive thirst, inappetence, or general discomfort.
After some time passes without improvement, or if your dog’s symptoms get worse, it’s important to get to a vet as soon as possible.
Are Any Hash Browns Safe for Dogs?
If you’re dead set on feeding hash browns to your dog, you can make a dog-friendly recipe at home. Replace the white potato with sweet potato, add an egg, and use a bit of coconut oil for baking. It may not be a greasy comfort food, but it’s a much safer option for your dog to enjoy hash browns.
It’s natural to want to share good food with your dog, but not all human foods are safe. Hash browns have a lot of concerning ingredients, including high-fat content and toxic onion and garlic, that make the risks not worth the reward.