So, you’ve just made dinner and your dog is staring at you with puppy-dog eyes. Should you give in and let her have some of your mashed potatoes? Yes, but there are some things you should know first. It depends on what you’ve put into your mashed potatoes. There’s also the question of whether or not potatoes are nutritious for your dog. It’s important to check with your veterinarian to make sure your dog doesn’t have underlying health problems, and that feeding human food to your dog is okay.
Ingredients in Mashed Potatoes
Most people, at a minimum, add salt, pepper, milk, and butter to their mashed potatoes. Gravy, sour cream, garlic, and other spices and herbs may be also eaten with mashed potatoes.
Salt is acceptable in small amounts, but shouldn’t exceed 100 mg a day for an average-sized medium dog. As a reference, a can of light tuna in water contains 450 mg of sodium. Besides adding salt directly to your mashed potatoes, there is a lot of salt in the gravy often served with mashed potatoes. Too much salt makes a dog thirsty and can lead to drinking too much water. The increased urination strains a dog’s kidneys and can cause dehydration. Too much salt can also cause swelling of a dog’s body. Excessive salt intake can cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, or seizures due to sodium ion poisoning.
Milk, Butter and Sour Cream
Milk, butter, and sour cream are all dairy products. Like humans, some dogs are lactose intolerant. Others can eat dairy without any problems. Puppies have enough of the enzyme lactase to digest their mother’s milk. But as the puppies grow up, many produce less lactase. Remember, dogs in the wild don’t eat dairy products, so your dog may not be equipped to eat them, either. Eating dairy can cause diarrhea, gas, bloating, and other gastrointestinal problems.
A little bit of black pepper in a small amount of human food shouldn’t be harmful. However, black pepper in large amounts is not good for dogs. Black pepper contains capsaicin, which is bad for both humans and dogs. It can cause stomach ache, diarrhea, and vomiting. Black pepper in the air can also irritate a dog’s mucus membranes, like the eyes and nose.
Garlic, Chives, Parsley, and Dill
Garlic can be toxic to some dogs. Some dog owners feed their dog garlic to keep fleas away, so it’s not toxic to all dogs. Garlic is a member of the same plant family as chives and onions, which also shouldn’t be fed in large amounts.
Ingested garlic can change the shape of the red blood cells in a dog and make the cells more likely to rupture. The ruptured red blood cells lead to less oxygen in a dog’s blood. Signs of garlic poisoning include bad breath, nausea (in the form of drooling), gastrointestinal distress, weakness, and increased respiratory rate (in the form of panting).
Parsley is okay for dogs to eat. It has antioxidants, is antibacterial and anti-inflammatory.
Dill is safe for dogs and can prevent inflammation, relieve diarrhea, improve digestion, and lower blood sugar.
Nutritional Value of Potatoes
Potatoes are full of vitamins and minerals that are good for your dog. They include vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, potassium, iron, and magnesium. Potatoes also contain fiber, which helps your dog’s digestive system.
Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamin A is an antioxidant. Antioxidants help fight inflammation and slow down aging. Vitamin B6 helps a dog metabolize amino acids. Vitamin C helps a dog’s immune system to fight off illness. Potassium helps keep a dog’s heart healthy. Iron is important in the formation of healthy red blood cells. Magnesium helps keep a dog’s muscles working and growing.
Too Many Carbohydrates
Dogs are omnivores and like humans can eat carbohydrates along with meat. But like with humans, too many carbs can lead to problems with obesity and diabetes. So, feeding mashed potatoes in moderation is key.
Too many carbs can also cause pancreatitis. Pancreatitis is the inflammation of the pancreas. The pancreas helps with digestion and helps control blood sugar. Signs of pancreatitis include loss of appetite, vomiting, belly pain, and diarrhea. A veterinarian can treat pancreatitis, but it can possibly lead to death if not treated.
One thing to remember is not to feed your dog raw potatoes. They contain a substance called solanine. Solanine can be toxic to dogs and when ingested can make a dog begin to show signs of food poisoning. Signs of solanine poisoning are difficulty breathing, heart problems, and digestive upset.
In short, yes, it’s okay to feed your dog mashed potatoes. It would be best to feed as a treat only. The cooking process rids the potatoes of the toxins found in their raw form. Potatoes, in general, are nutritious to dogs, but not in large quantities because of the number of carbs. Just be careful of the extra ingredients that you add to your mashed potatoes. Avoid garlic, excessive amounts of salt and black pepper, and dairy products like milk, butter, and sour cream.
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