Can Dogs Eat Tater Tots? Vet Approved Facts & FAQs
Tater tots are not usually toxic to dogs. Dogs can consume potatoes and oils, which are basically what tater tots are made out of. Therefore, if your dog snatches up a few tater tots, there isn’t usually anything to worry about.
However, tater tots are often seasoned with salt, garlic, and onion. Therefore, eating too many tater tots can lead to salt, garlic, or onion poisoning. Dogs do need a small amount of salt to live, just like every other animal. It is possible for them to consume too much, though. Clinical signs are usually seen with doses of 2 to 3g/kg body weight.
Most of the time, the average dog won’t get salt toxicity from a few tater tots1. However, if a smaller dog consumes a whole plate of tater tots and licks the plate, they may be getting pretty close. If your dog steals some tater tots be sure to check the ingredients to see if they contain any toxic ingredients.
The 2 Main Potential Downsides of Eating Tater Tots
There are several problems that may arise if your dog consumes tater tots, with little to no benefits. The most serious and likely problem is salt toxicity, but problems can also occur due to the higher fat level of tater tots.
1. Salt Toxicity
If your canine consumes too much salt too quickly, they could develop salt toxicity. Salt is utilized to help your dog move water around in their body. It’s an electrolyte. However, when your dog eats too much salt, it pulls water into the extracellular space from inside the cells.
Salt toxicity can be deathly serious. It causes the body to dehydrate quickly, leading to organ damage. In severe cases, neurological symptoms can occur, such as seizures and coma. These happen because the brain isn’t getting enough water. Eventually, if left untreated, dogs can die from salt toxicity.
You cannot simply treat this condition by giving your dog water to drink. Instead, your dog’s vet will use an IV to slowly lessen the salt levels in your dog’s body. They cannot hydrate them too quickly, as this can cause shock. Therefore, dogs usually have to be hospitalized as their levels slowly even out. Blood tests are done to check the level of salt in your dog’s body, and multiple blood tests may be needed to check your dog’s organ function.
Luckily, salt toxicity is not a commonly encountered problem in dogs and it can be treated if caught early enough. Therefore, if you believe your dog may have eaten too much salt, you should call your vet. They will let you know if you need to come in (or not). Sometimes, it is safe to wait and see if your dog develops signs of distress. Other times, your canine may need to be brought in right away, your vet will decide this.
A serving of 9 tater tots typically contains around 390 mg of sodium.
Tater tots are fried in fats. Therefore, when your dog consumes tater tots, they are also consuming a lot of fat. Luckily, dogs do need fat in their diet (perhaps even more than humans). However, in some dogs, too much fat can lead to inflammation of the pancreas—called pancreatitis.
This condition is extremely serious and can be deadly. The pancreas releases enzymes that help your dog digest fat. However, if these enzymes are released around the pancreas, the enzymes can damage the pancreas (they start to “eat” it, basically). This process damages the pancreas until clinical signs occur.
If not treated, this issue can lead to pain, organ damage, dehydration, and sometimes long-term consequences such as diabetes.
Pancreatitis can be acute or chronic. Both of these conditions are quite different, with different treatment methods and causes. Acute pancreatitis can occur when your dog consumes a load of fat at once, as well as for other reasons.
There are no potential benefits to your dog consuming tater tots. However, there are several potential downsides. Therefore, we do not recommend your dog consume tater tots regularly. They don’t make a good treat or snack, as they’re mostly empty calories. Some dogs may be particularly sensitive to the salt and fat in tater tots, too.
With all that said, tater tots aren’t blatantly toxic unless they contain salt or garlic. Most dogs are fine consuming a tater tot or two. However, if you’re in doubt, always give your vet a call.
Featured Image Credit: Brent Hofacker, Shutterstock