Potato is one of those foods that almost everyone likes, whether served mashed or gratinated, fried or boiled, or grated and fried in the form of croquettes.
This starch base seems to be a food of fundamental comfort, and, on the better side, when prepared in a healthy way, potatoes can actually be a good source of nutrition for humans. After all, they are technically a vegetable. But is it safe and healthy to share potatoes with our four-legged friends?
Potatoes can be safely shared with your dog but in moderation.
Potatoes are rich in vitamins, such as vitamin C and B6, minerals, and nutrients like iron and magnesium, but when they are not prepared in a pet-friendly way, or if you allow your dog to consume large amounts, they can cause adverse effects on their health.
A dog’s body is designed to work best when eating animal protein, so starchy foods like potatoes should only be offered occasionally and in moderation. Eating too many carbohydrates can lead to obesity, as well as other health-related problems and diseases such as pancreatitis and diabetes.
Experts seem to agree that although potatoes are not toxic to your puppy, they may not be the best choice for their diets. Recent research by the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggests that the risk of canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) increases in dogs that eat foods containing peas, lentils, or other leguminous seeds, as well as potatoes as primary ingredients.
A heart muscle disease, DCM causes a reduction in heart pumping function and an increase in heart size, and unfortunately, these changes in the function and structure of a dog’s heart can lead to severe consequences, such as congestive heart failure or sudden cardiac attack.
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The most common cause of canine dilated cardiomyopathy is genetic, but it is now believed that these other factors can lead to the condition, especially in breeds that are not usually prone.
It is important to note that if you want to give your dog potatoes as an occasional snack, they should never be raw, and your pet should never be allowed to eat the peel, stalk, or potato leaves. Potatoes are included as part of the family of solanaceous vegetables, just like tomatoes, because they contain a compound called solanine, which can be toxic to some dogs.
When a potato is cooked completely, the levels of solanine are reduced. If your dog accidentally ingests the peel, stem, or leaves of potatoes, you may notice side effects of Solanine poisoning such as blurred vision, stomach disorders, and a slowed heart rate, and your dog will need immediate veterinary attention.
When you offer potatoes to your four-legged friend, you’ll want to give him simple dishes, such as baked or boiled potatoes. Make sure you don’t add anything to potatoes like salt, butter, or other spices, as they can be dangerous for dogs.
As with humans, fries and potato chips are not the best food choices for our dogs. The digestive system will break down potatoes and store them as fat, and this is true for both humans and dogs.
Also, veterinarians do not accept potato feeding for pregnant and breastfeeding dogs. If a pregnant or breastfeeding dog eats potatoes, then a large part of its energy reserves is spent on its own digestion. Food for the nursing dog and the pregnant dog should be easily digestible. At the first introduction of complementary foods like potatoes, you need to offer a small portion and carefully monitor the condition of the pet during the day. If signs of indigestion or lethargy occur, you shouldn’t offer him more.
Unfortunately, this scenario is not excluded. If the dog is interested in potatoes, he can secretly steal a few raw tubers from the owner. In case of poisoning, the dog will have weakness in the limbs, involuntary tremors of the muzzle and paws, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. When noticing these symptoms, you need to give first aid to the dog.
It is important to try to provoke a gag reflex.
You can give your dog a mild, very weak solution of potassium permanganate through a syringe, blowing a jet of liquid along the cheek so that the dog does not spit it out. After vomiting, you should give him any human absorbent at your disposal, for example, ordinary activated charcoal. After that, you need to get the animal for an urgent appointment with your veterinarian, who will be able to provide additional qualified assistance.
What about sweet potatoes? Because these potatoes are a much more nutritious and healthier option, sweet potatoes are the best choice for our pets. In fact, they are included in many homemade or commercially available dog snacks.
Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamins A, C, and B6, as well as other nutrients like calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iron, so not only can they be a delicious snack, but they can improve your pet’s health.
Potassium, for example, can improve the functioning of a dog’s blood vessels, replace lost electrolytes, and strengthen muscle development, while vitamin C promotes white blood cell function and can boost a dog’s immune system.
Sweet potatoes are also considered very good for both a man’s heart health and a dog’s and can help lower blood pressure, improve the digestive tract and help manage weight.
However, since every dog will tolerate human food differently, you just need to make sure that you first give your dog small amounts and monitor him for any reactions, such as stomach disorders. Always consult with your veterinarian before introducing another new food into your pet’s diet.
Finally, potatoes in general should always be avoided by dogs who already have health conditions, such as diabetes, because potatoes can increase blood sugar levels. You’ll also want to limit access to potatoes, and other high-CARB foods, especially if he’s already overweight.