Potatoes tend to be a controversial food where dogs are concerned. They are used in some grain free dog foods and foods for dogs with allergies but there has been some suggestion that large amounts of potatoes in some of these foods could play a role in a dietary form of dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). Even if that’s true (and it’s still being investigated), is it okay to let your dog eat mashed potatoes at home in small amounts?
Mashed Potatoes Nutrition
You can use different things to make mashed potatoes. The nutritional information we found includes whole milk and butter which will increase the calories, fat, and some of the vitamins and minerals. It is possible to make mashed potatoes with a lower fat milk and something besides real butter though they might not taste as good.
Mashed potatoes made with whole milk and butter have 59 percent carbohydrates, 34 percent fats, and 7 percent protein. They have a glycemic load of 15. They are high in sodium.
One cup of mashed potatoes (210 grams) contains 237 calories with 142 calories from carbohydrates. Total carbs are 35.2 grams; dietary fiber is 3.1 grams. Total fat is 8.9 grams. Protein is 3.9 grams.
This serving of mashed potatoes is high in vitamin C, thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, copper, and manganese.
Potatoes also have lots of phytonutrients – organic plant compounds that can promote good health. These include carotenoids, flavonoids, and caffeic acid. The vitamin C in potatoes acts as an antioxidant. Antioxidants can help prevent cellular damage. It may also help with blood pressure, cancer prevention, heart health, and better digestion.
The fiber in potatoes may also help lower blood pressure by binding with cholesterol. Potatoes are also high in potassium which helps lower blood pressure.
There are negatives to eating potatoes, including mashed potatoes. Potatoes are high in starchy carbohydrates. The body digests these carbs quickly so they can lead to a surge in blood sugar and insulin and then a sudden drop. Not only can this make you feel hungry again but it can lead to increased insulin production. If you (or your dog) are diabetic, you should generally avoid potatoes.
Eating simple carbohydrates can also increase weight gain. So if you (or your dog) are overweight or trying to lose weight, potatoes might be a food to avoid.
Eating a baked potato, with the skin and without a lot of fattening additions, is the healthiest way to enjoy a potato. If you or your dog are going to eat mashed potatoes, the less butter and other things you include, the better. No cheese, butter, bacon, or sour cream – all of the things that make them so tasty.
Can Dogs Have Mashed Potatoes?
Yes, dogs can eat mashed potatoes. However, if your dog is diabetic or overweight, mashed potatoes are a bad idea. Not only will the carbs add extra pounds to your dog but they can spike your dog’s blood sugar and insulin levels.
If you plan to share some mashed potatoes with your dog, it’s best to keep them as plain as possible. Remember that dogs should not have ingredients such as garlic or onions. That includes chives, scallions, leeks, and shallots which are all related to garlic and onions. If you are adding things to mashed potatoes, don’t use seasonings that might contain some of these ingredients such as onion powder, garlic salt, or even seasoning mixes that can contains some of these ingredients.
Adding a little milk or cream to your mashed potatoes is unlikely to bother most dogs even if they are lactose intolerant. It usually takes more than a dash of milk to lead to digestive upset for a dog even if he’s very lactose intolerant. It’s up to you.
Butter is a healthier choice to use when making mashed potatoes than butter substitutes such as margarine but if you don’t think your dog can tolerate butter you can use dairy-free milk and butter alternatives. We don’t recommend soy for dogs but oat milk products are a possibility.
Fat-free or low-fat yogurt is also a possible substitute for milk and butter.
Do not add salt or pepper to mashed potatoes that you plan to give to your dog. Your dog doesn’t need either one and salt, especially, can be harmful.
Some dogs can have problems digesting potatoes according to their owners. If the potatoes are not cooked enough or if they are too watery, they can lead to problems. Raw potatoes can contain a substance called solanine (identified as a green color under the potato skin). Solanine is a glycoalkaloid that can produce symptoms similar to food poisoning in your dog. It’s found in a number of nightshade plants and potatoes are a member of the nightshade family. Watery potatoes may cause gas, bloating, and diarrhea. Make sure the potatoes you share with your dog are well-cooked but not watery.
We mentioned earlier that the U.S. Food & Drug Administration was investigating cases of dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs and some of the cases included foods that used potatoes as an ingredient. Most of the cases seem to involve peas, legumes, and lentils but there are some that link to foods that have large amounts of potatoes as an ingredient. At this time the investigation seems to be looking at the peas, legumes, and lentils. As long as your dog is not eating large amounts of potatoes (or sweet potatoes), they shouldn’t be a problem for your dog.
If you’re planning to make some mashed potatoes for your dog, we recommend that you do it the old-fashioned way: peel some real potatoes. It’s best to avoid the flakes and instant varieties of potatoes. Some of these products can contain added salt and other flavorings that aren’t very good for your dog. Some of them contain preservatives and other ingredients that you really don’t want your dog to eat. Go ahead and buy actual potatoes and make mashed potatoes from scratch. It takes a little longer but it’s worth it.
How Much Mashed Potatoes Can You Give Your Dog?
Considering the carbohydrates in potatoes and some of the other potential issues, it’s best to only give your dog a small amount of mashed potatoes.
You can give your dog a small amount of mashed potatoes alone. Or, you can add some to your dog’s regular meal.
Keep in mind that if your dog needs to lose weight or if he’s diabetic, it’s a good idea to skip the mashed potatoes. Talk to your veterinarian if you really want to give your dog some mashed potatoes and your dog has one of these conditions.
How Often Can You Give Your Dog Mashed Potatoes?
As long as your dog isn’t having weight problems, you can give your dog a small amount of mashed potatoes once or twice per week.
Potatoes are not considered to be harmful to dogs but it’s best if you plan to share them with your dog, it’s best to keep them as plain as possible. This can be hard to do with mashed potatoes. You can simply mash some roasted potatoes and give a little to your dog or you can look for ways to make mashed potatoes in a healthy way for your dog. Remember not to use any onion, garlic, or seasonings that could be harmful. And, if your dog is diabetic or overweight, look for a vegetable with fewer carbohydrates.