We know, dogs are part of the family to us, and you want them to enjoy the same scrumptious foods that you do, too. Let’s face it. Every dog owner is all too familiar with the feeling of coming home with some fast-food on those busy days, only to find your pup following closely behind you and giving you those adorable puppy eyes. It’s so easy to hand your dog a couple fries here and there, what with those adorably cute eyes, but the question is should you?
Unfortunately, many foods are packed with starches and many other ingredients that just aren’t meant for our four-legged friends, and french fries are one them!
The simple answer to the question, “Can dogs eat french fries?” is yes, but “should I give my dog french fries?” is no. If your dog reaches out for that luscious french fry that dropped before you do (hey, I won’t judge… five second rule, right?) then there won’t be any need to rush them over to the vet. Before you decide to pass a few fries to your best buddy, consider some of the following.
Can Dogs Eat French Fries? Are French Fries Safe For Dogs To Eat?
Let’s face it. We only wish that french fries were healthy! French fries themselves are fried potatoes packed with oil and doused in salt. When you think about it, since when did dogs ever naturally eat any of those ingredients? French fries are safe for dogs if consumed at a minimum, but be weary – that doesn’t mean you can give your dog an entire order of even the smallest fries or consider giving a dog french fries as a regular snack, because it can be pretty bad for them.
Why Shouldn’t Dogs Eat French Fries?
French fries aren’t immediately toxic when consumed by a dog, but they aren’t particularly healthy either – especially for dogs. Potatoes fried in oil don’t particularly sound healthy at all, and the fact that they’re loaded with trans and saturated fats makes it even worse on a dog’s health. Here’s the reasons why you shouldn’t give a dog french fries.
Fries are jam-packed with large amounts of salt. Think about it, an entire serving of fries can make you thirsty, but dogs have much less salt tolerance to humans, and the same serving could result in them becoming severely dehydrated. This is because salt is essential in retaining fluid retention and supplying the body with electrolytes, but too much could throw the body out of balance.
The high amount of sodium found in fries and especially if consumed over longer periods of times could result in illnesses such as salt poisoning, pancreatitis, or kidney damage.
It’s also important that we mentioned salt poisoning in dogs above. Salt poisoning occurs when too much salt is ingested in a very short amount of time. In some cases where your dog eats a little too much salt, they will drink water to combat the effects of doing so. However in cases where water is not readily available, this could result in severe complications such as the break down of brain cells which may result in headaches, seizures, and dizziness.
Some oils can actually be good for your dog’s health, such as fish oil for dogs, coconut oil, krill oil, and flaxseed oil. French fries, however, are often fried using vegetable oil. Vegetable oil for dogs is not recommended as vegetable oil may contain corn or soybean products, which some dogs may be allergic to. Some cooking oil substitutes are butter and peanut oil, but these can also result in an upset stomach. Too much oil and fatty substance in your dog’s diet can cause fat build up and diarrhea in dogs.
Sometimes, fries come with additional seasonings in the form of powdered coverings to give them added and varied flavor that’s extra fun for our taste buds, but potentially deadly to our dogs. Anything with garlic powder or onion powder is a solid “no” when it comes to our four-legged friends, as these foods can be toxic to dogs.
Not only are garlic and onion flavored seasonings not recommended, it’s best to keep barbeque and salt-and-pepper flavorings away from your pup as well, due to barbecue’s garlic content, and salt-and-pepper seasonings may have more sodium in them than what is generally considered healthy for your pup.
Common spices, such as paprika, cumin, salt, basil, parsley, garlic salt, garlic powder, and chili powder aren’t recommended for dog consumption, either, as some servings may be too much for your pooch. This could result in an upset stomach, stomach pain, gas, or diarrhea.
Poutine or other sauce-soaked fries can be potentially dangerous to your dog. The savory, rich, full taste of that gravy could have a little more garlic sauteed than what is recommended for dogs. Generally, any meat will most likely have onions and garlic tossed in to add for better flavor. We know by now that garlic and onions can be dangerous for our dogs, so it’s best to stay away when unsure.
Other toppings, such as ketchup, is definitely to be avoided by our dogs as well. While the recommended daily serving for the average medium-sized dog needs a small amount of sodium added into their diet, a single tablespoon of ketchup contains roughly 154 mg of sodium – which is 54 mg greater than the recommended serving.
So now you’re probably thinking, “Okay, so I just have to fry some plain potatoes in coconut oil and skip all of the seasonings and toppings, and my dog should be all good to go and stuff his nose into an amazing batch of plain fries, right?” Well, not quite. The main ingredient of french fries is also bad for your pup. The carbohydrates in potatoes themselves are difficult for your dog to digest. By nature, dogs don’t require carbs in their diet. Carbs in a dog’s diet can cause weight gain and obesity.
The occasional boiled potato or plain mashed potato is fine for your dog if given a small bite. However, it’s important to ensure that any type of potato for dogs should be thoroughly washed, skinned, and cooked. Raw potatoes contain solanine which is toxic to dogs.
Is it really worth the risk to feed your dog potatoes when there are a bunch of other healthier alternatives?
A Healthier Alternative to French Fries for Dogs
While french fries can make for a tasty once-in-a-blue-moon snack, there are a lot more healthier alternatives for dogs that are not only healthy, but tasty as well!
Sweet potatoes is an alternative to potatoes and are safe for dogs. Sweet potato is also rich in the antioxidant beta-carotene which is essential for a dog’s growth, vision, and muscles. This particular food is great for digestive health with dietary fiber. Some vitamins and minerals gained from eating sweet potato are:
Calcium helps with strong bones and makes for a great alternative to giving your dog an added boost of calcium as dogs are lactose intolerant.
Iron is an essential component of your dog’s blood. When iron is combined with copper, hemoglobin is formed. It’s an essential part of in producing the color of blood and transporting oxygen throughout the body.
Potassium helps in maintaining the body’s balanced fluids, proper function of the muscle cells, nerve cells, and enzymes. If your dog has upset stomach and is suffering from diarrhea or vomiting, they may be sodium or potassium deficient. Some sweet potato mash could be a welcome treat as well as a healthy and tasty snack.
Vitamin A helps in keeping your dog’s skin and coat healthy and plays an important role in muscle and nerve function.
Vitamin C is great for adding an extra boost to his immune system, especially when these curious furballs like to get their nose into whatever they can find!
Vitamin B6 helps regulate your dog’s and glucose production. It helps maintain the function of red blood cells and the nervous system. It’s good for their immune system, too.
How to Prepare Sweet Potato for Dogs
You can mix mashed sweet potato with your dog’s food or serve it as by itself as a snack. Trust us when we say that it can be fun watching your pooch lick a spoonful of a tasty treat clean!
- Wash the sweet potatoes thoroughly in clean water.
- Peel the outer layer of the sweet potato.
- Cut the sweet potato in small, one inch cubes for faster cooking time.
- Place the sweet potato cubes into a pot and add enough water to cover.
- Bring the water to a boil.
- Lower the heat to medium and cover the pot with a lid.
- Allow to cook for approximately 20 – 30 minutes, or use a fork to check until the cubes are tender.
- Once tender, drain the cubes and thoroughly mash until smooth.
If you aren’t confident as to when the sweet potatoes are thoroughly cooked, err on the side of overcooked rather than under cooked. Your dog shouldn’t mind, and it’ll still be as tasty!
How Much Sweet Potato Can My Dog Eat?
While sweet potato is healthier than a regular potato, they still contain carbohydrates and sugars. Treat sweet potatoes as a reward for excellent behavior or only as an occasional snack, not as a staple in your dog’s diet.
Other Healthier Alternative Snacks for Dogs
Carrots are wonderfully healthy and affordable snacks for dogs. They’re hard and crunchy, and help in removing plaque and debris from in between your dog’s canines (pun intended!) They also keep your dog’s gums healthy and strong, which is essential for proper dog dental health. Carrots for dogs make for an excellent enrichment toy as they are safe to chew. Unlike normal toys, you won’t have to worry about fido going a bit too harsh and ingesting small pieces of material and his guts. Speaking of guts, the fiber in carrots will do wonders for your dog’s digestive system. You can even boil carrots and mash them up if your dog has a taste for mashed potatoes. Carrots also contain a load of vitamins to keep your dog as fit as a fiddle, and antioxidants to fight off free radicals.
Frozen bananas make for a refreshing treat on a hot summer’s day. Mashed bananas can also make for a tasty alternative to mashed potatoes. Just make sure that you remove the peel as this can upset their digestive system. Bananas are rich in magnesium, potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin B6, and jam packed with fiber for healthy digestion.
Cucumber can be julienned just like fries, just make sure to cut it appropriately so that your dog doesn’t choke! They have a wonderful crunch to them that dogs are absolutely bound to love, plus its high water content will help keep your dog hydrated. Its low calorie content makes it non-fattening as well, so you won’t have to worry about your pup gaining a little extra weight with this snack.
Veterinarian Dr. Avi Blake considers zucchini and other squash to be some of the best vegetables that you can feed your dog. Zucchini offers low calories and cholesterol but is high in fiber, making it an ideal treat for dogs who need to lose a little weight. You can serve this up raw or cooked (be sure that it’s served plain, without seasonings).
High in vitamins A and C, green beans will do your dog’s body good. This treat is also low in calories but full of iron. You can serve them fresh or boiled without seasonings. Some dogs absolutely love green beans, but having a little too much can result in some gnarly farting. Be sure not to serve your dog canned green beans, as the high amount of sodium may result in salt poisoning in dogs.
Broccoli is a good alternative due to its high fiber content. It’s low in fat and contains vitamin C as well. You can boil broccoli or serve them up raw as a snack for your pup. You shouldn’t give your dog too much though, as it could result in some tummy problems if eaten in large quantities. Remember, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing!
Green peas can be served as a frozen treat, fresh and raw, or boiled and mashed with your dog’s food. Peas contain high amounts of vitamin A, vitamin B, and vitamin K, as well as iron, fiber, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. However, green peas aren’t recommended if your dog has kidney problems as green peas have purines that can aggravate their kidney issues.
The Bottom Line: Can I Give My Dog French Fries?
Yes, your dog can eat fries, but that doesn’t mean they should. Not one part of it is healthy for your dog. As a rule of thumb, junk food is not good for your pets. There are commercial and home-made alternatives that could satiate your dog’s appetite for crunchy or mushy snacks. While the alternatives listed above are better, remember that with anything new to your dog’s diet – moderation is key.
Dawn Greer is a passionate blogger and animal rights activist. She is a pet lover, certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, pet nutritionist, and former veterinary technician. She continues her work while writing blogs for pet lovers around the globe.