Whether French fries are safe for dogs may be something many dog owners are wondering about.
The tasty and deep-fried potato morsels popularly known as French fries are the top favorite fast food choice for people, but what about dogs?
Are pet owners allowed to share French fries with their pets? Are French fries healthy for dogs or not? Keep reading to find out everything you need to know on the topic.
In this article, we will therefore cover the reasons dogs should not eat French fries. We will talk about what to do in case of accidental ingestions and the possible outcomes (best and worst-case scenarios).
Finally, we will discuss some healthier and more dog-friendly French fries alternatives for dogs.
Can Dogs Eat French Fries?
No, dogs cannot eat French fries. Although French fries are not directly toxic to dogs, they are considered an unhealthy food on many levels.
French fries contain ingredients that are harmful in the long run and are prepared in a hazardous way.
In simpler words, French fries are the perfect example of an empty-calorie food.
The good news is that if your dog steals a French fry or two, there is no need to rush to the vet's office or emergency clinic. However, feeding your dog French fries on purpose is highly inadvisable.
Why Are French Fries Bad for Dogs?
Saying that French fries are bad is not enough (honestly, we know they are bad for us too, and we still enjoy them) – you need to understand the hidden dangers behind this popular fast food.
So, the next time you are tempted to share French fries with your dog, think about the following troublesome ingredients and health risks.
Issue Number 1: Too Many Fats
French fries are high in fats; after all, they are deep-fried. However, it is not just the fat content that is troublesome but also the fat type.
Most French fries are prepared with canola oil which is loaded with saturated fats and trans-fatty acids (the bad fats).
These bad fats can trigger pancreatitis, bloat (in large dog breeds), and contribute to obesity in the long run.
Issue Number 2: The Salt Conundrum
French fries are heavily salted for boosted flavor. Salt is a tricky ingredient for dogs – necessary in small doses, but toxic in excess amounts.
Even if the dog does not consume enough salt to develop salt poisoning, severe dehydration is possible, especially in dogs with co-existing kidney diseases.
Issue Number 3: Carbs and Weight Gain
The main ingredient in French fries, the potato, is high in carbohydrates. Dogs do not really need carbohydrates as they are capable of making energy from proteins and fats.
High-carb foods are not a big issue in active dogs, but in dogs with sedentary lifestyles, they will contribute to weight gain and obesity.
Obesity is a pandemic among modern dogs, and while not a disease per se, it increases the risk of acquiring many ailments (diabetes, heart disease, cancer) and aggravates pre-existing conditions (arthritis).
Issue Number 4: High Glycemic Index
Potatoes have a high-glycemic index, meaning after they are consumed, they cause sudden blood sugar spikes. In healthy dogs, these sugar spikes are not troublesome.
However, in dogs with diabetes, sudden sugar spikes can be life-threatening. French fries and all potato-inclusive foods are forbidden for diabetic dogs.
Issue Number 5: Potato Allergies
Food allergies are an issue among dogs. Potato allergies, in particular, are not very common, but are a possibility and therefore worth mentioning.
Sadly, you cannot know whether your dog is allergic to potatoes unless you let it try some. Some allergies manifest with digestive upsets, and others with skin issues like hives and itching.
Issue Number 6: Added Spices
In addition to salt, the second most commonly used spice in French fries is black pepper. The dog's stomach is not designed to handle such irritating spice.
In practical terms, black pepper can trigger digestive upset or, in more severe cases, damage the gut lining and result in bleeding ulcers.
Issue Number 7: Toxic Seasonings
Some French fries include garlic and onion powders for a richer taste. Both garlic and onion are toxic to dogs as they contain compounds that damage red blood cells, thus causing potentially life-threatening anemia.
Garlic and onion poisoning are medical emergencies and require immediate attention.
Issue Number 8: Hazardous Condiments
Ketchup, BBQ sauce, and mayo are some of the condiments usually found on French fires. These condiments are processed, rich in preservatives, and based on the recipe; they may even contain xylitol – an artificial sweetener that is toxic to dogs.
Issue Number 9: Empty Calories
An empty-calorie food is a food that does not contain any beneficial nutrients while being high in calories.
French fries are considered an empty calorie for dogs because they do not contain nutrients other than the carbs that, as we already explained, are not necessary for dogs.
Issue Number 10: The Potato Skin
To retain a richer taste, some French fries are prepared with the skin left on them. The potato skin (same as the green parts of the potato) contains a toxic called solanine.
Cooking will remove some of the solanine, but the peel still poses a choking hazard because it is too sticky.
Help, My Dog Ate French Fries, What to Do?
If your dog ate French fries (jumped on the counter or stole some directly from your plate), you need to stay calm, evaluate the situation, and call the veterinarian.
First, you must assess the severity of the situation and consider the following factors:
-Your dog’s size and overall health (large and healthy dogs are more likely to be okay than small dogs with pre-existing health issues).
-How much French fries your dog ate (the more it ate, the more severe the potential consequences)
-The French fries ingredients (if they contain spices, seasonings, and condiments which are directly or indirectly dangerous).
Once you have the basic info, call the vet and explain what happened. The more information you provide the veterinarian, the more accurate his/her instructions will be.
In general, based on the circumstances and mentioned factors, there are two likely scenarios:
1) Monitoring the dog at home for signs and symptoms
2) Going to the veterinary clinic for an in-person evaluation.
In both cases, it is paramount you stick to the vet's advice. Never self-treat your dog. Many human meds are toxic to dogs and can make the situation worse than it was.
French Fries Alternative For Dogs
Okay, just because that classic French fries are off the dog’s menu does not mean our canine friends cannot enjoy potatoes altogether. Luckily, there are some dog-friendly potato recipes.
For example, you can prepare oven-baked potatoes for your dog. You should start by boiling the peeled (and preferably organic) potatoes and then have them chopped into bite-sized chunks and baked in the oven.
Obviously, you must not add salt or any other spice. As for oils, you can lightly sprinkle the potatoes with coconut oil.
Alternatively, instead of baking, you can air-fry the potatoes. Air-frying is a crunchier, but still healthy option.
Or, you can stir things up and instead of regular use sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are more nutrient-dense than regular ones. They contain health-boosting ingredients and are safe for occasional feeding in dogs.
The preparation methods are similar and include – peeling, boiling, and either oven-baking or air-frying. Keep in mind that the sweet potatoes must be plain, meaning no salt, spices, seasonings, or condiments.
More Questions About Dogs Eating French Fries
Following are several questions and answers about dogs eating French fries.
Can French fries Make a Dog Sick?
Yes, French fries are a rich food and can definitely make a dog sick. From simple digestive upset to acute pancreatitis in sensitive dogs to blood sugar spikes – French fries can make dogs sick in different ways.
Can French Fries Kill a Dog?
Not directly. Since French fries are not toxic to dogs, we cannot say they can kill a dog. However, in the long run, they cause serious health issues which can put the dog's life in danger or decrease its quality.
Can Dogs Eat McDonald's French Fries?
No, dogs must not eat McDonald's French fries. This popular version is too high in fat (deep-fried in vegetable oil) and heavily salted. Simply put, French fries can wreak havoc on the dog's digestive system.
How Many French Fries Can a Dog Eat?
There are no feeding instructions and guidelines considering French fries are not recommended for dogs. However, it is safe to say that a healthy, adult, medium-sized dog, in the best case scenario, can eat several French fries without experiencing side effects.
However, any time a dog suddenly eats any form of unaccustomed rich human food, a mild transient bout of vomiting or diarrhea is a possibility.
This digestive upset should be transient and not serious, and should normally just pass on its own, although in predisposed dogs, there may be risks for pancreatitis or bloat. See your vet if your dog is predisposed or if you notice any worrisome symptoms.
Concluding Thoughts on Feeding Dogs French Fries
The final verdict on French fries is that they are not dog-friendly. While one or two French fries are not harmful, using them as treats and snacks is a recipe for disaster.
On the one hand, French fries do not offer any nutritional benefits to dogs. On the other hand, they pose several risks.
Therefore, there are no objective reasons for giving your dog French fries. In a nutshell, the risks of French fries outweigh the benefits.
However, just because your dog cannot eat French fries does not mean it cannot enjoy the taste of oven-baked and plain potatoes or a healthier alternative such as sweet potatoes.