Potatoes are a nutritious source of carbohydrates for your dog. However, you must use caution when including the potato skin in with your mashed potatoes or feeding the skin directly to your dog. Potato peels can contain the chemical solanine. This chemical is toxic for both you and your dog. Potato skins may also present a problem for dogs with kidney or bladder conditions.
Nutritional Benefits of Potatoes
Red potatoes provide a variety of vitamins and minerals, including calcium, potassium, magnesium and vitamins A, C, K and folate. In addition, red potatoes provide omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that are essential for a healthy skin and coat. If your dog suffers with diabetes, red potatoes are a better choice because they have a lower glycemic index than regular white potatoes. Red potatoes are the least starchy of all potato varieties. The skin is an excellent source of dietary fiber for your dog.
Potatoes and Solanine
When exposed to light, potatoes can produce the chemical solanine in the potato skins. Red-skinned potatoes are safe for your dog as long as the skin is red and does not show any signs of green. Green coloring in the skin is often the first sign of the chemical solanine. Before cooking your mashed potatoes, check the skin for any green coloring. If you notice green, cut that section off. Taste a section of the potato with the tip of your tongue. If it is bitter, discard the entire potato. Symptoms of solanine toxicity may include drooling, gastrointestinal upset, diarrhea, vomiting, loss of appetite, behavioral changes, weakness, confusion, reduced heart rate, dilated pupils and central nervous system depression.
Potatoes and Oxalates
In addition to solanine, potatoes contain oxalates which can contribute to bladder and kidney stones in dogs. Red-skinned potatoes contain lower amounts of oxalates than other potato varieties. The skin, however, contains more oxalates than the flesh of the potato. If your dog is prone to kidney or bladder stones, avoid serving the skin.
Before changing your dog’s diet, consult a veterinarian to ensure you are meeting all your dog’s nutritional needs. If your dog suffers with kidney or bladder conditions, ask about feeding potatoes. If you do feed red-skinned potatoes, make sure to check the skin of the potatoes for any green coloring before serving. If you believe your dog may have eaten green-skinned potatoes or is showing signs of toxicity, consult your veterinarian immediately.