Some dog owners are strict about “people food” — simply none for the dog. Others cave and let their dogs eat table scraps. It’s hard to resist a pup’s sweet face as they look up at you while you’re eating. Of course, there are even more extreme pet owners, who feed their dogs exactly what they’re eating every day.
As you decide what your dog is or isn’t allowed to eat, there are certain questions. What can dogs eat? Certain human foods are extremely toxic to dogs, such as chocolate, raisins, or grapes. However, dogs can eat cheese or meat, and often sneak in bites of other things. What about hash browns? Can dogs eat hash browns, or should they be avoided?
Can Dogs Eat Hash Browns?
Dogs technically can have hash browns: they won’t kill the dog or make them very sick. However, the high-fat content of fried hash browns (especially from fast food places such as McDonald’s) is extremely unhealthy for your dog.
While dogs will eat anything — and we do mean anything, including house slippers and grass — their bodies were mostly designed to eat animal proteins. Dog food contains mostly lean meat protein, without a lot of fat or sugar content.
The reason for this is that dogs descended from wild dogs and wolves, who had to hunt for their food. Carnivores have very short digestive tracts, made for only digesting the meat of their prey. They don’t have the long and winding intestines of humans, who eat a combination diet, or herbivores, who just consume starches and fibers.
Domesticated dogs today haven’t adapted that much; they are still meant to eat mostly lean protein. Their bodies get all the necessary vitamins and nutrients from the meat, without needing vegetables or grains as we do.
When dogs get a steady diet of high fats or sugars, their health can decline rapidly. It can lead to several long-term health issues, including diabetes, heart disease, pancreatitis, or even early death. For the good of your dog, it’s best to avoid food containing lots of fat or sugar, such as hash browns.
Should Dogs Have Potatoes?
While hash browns can damage your dog’s health, potatoes are much less harmful when raw. They contain several vitamins and minerals and are healthier than many humans give them credit for. The only issue is that dogs probably won’t be as attracted to raw potatoes as they would to buttered and fried hash browns (I mean, would you?).
Even though raw potatoes are better for dogs than hash browns, they still aren’t ideal. A potato is a heavy starch. It does have some vitamins, but a dog’s digestive system wasn’t meant for such complex carbohydrates.
What Should I Do If My Dog Ate Hash Browns?
If your dog accidentally got a few bites of hash browns, don’t worry too much about it. Unless your dog has an established potato allergy or special dietary restrictions, their body will process the grease and potatoes within a few days and be back to normal. You might not even notice a change.
The most considerable side effect of a large portion of hash browns might be some loose stool later on. It might be a bit messy for you and a bit uncomfortable for your dog. However, after a few days, this will pass as the dog’s digestive system resets.
However, if your dog already has heart issues or is on a special diet, you might want to contact your primary care veterinarian if your dog gets a hold of hash browns somehow. You and your vet know your dog’s health better than anyone – if they will need special care after a culinary adventure, give them what they need!
If you still haven’t decided whether hash browns are a good morning snack for your dog, there are other factors to consider. Here are some common questions pet owners ask when deciding whether to indulge their dog a bit.
Can’t I Just Give Them A Bite?
It’s hard to say no to that sweet little face, especially when you’re enjoying the hash browns so much! Technically, yes, you can simply give them a bite. However, one bite tends to lead to another, and a dog with a steady diet of fat-heavy foods will get sick more easily and have long-term health problems.
Instead of giving in to begging behaviors, try training your dog not to beg or even to leave the room while you’re eating. It might seem sad at first, but it will be much easier in the long run (especially when you have guests – trust me on this one).
Does the Size of my Dog Matter?
Yes! A small dog eating a McDonald’s hash brown could be a much bigger deal than a large dog. The size of the digestive system does have a part to play in how much the dog is affected by diet choices.
Age also matters – the older a dog is, the more likely it is to have negative side effects from eating what it shouldn’t. If you have a senior dog, a mini, or a dog with chronic illness, be extra careful with their diet and what food they sneak.
What if My Dog is Used to Table Scraps?
If your dog always has table scraps, you might want to be aware of what you’re throwing down to them. As we’ve established, there are very few food types that a dog’s digestive system actively works through. If you want your dog to live a long and healthy life, be careful what table scraps they eat.
Final Thoughts – Can Dogs Eat Hash Browns?
The bottom line is that dogs probably shouldn’t have hash browns. Potatoes aren’t terrible for a dog, but the butter and grease added to make hash browns delicious also make them bad for your dog. It’s better to say no now and give them a longer, happier life!
If you want to treat your dog with breakfast food, give them a little breakfast sausage (cooked plainly) instead! They will love it just as much, and you will get to enjoy a healthy dog for longer.