It’s hard to resist those puppy-dog eyes, especially while enjoying your favorite treats at the beach or boardwalk with Fido in tow this summer. If your pooch is gazing longingly at you while you’re munching on French fries this season, you may be wondering, “Can dogs eat French fries?”
“The basic principle is that you shouldn’t feed your pet human foods, but foods such as French fries, hot dogs and hamburgers contain excessive amounts of salt and fat for your canine companions,” says Dr. Frederic Gaschen, a specialist in small animal internal medicine and professor at Louisiana State University.
Answering, “Can dogs eat French fries?” also depends on the quantity of French fries in question. While it’s probably not going to cause a great deal of harm if your dog gets lucky and snatches a fry you accidentally dropped on the ground, feeding your pet larger quantities of these types of foods can lead to serious gastrointestinal upset. According to Dr. Gaschen, feeding your dog human foods like French fries can trigger acute gastroenteritis, with symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea.
But in worse scenarios, consuming these foods can lead to pancreatitis — an inflammation of the pancreas, an important digestive gland located near the stomach and small intestine. “The most common clinical sign is vomiting, often with loss of appetite and pain in the abdomen,” he warns.
Another thing to consider when answering, “Can dogs eat French fries?” — In addition to potentially giving your dog a stomachache, pet owners also have to be aware of how supplementing your dog’s regular diet with “human” foods can affect his overall health. High-fat foods like French fries contain a ton of extra calories which, when consumed regularly, can lead to obesity and put your pet at risk for a host of weight-related conditions ranging from diabetes to a decreased lifespan.
“For most human heads of pet households, giving pets a ‘treat’ of people food often means something very sweet and high in sugar, or heavily processed with a large amount of salt and fat,” says Dr. Heidi Houchen, an emergency/critical care veterinarian for VCA Northwest Veterinary Specialists in Oregon. “But this food is as bad for pets — sometimes much worse — as it is for people.”
Another thing to consider when thinking, “Can dogs eat French fries?” — High-fat foods also have the potential to delay the emptying of a dog’s stomach, making a dog prone to bloating. If a dog’s stomach bloats and twists on itself — a condition that’s prevalent in larger breeds — then a simple “gassy” episode can become a surgical emergency, Dr. Houchen adds. “Feeding French fries or other fat-laden sweets can cause stomach upset and diarrhea at the very least … and for many pets, because of their size or breed or genetic predisposition, giving them even a small morsel of highly-processed fatty food can create a nightmare of digestive upset that spirals into more serious disease,” she says.
And can dogs eat French fries smothered in ketchup, or sprinkled with seasonings like salt or pepper — as they are often deliciously served? Condiments and seasonings are also a no-no for your four-legged friend, primarily due to the sodium content. While your dog needs a small amount of sodium each day, just one tablespoon of ketchup contains about 154 milligrams of sodium …which is a whopping 54 milligrams more than the recommended daily amount for an average, medium-sized dog.
In addition to making your pet excessively thirsty, those yummy toppings can also lead to bloating — and if those fries have been sprinkled in a seasoning like black pepper, can cause irritation to your furry friend’s mouth and nasal membranes.
If you’re one of those people who likes to dip your fries in more unusual toppings, like barbecue sauce, you’re definitely not going to want to share with your dog. Barbecue sauce is loaded with sugar and ingredients like garlic, which definitely aren’t Fido-friendly.
Next time you’re tempted to toss your pooch a French fry, consider giving him something a bit safer to snack on instead. “The way to treat your pet on the boardwalk is to carry around one of the very many tasty — and completely safe — dog treats that are just as appealing to their palates as French fries and much more welcome fare in the rest of their digestive tracts,” Dr. Houchen concludes.
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