If you’re a dog owner, you know how hard it is to resist those puppy dog eyes when they beg for a treat from your plate. However, before you share your tater tots with your furry friend, there are a few things you should consider.
Are Tater Tots a Safe Snack for Dogs?
Tater tots, unfortunately, are not the best choice for a dog’s diet, especially if they’re frozen ones that you cook at home. Here’s the quick answer: dogs should not eat tater tots. These recipes often contain high levels of unhealthy fats, preservatives, salts, and are usually baked or fried in oils, making them high in calories. Some tater tots even include onions, which are toxic to dogs.
Why are Tater Tots Bad for Dogs?
There are multiple reasons why tater tots are unsuitable for dogs. Let’s break it down into the different components: ingredients, cooking method, and nutritional content.
Why are the Ingredients Bad?
A typical tater tot recipe includes shredded or riced potatoes, onions, eggs, oil, salt, and seasoning. While a small amount of potato is fine for dogs, raw potato can be harmful in large quantities. Raw potatoes contain solanine, which is toxic to some dogs, although it would require them to consume significant amounts to cause harm. The potato itself is unlikely to cause stomach upset when eaten in isolation, but the presence of onions is a major concern. Onions are highly toxic to dogs, and some tater tots may contain them. Additionally, the heavy seasoning and high salt content can lead to sodium poisoning.
Why is the Cooking Method Bad?
Frying tater tots in vegetable oil may make them delicious for humans, but it’s not healthy for dogs. According to Banfield Vet Hospital, vegetable oil, grease, butter, and bacon fat are not appropriate fats for dogs and can potentially lead to pancreatitis or obesity. However, if you choose to oven bake the tater tots instead, it’s a slightly healthier option.
Why are the Calories and Carbs Bad?
Tater tots are high in carbohydrates, which isn’t necessarily bad for dogs since they provide energy. However, an excessive intake of carbs can lead to diabetes and obesity. Dogs receive enough carbohydrates from high-quality commercially available pet food, so they don’t really need tater tots in their diet. Moreover, consider the calorie content of tater tots. Let’s examine two popular dog breeds:
- Average French Bulldog (25 pounds) should consume no more than 625 calories daily.
- Average Labrador (70 pounds) should consume no more than 1,750 calories daily.
Keep these numbers in mind if you’re considering giving frozen tater tots to your dog.
Can Dogs Safely Eat Frozen Tater Tots?
No, dogs should not consume frozen tater tots, as they contain high levels of salts, fats, and preservatives, all of which are harmful to them. Take a look at the calorie content of some common tater tot brands per 100 grams:
- Ore-Ida Mini Tater Tots (172 calories): 28% of the French Bulldog’s and 10% of the Labrador’s daily intake.
- Walmart Own Brand Tater Tots (188 calories): 30% of the French Bulldog’s and 11% of the Labrador’s daily intake.
What About Sweet Potato Tater Tots?
Sweet potato is generally safe and healthy for dogs to consume. However, when used to make sweet potato tater tots, they may contain salt, sodium, and various oils, making them less nutritious. While it might be a slightly healthier alternative to standard tater tots, it’s still not something I would recommend as a regular snack for dogs.
When Should You Call a Vet?
Most dogs can eat a few tater tots without showing any side effects. However, if you notice a change in your dog’s behavior after consuming tater tots, such as decreased appetite, diarrhea, excessive thirst, increased urination, lethargy, seizures, or vomiting, it’s essential to call your vet immediately. These symptoms could indicate sodium, onion, or food poisoning.
In my opinion, it’s best to avoid letting your dog eat frozen tater tots. While an occasional treat is acceptable, giving them in large quantities may lead to negative rather than positive reactions. Moreover, considering the calorie content, even a few portions can make up a significant portion of your dog’s daily recommended intake, surpassing the 90/10 treat rule that I adhere to with my own dog, who is of small to medium size.
For more information on whether your dog can eat other foods, like tater tots, check out my research on popular dog treats and their suitability for our four-legged friends.
Disclaimer: I am not a vet, and the advice in this article is based on my own online research and common sense. Always consult with your vet before allowing your dog to eat tater tots or any other food meant for human consumption. Remember, all dogs are different!