Potatoes have recently become one of the latest ingredients to be labeled as ‘bad’ for pets but what are the actual facts?
As with many pet food trends, certain ingredients tend to become ostracized (or promoted) due to marketing initiatives and inaccurate rumor mills. We have gotten many questions about potatoes and want to take a minute to point out the facts.
Potatoes and Glycoalkaloids
Much of the bad rap for potatoes is due to their glycoalkaloid content. Glycoalkaloids, which are nerve toxins, can develop only in the stems, shoots and green parts of the skin. White potatoes should always be stored in the dark since glycoalkaloids can also become an issue in potato skin that’s been subjected to excessive or prolonged exposure to light. The stems, shoots and green parts of potatoes should not be consumed by people or animals and should be removed before serving.
Power of the Potato
However, the white flesh of potatoes and the regular skin (not including shoots and green areas) does not contain any glycoalkaloids or any toxins. Additionally, there are many benefits to feeding potatoes to dogs. Veterinarian Patrick Mahaney says, “Potatoes add a helpful punch of nutrients. They provide vitamins (B3, B6, C, etc.), minerals (manganese, phosphorus, etc.), antioxidants (carotenoids, flavonoids, etc.) as well as potassium, iron, copper and fiber.” Significant quantities of molybdenum, chromium and selenium can also be found just beneath the potato’s skin.
A study by the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service tested more than 100 white potato varieties, and discovered 60 different vitamins and phytochemicals including flavonoids, which support immunity, heart health and protect against some types of cancer.
The book Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford (which is many holistic vets’ go-to for nutrition information, with its Traditional Chinese Medicine food attributes) characterizes white potatoes as being able to neutralize body acids and actually reduce some causes of inflammation and rheumatism.
Rebecca Wood’s New Whole Foods Encyclopedia notes that potatoes have a number of medicinal properties, including being anti-inflammatory (except in some arthritic conditions), as well as being able to neutralize body acids and benefit stomach ulcers.
The Honest Kitchen’s Potato Use
While we do not currently use 100% organic potatoes, our potatoes are non-GMO (USDA did recently approve a GMO potato!), USA grown & processed, and no sprouting retardants are used. The potatoes we use in our dog foods are cleaned, steam peeled and flash heated to help break down the cellulose, aiding in digestion. They are then gently dehydrated to remove the moisture before being added to our mixes.
Our raw ingredient suppliers use very minimal pesticides and only when deemed necessary to protect a crop against pests. If pesticides are used, the potatoes are tested for residues in accordance with normal food standards for humans. Any pesticide residue if present would be found in the potato peel, which is removed and not present in the final Honest Kitchen product.
Should I Avoid Potatoes In Dog Food?
White potatoes are not ‘bad’ for pets. Like any whole food, they can be fed in moderation to animals who are not affected by food sensitivities. When it comes to food allergies, the diet should be adjusted to suit what the individual animal can and can’t tolerate, and potatoes should simply be avoided, along with any other intolerable ingredients, if the pet is sensitive to them.