It can be very tempting to let your dog eat something you’ve just bought at the McDonald’s drive through. Our dog Claude will get a smell of the burgers and French fries and start salivating as soon as the bag comes through our car window… it’s hard to say no!
However, you should exercise caution when letting your dog have human foods, particularly those that come from fast food restaurants. It’s not always the best choice.
But just how bad are McDonald’s French fries for your dog, and what would happen if he was to eat some? I decided to find out, and here’s all my research for you in one handy place.
Can dogs eat McDonald’s French fries?
Your dog can eat McDonald’s fries, and in truth, a few French fries here and there are unlikely to lead to any long-term health problems. However, choosing to let your dog eat McDonald’s French fries deliberately is not something I recommend.
If you have no other food with you and no other choices to feed your dog, then you should only let them eat McDonald’s French fries that are plain, unsalted, and with no ketchup.
If McDonald’s is your only choice for your dog whilst on a road trip, I recommend taking the beef patty from a Big Mac and letting them eat that instead. I’ve previously blogged about how this can be a better option.
The reasons why I don’t recommend dogs eat McDonald’s fries are examined below, including the calorie implications and certain ingredients and cooking methods that could make your dog sick.
Are McDonald’s French Fries bad for dogs?
McDonald’s French fries have no nutritional value, don’t offer any goodness, won’t fill your dog up, and could even upset their stomach. They are fried and cooked in oil made up from bad trans fats and saturated fats which can cause gastrointestinal problems.
French fries will also be high in salt which can make dogs sick and suffer with excessive thirst. Fries are also high in carbs making them hard to digest, with some dogs even being allergic to potatoes.
Then there are the calorie consequences. A large portion of McDonald’s French fries contains a whopping 490 calories which accounts for 78% of an average sized adult French Bulldog’s daily calorie intake.
As you can see, whilst you can let your dog eat McDonald’s French fries, whether you do or not has to come down to ethics and responsibility – it’s just not something an owner should do regularly as they can be bad for your dog.
What happens if my dog eats French Fries?
Most dogs will be ok if they just eat a few McDonald’s fries… but I don’t suggest you let them, and vets also advise against it.
There will be some dogs who react badly with allergies, but most will probably be able to handle a few. The most likely problem could be a little diarrhea and needing to drink more due to the high salt content.
The health problems mount up when food like this is fed to a dog over a prolonged period of time, and when it’s made into a habit. It can lead to items such as obesity and diabetes, effectively a similar effect a McDonald’s diet would have on a human.
If you have fed your dog McDonald’s fries, make sure they have clean and plentiful drinking water on hand, and monitor them for any of the following problematic symptoms:
- Drinking more than normal
- Urinating changes
Can French Fries kill dogs?
In extreme and rare cases, it could be possible for McDonald’s French fries to kill your dog. The more serious problems relating to allergies and anaphylactic shock include:
- Breathing problems
- Confused state
The problems above indicate an extremely bad reaction to eating McDonald’s French fries and will require immediate medical attention.
How the calories in McDonald’s French fries are bad for your dog
Aside from the way in which McDonald’s fries are cooked and prepared, there are also the calorie implications. Vets recommend that dogs only eat 25 calories a day for every pound that they weigh.
If we look at two common dog breeds with their average male weights, French Bulldog and Labrador, that equates the following recommended daily calories:
- Average French Bulldog is 25 pounds: Should eat no more than 625 calories daily.
- Average Labrador is 70 pounds: Should eat no more than 1,750 calories daily.
Vets also talk about something called the 90/10 rule which basically means you should not let treats be anything more than 10% of your dog’s daily diet.
When we then check how many calories are in McDonald’s fries and what that means for your dog, it’s quite shocking reading:
- Small French fries portion (220 calories): 35% French Bulldog / 13% Labrador daily intake.
- Medium French fries portion (320 calories): 51% French Bulldog / 18% Labrador daily intake.
- Large French fries portion (490 calories): 78% French Bulldog / 28% Labrador daily intake.
Whilst a medium portion of French fries doesn’t have a massive impact on a larger dog’s recommended calories, it’s over half of a medium sized dog like a Frenchie.
Food for thought indeed!
How the ingredients in McDonald’s French fries are bad for your dog
When you take a closer look at what’s actually in a McDonald’s French fry it makes for shocking reading. Did you think it was just potato and oil? If so, think again:
McDonald’s fries ingredients: Potatoes, Vegetable Oil (Canola Oil, Soybean Oil, Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Natural Beef Flavor (Wheat and Milk Derivatives), Citric Acid (Preservative), Dextrose, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate (Maintain Color), Salt. Then prepared in Vegetable Oil (Canola Oil, Corn Oil, Soybean Oil, Hydrogenated Soybean Oil) with TBHQ and Citric Acid to preserve freshness of the oil and Dimethylpolysiloxane to reduce oil splatter when cooking.
It’s not just the basic ingredients including salt, but also chemicals, preservatives, and artificial elements that I would not want my own dog to eat.
The salt is what worries me most though.
Dogs should not eat more than 1.5g of salt a day. Anything more than that can lead to dehydration and sodium ion poisoning.
There’s 0.5 grams of salt in McDonald’s French fries before you’ve even sprinkled on more yourself.
There will be times where despite your best efforts, your dog manages to eat something it should not do. You might also be stuck for food when on a road trip.
However, I don’t recommend you let your dog eat French fries, as over time the health problems will mount up.
Ultimately, it’s fast food with lots of salt, oil, and possible ketchup, all of which can give your dog a bad belly and possible diarrhoea.
French fries also have no nutritional value… if you love your dog, don’t let him or her eat them.
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On the subject of junk food, I’ve created further guides on what you dog can and can’t eat at certain popular establishments: