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May 29, 2023

Why Are Potatoes in My Pet's Food?

  • Nutrition
  • Feeding Your Pet
  • Ingredients
Ragdoll cat eating wet food from bowl

At Now Fresh, we take great pride in crafting recipes that cater to the unique needs of every pet. We understand that different pets thrive on different types of ingredients. That's why we wholeheartedly believe in personalized nutrition rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. Our diverse range of recipes utilizes a wide variety of ingredients to meet the specific nutrient requirements of your furry companion. Among these ingredients, potatoes and sweet potatoes stand out as exceptional choices that not only add variety but also offer numerous nutritional and functional benefits for pet food.

Key Nutrients in White & Sweet Potatoes

White and sweet potatoes are brimming with vital nutrients, including protein, complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Both white potatoes and sweet potatoes serve as excellent sources of manganese, phosphorus, copper, potassium, and vitamin B6. White potatoes boast a high vitamin C content, while sweet potatoes are particularly rich in beta-carotene, the same antioxidant found in carrots, which dogs and humans can convert into vitamin A. Furthermore, both types of potatoes are abundant sources of complex carbohydrates that provide readily available energy.

The most noticeable difference between white and sweet potatoes lies in their appearance. The characteristic orange color of sweet potatoes arises from beta-carotene, an antioxidant that can also be found in carrots and can be converted into vitamin A by dogs and humans.

Dog and owner at farmers market

Other Benefits of Potatoes

Apart from being a nutrient powerhouse, potatoes play a crucial role in providing texture and structure to kibble and wet pet foods. When formulating kibble, potatoes are utilized as a carbohydrate source, giving the kibble its distinctive shape and texture. Without carbohydrates, our beloved pets wouldn't experience that satisfying crunch they know and love. Carbohydrates also play a vital role in creating the texture and form of wet foods, a factor especially important for cats, who are highly sensitive to texture and mouthfeel. Moreover, carbohydrates grant us the flexibility to create a wide array of recipes with varying nutrient levels.

To ensure a complete and balanced recipe, it is essential to strike a balance between the macronutrients—proteins, fats, and carbohydrates—that provide energy and meet the specific requirements of each pet.
Natalie Asaro
Natalie AsaroNutrition Manager

When one macronutrient content increases, the content of one or more other macronutrients must decrease accordingly. Without carbohydrates, protein and fat levels would far exceed a pet's nutrient requirements. Carbohydrates play a crucial role in controlling protein levels within a recipe, benefiting both nutrition and the environment.

Protein is a valuable but resource-intensive nutrient. Bearing this in mind, most healthy pets thrive on diets containing moderate protein levels. For most dogs, a diet consisting of 22-26% protein (dry matter basis) provides adequate protein, while most cats do best with diets ranging from 26-32% (dry matter basis). Of course, certain situations may call for higher protein levels, such as in working dogs or critically ill patients.

It's important to remember that the body cannot store excess dietary protein. Instead, it is broken down, and its nitrogen is converted to urea and excreted in urine. This not only leads to protein waste but also contributes to nitrogen pollution, which can result in yellow patches on your lawn.
Natalie Asaro
Natalie AsaroNutrition Manager

Additionally, the environmental impact of meat production surpasses that of plant-based proteins. By incorporating potatoes into pet food as a source of protein and carbohydrates, alongside moderate levels of animal protein, we adopt a sustainable approach to fulfilling the nutrient requirements of our pets.

Glycemic Index

When it comes to comparing carbohydrate sources in pet food, the glycemic index often emerges as a topic of discussion. The glycemic index was first developed as a tool to rank human foods based on their effect on blood glucose levels. In humans, low glycemic index foods have been associated with weight control and chronic disease prevention, but these same benefits have not been verified in dogs and cats.

It's worth noting that the glycemic index is determined for individual ingredients in human nutrition research, not entire meals. However, most dogs and cats consume recipes containing a variety of ingredients, and they often eat the same food for extended periods. Thus, just because an ingredient exhibits a low glycemic index in humans does not guarantee that a pet food containing that ingredient will have a low glycemic index. Studies indicate that the glycemic index does not significantly vary among kibble formulations with different carbohydrate sources. Therefore, the glycemic index is not a reliable tool for evaluating pet foods.

Allergies and Yeast Infections

Potatoes are not considered to be a common allergen in dogs and cats. In fact, white and sweet potatoes are commonly used in hypoallergenic pet foods.

The notion that consuming carbohydrate-containing foods like potatoes increases the risk of yeast infections in dogs and cats is not substantiated. While yeast requires carbohydrates (specifically glucose) for growth, eating a diet that includes carbohydrates does not heighten the risk of yeast infections.

When carbohydrates are consumed, they are broken down into glucose to provide energy. However, the amount of glucose in the blood is tightly regulated in healthy animals. Yeasts are naturally present on the skin and typically do not cause any issues. For a yeast infection to occur, there must be a change in the skin surface that supports yeast growth. If a yeast infection does arise, it is usually due to underlying illness or an allergy, rather than the presence of carbohydrates.

French Bulldog eating Now Fresh at table

Summary on Potatoes in Pet Food

When it comes to pet food, the most important consideration is ensuring that the recipe contains all the necessary nutrients to support an animal's health and sustain its life. Ingredients play a vital role in delivering these nutrients, but ultimately, it is the nutrient levels in a recipe that truly matter. There are numerous ingredient combinations that can meet the nutrient requirements of pets.

At Now Fresh, we utilize potatoes not only as a source of essential nutrients but also for their functional benefits, all while striving to reduce our environmental impact. We believe in providing the best for your cherished pets.


Natalie Asaro

Natalie Asaro

Nutrition Manager

Natalie received both her BSc in Honors Biological Science and MSc in Companion Animal Nutrition from the University of Guelph.