“Can dogs eat sweet potatoes?” is one of the top asked questions when it comes to dog food. Of course, just because something is good for humans, it doesn’t always mean that it’s going to be good for your dog. Indeed, it’s also important to understand the right amounts, to avoid digestive upset.
So, you may have seen them on the packaging of your dog’s favorite food – but do you know how to use cooked sweet potatoes and raw sweet potatoes to get the most out of your dog’s diet? Here, we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of offering your dog sweet potatoes – and when you need to avoid these. Not only that, but we’ll be delving into the differences between sweet and white potatoes, and breaking down the makeup of these root vegetables. All so that you can give your best friend the best start.
From the UC Davis School of Medicine: “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently issued an alert about reports of canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs eating certain pet foods containing peas, lentils, other legume seeds, or potatoes as main ingredients. DCM is a disease of the heart muscle that leads to reduced heart pumping function and increased heart size. The alterations in heart function and structure can result in severe consequences such as congestive heart failure or sudden cardiac death. While the most common cause of DCM is genetic, on rare occasions other factors can also result in the condition, particularly in breeds that are not frequently affected.”
Can Dogs Eat Sweet Potato?
So, let’s answer that all-important question, first and foremost: can dogs have sweet potatoes? The answer is (drumroll please) – absolutely! Of course, like all things, there are a few privisos to consider. As with all things, moderation is key. A diabetic dog should only ever be given small amounts of sweet potato. Also, you should always consider whether your dog is showing signs of allergies.
Symptoms of Allergies Caused by a Dog’s Diet
If your dog has allergies, then some of the most likely symptoms you’ll come across include:
- Over-grooming and loss of fur
- Itchy skin
- Weeping eyes
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Weight loss
- Lack of energy
The good news, however, is that sweet potatoes are less likely than many other food types to cause an immune response. In other words, they can be included as part of limited ingredient diets, if you’re concerned about allergies – or even if your dog simply has a sensitive stomach.
Of course, it’s important to give your pup the right amounts, in order to best acclimatize them to a change in dog food diets. This includes changes between commercial dog foods, as well as from commercial of foods to whole food. We give more details as to how best to transition your dog to new food, below.
Can Dogs Eat Potatoes?
Normal, white potatoes are a different matter entirely. Raw white potatoes belong to the nightshade family, alongside tomatoes and eggplants. The nightshade family contains solanine, which is a glycoalkaloid poison.
Most notably, white potatoes which have turned green should be discarded. This is because the white potato is designed to be kept in a cool, dark storage space – mimicking their natural life, as they are grown underground. When left on a countertop, they turn green due to the chlorophyll which is naturally present in the potatoes. Luckily, this is usually easily spotted through the poor skin quality that comes with older potatoes.
This green part of the potato is also filled with solanine and, according to Michigan State University, can cause:
- Fever or lower than normal body temperature (hypothermia)
- Slow pulse and/or breathing
- Stomach or abdominal pain
This stands for both human and canine consumption. Of course, if you cut away the green part of the potato and cook them well, the humble white potato can still be given as a treat to your dog. Always handy when you’ve got some spare mashed potatoes to hand!
The Benefits of Sweet Potatoes
Just like in humans, the right amount of sweet potatoes can help with everything from preventing heart disease to helping with muscle function. These are just some of the benefits of sweet potatoes – but remember to let your dog enjoy them in moderation!
Sweet Potatoes are a Great Source of Dietary Fiber
Having a healthy digestive system is absolutely essential to maintaining the overall wellbeing of your dog. Luckily, sweet potatoes are filled with dietary fiber, which helps maintain healthy bowel movements. As such pet owners will be pleased to know that their dogs are not only going to enjoy these occasional treats, but that adding sweet potato to everyday food will keep them regular, too.
They’re Filled with Beta Carotene
Sweet potatoes are also filled with beta carotene. This is an antioxidant that can help to fight free radicals in the body, therefore helping to maintain a healthy immune system, alongside the ample amounts of vitamin c. It’s most commonly associated with the orange color it creates, which is also found in carrots.
Beta carotene, in the right amounts, can help to combat night blindness (a common problem that affects your dog’s vision), poor skin quality, abnormal bone/teeth development, and abnormal reproductive development. Indeed, baked sweet potato, with the potato skins left on can provide more than seven times the amount of beta carotene than the average needs, every day.
Sweet Potatoes Are Packed with Vitamins and Minerals
As well as the above, sweet potatoes can help your dogs’ maintain a healthy immune system thanks to the ample amounts of vitamin c. Meanwhile, the high levels of potassium can prevent muscle weakness in dogs, while the manganese can help to support growth and a healthy metabolism.
Not to mention that vitamin b6, present in the sweet potato, helps convert food into energy. So, when dogs eat potatoes, dog owners are giving them the benefit of a whole range of different vitamins and minerals!
You’ll often find bodybuilders enjoying the true yam benefits and keeping their baked potatoes piled high. Why? Because as having a high nutritional value, they’re also much lower in carbs than their white potato cousins.
The Drawbacks of Giving Dogs Sweet Potatoes
Dogs diagnosed with DCM should avoid sweet potato treats, and owners should reduce the amount of sweet potato in their dog’s diet. This is because (as given above), the potato can cause an increased risk of problems with the heart muscles and structure.
Blood Sugar Issues
When dogs eat sweet potatoes, it can cause their blood sugar to spike. As such, if your dogs are diabetic, do seek advice from your veterinarian before giving your dog any sweet potatoes or incorporating these into their diet. You may also like our article on the best food for diabetic dogs.
Sweet Potatoes Are Only Healthy in Small Amounts
While Vitamin A is essential to many healthy functions around the body, helping to fight infections and bacteria, too much Vitamin A can lead to poisoning. If you’re only giving your dogs sweet potato as a treat, it’s unlikely you’ll need to worry about this. However, if you’re after adding these potatoes to their daily diet, it’s worth removing the potato skins, to reduce the risk of poisoning.
How to Feed Sweet Potato to Your Dog
Dehydrated sweet potatoes make for an amazing chew treat. Indeed, sweet potato chews are one of the best treats you can give, and are surprisingly simple to make. Cut up your sweet potato into french fries. Or, with large sweet potatoes, make discs to turn them into dog-friendly potato chips.
These healthy sweet potato fries can then be added to a dehydrator. However, if you don’t have one of these, just add sweet potato to the oven at 135F for 6-8 hours. Less time makes them chewier, so cook them to your own preferences. Once cooked, allow to cool and feed the french fries to your dog!
Q: How much sweet potato is too much sweet potato, for dogs?
A: Many people want to know how much is too much, alongside whether a dog can eat sweet potato. But, of course, the answer comes down to many, different things. Toy breeds should have no more than a quarter or half ounce per serving, while larger dogs can have up to two ounces per serving.
Q: Is sweet potato good for dogs?
A: The humble sweet potato offers many nutritional benefits to both humans and dogs. When dogs eat potatoes, they can enjoy the natural sweetness that comes with these root vegetables. Of course, this all depends on how they’re served.
Generally speaking, when feeding your dog sweet potato, you should avoid seasonings and oils. We provide you with some simple, easy and tasty recipes below, which allows your dog to enjoy the full range of health benefits that sweet potatoes offer.
Q: Can dogs eat raw sweet potatoes?
A: When setting aside sweet potatoes for dogs, it’s important that you only ever feed your dogs cooked sweet potato. Raw sweet potato is not only difficult to chew, and may even be a choking hazard, but they are also incredibly difficult for your dog to digest and are bad for their digestive health. Thus, the risks of feeding your dog raw sweet potatoes include digestive upset and, in some cases, creating an intestinal blockage.