Have you been munching down on some sweet potato fries or sweet potato pie during the holidays and thought hmm “can dogs eat sweet potatoes?”
Or maybe you already indulge your furry friend with an occasional sweet potato treat?
There are a lot of articles that provide some proof (or little proof) of the benefits of sweet potatoes for dogs, but few explain why and how you should feed sweet potatoes to your dog.
I’ve been feeding my dogs a species-appropriate and natural diet for over 10 years. I’ve tried almost every natural dog food product, recipe, treat or supplement you can think of.
In this post, I’m going to give you the whole story about feeding sweet potatoes to your dog and the best possible way you can do it safely with maximum benefits.
I’m also going to touch on some possible problems you must be aware of before feeding sweet potatoes to your dog.
Let’s jump right in…
What Is A Sweet Potato?
First, let’s discuss what a sweet potato is, where it comes from and how it compares to a Yam for example.
Yams are often confused with sweet potatoes. A yam will have dark bark-like skin and is dry and starchy. A sweet potato is moist, orange in color and appearance. A true yam is generally imported from the Caribbean. Sweet potatoes are almost always sweeter than a yam.
Sweet potatoes are known by a scientific name Ipomoea batatas and originated in Central or South America. Today, North Carolina is the largest producer of sweet potatoes.
Only remotely related to potatoes (and better in almost every way), this tuberous root vegetable contains minerals, the antioxidant beta-carotene, lots of fiber and is low in fat. A good nutritional food source for your dog when fed in moderation!
Can Dogs Eat Sweet Potatoes? Are they safe?
Yes, dogs can definitely eat sweet potatoes as long as you feed it in moderation.
Never feed your dog raw sweet potatoes as they can cause problems for your dog’s digestion. And if you have a dog who doesn’t chew (like my beagle), he may end up choking on it.
Sweet potatoes are rich in Vitamin A which is converted from Beta-Carotene. If you are not feeding quality food to your dog right now, chances are he isn’t getting enough Vitamin A.
Can feeding too much sweet potato become toxic to your dog?
But, if your dog is already getting enough Vitamin A from food, feeding too much of this fat-soluble vitamin can lead to problems. The reason this is important to note is that TOO MUCH vitamin A can lead to a condition called hypervitaminosis (I wrote about this regarding beef liver).
Just make sure you feed small portions of Vitamin-A-rich foods like sweet potatoes in moderation and you won’t have anything to worry about.
Also, recently there’s been a lot of talk about reports of canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs eating certain pet foods containing main ingredients of peas, lentils, legumes or potatoes. You can read the report here.
Notice the phrase “the main ingredient” as most of these highly processed kibbles and formulas use low-quality ingredients and process most of the living nutrients from the food. So feeding quality (ideally Organic) sweet potatoes on occasion is NOT something to be concerned about in my opinion.
Now let’s discuss how to prepare and feed sweet potatoes to your dog for maximum benefits.
The Benefits Of Sweet Potatoes For Dogs
- A rich source of beta-carotene – this powerful antioxidant is what gives the sweet potato its orange color. Beta-carotene converts into vitamin A and may help support your dog’s eyes, skin, coat, and immune system.
- A good source of minerals – including potassium, manganese, magnesium, calcium, iron, and zinc. Sweet potatoes are low in sodium. All of these are essential minerals for your dog’s health.
- A very good source of fiber – High in fiber and low in fat. One medium baked sweet potato has 2 grams of insoluble fiber and 2 grams of soluble fiber. Insoluble fiber helps food pass through your dog’s digestive process and soluble fiber has effects on the intestinal flora and cholesterol in your dog. Your dog gets both which is good!
Cooked sweet potato vs Raw sweet potato, which is best?
Feeding RAW sweet potato is never a good idea.
Here’s why: Your dog can’t digest raw sweet potato easily and you risk causing more serious gastrointestinal issues.
Instead, bake or boil the sweet potato before feeding it to your dog.
Can dogs eat baked sweet potatoes?
Baked sweet potatoes are perfectly ok to feed your dog. I have fed portions of my baked sweet potatoes to my dogs without issue (they love it!).
You can also boil or mash the potatoes. But only feed on occasion. Once or twice a week I bake sweet potatoes in the oven and give my dogs a small portion.
You can use a small amount of coconut oil and melt it on top of the sweet potatoes to give extra taste and incentive for your dog to try it. Plus coconut oil has extra benefits for your dog too!
Can dogs eat sweet potatoes fries?
I would stay away from feeding your dog sweet potato fries, potato chips, or even fried potato skins. The extra oils used or added salt and processed ingredients are bad for your dog (in most cases).
Can dogs eat canned sweet potatoes?
Canned sweet potatoes are one of my favorite ways to feed sweet potatoes to my dogs. It’s fast, convenient and easy to store. I buy the Farmer’s Market Organic Sweet Potato Puree and add about 3-5 tablespoons to mix with my dog’s food. This helps their digestion and adds some extra fiber to their diet!
Dogs with sensitive stomaches – sweet potatoes to the rescue!
The #1 reason I love sweet potatoes is fiber. If your dog is having digestive issues or has a sensitive stomach, the added fiber and nutrients in sweet potato (puree ideally) is very beneficial for your dog’s digestion.
Itchy dog? Feed sweet potatoes in moderation
If your dog has itchy skin or suffers from a chronic ear infection, then adding carbohydrates to your dog’s diet will only make this condition worse. This happens when your dog’s body breaks down the carbs into sugar. Because years and bad bacteria feed off of sugar, if you add too much of any carb to your dog’s diet you end up throwing off the balance of your dog’s gut flora.
To avoid this all you have to do is feed sweet potatoes in moderation. And if you start to notice your dog itching a lot, stop feeding it.
Are dehydrated sweet potatoes good for dogs?
You may want to try making your own dehydrated sweet potato treat for your dog. Here’s a great video showing you how to do that:
Conclusion – Can Dogs Eat Sweet Potatoes?
Sweet potatoes are far better than feeding white potatoes. They contain copious amounts of nutrients like beta-carotene, minerals, and lots of good fiber. But feeding in moderation is the key. Too much can cause excessive amounts of Vitamin A and throw the equilibrium of the gut flora out of balance.
Remember to never feed RAW sweet potatoes to your dog and either bake or broil sweet potatoes to feed. You may also try dehydrated or canned puree sweet potatoes as included in this article above. The puree is by far my favorite (and easiest) way to include sweet potatoes in my dog’s diet.
Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of fiber making them a very good food source to help aid a dog who is in need of better digestion to help him POOP 🙂
Now over to you, what’s your favorite way to feed your dog sweet potato?