Sweet potatoes almost reach the status of a super-food because they are so good for you.
So it may be natural to think that you can extend the many benefits of this widely available vegetable to your dog. But can dogs eat sweet potatoes?
Sweet potato is great for your dog. It has many health benefits, and can provide a healthy chew toy for your dog too (but it needs to be cooked, see below).
Not to be confused with yams, sweet potatoes have been around for over 5,000 years. They are a good source of fibre, vitamins and minerals.
The Benefits of Sweet Potato
Sweet potatoes are packed with vitamins and minerals and are a rich source of beta-carotene. Beta-Carotene is a powerful antioxidant that is thought to help reduce the risk of certain cancers and protect against heart disease.
As well as beta-carotene that converts to vitamin A in the body, sweet potatoes also contain good amounts of vitamin C and B6.
Not only that, they pack a powerful punch when it comes to providing minerals. Sweet potatoes are packed with potassium, copper, manganese, magnesium and zinc. In fact sweet potatoes contain over 15 minerals in their compact tubers.
Sounds too good to be true? It gets better, sweet potatoes are low in fat and high in fibre making them a good choice as additional treats for your dog.
The risks of Sweet Potato
The good news is there are very few risks in giving your dog sweet potato. As with any food, if your dog have never had it before introduce new foods like sweet potatoes slowly.
For a large dog think about introducing sweet potato into their diet a tablespoon at a time and for a small dog, a teaspoon at a time.
Despite the many benefits of sweet potato, they still contain a lot of starch. If you feed sweet potato to your dog then think of it as extra calories and compensate.
Although the skins of sweet potato contain a lot of the nutrients, never give your dog the skin if it looks damaged, wet or mouldy. Mould can be extremely toxic. Our basic rule of thumb is that if you wouldn’t eat it, then your dog shouldn’t eat it either!
Always cook sweet potatoes before giving them to your dog. If you grow them at home then be aware that the plants and leaves can be toxic if eaten in quantity. So keep an eye on your dogs if they enjoy gardening with you!
Sweet potatoes versus white potatoes
If you’ve never bought sweet potatoes before you may be tempted to substitute white potatoes instead because they are cheaper.
Although dogs can eat white potatoes (cooked only) they don’t have nearly as much nutritional value as sweet potatoes or other fruit and vegetables.
Unlike sweet potatoes, white potatoes may also adversely affect the blood sugar levels of your dog because they have a relatively high glycemic index. This can lead to problems such as diabetes and obesity.
So, can dogs eat sweet potatoes?
Yes they can. As with anything, moderation is the key. Despite sweet potatoes being powerhouses of vitamins and minerals a balanced diet is the best way forward for your dog.
Do remember that any food you add to your dog’s normal diet has a calorific value. With this in mind, it may not be the best choice if your dog needs to watch their weight.
However if your dog is a healthy size and you want to give them a treat or supplement their diet with some fruit and vegetables then sweet potato is a good option.
Why not try some of these great recipes and let us know how your dog gets on.
Sweet Potato dog chew
- 1 Large Sweet Potato, washed & dried
- Preheat oven to 250° F
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Cut off one side of the sweet potato lengthwise, as close to the edge as possible. Cutting the side of the potato first allows you to then turn the potato onto this flat surface that you have just created. Having a stable area to rest the potato will make it easier to cut the potato into slices. Don’t discard that first piece, it comes out just as yummy as the rest!
- Cut the rest of the potato into 1/3″ slices, no smaller than 1/4″.
- Place them on the prepared baking sheet.
- Bake for 3 hours, turning half way through.
- Cool completely on a wire rack.
Storing – Although these treats are dried, you will want to keep them in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. You can freeze them for up to 4 months.
- 1 sweet potato
- 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 2 eggs
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Prick sweet potato several times with a fork.
- Heat sweet potato in a microwave on high until tender, about 6 minutes. Cut potato in half and scoop flesh out of the skin into a bowl; discard skin. Mash potato with a fork or potato masher and transfer about 1 cup to a large bowl. Save any remaining sweet potato for another use.
- Mix whole wheat flour, applesauce, and eggs in the large bowl with the sweet potato until a dough forms. Turn dough out on a well-floured surface and roll dough to about 1/2-inch thick. Cut out shapes using a cookie cutter or cut dough into strips with a pizza cutter. Arrange cookies on an ungreased baking sheet.
- Bake until crisp, 35 to 45 minutes. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes before removing to cool completely on a wire rack.
- 5 oz container sweet potato baby food
- 3/4 cup + 1 Tbsp gluten-free flour*
- 1/4 cup rolled oats
- 1 Tbsp honey
- 1 large egg, beaten
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine sweet potato baby food, flour, rolled oats and honey. Use a sturdy spatula to combine everything together. Dump contents to a lightly floured working surface and knead dough together.
- Pat or roll dough to a thickness of about 1/4 to 1/2-inch. Use desired cookie cutters to punch of shapes. Stick to one or two similar sized shapes to ensure even baking.
- Place cutouts on prepared baking sheet. Lightly brush the tops of cutouts with beaten egg wash.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes until biscuits are crisp and golden in color. Rotate pan midway through baking. Let treats cool in pan before treating your dog.
Note: If your dog has no wheat/gluten allergies, you can use all-purpose flour or whole-wheat flour. Make sure sweet potato baby food is free of salt.
Are sweet potatoes and yams the same thing?
No! Yams and sweet potatoes are different vegetables. They come from different plants and originate from different countries.
Sweet potatoes are believed to come from central America whereas yams originated from Africa. They are also come from completely different plant families. The sweet potato is part of the Morning glory (Convolvulaceae) plant family while the yam is part of Dioscorea plant family.
Sweet potatoes generally have smooth skin and tapered ends whereas a yam has rough, scaly dark skin and is cylindrical.
Most of the vegetables that we see in the UK and USA are actually sweet potatoes despite there being some confusion as what the difference is.
Can I feed my dog sweet potato?
Yes you can. As with any ‘human’ food, it should always be given in moderation. Just like us, our dogs can react badly to certain types of food so it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
If you have a large dog then introduce it a tablespoon full at a time and if you have a small dog then introduce it a teaspoon full at a time.
Is sweet potato safe for dogs?
Yes, if it’s cooked. The main thing to remember is to not feed your dog any sweet potato if the skin does not look healthy. Sweet potatoes can develop mould on the skin that is toxic. If the skin looks damaged or unhealthy in any way then don’t eat and don’t feed it to your dog.
Also keep your dogs away from potato plants. The leaves and stalks are also toxic, this is especially true for white potatoes that come from the nightshade family. So if you do grow potato varieties at home then keep your dog away to prevent any problems.