Sweet potatoes are a staple in American diets. It’s a form of healthy carb that is used in savory dishes, baked on its own, or even puréed for desserts. In fact, you might have also seen sweet potato as an ingredient in some dog foods.
But is it really beneficial for your dog or simply used to increase a product appeal? Let’s find out.
Are Sweet Potatoes Beneficial in a Dog’s Diet?
Yes, sweet potatoes can be extremely beneficial for your dog. In fact, they’re often called "superfoods" because of their great nutritional content. They’re packed with nutrients, vitamins, and minerals which can make them a wholesome supplement for your dog.
Below we’ve discussed the top 5 potential health benefits of adding sweet potatoes to a dog’s diet.
1. Improves Gastrointestinal Health
Sweet potatoes contain a mix of both soluble and insoluble fiber. Hence they can help support the dog’s digestive health by promoting regular and healthy bowel movements. By adding sweet potatoes as a supplement to your dog's diet you can help reduce the chances of occasional constipation and diarrhea.
Furthermore, the soluble fiber present in sweet potatoes may also help in lowering cholesterol and balancing blood glucose levels.
2. Rich in Beta-Carotene
Beta-Carotene is an antioxidant that converts into vitamin A in your dog’s body. It’s an important building block for your dog's immune system and can also help protect against heart diseases.
But it isn’t produced by the dog’s body, it must be ingested through supplements in the diet or else your dog can suffer beta-carotene or vitamin A deficiency that can cause night blindness, poor skin quality, hairless patches, and abnormal bone and teeth development.
Sweet potato is one such food item that’s rich in beta-carotene. In fact, it is what gives sweet potatoes their unique orange or deep yellow color. Adding it as a supplement to your dog's diet can improve their overall well-being.
Vitamin A can support nearly every organ from the skeletal system to the reproductive system in your dog's body. It can help improve your dog’s vision, skin health, cell function, muscle strength, and power their immune response.
3. Loaded With Vitamins
Sweet potatoes are loaded with vitamins including vitamin C which is a powerful antioxidant, it’s known to protect your dog against cellular damage from free radicals. It can also promote immune health and help fight allergies.
The anti-inflammatory property of antioxidants can also help relieve dry and itchy eyes. If you have a senior dog, antioxidants can help reduce cognitive aging problems.
Apart from this, sweet potatoes also contain vitamin B6 which can help support healthy red blood cell function and provides support for glucose generation.
4. Good Source of Minerals
Minerals are an essential type of nutrients that are required for the proper development and function of your dog’s body. Although the dog food you feed your dog may contain all the essential minerals, you might need to add a supplement to ensure your dog receives the required daily dietary intake.
Sweet potato is a great source of minerals as it contains potassium, manganese, magnesium, calcium, iron, and zinc.
All these minerals have separate yet crucial functions, for example, calcium supports strong bone growth, healthy teeth, and muscle growth, potassium keeps a dog’s kidneys functioning well and supports efficient heart function, and iron supports red blood cell and hemoglobin formation.
5. Helps in Weight Loss
Sweet potatoes contain a low amount of fat and calories. You can feed it to your dog without worrying about weight gain. If your dog is already overweight, the high fiber content of sweet potatoes can increase a feeling of fullness and aid in their weight loss journey.
Sweet Potato vs Yam
From a nutritional standpoint, these two vegetables possess insignificant differences. They’ll offer the same health benefits to your dog. But whichever one you choose, make sure to boil or bake them properly before feeding. Their raw form is too fibrous and quite hard to chew and digest for a dog.
You can easily distinguish them as yams have a rough and dark brown skin similar to a tree bark whereas sweet potatoes have smooth reddish skin. Yam is dry and starchy like a regular white potato, whereas sweet potatoes have a softer flesh (when cooked) and a sweet flavor.
How to Prepare Sweet Potatoes for Dogs?
Sweet potato is a quite versatile vegetable. You can cook them in a variety of ways but which ones are safe for a dog?
Raw Sweet Potatoes
Raw sweet potatoes can be hard to chew and digest for a dog, especially puppies. They’re also too fibrous in raw form. Hence it’s always recommended to only feed well-cooked sweet potatoes to your dog.
Another thing to note is that eating large amounts of raw sweet potatoes can cause a build-up in their digestive system leading to an intestinal blockage or a gastrointestinal obstruction.
Canned Sweet Potatoes
Most canned products contain added sweeteners and artificial ingredients or flavors which can be toxic to your dog's health. You can buy organic and unsweetened canned sweet potatoes for your dog as they don’t contain any other ingredients. But also note that some nutrients are lost in the canning process.
Baked Sweet Potatoes
You can feed baked sweet potatoes to your dog as they are soft and easy to chew and digest. But remember to not add any additional seasoning or spices including salt, butter, pepper, or sugar. These ingredients can be toxic to your dog’s health.
Fried Sweet Potatoes
Fried sweet potato chips or fries are unhealthy and in some cases toxic for a dog. These contain unhealthy fats that can lead to pancreatitis if eaten in large quantities. It can also lead to excessive weight gain and many other health issues.
Boiled Sweet Potatoes
Boiling is one of the best and healthiest ways to feed sweet potatoes to your dog. Start by removing the sweet potato skins with a vegetable peeler then chop the sweet potato into chunks and add them to a pot of boiling water.
Allow them to boil until they become fork-tender and avoid adding any salt or other species. You can feed these small pieces as a treat or mix them with their daily meal.
Also, make sure you allow the sweet potatoes to cool down completely before serving them to your dog.
Dehydrated Sweet Potatoes
Dehydrated sweet potatoes are a great snack for your dog. But if you want to make them at home, you’ll need at least 7-8 hours. You can use a dehydrator or an oven to make these delicious treats.
To make these in an oven, start by preheating the oven to 200F. Then place sliced sweet potatoes on a baking sheet and bake them for 3 hours on each side. Once they are dehydrated you can store them in an airtight container.
How Much Sweet Potato Should You Feed Your Dog?
Moderation is the key when you serve sweet potatoes to your dog. The exact amount you can feed your dog depends on the dog’s size, age, weight, and overall health. But ideally, it shouldn’t increase the maximum of 10% of your dog’s daily calorie intake.
You can feed boiled or baked sweet potato on its own as a treat once or twice a week or mix it in with their regularly scheduled meals.
If your dog refuses to eat homemade sweet potatoes or you cannot find time to boil or bake them at home, you can buy dog food that already contains sweet potatoes.
Considerations While Feeding Sweet Potatoes to Your Dog
While sweet potatoes are a great addition, you should take some precautions while introducing them to your dog’s diet.
There’s no way of knowing how your dog will react to a certain type of food. Hence you should start with a small amount (around a teaspoon) and feed them once a week. Monitor their health for 2-3 days. If there’s nothing unusual you can continue to feed them the recommended amount.
Feed The Right Amount
Too much of any fruit or vegetable can have a bad effect on your dog's health. Sweet potatoes are nutritious but they are also rich in carbohydrates, if eaten in excess they can lead to weight gain or cause a spike in blood sugar levels.
Plus the rich fiber content of sweet potatoes can cause vomiting, upset stomach, or constipation if taken in large quantities.
Hence sweet potatoes need to be served as an occasional treat. Your dog's diet should start with a complete and balanced meal for their life stage and can then be supplemented with healthy treats like sweet potatoes.
Consider Your Dog’s Health
Sweet potatoes contain a high amount of starch and are considered a medium glycemic load vegetable. Thus it quickly changes to sugar and can increase the blood sugar levels of your dog. So if your dog suffers from diabetes, you should feed them sweet potatoes only as an occasional treat.
If your dog is suffering from any pre-existing health conditions, consult a veterinarian before adding sweet potatoes to their diet.
Can Your Dog be Allergic to Sweet Potatoes?
It’s uncommon for a dog to have an allergic reaction to sweet potatoes. It’s a whole food, therefore your dog is less likely to have an immune response or a sensitivity to them.
But if you’re introducing new food to your dog’s diet, you should monitor their health and reaction. If there’s an allergic reaction, you might notice inflammation or itchy skin. In such cases, consult a veterinarian for further instructions.
Sweet potatoes are a delicious and healthy supplement for your dog. Their fiber content helps improve digestive health and the vitamin content helps strengthen the immune system. Furthermore, they are a great source of minerals as they contain potassium, manganese, magnesium, calcium, iron, and zinc.
Simply boil or bake sweet potatoes (without the skin) and feed them as a treat in between meals or mix it with their regular meal to make it even more fulfilling for your dog.
If you have any further questions, you can consult your veterinarian before feeding sweet potatoes to your dog.
1. Can I feed sweet potatoes to my dog every day?
No, you shouldn’t feed home-cooked sweet potatoes every day. It’s a supplement that can be considered a treat and should be served in moderation. It would be ideal to feed your dog sweet potatoes once or twice a week only. But you can feed a complete and balanced dog food that contains sweet potatoes daily.
2. Can a dog eat sweet potatoes with skins?
Sweet potato skin is nontoxic for a dog but it can be hard to chew and digest and if eaten in large chunks it can cause a choking hazard. Hence you should always peel the skin before feeding it to your dog.
3. Can a dog eat sweet potato fries?
No, you shouldn’t feed sweet potato fries to your dog. It contains salts, sugar, and many other unhealthy fats that aren’t safe for your dog and can cause an upset stomach or other health problems.
4. Can a dog eat raw sweet potatoes?
No, you shouldn’t feed raw sweet potatoes to your dog. It is too fibrous for your dog and can be hard to chew and digest. Large quantities of raw sweet potato can even cause a build-up in their digestive system leading to an intestinal blockage or a gastrointestinal obstruction.
You should always boil, bake, or dehydrate sweet potatoes before feeding them to your dog.
5. Can a dog eat sweet potato chips?
Sweet potato chips are fried and contain additional ingredients like salts, sugars, and other unhealthy fats. All of which aren’t safe for your dog and can cause an upset stomach or other health problems.
6. Can a dog eat cooked sweet potatoes?
Yes, you can cook sweet potatoes by boiling or baking to feed your dog. Remember to not add any salt or butter during cooking as they can be toxic for your dog’s health.
7. Can I feed my dog sweet potatoes if they suffer from diabetes?
Sweet potatoes are full of carbohydrates that can spike a dog’s insulin level. Although you can feed it to them in small quantities, you’ll still have to be cautious and monitor their health.
It would be best that you consult a veterinarian before making any changes to your dog’s diet.
8. Can a dog eat sweet potatoes for diarrhea?
Yes, sweet potatoes contain a mix of both soluble fiber and insoluble fiber that can help with diarrhea and constipation.
But if your dog is suffering from severe diarrhea, you should consult a veterinarian.