In an ongoing quest to give feed my Cocker Spaniel healthy treats, I pondered ‘can dogs eat sweet potatoes?’ Ironically, sweet potatoes aren’t a potato at all. My dog eats regular potatoes on occasion, so I decided to investigate whether sweet potatoes were safe for dogs to eat.
Can dogs eat sweet potatoes? Yes, as they are chockful of important nutrients including vitamins A, B6, and C along with potassium, iron, and calcium. Sweet potatoes are also a great source of fiber, according to Adam Christman, DVM, MBA, Chief Veterinary Officer for dvm360. However, Dr. Adam says there are good reasons to limit the amount of sweet potatoes your dog should consume in addition to the way they are prepared.
Sweet potatoes come from starch, so when your dog consumes one, it metabolizes into sugar in your dog’s body. If your dog has thyroid disease or diabetes, this can pose a problem. There are also ways the sweet potato should be prepared for dogs to safely consume. Whether you want to purchase sweet potatoes and make them at home or learn how to choose a healthy dog snack made from 100% sweet potatoes, we’ve got you covered.
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Can Dogs Eat Sweet Potatoes?
Yes, most dogs can eat sweet potatoes in moderation and if properly prepared. We’re learning that a whole food healthy diet is best for dogs, and part of that healthy diet includes fruits and veggies. My Cocker Spaniel eats Dr. Harvey’s whole fresh food for dogs, and both formulas he consumes contain sweet potatoes. The Dr. Harvey’s Veg-to-Bowl fine ground formula he eats with fresh ground meat for lunch contains sweet potatoes and does the new Dr. Harvey’s Healthy Weight formula he consumes for dinner.
“The closer to fresh a sweet potato can be administered to your dog (rinsed and cleaned of course), the better off they will be with receiving better nutrient profiles,” says Dr. Adam. He advises pet parents to stay away from the more processed sweet potatoes and fried variations. If mixing sweet potato into a dog’s diet, be sure you peel the skin off and steam or boil them.
You certainly don’t want to go overboard feeding sweet potatoes to a dog. Dr. Adam recommends “very mild and subtle moderation,” even as a part of a rotational diet feeding system. In this way, your dog isn’t being overfed, as sweet potatoes calories can add up quickly. A medium-sized sweet potato is about 100 calories.
Are Sweet Potatoes The Same As Yams?
During the holiday season, many people enjoy sweet potato pie or yams as a side dish. In appearance, the sweet potato has more of a reddish-brown skin while the skin of a yam resembles tree bark. Here’s where it gets even more fun: sweet potatoes are available in orange, white, and purple variations but for purposes of this article, we’ll focus on the orange variety of sweet potato.
Many times, sweet potatoes and yams are used interchangeably but they are two completely different vegetables. Both are of a root variety but yams are sweeter than sweet potatoes, ironically. Sweet potatoes are generally found on the Thanksgiving table in sweet potato pie, in a casserole, and yes, as a treat for dogs.
The orange, yellow, purple, or gold coloring of a sweet potato is due to its beta-carotene content. Beta-carotene is an antioxidant and may provide protection against heart disease. Since dogs convert beta-carotene into vitamin A, this helps with overall skin, coat, nerve, and muscle health.
What Sweet Potato Premade Treat Is Best For Dogs?
Sometimes, you just want to give your dog a sweet potato treat and not worry about cleaning, boiling, baking, or dehydrating. As a Dr. Harvey’s brand ambassador, I recommend Dr. Harvey’s Sweet Potate’r Chews. They are individually sliced, make for a nutritious and filling snack for dogs, and are grown and dried in the United States.
It is a safe alternative to giving a dog something like rawhide molded chews which are not easily digestible if at all. Rawhide is processed from the inner layer of cow or horse hides, but Dr. Harvey’s Sweet Potate’r Chews are made from 100 percent real sweet potato with no additives whatsoever.
They are high in natural fiber, easy to digest, and a good source of vitamin A for dogs, which promotes healthy eyes, skin, joints, and coat. I’m not the world’s greatest cook, so feeding my dog Dr. Harvey’s Sweet Potate’r Chews means the fire department isn’t on call should I head to the kitchen. In all seriousness, each chew clocks in at about 74 calories, so go easy on how many you feed per day. For dogs of all sizes and those who are younger, more aggressive chewers, I recommend them.
The folks at Dr. Harvey’s also recommend their Sweet Potate’r Chews if a dog has to gain weight since there are more carbs (and fiber) naturally found in them.
Disclosure: After using the line of Dr. Harvey’s products for well over 20 years, I asked them if I could become a brand ambassador since it made perfect sense. This is another commitment I make to you, our trusted readers, to be fully transparent and only share things we use and that have worked for us.
How Should I Prepare Sweet Potatoes For My Dog?
If you are more of the make-it-at-home kind of person or want to share sweet potatoes with your dog, there are specific ways to prepare them.
Steaming or boiling sweet potatoes are the two best methods of preparing them for dogs. Do not add any seasonings, as they potatoes are flavorful on their own. By steaming or boiling sweet potatoes, you aren’t roasting off the nutritional contents. Dr. Adam says the skin of sweet potatoes should be peeled off prior to preparing them for a dog.
When you cook sweet potatoes for your dog, don’t feed too many or too much at one time. The sudden addition of extra fiber can lead to gastrointestinal upset or diarrhea. Start with a teaspoon or a tablespoon and try adding it to your dog’s food. Some dog parents will allow their pooch to lick the sweet potatoes off a spoon as a taste test first. Not all dogs like the taste of sweet potatoes.
Dehydrated sweet potatoes can be purchased from Dr. Harvey’s. If you want to dehydrate your dog’s sweet potatoes at home, they can be made either chewy or crunchy, depending on your dog’s preference. After cutting slices of sweet potatoes into pieces length-wise, place them on a parchment-covered baking sheet in the oven. Pre-heat at 250°F for about three hours. Add on an additional 30 minutes for a crispier texture. Once they have completely cooled, you’ll have a better idea of the texture (crispy or chewy). A food dehydrator also comes in handy for making them at home. My personal preference is to purchase them plus they store easily in the resealable bag.
If you plan to make sweet potato treats or any type of homemade dog treats, please read our article about the safety of homemade dog treats first.
What Happens If A Dog Eats Too Many Sweet Potatoes?
Too much of a good thing is usually a bad thing, and sweet potatoes are no different. Because sweet potatoes are primarily a carbohydrate, too many can spike a dog’s insulin level. Dogs who are diabetic or have thyroid issues should not have sudden spikes in insulin. Any treat that converts to sugar or contains a lot of sugar can lead to pudgy pooches and diabetic dogs.
The USDA reports a medium-sized sweet potato packs about 23.6 grams of carbohydrates, 7.39 grams of sugar, and clocks in at about 100 or so calories. Always talk to your veterinarian before adding a new food to dog’s diet to ensure it is safe.
Can I Feed My Dog Sweet Potatoes Daily?
Because sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin A, too much of it can cause bone problems and muscle weakness in dogs.
If your dog is diabetic, petMD recommends you do not feed them potatoes since their blood sugar can spike. If sweet potatoes are given as a treat or supplement to your dog’s regular diet, treats in general should not exceed a maximum of 10 percent of your dog’s daily caloric intake.
I love to nerd out on stats and facts because they speak volumes over bunk and opinions. Did you know a single cup of cooked sweet potatoes averages six grams of fiber?! While fiber helps keep a dog regular and his bowels moving, too much can cause diarrhea and gastric issues.
Two to three times a week, we give Dexter a Dr. Harveys Sweet Potatoe’r Chew while we are sitting around at night. It gives him something healthy to chew on, he enjoys the flavor, and I feel good knowing there are no hidden ingredients in it.
Bonus: If you would like to save 10 percent off your Dr. Harvey’s order and get free shipping over $59, use my special code at checkout: FDRLUV2023.
Why Do Some People Say Sweet Potatoes Aren’t Good For Dogs?
Like everything, there are people who say sweet potatoes aren’t good for dogs. The reality is it depends on the dog, how often they are eating sweet potatoes, what pre-existing conditions they have, and how the sweet potatoes are being prepared.
Raw sweet potatoes should never be fed to a dog. Not only are they harder for a dog to digest but they can cause gastric upset and intestinal blockage. Raw sweet potatoes contain trypsin inhibitors, so doges are less likely to digest protein. Cooking, baking, or dehydrating them is the best way to prepare them if you plan to make them yourself.
Things like sweet potato pie and sweet potatoes with marshmallow are not advisable for dogs to consume. Extra carbs and sugar are never good for dogs. If you happen to grow your own sweet potatoes, make sure your dog doesn’t have access to the garden. Nosy, bored, curious, or hungry dogs may find sweet potatoes inviting. Ingesting the vine can be toxic. Skins can contain mold. Some dogs digest the skins just fine and others have gastric upset from them. Dr. Adam advises pet parents remove the skins of sweet potatoes before preparing them for dogs to eat.
Safe Feeding For Dogs
Now that you know the answer to “can dogs eat sweet potatoes,” consider checking out these other articles to help keep your dog happy and healthy.
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