Sweet potatoes have been called a “super food” because of the health benefits they offer. However, they were also linked to dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs in the FDA’s original investigation of grain free dog foods in 2018. Can dogs eat sweet potatoes? Are they safe?
Sweet Potato Nutrition
Sweet potatoes are considered to be one of the most nutritious vegetables in the world. It’s little wonder that some dog food manufacturers would add them to their foods, especially grain free dog foods where they provide carbohydrates, fiber, and nutrients.
Sweet potatoes are not related to potatoes.
One large sweet potato (180 grams), baked in its skin, without salt, has the following nutrients: 93 percent carbohydrates, 1 percent fat, 6 percent protein. It’s a very good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and manganese and a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin B6, and potassium.
One large sweet potato (baked) has 162 calories, 37.3 grams of carbohydrates, 0.3 grams of fat, 5.9 grams of dietary fiber, and 3.6 grams of protein.
It’s extremely high in vitamin A and high in vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, and pantothenic acid. It’s also high in magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, and manganese.
Sweet potatoes are a great source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They are good for gut health. Their beta-carotene is good for vision. And they may promote brain health and support the immune system. They are also full of antioxidants.
Like pumpkin, they are a great source of fiber. Dogs that have problems with diarrhea or constipation can often benefit from eating some sweet potato.
Sweet potatoes can lose some of their health benefits if you load them up with butter, sugar, or other condiments.
Can Dogs Have Sweet Potatoes?
Yes, dogs can eat sweet potatoes.
Although sweet potatoes were an early suspect in some of the grain free dog foods that were being investigated by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration in relation to DCM, subsequent testing appears to have largely cleared them (and potatoes) of a connection to the heart problems experienced by some dogs. Most of the ongoing research into DCM and dog foods is focused on peas, lentils, and legumes.
Sweet potatoes can be a good way to add a healthy dietary fiber to your dog’s diet. Since they are a whole food, they are less likely to evoke an immune response in a dog or harm the digestive tract.
However, if your dog is diabetic or overweight, you should use caution. Sweet potatoes are very high in carbohydrates. They are high on the glycemic index. Starches make up 53 percent of the carb content; simple sugars such as glucose, fructose, and maltose make up 32 percent of the carb content. They can spike the blood sugar level, though it can depend on the variety. The fiber in sweet potatoes can slow the sugar spikes but it’s best to use caution. Talk to your veterinarian before giving your dog any sweet potatoes if he has diabetes or if he’s overweight.
For most dogs, sweet potatoes can be an enjoyable treat or a nice addition to the diet occasionally.
How Many Sweet Potatoes Can You Give Your Dog?
Sweet potatoes are low in calories and fat but high in carbohydrates. Eating a small amount can make your dog feel full. One-half cup of sweet potatoes from a baked sweet potato contains about 90 calories. This would be plenty of sweet potatoes for a small dog. One cup (180 calories) would be sufficient for a large dog.
Can Dogs Eat Sweet Potato Fries?
Yes, but it’s better for your dog if they are not deep-fried in oil. Baked sweet potato fries are a healthier option. Omit the salt if you are making the sweet potato fries yourself.
Chips made from sweet potatoes are not usually a very healthy treat for your dog, especially if they are commercially made. That’s because they are high in salt and deep-fried. Sweet potato chips made at home could be a little healthier but there are better ways for your dog to enjoy sweet potatoes.
There are many ways you can share sweet potatoes with your dog. Baked sweet potatoes with the skins are a good treat for your dog. Unlike white potatoes, it can be difficult to peel the skins from sweet potatoes (or to chop sweet potatoes, for that matter). If you want to cook sweet potatoes in pieces with the skins attached, your dog should not have any problem eating them.
You can also mash sweet potatoes or microwave them. They also make a good treat for your dog if you dehydrate them and make them chewy.
It’s best not to give your dog raw sweet potatoes. Raw sweet potatoes are very hard. Even if your dog succeeds in chewing one, the hard pieces can cause an intestinal blockage. Eating a sweet potato raw also isn’t the tastiest way to eat one, even for dogs.
You can also buy canned sweet potatoes at the supermarket but they may contain preservatives, sweeteners, salt, and artificial ingredients that make them less desirable for your dog. If you buy canned sweet potatoes, read the label and make sure they don’t contain xylitol which is poisonous to dogs. Some nutrients in the sweet potatoes can be lost during the canning process so this is not the best way to give your dog sweet potatoes.
Be aware that canned yams, often sold in grocery stores, are not the same as sweet potatoes. Dogs can eat yams but if you want to give them to your dog, it’s best to look for fresh yams in the produce section.
How Often Can You Give Your Dog Sweet Potatoes?
As long as your dog doesn’t have a problem with diabetes or being overweight, you can add sweet potatoes to his diet once or twice per week, in moderation.
Most dogs really enjoy sweet potatoes. They also happen to be extremely nutritious. Their dietary fiber and nutrients can make them a good addition to a dog’s diet as long as he isn’t diabetic or overweight. If you have concerns about adding sweet potatoes to your dog’s diet, talk to your veterinarian.