Can Dogs Eat Sweet Potatoes?

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As the holiday season approaches, you may be busy working on figuring out the menus for your festive feasts. From main dishes like roasted chicken and brisket to desserts like cinnamon apple cake and Christmas cookies, you want to find some delicious dishes the whole family can enjoy, but what about the pets? What can dogs eat? Can dogs have sweet potatoes or other vegetables?

Luckily, while dogs can’t have holiday staples like ham or anything too rich, seasoned, or fatty, they can safely eat cooked sweet potato and benefit from its nutrients. Your dog may even enjoy the taste of sweet potato, so you can feed it to them as a treat all year round. 

In this article, we will take a look at the nutritional benefits of sweet potatoes, some risks of feeding sweet potatoes to your dog, how much sweet potato dogs can have, how to safely feed your dog sweet potato, and more. Read through the entire blog post for an in-depth overview or use the links below to jump to a section that catches your eye.

Are Sweet Potatoes Good For Dogs?

Health benefits of sweet potatoes for dogs

For dogs, eating sweet potatoes comes with many benefits. Not only can dogs eat sweet potatoes, but sweet potatoes are also healthy for dogs in many ways. First and foremost, sweet potatoes contain many essential vitamins and minerals that are food for dogs, some of which include:

  • Vitamin A: Vitamin A, also known as retinol, has a variety of important functions. It supports the normal functioning of your dog’s immune system and is responsible for cell growth and good vision. 
  • Vitamin B: B vitamins are vital to your dog’s health and wellbeing. In particular, sweet potatoes have high levels of vitamin B6, which regulates hormones, generates glucose, and helps red blood cells function. 
  • Vitamin C: Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant. It helps your dog reduce inflammation and slow down cognitive aging. It also protects their cells from free radicals, molecules that are connected to life-threatening conditions such as cancer and heart disease. 
  • Calcium: Calcium is a mineral closely associated with healthy bones. Other than giving your dog’s bones the structure and hardness they need, it plays a key role in blood clotting and regulating blood flow. 
  • Iron: A lack of iron can lead to fatigue and anemia as the body doesn’t have enough red blood cells to transport oxygen. Your dog needs iron to grow and develop. 
  • Magnesium: Magnesium supports the functioning of your dog’s nerves and muscles. Magnesium deficiency in dogs can cause trembling muscles, muscle pain, and abnormal heart rhythms.
  • Potassium: Potassium allows your dog’s cells to maintain normal fluid levels. It is a type of electrolyte.

In addition to these nutrients, sweet potatoes are also a great source of dietary fiber. Fiber is crucial to your dog’s digestive health, and getting enough fiber reduces the risk of developing certain diseases like diabetes and colon cancer. Because of their fiber content, sweet potatoes are a popular carbohydrate in many commercial dog foods.1 

Lastly, sweet potatoes are low in fat, with its fat accounting for only 7 percent of its calories in a serving.2 Treats with high fat content are unhealthy for dogs. Eating too much fat can lead to pancreatitis in dogs. Is sweet potato good for dogs? Generally, the answer is yes.

Risks Of Eating Sweet Potatoes For Dogs

If your dog seems to have an intestinal blockage, seem immediate veterinary attention

Although sweet potatoes are considered to be healthy for dogs, eating sweet potatoes can still come with certain risks. Adding a new food into your dog’s diet can be tricky as it comes with the possibility of upsetting their stomach. When you feed your dog something new, always take it slow and feed a little at a time. After your dog gets a taste of their new treat, always look for signs of an upset stomach. This can include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Pacing
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Drinking less water
  • Excessive licking of lips
  • Changes in mood

Unlike raw white potatoes, which are a part of the nightshade family of vegetables, raw sweet potatoes are technically non-toxic to dogs. However, because of how hard and difficult to chew they are, you should refrain from feeding them to your dog. Especially if your dog swallows a whole chunk, uncooked sweet potato could quickly become a choking hazard and even lead to intestinal blockages. 

Intestinal blockages are an emergency that can require immediate surgery. A piece of raw sweet potato lodged in your dog’s intestines or stomach can prevent other fluids and solids from passing and even restrict blood flow.3 Contact a vet immediately if you suspect an intestinal blockage. For the same reason, sweet potato peels are not recommended either. 

How Much Sweet Potato Can Dogs Have?

Treats should make up no more than 10% of your dog’s daily caloric intake

Moderation is key when it comes to feeding your dog sweet potato. While “can dogs eat sweet potatoes?” can be answered with a resounding yes, it is important to remember that your dog benefits the most from food made especially for them. 

Commercial dog food is carefully tested and designed to be complete and well balanced for your pup. With instruction from a canine nutritionist or a veterinarian, you can also make healthy food for your dog at home. If your dog fills up on snacks like sweet potatoes, however, they will not have enough appetite to eat the food that benefits them the most.

As a general rule of thumb, any snacks your dog eats should not exceed 10 percent of their daily caloric intake.4 Carbohydrates, in particular, should never be your dog’s main source of calories, no matter how nutritious they are. Speak with a veterinarian if you want to make sure you are feeding your dog the right amount of sweet potato. 

How To Safely Feed Your Dog Sweet Potato

It’s always best to exercise caution when feeding your dog sweet potato. You want to make sure that it doesn’t upset their stomach but also that they enjoy the taste. Here are some tips on how to safely feed your dog sweet potato.

  • Start small: Start by feeding your dog a small amount of sweet potato. Too much at once has the potential to not sit right with their stomach.
  • Properly prepare the sweet potato: Make sure to cook the sweet potato until it is fork tender at the very least and remember to not add any seasoning or oil. While salt, pepper, garlic, onion, butter, and sugar are tasty to humans, they can be detrimental to the health of your dog.
  • Cut into chunks: After cooking the sweet potato, it is important to cut it into small bite-sized pieces. This can avoid your pup from scarfing it down. 
  • See how your dog reacts: Observe how your dog reacts immediately after eating sweet potato but also after they’ve had time to digest it. Do they like eating sweet potatoes? Is it affecting how they feel? 
  • Keep track of how much sweet potato you’ve fed your dog: You never want to get carried away when feeding your dog sweet potatoes. No matter how much they beg and plead, it’s important to put your foot down for their health. 

Other Vegetables Safe For Dogs

Other than sweet potato, there are a range of vegetables your dog can safely eat. Unlike cats that are carnivores, dogs are omnivores that can benefit more from vegetables. Having a vegetable tasting test with your dog can be a fun bonding activity. It can also help you learn what foods your dog likes. Just make sure they are eating vegetables that are non-toxic to dogs. 

Brussel Sprouts

Brussel sprouts are packed with vitamins C and K. As a cruciferous vegetable, its crunchy texture can also entice your pup. However, beware that they can cause a lot of gas due to their fructose content.

Celery

Another crunchy vegetable, celery can reduce inflammation and act as a great source of hydration for your dog. Not only does it have high levels of vitamins A, B, and C, but chewing on some celery can also freshen your dog’s breath.

Carrots

Carrots are known to improve eye health and many dogs love their taste. If you look at the ingredients list of commercial dog foods, you are sure to find carrots a handful of times. 

Peas

Peas, including snow peas and English peas, are safe for dogs to eat. They are small but mighty, with high levels of protein and fiber. They are also easily portion controlled, so you never have to worry about feeding your dog too many. 

Can Dogs Eat Sweet Potatoes?: FAQs

Can dogs have raw sweet potatoes?

While raw sweet potatoes are technically safe for dogs to eat, you should still avoid feeding them to your dog. They can be very hard to chew and swallow for your dog and this can cause many problems. They can be choking hazards and even cause a bowel obstruction, which is an emergency, life-threatening issue. 

Can dogs eat sweet potato peel?

To prevent your dog from choking, it’s best to not feed them sweet potato peel.

Can dogs eat sweet potato fries?

Sweet potato fries have been deep fried and submerged in oil. They are too oily for your dog to safely consume, not to mention they may be overly salted. Oily foods can cause pancreatitis in dogs, which is an inflammation of the pancreas. 

Dog eating out of a dog bowl on the floor

Final Notes

Can dogs have sweet potatoes? Yes, but not in all of its forms. In general, cooked, unseasoned sweet potatoes are considered to be very healthy for dogs. They include many key vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A and C and potassium and magnesium. However, remember to always start small and see if your pup reacts positively to sweet potatoes.As pet parents, it is our responsibility to make sure our dogs enjoy treats in moderation and avoid anything dogs shouldn’t eat

If you have more questions on dog nutrition, speak with a Dutch vet. Dutch provides accessible, high-quality online vet care that pet parents can rely on. With licensed veterinarians, Dutch truly gets to know your pet to diagnose their symptoms and create a customized treatment plan just for them. Try Dutch today. 

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References

  1. Anastasio, Alexandra. "Can Dogs Eat Sweet Potatoes?" American Kennel Club, 17 Nov. 2021, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/nutrition/can-dogs-eat-sweet-potatoes/.

  2. "Do Sweet Potatoes Help or Hinder Weight Loss?" Healthline, 10 Jun. 2021, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/sweet-potato-weight-loss.

  3. Gibson, Thomas G. "Gastrointestinal Obstruction in Small Animals." Merck Veterinary Manual, Oct 2022, https://www.merckvetmanual.com/digestive-system/diseases-of-the-stomach-and-intestines-in-small-animals/gastrointestinal-obstruction-in-small-animals.

  4. Burke, Anna. "How Many Treats Can Your Dog Really Have?" American Kennel Club, 30 Aug. 2021, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/nutrition/how-many-treats-can-dog-have/.

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