Be it in the form of fries or as part of a Sunday roast, you might already be a fan of this tasty and healthy root vegetable. But is sweet potato equally as tasty and healthy to dogs? Can it safely be included in their diet, or is it best avoided? If you’ve ever wondered, “Can my dog eat sweet potato?” you’ll be glad to know they can. Here’s our guide to the benefits of sweet potato for dogs.
Can my dog eat sweet potato?
It’s a resounding yes! Pooches can definitely eat sweet potato. Unlike chocolate, garlic, onions and a bunch of other human foods, sweet potato isn’t toxic to dogs – as long as you prepare it correctly.
In fact, this tasty root vegetable is a popular ingredient in many dog foods, especially those that cater to dogs with allergies. It’s also one of the best healthy, natural dog treats. There are tonnes of nutritional benefits to sweet potatoes, which we’ll get into below.
What are the benefits of sweet potato for dogs?
Where do we begin? We know sweet potato is a bit of a superfood for us humans. But it also has a lot to offer our puppers. Here are just some of the benefits of sweet potato for dogs.
It contains a good dose of fibre
Sweet potatoes are among the highest-fibre vegetables, and fibre is pretty crucial for good digestion. It helps everything work as it should and keeps your doggo regular. Naturally, this means it can be beneficial if they’re suffering from constipation.
But there’s another reason why fibre is a fantastic addition to your pooch’s diet. It can actually lower your dog’s risk of contracting heart disease and even some cancers.
It’s packed with antioxidants
That bright orange colour that’s so characteristic of sweet potato? It’s all due to a powerful antioxidant known as beta carotene. (This antioxidant is also found in carrots, red and yellow capsicum, and pumpkin, among many other vegetables.) Beta carotene can protect against some cancers and heart disease, plus it’s good for your dog’s vision, skin, teeth, and bones.
If you prefer purple sweet potatoes, you’ll be glad to know there are antioxidants in those, too. They’re actually a great source of anthocyanin pigments, the antioxidants that give purple foods (grapes, blueberries, red cabbage) their colour. These antioxidants can reduce inflammation and provide some immunity-boosting properties.
As well as vitamins and minerals
Sweet potatoes are one of the best sources of vitamin A, which is what beta carotene converts to once it enters your dog’s body. They also contain vitamin B6, vitamin C, iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium. Phew!
Needless to say, all of these are beneficial to your doggo’s health, particularly their immune system, digestive system, nervous system, brain, bones, blood, and more. So, basically their entire body!
Are there any risks to feeding my dog sweet potato?
Sweet potato is generally a great snack for dogs. But like any treat, it comes with a few precautions.
Stick to plain sweet potato
If you plan to give your dog some sweet potato, keep it simple. You can boil it, steam it, or bake it, but avoid adding salt, oil, butter, or other flavourings. This minimises the chance of your dog ingesting too much fat or sodium – neither of which are good for their health. As well, it means there’s no risk of contaminating the sweet potato with potentially toxic ingredients, like garlic and onion.
Canned sweet potato can also be a bit iffy. Many products contain added sugar (which dogs definitely shouldn’t eat much of) or even artificial sweeteners, which can be toxic to dogs.
Don’t feed it raw
It might already go without saying (the thought of eating raw sweet potato isn’t a particularly tantalising one) but you should always cook sweet potato before feeding it to your dog.
When raw, sweet potato is pretty tricky to chew. Even if your dog manages to wolf some down, it can cause tummy problems like stomach ache or general upset. If your dog eats large chunks of raw potato, it has the additional risk of becoming a choking hazard.
Remove the skin
Before preparing sweet potato for your dog, ensure you peel off the skin. It’s difficult to digest, and large pieces of it could become choking hazards if your dog doesn’t chew them properly.
Feed in moderation
Like any treat, sweet potato should only ever make up 10 percent of your dog’s energy intake. This ensures they get the right balance of the good stuff – vitamins, minerals, and nutrients – and not too much of the bad stuff.
Sweet potato in particular is very high in carbohydrates. Carbs shouldn’t make up a huge proportion of your dog’s diet. In fact, an excess of them can lead to health issues including obesity. Sweet potato is also high in vitamin A, too much of which can cause weakness of the bones and muscles.
It may not suit your dog’s dietary needs
If your doggo has an existing condition – like diabetes, obesity, or weight issues – always consult with your vet to see if sweet potato is a good addition to their diet.
Its high carb content can exacerbate existing weight problems. Plus, because sweet potato is very starchy and has a relatively high glycemic index, it can generate rapid fluctuations in blood sugar levels. This is particularly risky for diabetic dogs.
How can I feed sweet potato to my dog?
As we know, plain sweet potato is best if you want to give it to your dog as a treat. You could add a few cubes of boiled, steamed, or baked sweet potato to your doggo’s meal. Or, you could mash it up to make a smooth and tasty treat. Alternatively, if your dog is happy to eat plain sweet potato, they may like to snack on cubes straight-up.
And if your pooch isn’t a fan of sweet potato but you still want them to reap the rewards? You can rest easy knowing this is entirely possible. Many healthy dog meals use sweet potato as a key ingredient – so your dog will get all the nutritional benefits without suspecting a thing!