Sweet potatoes seem to go one of two ways: people either love them or they hate them. Their naturally sweet flavor can be enjoyable when prepared with savory ingredients that counteract the sweet or topped with cinnamon and marshmallows. Whether you like them or hate them, cook them sweet or savory, sweet potatoes are definitely good for you. If you like to spice up your dog’s diet, you’ll be happy to know your dog can get in on the healthy fun, too.
Can Your Dog Have Sweet Potatoes?
Yes, sweet potatoes are fairly good for your dog as long as you feed them in moderation. Sweet potatoes are drastically different from white potatoes despite being closely related. White potatoes have their own health benefits, but they can’t stack up to everything sweet potatoes offer. Some dog foods are using “power foods” as fillers in their foods to expand the nutritional range dogs are receiving. Cheaper dog food brands will use white potatoes as a filler, while higher quality (and more expensive) brands offer sweet potatoes for extra nutrition in the food.
Sweet potatoes are a great source of dietary fiber, helping dogs feel full while moving their digestive systems along. Many people give their overweight dogs sweet potatoes as snacks or mixed in with their food so they feel full when they start a diet. Although they’re vegetables, sweet potatoes have a very high amount of vitamin C. Vitamin C is essential for a properly functioning immune system. Older dogs need the right amount of vitamin C, especially during times of stress when their levels might be low. Research has shown that there’s a link between vitamin C and its ability to fight certain diseases like cataracts, arthritis, and glaucoma. It’s also been shown to help dogs recover more quickly from injuries and even reduce the risk of cancer.
The orange color means these types of potatoes are also rich in beta carotene, which benefits eyesight, healthy skin and fur, and the digestive system. The B6 vitamins found in this vegetable prevent certain skin conditions and nerve deterioration. It also helps form red blood cells, which are essential for nutrient and oxygen transportation.
Why Moderation of Sweet Potatoes Is Important to Dogs
Dogs aren’t designed to require vegetables in their diet, meaning their digestive systems work better when they’re given a carnivorous diet. While their dog food probably has a variety of fruits and vegetables, the bulk of the food is made up of meat. This means you don’t necessarily need to supplement your dog with additional nutrition, especially with plant-based foods. This means if your dog is eating a high quality food, you shouldn’t be giving them too many additional foods, even sweet potatoes. Despite all of their health benefits, too many at once will overwhelm your dog’s system, resulting in gastric distress.
Sweet potatoes are high in carbohydrates and sugar, both of which can lead to weight gain in dogs over a period of time. Too much in one meal will lead to vomiting or diarrhea.
Safely Feeding Sweet Potato to Dogs
Your dog is not a rodent, so handing them a piece of raw sweet potato won’t earn you any points. Most likely, your dog will give it a brief sniff and then move along. This is good because raw sweet potato can severely upset your dog’s digestion, resulting in a stomachache or diarrhea. It’s also really hard for them to chew; their teeth are designed to tear and chew meat.
Cooked is the best way to feed sweet potatoes. You can bake them, steam them, or roast them. Just ensure the ingredients you’re cooking with are safe for dogs. Remind yourself that dogs are easy to cook for. You’ve seen the random things your dog will gladly inhale, so it makes sense that you don’t need to make their meals fancy with a bunch of herbs and seasonings. Simply cooking the potatoes until they’re soft is enough to make your dog enjoy them. Just remove the skin before you feed your dog because the skins are very hard to digest.
If you like your sweet potatoes to mimic a dessert, keep the gooey toppings to yourself. Baked sweet potatoes are quite tasty, but you shouldn’t give your dog a potato drowned in butter. Dogs thrive on a low-fat diet, so giving them pats of butter can quickly lead to a painful inflammation of the pancreas.
Sweet potatoes are great as a treat or as an occasional addition to your dog’s diet. If you keep their portions small and relatively infrequent, you can be reassured that your dog will gain some health benefits from these powerful little spuds.