The Benefits of Sweet Potatoes for Dogs

The Benefits of Sweet Potatoes

You’ve heard of sweet potato fries, mashed sweet potatoes, and even sweet potato pie!

On a quest to lead healthier lives, many people are replacing white potatoes with their vibrant counterpart, sweet potatoes (hold the Thanksgiving brown sugar and marshmallow edition).

But is the switch safe for all our family members?  

We need to answer the most important question yet— can dogs eat sweet potatoes?

What is a Sweet Potato? 

Sweet potatoes originated in the Americas in the 15th century, becoming a staple crop with the arrival of Christopher Columbus. In love with the taste, Columbus eventually brought the orange potato back to Spain, and by the 16th century they quickly dominated European gardens.

Yams vs Sweet Potatoes

Yams Versus Sweet Potatoes

Are sweet potatoes and yams the same vegetable?

Despite the fact that the terms sweet potatoes and yams are often used interchangeably in the states, they are actually quite different from one another.

Although both are underground tuber vegetables, yams are drier and starchier than sweet potatoes and are typically only found in specialty markets. Your everyday local grocery store likely carries sweet potatoes.

While sweet potatoes have become very popular in recent years, you’re probably still more accustomed to seeing white potatoes. Sweet potatoes, however, have more fiber and Vitamins C and A than a white potato.

Can Dogs Eat Sweet Potatoes?

The short answer is…yes!

Dr. Gary Richter, veterinarian and member of Rover’s Dog People panel of experts, advocates for including fresh and healthy foods like sweet potatoes into your dog’s diet. He explains, “the closer to fresh, whole food diets you feed, the healthier your dog is likely to be.”

Baked, boiled or mashed potatoes should only be given to dogs on occasion, however. It’s most common to boil, freeze, and/or dehydrate sweet potatoes for dogs. But be sure to start off with small amounts, your dog may not like the taste or they could have a sensitive stomach. If you want to mix sweet potato into their dry kibble for extra nutrition, try steaming or boiling the sweet potatoes, whichever works best for you.

Make sure to keep your dog away from the processed and fried potatoes like French fries, potato chips, potato skins, and baked potatoes piled high with flavorful and fatty toppings.

The Benefits of Sweet Potatoes for Dogs

Sweet potato is a safe, healthy, and natural treat for dogs, offering a range of health benefits (and a sweet flavor they’ll likely love). For example, sweet potatoes support a healthy digestive system thanks to their high dietary fiber content. They’re also low in fat and contain essential vitamins like  B6, C, and A.

Beta-Carotene 

Have you ever wondered what gives sweet potatoes their yellow, gold, or orange (and sometimes even purple) coloring? It’s beta-carotene!

Beta-carotene is an antioxidant that helps reduce the risk of certain types of cancer while simultaneously providing protection against heart disease.

“Each Beta-carotene converts to two molecules of Vitamin A in your dog’s body, which is essential for your dog’s vision, bone growth, skin and reproduction,” Steve Doerr, Technical Director and Research and Development Scientist at Redbarn Pet Products said.”

Symptoms of serious Beta-carotene or Vitamin A deficiency include night blindness, poor skin quality, abnormal bone/teeth development, and abnormal reproductive development.

Fun Fact:

Dogs can convert beta-carotene to Vitamin A. Cats cannot; they must directly consume preformed Vitamin A.

Rich Source of Fiber

Sweet potatoes are second on the list of top vegetables high in fiber.

One of the main reasons for adding fiber to a dog’s diet is to encourage regular, healthy bowel movements.

Sweet potatoes are also used to alleviate constipation and diarrhea, depending on the fiber type. Some diets have higher fiber content to displace calories, increase a feeling of fullness, and help a pet lose weight.

When observing your dog, If you see your pet repeatedly straining then a vet check is strongly advised.

 

More Health Promoting Vitamins

According to PETMD, sweet potatoes are one of the best dietary sources of vitamin A, which promotes healthy skin, coat, eyes, nerves, and muscles in dogs. Sweet potatoes are also a rich source of vitamins A, C,  B6, potassium, calcium, and iron, just to name a few!

 

Sweet Potatoes for Dogs

Healthier Alternative

While it is true that white potatoes are cheaper than sweet potatoes, they offer less nutritional value. Because they contain more carbohydrates, white potatoes can potentially be one of many factors to cause blood sugar problems and obesity. That said, sweet potatoes are also primarily carbohydrates so don’t go overboard and only add a limited amount to your dog’s diet.

When adding any new food to your dog’s diet, be sure to check with your vet before making the transition.

Did you know?

One cup of cooked sweet potato contains approximately 5.94 grams of fiber.

Sweet Potato Nutritional Information

According to the USDA, one medium baked sweet potato with skin contains 103 calories, 2.29 grams of protein, 23.6 grams of carbohydrates, 0.27 grams of fat, 3.8 grams of fiber and 7.39 grams of sugar.

Sweet Potato Nutrition Label

Image source: USDA

A medium baked white potato with skin, on the other hand, contains 115 calories, 2.49 grams of protein, 0.06 grams of fat, 26.71 grams of carbohydrates, 4.6 grams of fiber, and 0.81 grams of sugar. Sweet potatoes are also rich in vitamins C and B, as well as potassium.

Sweet potatoes are mainly composed of carbs.

“Most of the carbs come from starch, but sweet potatoes also contain a decent amount of fiber,” Steve said. “A medium-sized sweet potato (boiled, without any skin) contains 27 grams of carbs.”

You can find more nutrition information on the official USDA.GOV website.

How Do I Give My Dog Sweet Potato?

The best and easiest way to treat your dog to sweet potatoes is to steam or boil them— do not add any seasonings to the pieces you feed your dog. These methods help retain more nutritional value than roasting. And remember, start by giving your dog a small amount.

“Depending on the size of your dog, start with between a teaspoon and a tablespoon,” Steve Doerr said. “Pet owners should consult a veterinarian before feeding sweet potatoes to dogs, as too much vitamin A can cause bone problems and muscle weakness, and a sudden increase in fiber could create gastrointestinal issues, so start slow!”

For a safe and easy way to include sweet potato as part of a complete meal, try the Redbarn Grain-Free Turkey Stew.

 


*All data and information provided on this site is for informational purposes only and reflect the views of the authors alone, and do not necessarily reflect those of the organization. Redbarninc.com makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis. Please note that each situation is different, and you should always consult your veterinarian should you have any questions about your pet’s health.

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There are 36 comments

  1. Rita Anderson

    My dogs love sweet potatoes. I cook them in microwave for about 8 minutes, chop up and serve them on top of their dry dog food.
    They say people should also eat the skins but microwaving makes the skins tough.

    1. Nadine Belk

      I got some huge sweet potatoes, cut them in half, placed them in water and microwaved for 10 min, then let them set for an hour. My dog and I are in sweet potato heaven and the birds outside get the tough skins! So everybody wins!!

  2. Angela K Allen

    Can I dehydrate sweet potatoes in the dehydrater for my dogs without losing nutrients? If so, what ending result if the potatoes is your reccomendation or time drying? (Chewy, crunchy, etc)
    Thanks
    Pyrenees pyrant

  3. Ken

    Our two Miniature Schnauzers like many raw vegetables, including sweet potato, broccoli stems, red andvgreen peppers, and asparagus stem bottoms.

    1. DEBBIE

      I heard feeding a dog raw potato isn’t good, and I’ve never heard of a dog eating green pepper wow!

      I feed my chihuahuas a teaspoon each night if pureed pumpkin out of the can. Keeps them regular

  4. Tina Jones

    We are just introducing sweet potatoes to our dogs diet
    (Hopefully he will eat them
    As he is a selective eater and getting him to eat food is hard work
    We encourage him to eat some of his biscuits and if he eats 75g of them we are pleased
    He then has steamed chicken breast fillet or rainbow trout with carrots an was having white potatoes but now trying sweet potatoes due to the health benefits
    After we have introduced him to sweet potatoes how much can he have daily as I don’t want to over face him with vitamins
    As good vitamins but too much can be also bad for his health
    He is a bearded collie cross German shepherd age 1yr

  5. Loretta

    Can you give sweet potatoes to a dog with pancreatitis over their dry food? If so how often can you give it to them and how much? My dog is small, she’s about 15lbs.

    1. Darion Barlow

      Hi Loretta,

      Thanks for reaching out! It would be best to consult your veterinarian to check how often and how much would be appropriate to give your dog because every dog is different.

    2. Patty

      I have the same question for the same reason. I give my 16lb. Poodle 2 tablespoons of baked sweet potato without the Skins everyday with her kibble and water. However recently I read too much vitamin A can be bad for their bones. What is the maximum amount she should be given? she really likes them.

    3. Janet

      Hi I give a Desert spoon full of sweet potato Twice a week mixed into his food. I have a cocker spaniel and he had severe pancreatitis , so have to be very careful of what he eats.

  6. Loretta V Bifulco

    I just started my dog on sweet potatoes yesterday. I only gave her a 1/2 teaspoon to slowly acclimate her too. How many times per week can i guve her sweet potatoes? Being that it’s high in vitamins I don’t want to overdose her. Any info would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Darion Barlow

      Hi Loretta,

      Glad to hear you are giving sweet potatoes a try for your dog! Because every dog is different it is important to consult a veterinarian.

    1. Darion Barlow

      Hi Rajashekhar,

      Great question! While we do know there are benefits to feeding sweet potatoes for dogs, it would be best to consult your veterinarian to check if they are the right fit for pregnant dogs.

  7. Bill

    I cut up sweet potato into fries and then freeze them. Everyday around 3pm my Yorkshire Terrier goes to the fridge and sits there until I grab a handful frozen and he chews on them loving every bite!

  8. Kris H

    Tina- great job! I have a very picky eater and this seems to be our “go-to” for his meals. He has a heart murmur and is 12 years old but according to our vet, the diet we have him on is great for any level of health. He runs like an energetic puppy again, coat is wonderful with almost zero itchy fits, and he poops like a champ twice a day.

    VERY similar to what your are doing. Our mix is 2/3 of organic free ranged chicken, boiled in some nutritional yeast for flavor and added health benefits. The other 1/3 is a mushed mix of sweet potato and broccoli. We boil the sweet potatoes and broccoli with parsley (health benefits and flavor) and mix it all together. Looks like a yummy chicken salad when finished and our little guy has enjoyed it very much. Cheers!

    1. Darion Barlow

      Hi Karen,

      Thanks for reaching out! We have discontinued sweet potato skins for dogs, but you can find sweet potatoes in our rolled dog food which can be used as a training treat, and in our turkey canned stew.

  9. K Epp

    I dehydrate sweet tater slices for our dog. Sliced with mandolin type slicer less than 1/4” but thicker than 1/8”. Run them for 10 hours to get that dry crunch she’s looking for. 2 big potatoes fill up 4 trays. Don’t turn off too soon. After done store in plastic zip lock. Last a long time. They’re still good when bag is finished. No temp on my dehydrator. Just plug in and let it run.

  10. Trisha Gill

    I bought a dehydrator and wrap them n thinly sliced raw chicken then dehydrate and my dog absolutely loves them can’t get enough. Saves buying the treats which are expensive. I dehydrate apples bananas pears and
    oranges too. She is naturally fussy as she is a Cavapoo so this is a great way to get fruit and veg into her diet. I would recommend the dehydrator to all dog owners.

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  12. PamB

    My dog has pancreatitis and intestinal issues. Our vet prescribed a diet of 125 g of sweet potatoes and 28 g of tilapia twice a day with a small amount of vitamin powder added. We have been doing this for almost a month and this is the best she has been in a year and a half. She actually barks for her food both morning and night. We actually put our other Yorkie on it as well and he is doing amazingly well too. They are both in a pound range. I can’t imagine cooking this food for a large dog. Seems all I do is make sweet potatoes.

  13. Stacey

    I never liked sweet potatoes but in an effort to learn to like more veggies I made some last night. (Cubed, coated with olive oil and salted, then baked.) Our Doodle has found his new love! He had one bite and has been going to stand by the stove ever since! He couldn’t leave it alone so I let him see me throw the leftovers out and said they were “all gone”. This morning first thing he does is go stand by the stove saying I want more. I guess we’ll be eating them more often. He generally does not get people food, just a small taste of things. Never seen him like something this much. I appreciate the comments here. I will consider making them for treats. We’re not “treats” oriented but his newfound love of sweet potatoes, it might be nice to have some, just because.
    ❤️

  14. Miamioldschool!

    I’ve started feeding my two Shih Tzu’s dried chicken breasts as treats…found out that this was a huge mistake ! It not only constipated them but eventually found out that the FDA ( made in China ) banned it. I since then started to give them fresh sweet potato slices and whole baby carrots as snacks . They both love the fresh taste and crunchiness . I don’t feed my guys any dry food, just fresh veggies and canned tuna/ canned chicken breast and Alpo…their Vet has always said they are in good health.

  15. L. Thomas

    My 8 year old 8.5-9 pound mini pin suffers with IBD and Pancreatitis. It’s been so challenging time after time trying to get his diet right and at the same time keep his weight on. I will try PamB diet I believe it will do well for my dog. I just need to know is it the dark colored or light tan colored sweet potato that being used for the dogs. My concern would be his weight. He’s underweight. Also I would like to know is green tripe good for dogs. So with that can anyone please give me some suggestions. I am open to all opinions. It would be very much appreciated. I went to vet but she really doesn’t know what will work so it just trial and error with the diet to see what works.

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