Can Dogs Eat Sweet Potatoes?

May 27, 2022 by The Spot Pack

From sweet potato bake to casseroles, the possibilities for cooking with sweet potatoes are endless. There are so many recipes to try out.

However, sweet potatoes are not just delicious. They offer some great health benefits, too. But can your dogs join you in enjoying a tasty sweet potato dish?

Here at Spot Pet Insurance, we want to support you and your dog every step of the way, which includes getting you the info you need to keep them happy and healthy. Let’s find out whether dogs can eat sweet potatoes.

Can your dog eat sweet potatoes?

Yes, your dogs can eat sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes give them some of the same nutritional benefits that humans enjoy, making them a beneficial food to include in your pup’s diet.

If you check the label of many grain-free dog foods, you’ll likely see sweet potatoes. It usually makes one of the top ten ingredients. Sweet potato serves as the primary carbohydrate source in such meals, rounding out the food for your dog.

What benefits do dogs get from sweet potatoes?

Sweet potatoes can provide both humans and dogs with several important nutrients. Check out the benefits your dogs can get from eating sweet potatoes below.

Sweet potatoes provide energy

Sweet potatoes contain mostly carbohydrates that serve as an energy source. Your dog’s digestive system breaks down the starch in sweet potatoes to produce glucose. This simple sugar fills your dog with the energy they need to do all that running.

Sweet potatoes protect the gut

Unlike processed carbs, which can hurt your dog’s digestive system, sweet potatoes are gentle on the tummy. These whole foods provide lots of fiber for both you and your pup.

Fiber makes your dog’s bowel movements a lot easier. It can help them produce firm stools and regulate the pH of their intestines.

Sweet potatoes can support immunity

A fiber-rich diet also helps moderate your dog’s immune system. Additionally, sweet potatoes provide immune-boosting nutrients such as vitamin C and vitamin A.

A diet rich in vitamin C may help your dog recover quickly from illnesses and potentially help their wounds heal more efficiently. Vitamin A also helps keep your dog’s eyes, skin, bones, muscles, and nerves healthy.

In addition, sweet potatoes provide carotenoids that can help soothe inflammation, making these one superfood you just might want to give your dog.

Sweet potatoes are low in fat

If you’re looking for low-fat meal options for your dogs, consider sweet potatoes. They can serve as a low-fat addition to your dog’s diet in moderate quantities.

However, avoid giving your dog too much sweet potato. Although these veggies are low-fat, they contain lots of sugar, which can be harmful in large amounts.

Can dogs digest sweet potatoes?

Dogs can digest sweet potatoes, although it may take a little longer than other foods. Their digestive systems are specialized for prey (AKA meat), thanks to evolution. That means that dogs have adapted to having proteins and fat as their main food source.

For dogs, carbohydrate digestion takes a little longer than it does for humans. They don’t have the salivary enzyme (amylase) that helps humans start digesting the carbs in sweet potatoes in their mouths. Dogs begin breaking down carbs further down in their digestive system, lengthening the process.

However, dogs do produce other necessary enzymes in their pancreas and small intestine. These enzymes break down the complex carbohydrates in sweet potatoes to produce glucose for energy.

What are the risks of giving your dog sweet potatoes?

Before adding sweet potatoes to your dog’s diet, you should know the possible risks. This way, you can determine if sweet potatoes are right for your dog.

High glycemic index

Sweet potatoes have a high glycemic index, meaning that when your dogs eat them, their blood sugar levels can spike. Your dog releases insulin to manage this sudden blood sugar increase.

The sugar that sweet potatoes release into your dog’s blood provides energy. However, it might not always be the best food choice. This dramatic change in blood sugar isn’t great for your dog’s health. If they have health conditions that require you to monitor their sugar intake, consider limiting how many sweet potatoes they eat.

Even if your dogs are in perfect health, you still need to watch how frequently they eat foods with a high glycemic index. Eating too much of them can increase your pup’s chances of getting serious health problems.

Sweet potatoes and gut health

Sweet potatoes provide the fiber that protects your dogs’ gut, but the high sugar content can also affect them negatively. Too many sweet potatoes can cause bad gut bacteria and yeast to overgrow, throwing your dog’s digestive system out of whack.

If you’re feeding your dog lots of sweet potatoes, just check for the following signs:

  • Itching
  • Musty smell
  • Chronic ear infections

If your dog has any of these signs, you may want to reduce how much sugar is in their diet, although you should also speak with your vet for medical advice.

Important tips for preparing sweet potatoes for your dogs

If you’re thinking of including sweet potatoes in your dog’s diet, here are some things to remember.

Never give your dog raw sweet potatoes

Raw potatoes are hard to digest, so your dog could get a tummy upset from eating them raw. They can also block your dog’s GI tract.

Luckily, it doesn’t take long to cook sweet potatoes to make them softer and easier to digest. This may also reduce the risk of choking.

Raw sweet potatoes also contain inhibitors of the enzyme trypsin, which helps your dog digest proteins. Cooking removes these inhibitors, so that sweet potatoes don’t affect your dog’s protein digestion.

Don’t let your dog eat sweet potato vines

If you grow your sweet potatoes in your garden, take extra care to keep your dogs out.

This is because sweet potato seeds and vines are toxic. Eating them can give your dog effects that are similar to LSD. The plant toxins can affect various vital organs, including the liver, kidneys, heart, and brain.

Some symptoms of dog poisoning include:

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Drooling
  • Drowsiness

Report to your vet if your pet shows any of these signs after venturing into your sweet potato farm.

Keep the recipes simple

Sweet potatoes are extremely versatile. You can mash, boil, bake, or steam them to create multiple dishes. Try mixing sweet potato with liver or pork for extra protein to help create a balanced diet for your dog.

Sweet potato recipes to try for your dog include:

  • Sweet potato treats
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Potato chews

Remember to keep the recipes simple. Limit how much spices you put into your dog’s food, as many spices and seasonings are toxic for pups.

How much sweet potato can your dog eat?

Your dogs can start by eating small amounts of sweet potatoes per meal. A few ounces per serving should be fine, although you should adjust that amount based on your dog’s size and their reaction to this veggie.

Active dog breeds that run around all day, such as the Weimaraner, may need more carbs in their diet overall. On the other hand, if your dog spends most of their day lounging around on their bellies, they may need fewer carbohydrates.

Final thoughts on dogs and sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are relatively good for dogs in moderate amounts. Just make sure to always give your dog cooked sweet potatoes, and never let them chew sweet potato vines or eat raw tubers.

Whether or not you choose to feed your dog sweet potatoes, Spot Pet Insurance is here to provide you with the resources you need to help your pup live a long, happy life.

Sources:

Carb Confusion Part 1: The Role of Carbohydrates in Pet Foods | Tufts 

Dietary supplementation of a fiber-prebiotic and saccharin-eugenol blend in extruded diets fed to dogs | PMC

Vitamin C in Health and Disease: A Companion Animal Focus | NCBI

Safety evaluation of vitamin A in growing dogs | PMC

Sweet potato, raw, unprepared (Includes foods for USDA’s Food Distribution Program) | USDA

The Saliva Proteome of Dogs: Variations Within and Between Breeds and Between Species | Proteomics

Glycemic index of sweet potato as affected by cooking methods | PubAg

6 Reasons Why Your Dog Shouldn’t Have Sugar | PetMD

Destruction of Potato Peel Trypsin Inhibitor by Peeling and Extrusion Cooking | Wiley

Carbohydrates: Key to a Balanced Dog Food | PetMD

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