Sweet potatoes are a great source of vitamins and minerals — they can improve digestion and reduce inflammation and can even be used to help prevent cancer and manage diabetes. What you may not know is whether or not you can feed this healthy snack to your dog.
The truth is, you can feed most parts of a sweet potato to your dog. But can dogs eat sweet potato skins as well? This article will explore the health benefits of sweet potatoes, which parts are toxic, and how to properly cook them for your pup.
Are Sweet Potatoes Good for Dogs?
Yes! Sweet potatoes aren’t only safe for dogs, but they’re an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, niacin, magnesium, copper, and more. They’re also quite high in fiber (especially with the skin on), making them a great choice if your dog is struggling with constipation.
Sweet Potatoes vs Pumpkins and Carrots
Although sweet potatoes, pumpkins, and carrots at first glance are seemingly similar ingredients, there are a few distinctions that may make one a better fit for your dog’s diet over the others. You’re probably fine feeding your dog all three, but if your dog has specific health needs, you might want to pay attention to these subtle differences.
Pumpkin and sweet potato are very similar in nutritional benefits and both are great sources of fiber. The biggest difference is that pumpkin is significantly lower in calories, so if you’re trying to reduce your dog’s weight, stick with pumpkin. Alternatively, if your dog needs to gain a few healthy pounds or will be doing rigorous activity, opt for the sweet potato instead.
It’s also worth noting that fresh sweet potatoes are generally available year-round, whereas pumpkins are a seasonal produce. You can get canned pumpkin year-round, which may be more convenient since it’s already in a mashed form your dog can easily consume, but you’d be sacrificing the freshness of a sweet potato or pumpkin from the produce section or farmer’s market.
Between carrots and sweet potatoes, carrots have a lot more fiber and vitamins per serving. Carrots are also far lower in calories than sweet potatoes, so again, it depends on your health goals for your dog.
Although all three are super high in nutrients, the extremely high fiber content without any fat to cushion it may lead to an upset stomach. So you might want to consider serving them with healthy fats, such as fish oil or coconut oil, to better absorb the vitamins and pass the fiber.
Can Dogs Eat Sweet Potato Skins?
Okay, this is where it gets tricky. Technically, it’s perfectly safe for dogs to eat sweet potatoes and the skins. What you need to look out for is any mold on the skin, which may be toxic for your dog. Also, make sure you thoroughly scrub the skin before feeding it to your dog.
It’s important to note that while some dogs eat sweet potato skins with no problem, others may have problems digesting it.
Sweet Potato Vine Poisoning
Now, this is important: there’s ONE part of the sweet potato plant that you should be aware of. The vine of the sweet potato is very poisonous for dogs, so if you have a home garden and have just dug up a sweet potato, be absolutely sure to get rid of the stem so your dog can’t ingest it.
Sweet potato vine poisoning can cause vomiting, diarrhea, seizure, hallucinations, dilated pupils, drowsiness, difficulty swallowing, and more. If your dog is displaying these or any other odd symptoms after ingesting sweet potatoes or being around a garden with sweet potatoes, take him to the emergency vet immediately. If possible, take a sample of the plant along with you as well.
Don’t let this scare you off of feeding your dog sweet potatoes though. This is extremely unlikely to result from your dog eating a sweet potato bought at the grocery store and as long as you’re careful to remove the stem from sweet potatoes purchased at the farmers market or your garden, you should have nothing to worry about.
Raw Sweet Potatoes
While we’re on the subject, you probably shouldn’t feed your dog raw sweet potato either. Not only can cooking sweet potato kill off any harmful mold or bacteria, but raw sweet potatoes contain trypsin inhibitors, which make your dog less able to digest protein. Cooking or dehydrating the sweet potato will fix that problem.
How to Cook Sweet Potatoes for Dogs?
The great thing about cooking for dogs is, you want to keep it simple. Your ingredients should be fresh, clean, and with as few additives as possible when preparing home-cooked food for your dog.
Sweet potato fries may be a delicious option for humans, but all that oil and salt isn’t a good idea for your pup. The next recipe makes a great occasional treat for dogs and it also doubles as a chew toy or a unique gift for the dog lover in your life!
Baked Sweet Potatoes Dog Chips
All you need is a few sweet potatoes (don’t peel the skin!), parchment paper, a cutting board, a kitchen knife, and a storage container.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat your oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
- After thoroughly rinsing and scrubbing, cut the ends off the sweet potatoes and discard. Then cut the sweet potatoes into lengthwise slices, about 1/3-inch thick.
- Bake for 3-5 hours, flipping once halfway through cooking. When the sweet potatoes are dried-out and crispy, turn your oven off and allow them to cool before removing.
- Remove the chips from the oven and place them in an airtight container (these treats can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 weeks).
Sweet potatoes are full of vitamins and minerals your dog needs in his diet and are a great source of fiber. They also make a delicious and nutritious snack for your dog, as long as they’re prepared properly.
However, you must be careful to remove the stems as they’re highly toxic to dogs. Sweet potatoes must also be rinsed and cooked before serving them to your dog.
So bake up some sweet potatoes, skins and all, and give your pup a nutritional edge!