You may already know that sweet potatoes have a variety of health benefits for humans.
They’re a great source of vitamins and minerals, can improve digestion and reduce inflammation, and can even be used to help manage diabetes.
While you can feed most parts of a sweet potato to your dog, can dogs eat sweet potato skins to reap the most nutritional benefits?
Here’s a look at whether or not this is a good idea.
Are sweet potatoes good for dogs?
Yes! Sweet potatoes aren’t only safe for dogs, but they’re an excellent source of vitamin A, B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, 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 weight issues or constipation.
Sweet potato vine poisoning
Now, this is important: there’s ONE part of the sweet potato plant that’s highly toxic to dogs.
The vine/stem of the sweet potato and its seeds contain a compound similar to LSD, 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 other symptoms.
If your dog is displaying these or any other odd symptoms after ingesting sweet potatoes or being around a garden with sweet potatoes, take them to the emergency vet immediately.
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.
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.
Can dogs eat sweet potato skins?
Okay, this is where it gets tricky.
Technically, dogs can eat sweet potatoes and their skins. However, it’s important to note that while some dogs eat sweet potato skins with no problem, others may have problems digesting them.
Make sure you thoroughly scrub the skins of the potatoes before feeding them to your pup, and if possible, try to find some that are organic.
You should also look out for any mold on the skin, which may be toxic for dogs.
Raw sweet potatoes
And while we’re on the subject, you probably shouldn’t feed your dog raw sweet potato either.
Not only can cooking sweet potatoes kill off any harmful mold or bacteria, but raw sweet potatoes also contain trypsin inhibitors, which make your dog less able to digest protein.
In addition, cooking or dehydrating the sweet potato will help break down the starch, making it easier on your dog’s stomach.
How to cook sweet potatoes for dogs
The great thing about cooking for dogs is, you want to keep it simple.
Sweet potato fries may be a delicious treat for humans, but all that oil and salt isn’t a good idea for your pup. Instead, try boiling your sweet potato in water or cooking it in the microwave.
If you choose to boil it, cut the potato into 1-inch cubes, put them into a pot of boiling water, and let cook for approximately 15 minutes.
You can also bake your sweet potatoes in the oven.
Again, remember to keep your ingredients simple and with as few additives as possible when preparing home-cooked food for your dog.
Recommended reading: How to Start Cooking Dog Food at Home
Baked sweet potato dog chews
This recipe makes a great occasional treat for your dog and doubles as a chew toy. It’s also great to give as a gift for the dog lover in your life.
- 1-2 Sweet potatoes (with or without the skin)
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat your oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
- After thoroughly rinsing and scrubbing, cut the ends off sweet potatoes and discard. Then cut the sweet potatoes into lengthwise slices, about 1/4-inch thick.
- Bake for 2-3 hours, flipping once halfway through cooking. When done cooking, turn your oven off and allow them to cool before removing.
- Remove the chews from the oven and place them in an airtight container. Chews can be stored in the fridge for up to three weeks.
How much sweet potato can I feed my dog?
Like any other food, moderation is key.
Too much sweet potato can cause diarrhea or vomiting, so always start with a small amount and work your way up to avoid any digestive upset.
As a general rule, small breeds can have one to two teaspoons of cooked sweet potato per day while medium and large breeds can have one to four tablespoons per day.
Sweet potato alternatives
Although carrots, pumpkins, and sweet potatoes 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 three1, but if they have 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 instead.
Alternatively, if your dog needs to gain a few healthy pounds or will be doing rigorous activity, opt for the sweet potato.
It’s also worth noting that fresh sweet potatoes are generally available year-round, whereas pumpkins are a seasonal produce.
You can always get canned pumpkin, which may be more convenient since it’s already in a mashed form your dog can easily consume.
However, you’d be sacrificing the freshness of a sweet potato or pumpkin from the produce section or farmers 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 carrots are super high in nutrients, the extremely high fiber content without any fat to cushion it may lead to an upset stomach.
Consider mixing carrots with healthy fat, such as fish oil or coconut oil, to better absorb the vitamins and pass the fiber.
Sweet potatoes make a delicious and nutritious snack — they’re full of vitamins and minerals, as well as fiber which can help digestion. However, some dogs have trouble digesting the skin, so you may need to remove it first.
You must also be careful to remove the stems as they’re highly toxic to dogs and make sure the potatoes are rinsed and cooked before serving them to your dog.