Health & Wellness
Sweet potatoes are one of those human foods that are perfectly safe to share with your dog. In fact, many homemade dog treat recipes feature sweet potatoes as a main ingredient. But be aware, there’s a big difference between feeding your dog raw sweet potato, cooked sweet potato and seasoned human foods like sweet potato pies or sweet potato fries.
You need to be conscientious of all extra ingredients you may be feeding your pet when you toss them a piece of sweet potato from your dinner plate. And remember, even though sweet potatoes are generally safe for your pet, always consult your vet before introducing a new food item to their diet.
Sweet potatoes are definitely a healthy option for dogs. Just as they can give you a healthy dose of fiber, potassium, manganese and vitamins A, C, B and E, they offer your dog the same nutritional benefits. Plus, the naturally sweet flavor is a hit with most pups, making it a good option when you want to serve up a treat.
“Sweet potatoes aren’t toxic and are safe for healthy dogs to eat,” Dr. Emily Andersen, DVM, a vet with Heal House Call Veterinarian, says. “Dogs generally find their sweet flavor very delicious. That said, they should be fed in small amounts to ensure a dog doesn’t have a specific sensitivity and to ensure a large quantity doesn’t impede their normal, balanced diet.”
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Given that sweet potatoes are generally healthy, you can feed them to your dog based on their personal preferences — some dogs may be perfectly happy getting a chunk or two of raw sweet potato tossed their way as you slice up a spud. But, cooking the sweet potatoes first (peeled or unpeeled) can be helpful for your dog’s digestive system.
“It’s advised to cook sweet potatoes before feeding them to dogs as they are more easily digestible, and dogs can obtain more nutrients from them,” Andersen says. “Sweet potato skins are safe and nutritious to include.”
So when it comes to offering sweet potatoes to your pup, Andersen says you should simply boil or bake and feed them alongside your dog’s food, or part of a small daily treat.
“Sweet potatoes can make a tasty and healthy snack for many of our beloved pups. Most dogs can enjoy a small snack daily of sweet potatoes, but it should make up no more than 10% of their daily food,” Andersen says.
As much as you love your own plate of sweet potato fries, pies, casseroles and other family recipes, Andersen warns that it’s best not to feed these seasoned sweet potato dishes to your pet. Garlic, onions and other common cooking ingredients are toxic to dogs and should never be included in their sweet potato treats.
“Fries contain excessive fats that can be dangerous to dogs, causing gastrointestinal upset such as vomiting and diarrhea or, more dangerously, pancreatitis. Sweet potato pies often contain excess sugar that’s not advisable to feed to dogs,” she says.
If you can’t fathom serving up sweet potatoes without any extra seasonings, there are a few pet-safe options you can add. Andersen recommends a small sprinkling of cinnamon or turmeric for extra flavor and added health benefits. But only with your vet's permission.
We're confident that sweet potatoes aren’t the only human food your dog would love to sink their teeth into (cue the drool). Check out our series "Can dogs eat … ?" to learn more about which human foods are off-limits and what's fair game.
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