When I was a kid, I used to think sweet potatoes only existed to serve as a base for melted marshmallows on Thanksgiving. But, now as an adult, I LOVE them. Just the thought of sweet potato fries, baked sweet potato chips, mashed sweet potatoes with a little almond butter/cinnamon/maple syrup on top, or roasted sweet potatoes in a veggie medley make me want to drool! They’re delicious and offer up beneficial nutrients. Now the question is: Can dogs eat them?
Short answer: Yes, in moderation!
Sweet Potato Nutritional Facts
Sweet potatoes are a sweet, starchy, underground tuber root vegetables. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1 cup of cubed raw sweet potato (about 133 g) is packed with:
- Water – 103g
- Calories – 114
- Protein – 2.09 g
- Total fat – 0.067 g
- Carbohydrate – 26.8 g
- Fiber – 3.99 g
- Sugars – 5.56 g
- Starch – 16.8 g
- Calcium – 39.9 mg
- Iron – 0.811 mg
- Magnesium – 33.2 mg
- Phosphorus – 62.5 mg
- Potassium – 448 mg
- Sodium – 73.2 mg
- Zinc – 0.399 mg
- Copper – 0.201 mg
- Manganese – 0.343 mg
- Selenium – 0.798 µg
- Thiamin – 0.104 mg
- Riboflavin – 0.081 mg
- Folate – 14.6 µg
- Beta Carotene – 11300 µg
- Vitamin A – 943 µg
- Vitamin B-6 – 0.278 mg
- Vitamin C – 3.19 mg
- Vitamin E – 0.346 mg
- Vitamin K – 2.39 µg
Sweet Potato Benefits
- Supports a Strong Immune System – Sweet potatoes are rich in various vitamins (like A, B6, and C), minerals, and antioxidants that support a strong immune system. While both orange and purple sweet potatoes offer immune-boosting nutrients, according to Dr. Karen Becker, “Sweet potatoes with purple flesh have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may lower the risk for heavy metals and oxygen radicals.”
- Eye Health – Sweet potatoes offer up a gorgeous hue thanks to their high levels of beta-carotene! But beta-carotene doesn’t only help this root vegetable look good. It converts to vitamin A in your dog’s body, which is essential for your canine’s vision.
- Offers Digestive Benefits – Sweet potatoes offer a nice serving of fiber, which is why they’re often used to help relieve constipation and diarrhea.
- Heart Health – Eating a healthy amount of dietary fiber has been linked to heart benefits. Additionally, sweet potato is a good source of potassium, which is essential for heart function.
When feeding sweet potato to your dog, make sure it’s plain, cooked, and the skin is removed. Raw potatoes and the skin can be pretty rough on your dog’s digestive system and cause an upset stomach.
While you’ll find sweet potatoes listed on the ingredient label of many higher quality commercial dog foods, it should still be fed in moderation. In general, carbohydrates shouldn’t be your dog’s main source of nutrition. How much sweet potato you can feed your dog depends on their size, activity level, and overall health. But, feed in moderation.
You can either add a little cooked sweet potato to your pup’s food bowl or use it to make homemade dog treats. I sometimes add it to:
- Biscuits: Try these Pumpkin Sweet Potato Bites
- Pupcakes: Try these Carrot Sweet Potato Puppy Muffins
- Fries: Try these puppy-approved Baked Sweet Potato Fries
- Frosting: I use cooked sweet potato as the frosting for my Dog Cake
- Baked Chips: I share a recipe in my cookbook, Proud Dog Chef: Tail-Wagging Good Treat Recipes
Talk To Your Vet
As with any new food, introduce it slowly into your dog’s diet to see how he handles it.
While sweet potatoes are lower on the glycemic index than white potatoes, you should still speak with your vet before feeding sweet potatoes if your dog has any health conditions, such as diabetes.
Get More Doggy Food Facts
This feature is part of a weekly web series called Food Facts Friday. Every Friday, we share foods that are great for our canine companions. Check out other foods highlighted in this series HERE!