From fries to pancakes, to baked potatoes, to hummus, hashbrowns, cake, tater tots and more – sweet potatoes are the perfect multi-purpose treat that masquerades as a vegetable. Can dogs have sweet potatoes? You bet!
Finding healthy (and tasty) alternatives to your favorite foods makes it so you can actually enjoy what you eat, while also providing you with the health benefits associated with these foods. Just like humans, dogs too want to enjoy the foods they eat. But you should be conscious of what you feed your pups to make sure that they are the healthiest and happiest versions of themselves.
Sweet potatoes for dogs are rich in many vitamins and minerals and they taste delicious, (among many other benefits) making them a great option to add to your pup’s diet.
Feeding your pups a high-quality diet is important for a number of reasons:
- Maintain a Healthy Weight
- Have a Healthy Coat and Healthy Skin
- Maintain Optimum Health
- Strengthen Your Pups Immune System
- Maintain Intestinal Health
- Keep Joints and Muscles Healthy
It is important to look at the foods and treats your dogs are eating to make sure that they have a healthy, well-balanced diet. One of our favorite additions is sweet potato.
Sweet Potatoes for Dogs Basics
Sweet potatoes are starchy root vegetables that are also complex carbohydrates.
What’s the Difference:
These two are often used interchangeably but are actually not even related. Yams are native to Africa and Asia and have a cylindrical shape blackish or brown bark-like skin and white, purple, or reddish flesh. They are starchier and dryer than sweet potatoes.
White Potatoes vs. Sweet Potatoes
This difference is easy to spot. Sweet potatoes are often used to replace their starchier alternatives – like white potatoes, rice, or bread. Compared to normal potatoes, sweet potatoes contain fewer calories, more fiber, and vitamins and minerals, which is why so many people have made the switch.
Can Dogs Eat Sweet Potatoes?
It’s important to know (but I’m sure you already did) that sweet potatoes are safe for your pup when eaten correctly. Giving your pup sweet potatoes raw, can be really hard on their stomachs. When consumed properly, sweet potatoes can offer many benefits and are a tasty snack to give your pup.
Feeding Your Dog Sweet Potatoes
Some of the best ways to give your dog sweet potato are to:
- Add small amounts of steamed or boiled sweet potatoes to your dog’s diet. Steaming or boiling sweet potatoes is one of the best ways to help them retain their nutritional value. It’s also best to remove the skin, before giving this to your pup.
- Find dog food that uses sweet potatoes in the recipe.
- Use freeze dried sweet potatoes as a treat. When treats are freeze dried, the moisture is removed from the food, without stripping out the nutrients. Plus, it keeps the flavors intact, so that they can enjoy this yummy, sweet treat.
Begin small when incorporating sweet potato into your dog’s diet. If you are adding steamed or boiled sweet potato to your dog’s food, depending on their size, somewhere between a teaspoon and a tablespoon, is the perfect starting point. Like everything, if you have questions about adding something new to your dog’s diet, we recommending talking to your vet.
While sweet potatoes should not be a main source of nutrition – as it is so important that your pup is getting all of the macronutrients for the day – it is a great way to mix things up for your pup. We don’t always want to eat the same thing, and maybe our dogs don’t want to either. This message brought to you by my dog, who started refusing to eat his food after having eaten it daily for the past few years. He stopped touching his food but would eat anything else that we gave him (and he is usually NOT a picky eater). I noticed, that slowly introducing a new food got my dog more excited about eating and he was more inclined to listen to us.
In fact, dogs are more likely to want to obey your commands when they are given treats that they actually enjoy – go figure. If your dog is anything like mine, they will go through their list of tricks until they are given the treat in front of their nose. Oh, your dog isn’t that food motivated? Tell me what that’s like. Really, I’d like to know.
Benefits of Sweet Potatoes for Dogs
Low in Fat
Now, we aren’t talking about your mom’s sweet potato casserole she makes for Thanksgiving, which is loaded with butter, milk, marshmallows, and sugar (but honestly, it’s heavenly). On their own, sweet potatoes are low in fat, making them the perfect addition to your dog’s diet.
High in Fiber
Sweet potatoes are high in fiber which helps your dog’s digestive system. If your dog suffers from diarrhea or constipation, making sure they get enough dietary fiber is of the utmost importance. Fiber is also important when it comes to colon health and maintaining a healthy weight.
Rich in Vitamins and Minerals
Sweet potatoes are one of the best dietary sources of Vitamin A. Vitamin A is fat-soluble and is stored in fat cells mostly around the liver, and stays there until it is needed. Vitamin A is one of the vitamins your dog needs for a healthy lifestyle. Other benefits of vitamin A for your pup includes:
- A Healthy Coat – If your dog has a dull coat, or has dry, itchy skin this could actually be a result of Vitamin A deficiency.
- Normal Eye Health – I’m sure you were told as a child to eat carrots so that you can have good vision. Beta-carotene is the thing responsible for that and is also abundant in sweet potatoes. Beta carotene has been linked to improved eye health and vision. Vitamin A deficiency can cause low-light vision (or night blindness).
- Proper Growth – Muscles can deteriorate and your dog may feel weak if they are deficient in this vitamin. The amino acids in sweet potatoes help to maintain healthy, strong, and lean muscles.
Another vitamin that is vital for your pup is B6, it is water soluble and your dog needs if to metabolize amino acids. It is responsible for glucose generation, red blood cell and nerve cell function, hormone regulation, immune response, niacin synthesis, and gene activation.
Unlike humans, dogs can actually synthesize vitamin C on their own in their liver, but it can offer additional health benefits. This antioxidant scavenges potentially harmful free-radicals and can help to reduce inflammation and cognitive aging.
We are all familiar with the Got Milk commercials from years ago which focused on weak muscles as a result of a calcium deficiency. But calcium can also support hormone secretion, muscle building, and nerve transmission.
Symptoms of low calcium in dogs include:
- Muscle Twitching
- Low/no Appetite
Making sure your dog has enough calcium is important for the overall health of your dog.
Iron combines with copper and protein to form hemoglobin – which is the molecule in red blood cells that carries oxygen. When your pup is deficient in iron, red blood cells don’t develop how they should, and anemia is one of the biggest side effects of an iron deficiency.
Potassium is necessary for dogs for functioning muscles, nerves, and enzymes. It is also necessary to maintain proper fluid balance.
Low potassium can result in:
- Low Energy
- Muscle Cramps
- Stomach Problems
Magnesium is involved in energy levels at the cellular level. Magnesium facilitates the transfer of energy when they move a muscle, have a thought, or their heartbeats – so yeah, you could say magnesium is essential.
This cannot be produced naturally in dogs, so you must look at your dog’s diet to help them get this important mineral. Manganese helps your dog to digest and absorb proteins and carbs they receive from their diet. When combined with other minerals, manganese can also assist in the healthy formation of skeletal muscle and in the optimum functioning of internal organs.
Pupford’s Sweet Potato Training Treats
Like we talked about before, giving your dog food and treats they enjoy will make a big difference when it comes to your training efforts. We know that training a new or old dog, can come with its challenges, but yummy treats can help as a high-value reward during your training.
- Low fat
- Excellent non-meat treat option for your pup
- Simple, whole food ingredient – you know EXACTLY what’s in the treat
- Less than 1 calorie per treat (.86 kcals per treat to be exact)
- Rich in vitamins A, B6, C, calcium, potassium, and iron
- Should not be a main source of nutrition, but are a great way to mix things up!