Yes, dogs can eat sweet potatoes and certain parts of pumpkins as a treat if fed in moderation. After all, when you think of autumn, the foods that come to mind are probably the key ingredients to some of your favorite holiday meals and treats, like pumpkin and sweet potato.
Whether they’re mashed, baked, or boiled, sweet potatoes are fine for dogs to eat as long as they’re cooked, peeled, and plain. Again, avoid any seasonings or extra ingredients that may be included in “human food” recipes, such as butter, sugar, or salt.
For a little extra flavor (and fiber), try topping your dog’s regular food with a little sweet potato pureé at mealtime. Or add a spoonful to their Kong or other food puzzle to keep their brains busy as they snack. Sweet potato is easy to mix with other dog-friendly ingredients, and most dogs enjoy the taste.
Just be sure not to overdo it! Treats (including veggies like sweet potatoes) should only make up 10% of your dog’s overall calories. The other 90% should be from a diet of well-balanced dog food.
Why Sweet Potatoes Are Good for Dogs
Sweet potatoes provide an excellent source of dietary fiber, which helps the digestive system function more effectively. Eating fiber on a regular basis lowers the risk of heart disease and certain types of cancers.
“Because sweet potatoes are a whole food, they are less likely to cause an immune response or damage to the digestive tract,” says Kathleen Standafer Lopez, a registered dietitian nutritionist. “This is why they are a popular source of carbohydrates in commercial dog foods.”
Sweet potatoes are also low in fat and rich in vitamins A, B6, C, calcium, potassium, and iron (each plays a vital role in overall wellness). For example, vitamin A is essential for maintaining healthy eyes, muscles, nerves, and skin.
And vitamin C is critical for a properly functioning immune system. Studies have found that dogs, just like humans, show greater resistance to disease and have a better chance of recovery from injuries or illness when supplemented with vitamin C.
For dogs that are diabetic, overweight, or less active, owners should proceed carefully and only give their dogs a minimal amount of sweet potatoes. “They should be incorporated with caution in the diets of diabetic dogs, due to a high glycemic index,” says Dr. Barrack.
How Do I Give My Dog Sweet Potato?
The best and easiest way to treat your dog to sweet potatoes is to steam or boil them— do not add any seasonings to the pieces you feed your dog. These methods help retain more nutritional value than roasting. And remember, start by giving your dog a small amount.
“Depending on the size of your dog, start with between a teaspoon and a tablespoon,” Steve Doerr said.
“Pet owners should consult a veterinarian before feeding sweet potatoes to dogs, as too much vitamin A can cause bone problems and muscle weakness, and a sudden increase in fiber could create gastrointestinal issues, so start slow!”
How much sweet potato can my dog eat?
“Safe amounts” of any food will vary based on your pet’s size, age, and health status. As with many other fruits or vegetables, sweet potatoes should be fed to your dog in moderation and as occasional treats, not as part of a regular diet.
Too much of a good thing, even if it’s nutritious, should be offered in small amounts first to avoid any allergic response or intolerance.
- For small dogs: First offer 2 to 3 teaspoons.
- For large dogs: First offer 1 tablespoon.
- If well tolerated: You can increase the amount to 1-2 ounces (or 2-4 tablespoons).
- If you’re feeding dehydrated snacks: 1-2 pieces is plenty.
With sweet potatoes, the high fiber content can lead to diarrhea in dogs, while too much vitamin A can cause bone and muscle weakness.
How to Serve Sweet Potatoes to Dogs?
Steamed, boiled, or dehydrated, sweet potatoes can make a nice addition to a dog’s diet. Skin them first, as sweet potato skin can upset some dogs’ stomachs.
Because a raw sweet potato is big and hard, and some dogs have a tendency to wolf down their food, it’s recommended you always cook sweet potatoes and keep the pieces small.
Don’t feed too much of this tasty potato if your dog has diabetes or is overweight. Experts say sweet potatoes have a high glycemic index, causing blood sugar to rise quickly.
If you add sweet potatoes to your dog’s menu as a treat, remember that additions like this should make up no more than 10 percent of your dog’s diet.
Can dogs eat sweet potato fries, sweet potato pie, and buttered sweet potatoes off the dinner table? Yes, but only in small amounts. The only issues with sweet potatoes, according to Brutlag, are too many calories and too much fat from tasty recipes with sweet potatoes.
“If an animal gets a large amount, say, from getting into the garbage and eating a whole lot, pancreatitis—caused by eating too much fat—would be something to watch out for,” Brutlag says.
One word of warning when it comes to potatoes and your dog’s diet: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration reported two years ago that some dogs diagnosed with the heart condition dilated cardiomyopathy (or DCM) ate commercially available diets that list legumes and potatoes (both white and sweet potatoes) as main ingredients.
Check with your veterinarian before switching your dog to a new diet, especially if your hound was diagnosed with DCM
Can my dog eat sweet potato casserole?
Delicious sweet potato casserole is a staple around the holiday dinner table, but it usually contains several ingredients that can be harmful to your pup.
While a marshmallow won’t hurt your pup too much, eating several can raise their blood sugar, along with the brown sugar also used for a crispy crust.
Often, there are other seasonings mixed in which could be problematic for your pup. In addition, many casserole recipes use pecans which can be toxic due to a compound they contain called juglone.
If you want to share with your dog, be sure to set some mashed, unseasoned sweet potatoes aside for them and save the sweetened casserole for the humans.
Overall, sweet potato has a ton of health benefits and is even a common ingredient in commercial dog food and treats. It’s a healthy carb with a lot of fiber and other nutrients. Even so, it should still only be fed in moderation as a nutritious treat.