Yes, dogs can eat sweet potatoes! These root vegetables are loaded with nutrients, such as the carotenoids, vitamin C and vitamin A, in addition to antioxidants and phytochemicals. They are high in pyridoxine, potassium, fiber and magnesium. They are also good sources of copper, iron and manganese—all essential minerals for dogs that perform myriad functions in cells, from transporting oxygen to assisting in the assembly of proteins. All this plus, they’re low in fat.
What’s in a Name?
While sweet potatoes are called “potatoes,” they aren’t related to white potatoes. They do come in many colors besides the more familiar orange. The Japanese sweet potato has a purple skin and yellow flesh, and its flavor is actually sweeter—something that dogs love—than the more popular orange varieties. It also is especially rich in phytonutrients. Although in the U.S., sweet potatoes are often called yams, the true yam is quite another root vegetable, one with a rough and scaly texture. In supermarkets, the names “sweet potato” and “yam” tend to be used interchangeably.
How to Add Sweet Potatoes to Your Dog’s Diet
One of the most popular ways to give your dog sweet potatoes is as dehydrated chews. They make a great alternative to rawhide chews, and unlike rawhide, sweet potato chews do not have a reputation for causing digestive blockages and choking. So, they are a lot safer and definitely more nutritious.
Do not give dogs raw sweet potatoes; they should always be cooked. Steam and mash, then add a little to your dog’s normal meal. Steaming or boiling actually maintains more of their nutrients than roasting or baking does. Because they are rich in fiber, introduce them slowly.
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Quick Tip: Cooked sweet potatoes are also great in a Kong; freeze it so it takes longer for your dog to clear it out!
Dehydrated Sweet Potato Chews
Here’s a recipe that'll be every dog’s favorite.
- Sweet Potatoes
1. Thoroughly wash sweet potatoes; peeling them is optional.
2. Slice the sweet potato into 1/4" slices by cutting down the middle lengthwise. If you have a mandolin or a food processor with a slicing blade, this is easy.
3. Soak the slices in water for 2 hours, drain and dry.
4. Spray the slices lightly with olive oil; this increases absorption of beneficial beta-carotene.
5. Dehydrate at the highest setting (145° to 155°) until done. Drying approximately 6 to 8 hours (or longer) will leave them with a chewy texture. For crunchier treats, dehydrate longer until the slices reach the desired consistency.
You can also make chews without a dehydrator. Position the oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 200°. Prep the sweet potatoes the same way. Then, to allow air to circulate underneath the slices, put a single layer on a rack on a parchment-paper-lined sheet pan. Turn the sheet every half hour. Depending on the thickness of the slice, this can take 2 or 3 hours, or longer.
Be sure to check often. Store in an airtight container.
Sweet Potato Chips
Preheat oven to 250˚.
- Sweet Potatoes
1. Slice whole sweet potatoes into rounds: a 1/4" slice will create a crispier chip, a 1/2" slice will create a chewier chip.
2. Place on a foil-lined sheet.
3. Bake for 2 hours, turning over once.
4. Allow to cool on sheet.
Store chips in an airtight container.