How Much Sweet Potato Can I Give My Dog?

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Dr. Erica Irish author of How Much Sweet Potato Can I Give My Dog?
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Dogs love treats from their humans. Many of the fruits and vegetables that we enjoy as treats can be given to your dog. Sweet potatoes are one such example. They are a healthy vegetable that provides certain vitamins and minerals for people and pets.

However, sweet potatoes are also a component in many of the grain-free commercial dog foods that have recently come under investigation by the FDA due to their possible increased risk of dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs and cats. So, if you’re giving it to your dog as a treat, how much is safe to give?  


What are sweet potatoes?

Sweet potatoes are tuberous root vegetables that have been eaten for hundreds of years. They existed in the Americas but gained popularity when Christopher Columbus brought them back to Spain in the early 1500s. Sweet potatoes soon spread to gardens all over Spain, England, and France. At the time, they were considered an aphrodisiac, likely due to their novelty.

Sweet potatoes are different from yams which are drier and starchier than sweet potatoes, however, many Americans use the two terms interchangeably. Sweet potatoes are more common than yams which makes them easier to find in grocery stores. They are an excellent source of vitamins like A and C, more so than white potatoes, and they contain minerals like iron, calcium, and selenium.


Can dogs eat sweet potatoes?

Yes, it is safe for dogs to eat sweet potatoes in small quantities. For now, most veterinarians agree that you can give sweet potatoes to your dog as a treat as long as it does not make up more than ten percent of their diet. And until we know more about grain-free diets from the FDA investigation, it is best to avoid feeding a grain-free commercial diet to your dog.

Many of the health benefits purported by sweet potatoes for humans are thought to carry over to dogs. Sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene which is an antioxidant and a precursor for vitamin A. Without vitamin A, your dog will have vision problems, especially at nighttime. Antioxidants help break up harmful free radicals and, by doing so, may help reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. Beta-carotene is also a pigment that gives the sweet potato its signature orange color. However, sweet potatoes are also known to come in other colorful varieties like yellow and even purple. They are an excellent source of fiber, even more so than white potatoes, and they contain fewer carbohydrates.


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How much sweet potato can a dog have?

Dogs should start out with very small amounts of sweet potato, usually no more than one or two ounces per serving. Toy breed dogs should start with a quarter or half of an ounce (about two to three teaspoons) and large breed dogs can have a little bit extra if they tolerate the first serving well.

It is important to make sure that the sweet potato is prepared properly. Boiled, baked, and mashed sweet potatoes work very well because it softens the potato, making it easier for your dog to swallow. Raw sweet potato is safe as long as it is chopped into smaller pieces or slices. Do not use any salt, butter, or other seasonings when giving it to your dog.

When giving your dog his first serving, you can mix the sweet potato into his regular dog food. Some dog owners will use sweet potato and bake it into a treat. If he likes it and tolerates it well, sweet potato can become a regular treat for your dog. If he has any signs of gastrointestinal upset such as vomiting, diarrhea, increased flatulence, etc., avoid giving him more sweet potato and contact your veterinarian.

Remember that sweet potato are the main component for many of the commercially available grain-free diets. On the list of ingredients on the back of the bag, you will usually see sweet potato mentioned within the first ten ingredients. For your dog’s safety, make sure that he is on a diet that contains grain, i.e. rice or corn or wheat. The grain ingredient should be listed within the first ten ingredients, and if this is the case, it is safe to have sweet potato as a regular part of your dog’s diet regimen.  

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Sweet potato is a healthy and tasty treat when given every so often. It can be prepped in a variety of ways and can be given to your dog as long as it does not exceed ten percent of his daily diet. Raw sweet potatoes are firm enough to be a choking hazard, so be sure to cut the sweet potato into smaller pieces or slices, or you can boil or bake them so that they are softer. Start by giving your dog very small amounts and stop giving them if he has any signs of gastrointestinal upset.


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Meet The Author 

Dr. Erica Irish

Erica has worked in the veterinary field since 2006, starting out as a veterinary technician before graduating from the UF College of Veterinary Medicine in 2013. As a general practitioner in an animal hospital, she has many interests and is especially interested in dermatology, cardiology, internal and integrative medicine