Can Dogs Eat Sweet Potatoes? (Raw, Cooked & Fries)

Written By: Gemma Johnstone | Last Updated: August 10, 2020

close up of two sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a versatile and nutritious food for humans. But can dogs eat sweet potatoes? Or is this root vegetable unsafe for your dog to consume? Read on to find out more.

The good news is that sweet potatoes aren’t toxic for dogs. This vegetable has actually become a popular addition to dog foods in recent years, so a small amount won’t poison your pet.

However, emerging research suggests that dogs who regularly eat sweet potatoes may be at higher risk of developing cardiac disease.

For this reason, it’s probably best to avoid sweet potato as part of your dog’s daily diet. Let’s take a closer look at the potential issues caused by sweet potatoes.

Are Sweet Potatoes Safe for Dogs?

Unseasoned, cooked sweet potatoes aren’t toxic for your dog. If your dog eats some as a one-off, it’s unlikely to cause harm.

You should be more vigilant if the potatoes have been cooked in seasoning or fried. Too much salt can lead to dehydration and can be a particular problem for dogs with renal conditions. Seasonings also often contain onions, garlic, and other ingredients that are toxic for dogs.

Despite being non-toxic, even plain sweet potatoes may be unhealthier than many dog owners realise. Here are three reasons why.

1. Linked to Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM)

The most persuasive reason to think twice about feeding sweet potatoes to your dog relates to research into canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM).

This is a heart disease which affects the heart muscle’s ability to contract. Over time, the heart can’t pump enough blood around the body and fluid is retained in either the lungs or the belly. It’s a serious condition which, unfortunately, leads to congestive heart failure. 

In the past, DCM was thought to be mainly a genetic condition. The new studies suggest there could be a link between this disease and dogs being fed diets containing high quantities of legumes and potatoes.

Admittedly, this research is still ongoing. However, the findings so far are compelling. There are plenty of other healthy and nutritious food groups out there that aren’t linked to DCM. So, avoiding adding sweet potatoes to your dog’s diet makes sense.

2. High Glycemic Index

The sweet potato has a high glycemic index (GI). High GI foods cause a spike in blood sugar levels, and this means they can be a problem for diabetic dogs.

How the sweet potatoes are cooked has an impact on their GI levels. Boiled sweet potatoes have a much lower GI, and the longer they’re cooked, the lower it gets. Roasted sweet potatoes have a higher GI level, while baked sweet potatoes have the highest.

If your dog has been diagnosed with diabetes, avoiding sweet potatoes altogether would be recommended.

3. Dogs Don’t Need Carbohydrates

Sweet potatoes are starchy carbohydrates. While these are a naturally satiating food source, dogs don’t need carbs in their diet to thrive.  

Eating high quantities could contribute to your dog becoming overweight. Plus, they aren’t part of a natural food group for canines. Your dog will benefit from a diet rich in protein and healthy fats.  

Do Sweet Potatoes Provide Nutritional or Health Benefits to Dogs?

Sweet potatoes have traditionally been viewed as a healthy snack for dogs. They’re packed with nutrients and are a great natural source of fiber.

Listed below are some of the nutritional benefits of sweet potatoes for dogs. However, these are, arguably, outweighed by the research into DCM.

  • High in Dietary Fiber. As long as your dog doesn’t eat excessive amounts of fiber, it can help ensure they have a healthy digestive system and problem-free bowel movements.
  • Vitamin C. Sweet potatoes have a high quantity of this vitamin. Although dogs produce it naturally, unlike us humans, adding a little extra could help promote a healthy immune system. Care should be taken, however, not to over supplement Vitamin C.  
  • Manganese. As long as it isn’t given in excessive quantities, this mineral is known to help dogs metabolize carbs and proteins effectively. It’s beneficial for the development of healthy bones and joints.
  • Vitamin B6. Skin barrier function can be improved when this vitamin is added to the diet. This can be helpful for dogs suffering from dry and flaky skin. Some research has even suggested it may help to calm anxious dogs
  • Beta-carotene. Sweet potatoes have high quantities of this antioxidant. It converts to vitamin A, and this promotes healthy eyes and bones.  

If you do occasionally offer your dog some sweet potato, make sure it’s peeled and cooked (ideally boiled). Although sweet potato skin has nutritional value, it’s also tough and can be difficult for your dog to digest. Avoid feeding sweet potato fries or sweet potato chips, especially if they are salted.

What About Raw Sweet Potatoes?

You should never give your dog raw sweet potatoes. These are much more difficult to digest, and their solid consistency makes them a choking hazard. Raw sweet potatoes could even cause intestinal blockages.

Summary

Cooked sweet potatoes are non-toxic to dogs. They may improve digestive health, due to the dietary fiber content, and contain a host of vitamins and minerals.

Despite this, there’s compelling research linking diets high in sweet potatoes with dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs.

Although the research is ongoing, until more conclusive results are available, it makes sense to avoid feeding your dog sweet potatoes (and legumes and white potatoes).  

After all, there are plenty of other healthy and nutritious food options out there for your dog to enjoy.

About the Author

Gemma is a freelance writer and official dog nut. With 15 years of experience in the pet industry, she is a passionate animal welfare advocate. She has worked for the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, ran her own specialist dog shop for ten years, has volunteered for her local rescue shelter, and is studying towards completing an Advanced Diploma in Canine Behaviour. Gemma is currently travelling around Europe with her wonderful rescue dog, Annie.