Woo-hoo! It’s almost the Holiday Season again and sweet potatoes are everywhere! It’s delicious, healthy, easy on the pockets, and a must-try delicacy during the fall season. But how about our furry companions? Can they enjoy sweet potatoes too? Do you have to peel them before they’re given?
Technically, no. Sweet potato skins are just as nutritious as the inside. However, you need to learn how to properly prepare them to avoid any problems. Keep reading as I walk you through all the things you need to know about sweet potato skins.
Sweet potatoes for dogs
Sweet potatoes are very healthy! They are low in fat, rich in Vitamins A, C, and B6, and are incredibly high in beta-carotene. They are a great source of dietary fiber that helps promote a healthy digestive function. One cup of sweet cooked potato already contains 5.94 grams of fiber. So if you’re looking for a food high in fiber, sweet potato is the way to go. It’s also less likely to trigger an immune response as they are considered to be whole foods. This is why sweet potatoes are most commonly used in commercial dog foods for dogs with sensitivities.
Beta-carotene is an essential antioxidant in dogs that help prevent diseases and infections. Did you know that dogs can convert beta-carotene into Vitamin A? Vitamin A aids in improving eyesight especially night blindness in dogs. Not only that but it promotes healthy skin, coat, bone development, and reproductive health too.
Is your pup prone to skin diseases? Study shows that skin diseases are most often linked to a low Vitamin C. And good news for us, sweet potato is rich in Vitamin C. Eating sweet potatoes (both in humans and dogs) can increase our resistance against diseases and quickly recover from injuries and illnesses as well.
With all of that said, it’s no wonder why sweet potatoes are a staple food in humans and dogs alike. But how about the skin?
Sweet potato skins
Sweet potato skin, as I have previously mentioned, is not innately dangerous. The essential dietary nutrients and fiber are most commonly found in the skin. Thus, removing them might decrease the nutrients your dog gets. Some of the nutrients found in potato skin are:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
These nutrients help promote good health and boost their immune system.
Risks of sweet potato and their skin.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns pet owners about the dangers of peas, lentils, legumes, and potatoes in their dog’s diets that may cause canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs. Although DCM is commonly genetic, rarely is it due to other factors.
Another risk that comes with sweet potatoes is its high glycemic index. If your dog is diabetic, sweet potatoes can become dangerous. Its high amount of carbohydrates may cause a spike in his blood sugar. Diets or snacks that are rich in sweet potatoes are a no-no for diabetic dogs.
In the same manner, sweet potatoes may cause uncomfortable urination for dogs if given in large amounts. Sweet potatoes are high in oxalic acid that may form into painful urethral stones or bladder stones. Removing them would require emergency surgery. Some of the common breeds that are affected by these stones are Yorkies, Shih Tzu, and Miniature Schnauzer.
For some dogs, eating sweet potato causes vomiting, diarrhea, or itchiness. It’s rare for dogs to have an allergic reaction but it can happen. Other dogs may also find it easy to digest sweet potato skin but others may find it harder to do.
Because sweet potatoes are high in carbohydrates, eating excessive amounts can lead to obesity, pancreatitis, or diabetes. Your dog can already get his daily carbohydrate need in his dog food so sweet potatoes are just a treat. If that is the case, sweet potatoes should only be given in moderate amounts. If you plan to add sweet potatoes to your dog’s diet, you should consult your veterinarian first.
How do I give sweet potatoes to my dog?
First off, when you plan to include the skin, look for any molds and make sure to rub the skin thoroughly. If you harvested sweet potatoes in your own garden, make sure to remove the vine of the sweet potato. They can be poisonous to dogs if ingested.
After this, cook the sweet potatoes without seasonings. Boiling or steaming actually retains the nutritional value better. Besides, raw sweet potatoes have trypsin inhibitors that can reduce your dog’s ability to digest proteins. Cooking them can get rid of this problem.
In the same manner, sweet potatoes may also be more difficult to chew when raw than cooked. And if your dog is like mine who isn’t very fond of chewing his food, a lot of food can be a choking hazard. I recommend mashing them or boiling them until they’re soft.
For treats: If your dog likes Kong, freeze cooked sweet potatoes and place it inside. You can also make dehydrated chews out of sweet potatoes. They are a great alternative to commercial rawhide chews which has a reputation for choking. Sweet potato chews are far more nutritious and safer.
How much should I give to my dog?
Sweet potatoes should be given in moderation only. Too much Vitamin A can cause bone and muscle weakness. They are better off as an occasional treat than a main source of nutrition.
Sweet potato skin contains a lot of benefits for your dog. It’s completely safe to leave them on. However, it’s important to remember that it’s not for every dog. Some dogs find it hard to digest the skin and may cause an upset stomach. Give it in small amounts first to see if your dog can handle sweet potatoes with the skin on.
Ultimately, as per every food you want to try, seek the advice of your veterinarian. He can recommend an amount you can safely give and if it’s safe for your dog’s health.