Can Dogs Eat Yams? Sweet Potatoes?



Can dogs eat yams? Maybe. True yams are thought to be safe for dogs once peeled and cooked. However, true yams are not something that is commonly eaten or fed to dogs, so there is little information from reliable sources about the potential side effects and benefits (link).
Some varieties of sweet potatoes are commonly called yams in North America. The term 'yam' tends to be used interchangeably in the USA. 
Can dogs eat sweet potatoes? Yes. Once cooked, they are safe for dogs. They are commonly used in commercial dog food.


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What's The Difference Between Yams and Sweet Potato? Why The Confusion?


  • Yams are not a type of sweet potato, and sweet potato is not a type of yam. They are a completely different species.
  • Both are tuber vegetables, along with beets, carrots, parsnips, and turnips.
  • Some varieties of sweet potatoes are labeled as yams in the USA. 
  • True yams are usually only found in international supermarkets. 
  • If you have bought a 'yam' at the grocery store, chances are it's a type of sweet potato. 
  • Most people in the US have not actually tried a true yam. The chances are they are just a different variety of sweet potato.


Why the confusion?

In the 1930s, farmers in Louisiana started growing softer sweet potatoes. They wanted to distinguish from their firmer competitors, so they decided to rename their variety of sweet potatoes 'yams'. Essentially, it was a marketing ploy that still exists (and causes confusion) today.


What is the difference?

Nutritional Value:
Sweet Potato (per 100g)
Yam (per 100g)
Total Fat
Total Carbohydrates
Of which sugars
Information as per google 


Sweet Potato: Their skin and flesh can be purple, brown, white, orange, yellow, and red. Beta carotene gives them red-orange coloring.
Yam: Dark brown or red exterior with white, purple, or brown flesh.


Sweet Potato: Smoother skin with a soft or firm interior.
Yam: Tree bark-like exterior with a starchy interior.


Sweet Potato: Sweet.
Yam: Starchy, more like a traditional potato. 


Sweet Potato: Central or South America
Yam: Africa and Asia


Sweet Potato: Convolvulaceae
Yam: Dioscoreaceae


Sweet Potato: The average size is 5-inches, weighing 4-5oz. 
Yam: Yams can weigh anything between 5lb - 55lb


So, as the majority of the US refer to sweet potatoes as yams, we'll discuss the benefits and risks of sweet potatoes below. Along with some delicious recipes and how to prepare sweet potatoes for your dog.


Benefits Of Sweet Potatoes For Dogs


Aid Digestion

Sweet potatoes are high in dietary fiber. Fiber helps keep the digestive system moving, preventing constipation, and helping to relieve the anal sac glands (link). 


Energy Boosting

High in carbohydrates, sweet potatoes are a healthy source of energy. It will also keep your dog feeling fuller for longer.


May Help Prevent Cancer

Sweet potatoes contain antioxidants. Antioxidants help remove free radicals that are known to damage healthy cells. 
There have been many studies on the association between cancer and sweet potato (link) (link) (link).


Eye Health

Deficiency in vitamin A can cause eye-related diseases. Sweet potatoes are high in vitamin A, helping with eye health, as well as general immunity. 
Sweet potatoes also contain the antioxidant anthocyanins, which is thought to be beneficial to the eyes (link).


Risks Of Sweet Potatoes For Dogs 


Risk Of Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) 

DCM is a common heart condition in dogs. It is when there is not enough pressure to pump the blood around the body. While DCM is not uncommon in dogs, it is more common in certain breeds. These are usually larger breeds, including Afghan Hounds, Saint Bernards, Newfoundlands, Great Danes, Irish Wolfhounds, etc. 
Breeds not generally at high risk of DCM were being reported of suffering with it. The FDA is investigating a possible link between dogs who consumed a diet primarily made up of potatoes and legumes (including lentils, chickpeas, pulses, and other peas and beans) and acquiring DCM. 
The FDA is still exploring this. Check this for more information and to keep up to date. 


Contribute To Weight Gain

Adding too many carbohydrates to your dog's diet isn't always beneficial. Excess sugar in carbohydrates can cause weight gain. 
Many dogs do not have a particularly active lifestyle and do not require a high amount of energy inducing food, like potatoes.
All food should be fed in moderation, and with supervision or guidance of a nutritionist or veterinarian.


Added Ingredients

Thanksgiving casserole is popular all over the country, and sadly, we can't share this with our furry friends. 
Sweet potatoes are commonly cooked with added ingredients that can be unhealthy or toxic to dogs. This includes excess fat (butter and oil), added sugar, onions, garlic, and types of nuts.


How To Cook Sweet Potato For Your Dog (Treats, Food, Chews, Mash)


There are a few ways you can add sweet potato into your dog's diet. It can be cooked into dog food, made into a mash and inserted into a kong or mixed with their kibble, dehydrated into a chewing aid, or baked into dog biscuits. 

Vegetarian Dog Food, inspired by Top Dog Tips

  • 6 cups water
  • 1/2 cup brown rice
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup lentils
  • 3 sweet potatoes, chopped into bite-sized pieces suitable for your dog
  • 3 cups peanut butter
  • 1 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp flaxseed oil
1. Bring the water to a boil over medium heat. Add the potatoes, lentils, rice, and quinoa. 
2. Boil for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes.
3. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until it is all thoroughly mixed, and the peanut butter is melted through.
4. Allow to cool before serving.


Dehydrated Dog Chew, inspired by Plantings and Pairings

  • Sweet potato
1. Preheat the oven 200 degrees F (95 degrees C) and line a baking pan with parchment paper.
2. Remove the ends of the potato. Slice the remaining potato into 1/3-inch pieces. 
3. Place in the oven and cook for 3 hours, flip, and return for a further 3 hours.
4. Allow to cool before serving to your dog.


Sweet Potato Mash

  • Sweet potato
1. Peel and chop your sweet potato into bite-sized chunks.
2. Boil a large pot of water over medium-high heat.
3. Add in your prepared pieces.
4. Turn the heat down and place a lid on top. 
5. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until soft.
6. Drain and mash with a fork or masher.
7. Allow to cool before serving to your dog.


Sweet Potato Dog Treats 

Sweet Potato and Apple Dog Biscuits, inspired by All Recipes

  • 1 cup sweet potato mash (recipe above)
  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 eggs
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). 
2. Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl until dough forms. 
3. Roll the mixture on a floured surface to 1/4-inch thickness.
4. Cut into treats appropriate for your dog's size. Place on the baking sheet.
5. Bake for 35-45 minutes (depending on the size) or until golden and crisp.
6. Allow to cool before serving. 


Sweet Potato Treats, inspire by Wild Wild Whisk

  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup sweet potato mash
  • 1 1/4 cup wheat flour, plus extra for rolling
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. In a bowl, add the egg, oil, and potato. Mix until smooth.
3. Add the flour and knead with your hands until a dough forms.
4. Roll the mixture on a floured surface to 1/4-inch thickness.
5. Cut into treats appropriate for your dog's size. Place on the baking sheet.
6. Bake for 20 minutes (depending on the size), then reduce the heat to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C), flip and shuffle the treats around and bake for a further 30 minutes. 
7. Allow to cool before serving. 


Oaty Cookies, inspired by A Virtual Vegan 

  • 2 cups rolled oats, plus 2 tbsp for kneading
  • 1/2 cup cooled sweet potato mash (see recipe above)
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 - 3 tbsp water
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (176 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Add the oats to a blender and blend until they achieve a flour-like consistency. Remove 2 tablespoons and set aside.
3. Add the cooked sweet potato and the coconut oil to the blender.
4. Continue blending until smooth.
5. Add the water 1 tablespoon at a time, then blend until the mixture can be squeezed into a dough.
6. Roll the mixture on a floured surface, using the set aside oat flour, to 1/4-inch thickness.
7. Cut into treats appropriate for your dog's size. Place on the baking sheet.
8. Bake for 20-25 minutes (depending on the size) or until golden and crisp.
9. Allow to cool before serving. 


If you are looking for premade sweet potato dog chews, check out Front Porch Pets who specialize in sweet potato (or 'yam') dog chews and other natural treats.


Other Root Vegetables Suitable For Dogs


Carrot - Carrots are an excellent low carb snack, perfect for helping with obesity in your dog. They also contain antioxidants and lots of other nutrients. They are perfect for cutting up small as training treats, they also work well frozen and used for teething puppies.
Turnips - Turnips are great for dogs. They contain vitamin C, which can help with immunity. They can be mashed or cut up small and added to your dog's food.
Beets - Beetroot can improve digestive health and immunity in dogs. It also contains iron, which can help prevent conditions like anemia. Check out our post Can Dogs Eat Beets for more information. 
Parsnips - Delicious and sweet, parsnips are a good source of fiber, contain antioxidants, and are low in calories. Parsnips can help with digestion, weight loss, bone health, and may help prevent cancer. Check out our article Can Dogs Eat Parsnips here. 
Potatoes - Not the healthiest root vegetable, but commonly used in many grain-free dog food, regular potatoes are high in carbohydrates, providing energy for your pup.




Can dogs eat mashed potatoes?
Yes, in moderation, and as long as there are no added ingredients which could be harmful.


Does sweet potato give dogs diarrhea?
In excess, it could do as it contains a considerable amount of fiber. 
If your dog has never eaten sweet potato before, it could also cause a gastric upset as with any new food. We recommend introducing any new foods slowly and in small amounts.


Can I feed my dog sweet potato everyday?
Yes, many commercial dog food brands contain sweet potato and are recommended for everyday use. 
It is a good idea to switch your dogs' food up (gradually and slowly) for many reasons, including to make it more exciting, so they don't become fussy eaters or develop any allergies or intolerances.


Can dogs eat purple potatoes?
Yes, purple sweet potatoes are thought to be safe for dogs. They are high in fiber and have many health benefits for dogs.


Can dogs eat pumpkin?
Yes, as long as it is unsweetened and has no added ingredients.



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Disclaimer: Each dog is different, and every circumstance is different. All efforts have been made to provide accurate information. However, it is not provided by a qualified Veterinarian, Veterinarian Surgeon, or Behaviorist. The information provided is purely educational. The information should not be used as an alternative or substitute for medical care. If you have any health or medical concerns, contact a qualified Veterinary Surgeon or Veterinarian immediately.


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