Sweet potatoes and white potatoes are becoming common in dog food, especially more expensive varieties. Are they good for your pup? Know the pros and cons of these two "apples of the earth" before choosing to feed one to your canine companion.
Choose a Quality Carb
Dogs, evolved from wolves in the carnivora order, are designed primarily to chew and digest meat and bones, but they live as omnivores, eating meats and plants. Although dogs can eat carbohydrates, including sweet potatoes and white potatoes, they don't need carbohydrates. However, since some kind of carbohydrate is necessary to make kibble, it may be hard to find many options without a starchy carbohydrate in the ingredient list. Sweet potatoes and potatoes are now considered as better-quality ingredients that other carbohydrates, like corn, wheat and other carbs that serve as binding agents. If you can, choose a food for your pup that uses sweet potatoes or potatoes, rather than cheaper filler grains.
Pros and Cons of Sweet Potatoes
When choosing between sweet potatoes or white potatoes, opt for a food that uses sweet potatoes if you can. Of all of the possible carbohydrate ingredients in dog food, sweet potatoes are one of the more nutritious options. Sweet potatoes have higher levels of antioxidants and vitamins that white potatoes. Sweet potatoes also have a lower glycemic index, which means they don't have as much sugar as white potatoes so your pup's blood sugar level will be more stable. On the down side, sweet potatoes have a lot of starch, so your dog may gain weight if he eats a food high in sweet potatoes.
Pros and Cons of White Potatoes
White potatoes are cheaper that sweet potatoes, so white potatoes are more common in dog foods. Because white potatoes are less expensive, you may be able to find a good quality grain-free food with white potatoes at a much better price than one made with sweet potatoes. White potatoes have a higher glycemic index than sweet potatoes, and they may cause more insulin and blood sugar problems for diabetic dogs. The higher carbohydrate level may also contribute to obesity. White potatoes rank behind sweet potatoes for nutritional value. Finally, some research shows that cooked potatoes produce a carcinogen called acrylamide.
Cooking Sweet Potatoes and Potatoes at Home
If you make your dog's food at home or want to give him tasty snacks, you can use sweet potatoes or white potatoes in moderation. Be sure to follow a few key rules. First, never give your dog raw sweet potatoes or potatoes. Potato skins, plants and leaves are toxic to dogs, so be sure to remove all of the skin and any plant parts before cooking the potatoes. Since sweet potatoes are more nutritious than white potatoes, many vets and pet nutritionists prefer sweet potatoes as an ingredient in your dog's diet or as a tasty treat. Second, since sweet potatoes are high in fiber, they should make up a only small percentage of your dog's diet. Dr. Mike Sagman suggests limiting your dog's daily fiber to less than 10 percent of his diet, so keep that in mind when choosing a packaged food or making food at home.