As a dog owner, you know that grains like wheat and corn are not top-notch ingredients. But every dog food needs some kind of carbohydrate, so it can be tough to choose which one. Tapioca and potatoes are both alternatives to look for, but they might not be right for every dog.
Tapioca is made from the South American cassava plant. The starch is extracted from the root and turned into flour, pearls or pellets. Tapioca, like other starches, is used to bind kibble or thicken canned food. Tapioca has a very bland taste, which makes it a good choice for pet food.
Tapioca vs. Potato: Nutritional Value
Tapioca does not have a lot of nutritional value. As with many starches, tapioca doesn't provide a lot of vitamins, although it does provide some B vitamins and essential fatty acids. Tapioca has a good mix of minerals, including iron and calcium. Like tapioca, potatoes are a good source of iron. Potatoes are also a good source of vitamin C and fiber. Both tapioca and potatoes contain little fat or protein, and should not be considered as a source for either when choosing a food for your pup.
Tapioca vs. Potato: Allergies
Tapioca is considered to be a unique carbohydrate source in dog food, as most dogs have never had it. As a result, tapioca is sometimes used in allergy formulas. Potatoes are also not a common allergen, but more and more anecdotal information shows increasing allergies to potatoes. Since potatoes have become more common replacements for grains in dog food, the likelihood of allergies has increased. If your dog seems to have food allergies, you may have better luck using a food with tapioca as the carbohydrate source and food binder than choosing a food with potatoes.
Tapioca vs. Potato: Glycemic Index
If your pup is overweight or has diabetes, potatoes may be a better choice than tapioca. Since tapioca is gluten-free, you might assume that would be a good choice for diabetic and overweight dogs. Unfortunately, tapioca has a high glycemic index, roughly even with white rice and potatoes. Tapioca is also high in calories, which overweight and diabetic dogs should avoid. If you are choosing between a dog food with tapioca or potato, you might want to choose the food with potatoes. If you want to lower the glycemic index for your pup, you might look instead for foods with garbanzo beans (chickpeas) or lentils rather than tapioca or potatoes.