Can Dogs Eat Sweet Potato on Thanksgiving?

When we think of Thanksgiving foods, we normally think turkey, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, and green bean casserole—but not all of these things are great table food for dogs. The shining orange star of the bunch, however, just might be the sweet potato.

What Exactly Is a Sweet Potato?

Sweet potatoes are root vegetables that have several benefits for dogs. They're a great source of vitamin A, which promotes healthy skin, coat, eyes, and muscles, and help prevent disease and infection. This spud is also rich in vitamin B6, vitamin C, calcium, potassium, magnesium, and iron, according to PetMD.

Are Sweet Potatoes Good for Dogs?

Yes! Sweet potatoes are often added to dog foods and treats because they're gentle on their stomachs. Sweet potatoes are commonly found in grain-free dog foods because they're gluten-free and contain good carbohydrates. They're also a more nutritious option than white baked potatoes and are lower on the glycemic index.

Is Turkey Good for Dogs?

This Thanksgiving staple is not so straightforward. Turkey alone is not toxic to dogs. It's used in many dog foods and is rich in protein, riboflavin, and phosphorous, according to the American Kennel Club. Thanksgiving turkeys are a different story. Humans use butter, oil, seasoning, and stuffing to make holiday turkeys delicious. For dogs, this is a recipe for digestive upset and pancreatitis. Plus, all poultry bones, especially when cooked, are brittle and dangerous for dogs to ingest. 

Fun Sweet Potato Facts

  • Sweet potatoes have been around since prehistoric times and were a favorite food among plant-eating dinosaurs.
  • When Christopher Columbus arrived in the Americas in the late 15th century, sweet potatoes were common in South and Central America. He brought them back to Spain and introduced them to Europe, according to the Library of Congress. 
  • Sweet potatoes were first planted in the United States in Virginia in 1648, and the Pilgrims and Native Americans ate them at the first Thanksgiving dinner. 
  • The term "sweet potato" was coined by Americans in the 1700s when the white potato grew in popularity.
  • Yams and sweet potatoes aren't closely related. Yams are starchier, drier roots with less fiber, vitamin C, calcium, and iron, and they're grown in Africa and Asia. You won't likely find a yam in your local supermarket.

Try a Dog-Safe Alternative

To avoid dietary issues altogether, treat your dog to a safe, delicious chew toy instead, like the turkey-and-sweet-potato-flavored Nylabone Flavor Frenzy Power Chew. There are also many DIY sweet potato recipes for dogs, like this dog-friendly sweet potato jerky recipe from the Humane Society.

Consult Your Vet

Even though sweet potatoes can be beneficial for dogs, it's always a good idea to consult your veterinarian before changing or adding anything to your dog's diet.


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