- Not a substitute for professional veterinary help.
Yams – and their doppelganger the sweet potato – are excellent sources of vitamins and fiber. Packed with vitamin B6, minerals, and beta-carotene, feeding your dog yams regularly may help to fight infection and disease.
Can My Dog Eat Yams?
Yes! Yams, both true yams and the sweet potato variety, are an excellent addition to your dog’s diet in small, cooked, unseasoned servings.
Why Are Yams Good For Dogs To Eat?
Yams aren’t just a great source of fiber, they are high in both potassium and manganese, nutrients which help to support the bones, heart and metabolism. Yams are also chock full of copper, a mineral that is essential to the production of red blood cells and the absorption of iron, and vitamin C, a powerful immune-boosting antioxidant.
Because they contain a unique compound called diosgenin, yams may also benefit brain function. Studies have shown that mice who consume high levels of diosgenin have improved memory and learning abilities. Diosgenin has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and it makes up the foundation of a several different pharmaceuticals that are used to treat infection.
Another study suggested that a yam-rich diet may protect the body against cancer, even reducing the growth of tumors. Yams have even been linked to improved cell function in the kidney and liver. Diabetic dogs, too, may benefit from a diet rich that includes yams. Although there is not yet conclusive evidence, an initial study suggested that the tuber may help to regulate blood sugar and improve insulin sensitivity.
What Is The Difference Between A Yam and A Sweet Potato?
True yams are a starchy, dry tuber grown from a vine throughout the tropics. They have rough, dark skins that are difficult to peel and can range from a white to a reddish color. You’ll probably only see true yams in specialty stores, as 95% of them are grown on the continent of Africa and must be imported to the West.
Sweet potatoes, on the other hand, are a staple crop from the Americas. They are most commonly found as orange-fleshed tubers with copper-brown skin or golden-skinned ones with soft, pale flesh. The golden variety tends to be less sweet.
In comparison, yams are generally more cylindrical and not as sweet as their sweet potato look-alikes. Often what you see labeled in the grocery store as a “yam” is actually an orange-fleshed sweet potato, instead. They use the term to differentiate them from sweet potatoes with softer, paler flesh.
How Do I Feed My Dog Yams?
Yams (and sweet potatoes) should always be cooked before being fed to your dog. Not only are they harder to eat and digest raw, some varieties are toxic until they’ve been cooked.
Yams can be either boiled or baked before feeding to a dog. To boil, place diced chunks of yam in water on medium-high heat. Cook for 20-25 mins or until tender. To bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Slice the yam and distribute the pieces evenly on the baking sheet then cook for 30 minutes or until tender. When preparing yams for your dog, avoid using salt, spices, oil and butter, and be sure they are completely cool before feeding.
If the yam you’ve prepared is not completely tender, be sure to cut it into small pieces before adding it to your dog’s meal. Large chunks of tough yam could pose a choking risk or even cause an intestinal blockage, a painful issue that is likely to require veterinary attention.
While yams are commonly available canned, they are not a good option for dogs. Canned yams contain preservatives and sugar, both of which are unhealthy for your dog, particularly in large quantities. And forget sharing your leftover holiday yams with your dog. They should never be fed foods that have been prepared with nutmeg. The spice is toxic to the canine set.
What If My Dog Eats Raw Yam?
Some varieties of yams contain tannins that are toxic prior to cooking. If fed to your dog, they can make them sick. If your dog gets a hold of a raw true yam, monitor them closely for vomiting and diarrhea. If these or other unusual behaviors occur, immediately contact your emergency vet.
How Do I Add Yams To My Dog’s Diet?
Adding healthy, nutrient-filled yams in your dog’s diet is easy. Either boiled or baked yams can be mashed into your dog’s daily meal or served on their own, either mashed or diced into small pieces. If your dog is new to yams, introduce it slowly. Because it’s full of fiber, too much too fast can cause gastrointestinal distress that may result in loose stool or diarrhea.
Yams also make wonderful dog treats when dried. For instructions on how to make some at home, check out our recipe on dehydrated veggie treats.
For More Information
We have a vast library of articles about foods that may or may not be safe for your dog to consume. Browse through our directory page with all the “Can My Dog Eat” articles here.
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