- Not a substitute for professional veterinary help.
Yams– and their doppelganger the sweet potato– are excellent sources of vitamins and fiber. For us humans, they have powerful antioxidant properties – vitamin b6, minerals, and beta-carotene all help fight infection and disease.
But can your dog eat yams and still enjoy the same benefits? Read on to learn how these benefits carry over to our furry best friends.
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 a specialty store as yams are imported. 95% of yams are grown on the continent of Africa.
Yams tend to be cylindrical and less sweet. When grocers label the orange-fleshed variety of sweet potato as “Yam,” they’re trying to differentiate between the two most common variety of sweet potatoes.
Sweet potatoes are a staple crop from the Americas. You are used to seeing them as an orange-fleshed tuber with copper-brown skin. Or golden-skinned with a soft, pale flesh. The golden tend to be less sweet.
Can My Dog Eat Yams?
Yams, both true and of the sweet potato variety, are an excellent supplement to your dog’s meal in small, cooked, unseasoned servings.
While some true yams can be toxic when eaten raw, the sweet potato variety can be eaten raw in moderation. (They are harder to eat and digest raw, however.) Canned yams can also contain preservatives and sugar, which can be harmful in large doses for your dog.
If your dog has nabbed a cooked yam off your counter, they will likely be fine. Cooked sweet potatoes, even the sweet ones, should be fine as well, though beware if the cooked variety contains nutmeg, which is toxic to dogs.
Symptoms to Watch For
If your dog has gotten a hold of a raw true yam, they may still be fine. Not all yams contain tannins, which is what makes some varieties toxic raw. It pays to be aware of the following symptoms:
If your dog exhibits these or any other odd distressing behavior after eating raw yams, it’s time to call the emergency vet for next steps.
Including Yams in Your Dog’s Diet
Thankfully, including a bit of healthy yam in your dog’s diet is pretty easy. Slice a few ½” coins from a raw yam. Boil until soft enough to put your fork through, and cool until slightly warm to the touch. Fork this soft mash into your dog’s food bowl, either by itself or with their regular food. Be careful about how much you give your dog initially, though. As will all things with tons of fiber, too much can cause gastrointestinal distress, leaving you with an unexpected mess.
Dried yam can also make wonderful dog treats. For instructions on how to make some at home, check out our recipe on dehydrated veggie treats. I’d avoid sharing any Thanksgiving/holiday leftovers that have yam/sweet potato as nutmeg is usually present in those dishes.
As always, let your vet know that you want to add some cooked yam or sweet potato to your dog’s meals. They’ll be able to recommend an amount that is appropriate for the size and breed of your dog, as well as help you steer clear of any messy fiber pitfalls.
For More Information
We have many different articles on which types of food that may or may not be safe for your dog to indulge in. Browse through our directory page with all the “Can My Dog Eat” articles here.