Pumpkin vs Sweet Potato For Dogs

Photo by Cloud on Flickr

I love these types of comparisons because it allows me to really look in detail at two popular vegetables before making a decision on which one is the best one for my dog.

It might help if you have a pen and paper handy to jot a few notes down because there are a lot of numbers in this article. 

I just hope that you enjoy reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it. 

Pumpkin vs sweet potato- nutrition overview

To start, I want to see how these two rock stars in the world of orange vegetables stack up when it comes to some of the basics of nutrition.

But first, a little explanation.

I am comparing fresh and canned versions of these vegetables because outside of October and November, it is nigh on impossible to get hold of a fresh pumpkin.

The data about the canned varieties are from cans with no added salt.

Standard canned vegetables tend to have lots (and I mean huge amounts) of salt in them which isn’t great for dogs.

So when you can, choose cans “with no added salt.”

100g servingFresh Raw Sweet PotatoCanned sweet potatoFresh Raw PumpkinCanned pumpkin
Total fat.1%.3 %.1%.3%
Fibre3%3 %.5%2.9%
Water content77.3%72.5%91.6%90%

Pumpkins and sweet potatoes might both be orange but this is where their similarities might end.

Fresh sweet potato vs fresh pumpkin

Let me try and stick to the big differences- otherwise there are so many numbers that you might be stuck here all day.

Fresh sweet potatoes have three times the calories of fresh pumpkin and they contain three times as many carbohydrates. 

A surprising figure could be the fibre content. 

Sweet potato has six times the amount of fibre that raw pumpkin does and nearly one and half more sugar as well.

I think we are beginning to see where all of those calories are coming from?!

Another factor in the calories count is that pumpkin contains so much more water than sweet potato- 91.6% to 77.3 %. 

Canned sweet potato vs canned pumpkin

So the differences between the fresh versions tend to stay the same in the canned versions.

For instance canned sweet potatoes and canned pumpkin have more calories, more carbohydrates and more sugar than the fresh varieties.  

However the canned vegetables have a slightly lower level of water content than their fresh counterparts. 

But, an interesting difference is that canned sweet potato has the same fiber content as fresh sweet potato.

But canned pumpkin has nearly six times the fibre content of its fresh equivalent. 

Pumpkin vs sweet potato- vitamins

Moving on to look at the vitamins… 

I have added a column, “daily value” which shows per 100g of food, how much of each vitamin a dog should get.

I have taken these values from these charts– which are in turn based on these charts created by the experts

Fresh sweet potatoes have both higher contents of vitamin A and beta carotene- and beta carotene is a substance that will be turned into vitamin A after it is absorbed into the body.

For every 100g of food that they eat, dogs should have about 500 IU of vitamin A.

Whilst raw pumpkin offers sixteen times that amount, sweet potatoes have twenty eight times the concentration.

Now don’t worry- these massive overdoses aren’t anything to worry about as sweet potato or pumpkin aren’t added regularly into your dog’s diet. 

Fresh sweet potato is a good source of vitamin B6 in that it contains more than a dog strictly needs whereas fresh pumpkin contains about half of what a dog needs. 

Dogs don’t strictly need any vitamin C or vitamin K from any food because these vitamins are made in the dog’s own body- and I can’t find any reliable conversion to turn IU units into mg (milligram)!

But fresh pumpkin has a much more vitamin C in it than sweet potato. 

Canned vs fresh sweet potato

Canned sweet potatoes have a much lower amount of vitamin A and vitamin B6 in than fresh potato. 

But the canned variety has a higher dose of Vitamin C, E and K.

Canned vs fresh pumpkin

Whereas the contrast between canned and fresh pumpkin is slightly different. 

Here the canned variety contains more vitamin but slightly less of the vitamin B6.

Canned pumpkin also contains about half the vitamin C of fresh pumpkin but canned pumpkin has some vitamin E whereas fresh pumpkin does.

But the biggest difference is that canned pumpkin has sixteen times as much vitamin K as fresh pumpkin. 

Canned sweet potato vs canned pumpkin

This comparison shows that canned pumpkin contains far more vitamin A than canned sweet potatoes and far more vitamin K.

But as far as vitamin C is concerned or vitamin B6 canned sweet potato contains more. 

Pumpkin vs sweet potato: minerals

And to finish the nutritional analysis, we will now look at mineral content.

100g servingDaily valueFresh Raw Sweet PotatoCanned sweet potatoFresh Raw PumpkinCanned pumpkin
Copper.151 mg.167 mg.127 mg.107 mg
Manganese.258 mg.615 mg.125 mg.149 mg
Iron.61 mg.95 mg.80 mg1.39 mg
Magnesium25 mg12 mg12 mg23 mg

Firstly the fresh stuff.

Fresh sweet potato contains about 20 % more copper than pumpkin. 

It also contains more than double the amount of manganese and double the amount of magnesium. 

Fresh pumpkin contains about 25% more iron than fresh sweet potatoes. 

Canned comparison

Canned sweet potato contains about 50% more copper than canned pumpkin and just over four times as much manganese.

But not to be outdone, canned pumpkin has nearly 50% more iron and nearly double the amount of magnesium. 

Canned sweet potato vs fresh sweet potato

Canned sweet potato is a much better source of minerals than its fresh relation. 

It easily contains more copper manganese and iron. 

However, fresh sweet potato manages to kick some butt at least when it comes to magnesium!

Canned pumpkin vs fresh pumpkin

And finally, let’s take a deep breath and compare the two varieties of pumpkin. 

Once again, mineral wise, cans come out on top.

They have more manganese and significantly more iron and magnesium than fresh pumpkin.

But fresh pumpkin leads the way when it comes to copper, containing just less than 20% more than fresh pumpkin.

And that is it- no more nutrition data, I promise!

But I’m not sure how much more pleasant the next section will be as I will be talking about diarrhea.

Pumpkin vs sweet potato- diarrhea

Pumpkin or more specifically canned pumpkin is a popular home remedy for diarrhea.

And the reason for this is the high fibre content and the fact that it is high in key vitamins. 

But, here’s the rub.

As we have found from our analysis, canned or fresh sweet potato has the same amount of fibre as canned pumpkin and the same vitamins.

So why is it not recommended as well as diarrhea.

Is it because sweet potatoes have more carbohydrates?

Well, that is true.

Fresh sweet potato is 20% carbohydrate whilst fresh pumpkin is only 6.5%.

But white rice, which is another mainstay of diarrhea home remedies is 28% carbohydrate

So it can’t be that can it?!

Perhaps, it is also the very high water content that pumpkin has?

After all it has 13% more water in it than sweet potato.

And keeping a dog with diarrhea hydrated is very, very important. 

And can I let you into a little secret?

Sweet potato is my go to cure for diarrhea with my Golden Retrievers.

Any sign of a nasty tummy upset and I swap a main meal for a portion of sweet potato. 

Yes, their poop turns completely orange but within 8- 10 hours it has turned from liquid back to solid. 

Next time your dog has tummy issues, give sweet potato a try…

Pumpkin vs sweet potato: availability

80% of the pumpkins grown are harvested ready for Halloween (and Thanksgiving.)

That means that trying to get hold of a fresh one all year round is like finding a needle in a haystack!

To prove this, I have just been to kroger.com and wholefoods.com to see if I could buy fresh pumpkin or fresh sweet potatoes.

Fresh sweet potatoes are freely available at both grocery stores but I couldn’t find a fresh pumpkin for love nor money.

Well, that’s an exaggeration but you get my giste.

And the funny thing was that at both stores the number of pumpkin products is in the hundreds- just not fresh ones. 

And actually, it is like that in the UK.

Obviously our demand for pumpkins isn’t as huge as it is in the US.

I mean Halloween although growing in popularity isn’t quite as big as it is in the US and Brits don’t have Thanksgiving and so pumpkin pie is almost unheard of.

But, fresh pumpkins are only available in October and I’m not sure that there are many places that would stock canned pumpkin.  

Pumpkin vs sweet potato for dogs- which is better?

I have really enjoyed creating this comparison and looking in great depth at these two orange vegetable deities.

If I had to choose between pumpkin or sweet potato as a regular addition to your dog’s diet, I would opt for pumpkin because I think it is a healthier choice.

It doesn’t contain the same level of carbohydrates (including sugar) that sweet potatoes do and for that reason pumpkin wins the head to head.

I think it is sensible to cut down on your dog’s consumption of carbohydrates in any way that you can.

In terms of choosing which one to use for a home remedy for diarrhea?

Well, I’m a bit biased because I use sweet potato and it works very well for me- well not me as such…

And looking at the data, I can’t quite understand why pumpkin is so highly rated…

James Grayston

My name is James and I love dogs. have owned four Golden Retrievers in the past 15 years. Currently I own two "Goldies"- a five year old and a seven month old. The photo shows me with our youngest when she was about 7 weeks old!