All kinds of crunchy, sweet and healthy, jicamas are a wonder food, perfectly combining healthiness and great taste (a rare enough combination!). But, can dogs eat jicama? These edible root vegetables, native to Central America and Mexico—where they make for very popular street food, sold raw with lime-juice-and-chilli-powder seasoning—are excellent when you need to combat hunger pangs with something healthy yet delicious.
While we humans go gaga over this tuber and put it on the front page of every health and cooking magazine, is the Mexican potato just as good for dogs? Just because the tuber is the star of most of your meals now, should it also find its way to your dog’s food bowl?
Here’s all you need to know about jicamas, whether or not your four-legged family member should be eating it and if yes, how best to feed him or her a healthy dose of jicama! Read on!
A Little Introduction to Jicama!
A cross between apples and water chestnuts (as described by many ardent fans of the vegetable!), jicamas are native to South America and Mexico. Though they go by many names—Mexican turnip, yam bean (completely unrelated to actual yams) and Mexican potato—they’re extremely loved, having been eaten for centuries in their native lands.
Jicama can grow up to 20 feet in length on vines, unlike other root vegetables that grow underground.
Can My Dog Eat Jicama?
Long story short—yes, your dog can eat jicama. But is ‘can’ good enough to justify ‘should be eating’?
Regardless of the breed, jicamas can be enjoyed by all canine fur babies! Low in calories and fat, this Mexican delicacy is rich in fibre, which works wonders for your dog’s gut and other essential nutrients that keep your dog healthy.
Eating Jicama Raw
Can jicamas be enjoyed raw by doggos, just as humans enjoy them? You betcha! Dogs can eat fresh jicama just as well as they can eat pan-fried jicama. If you’re in the mood to cook up a meal for your dog and a dash of spices, bear in mind that dogs can only tolerate certain spices. Onion and garlic—strict no-no!
What about Other Parts of the Vegetable?
So now that we’ve established that jicamas can be eaten and eaten raw, does that mean that every part of the vegetable is fair game for your canine? Not really! Here’s a breakdown of what parts of the jicama plant your dog can or cannot eat:
- Jicama Leaves: Long story short, jicama leaves are toxic to dogs, so under no circumstances should you let them eat jicama leaves. Unless you’re growing them in your backyard, buy jicamas without the leaves and if you are growing them in your backyard, ensure that your dogs stay far away from them. The leaves can make them really sick.
- Jicama Bulbs, Seeds and Bean Pods: Of the seeds, bulbs and bean ponds, your furry friend can only eat the root bulb. The rest of the jicama plant is strictly off-limits. Again, if you’re growing jicama in your backyard, be careful that your dog doesn’t dig up the seeds or eat stray pods.
The moral of the story? Feed your dog nothing but the jicama bulb!
How to Feed Your Dog Jicama
One of the best ways to incorporate jicama into your dog’s diet is to serve them as jicama sticks—thin slices of the root that resemble matchsticks. Ensure that you peel the jicama—the peel may contain a compound called rotenone (in addition to all the pesticides that were probably sprayed on it), which is extremely toxic to the dog.
You can also make a fancy meal of it and serve the sticks roasted or sauteed to your dog, but as mentioned earlier, remember to use spices that are dog friendly.
Remember, as it is with all new foods, introduce jicama to your dog slowly. Start with a small amount, mixed into or shredded and sprinkled over your dog’s regular food and gradually increase the amount till your dog is comfortable—and more importantly, enjoying—eating just jicama.
Both cooked and raw jicama can be fed to your dog, though cooking helps reduce any discomfort from digestion. Sticks and small pieces are good—this also reduces the risk of gastrointestinal blockage and choking.
In the initial days, keep an eye out for any digestive issues or negative reactions, such as vomiting, diarrhea and an upset stomach. In case there are any, a trip to the vet may be a good idea, especially if things don’t settle in a day or two. You may miss the signs since they’re so subtle, so it’s important to carefully monitor your dog’s health.
The Health Benefits of Jicama
Jicama brings a ton of amazing health benefits to the table—high in fibre and low in fat, they make a great guilt-free snack! In fact, some dog food companies even incorporate the root into their products.
Jicama is high in vitamin C, iron, potassium and dietary fibres. Owing to a low-fat, low-calorie, high-fibre composition, these are especially great for dogs with weight, diabetes and pancreatic issues. Since jicama doesn’t cause spikes in the blood sugar levels, the root is also great for your dog’s heart health.
Here’s a more detailed breakdown of how jicama can benefit your dog:
- Rich in Antioxidants: Jicama is brimming with antioxidants—just a quarter cup can give your dog a substantial dose of vitamins E and C, beta-carotene and selenium. These antioxidants protect against cell damage brought about by harmful free radicals that cause oxidative stress, which is linked to cognitive brain disorders, cancer and heart disease.
- A Healthy Gut: Jicama is rich in fibre, especially inulin, a prebiotic fibre that is an essential source of nutrition to the healthy bacteria in your dog’s gut. A prebiotic diet for your dog will increase the good bacteria and decrease the bad. This results in a healthy, well-balanced gut that also helps the health of the immune system, mood and weight.
- A Healthy Heart: Jicama, as mentioned, can also work wonders for your dog’s health, thanks to the presence of soluble dietary fibre and potassium. The former lowers the LDL cholesterol (the harmful kind) by preventing the reabsorption of bile in the intestines, while the latter is connected to lower blood pressure as it relaxes the blood vessels. Potassium also protects against stroke and heart disease while improving circulation.
- Better Gastrointestinal Health: It’s common knowledge that fibre is to a healthy gut what football is to Brazil—essential! All that fibre goodness in jicama promotes efficient digestion and an overall healthier gastrointestinal system by bulking up stools and preventing constipation—the inulin in jicama helps prevent constipation, which makes it great for puppers suffering from constipation or irregular defecation.
No Concerns Around Feeding My Dog Jicama? Can Dogs Eat Jicama, Seriously?
Yep, there are absolutely no concerns when it comes to feeding your dog jicama—as long as it’s only the bulb of the root and not the leaves, seeds or any other part. It bears repeating, but these are extremely toxic to your dog.
However, you don’t need to worry about this unless you’re growing jicama in your backyard, as mentioned earlier. It’s only the root that’s sold at your local supermarket or grocers’, so you’re in the clear!
It does bear noting, though, that unless your dog is constipated, feed only a small amount of jicama to your dog and watch how the fibre impacts your dog.
If there’s a more frequent need to go outside than usual, dial it back on the jicama, or maybe don’t feed your dog any at all—jicamas, while a supremely healthy treat, is not essential at all to your dog’s diet!
The Final Word – Can Dogs Eat Jicama?
With more and more folks jumping on the Latin American cuisine bandwagon, jicama is becoming a more common sight on dinner tables around the world. Turns out, for the very same reason, that it’s also becoming more common in doggie food bowls around the world!
Jicama is great for dogs, rich in fibre and micronutrients and low in carbs, fat and calories (if only all treats were this guilt-free!). The high-fibre content can prevent constipation, improve heart health and keep your dog’s gut healthy, aided by the high amounts of iron, potassium, vitamins C and E and other nutrients.
However, as magical and brilliant as jicamas are, don’t force them down your dog’s throat! As mentioned earlier, they are not an essential part of your dog’s diet, especially if your dog’s regular food is providing the required amount of nutrients to your dog. Forcing your dog to eat something he or she doesn’t like could cause more harm than good.
Additionally, on feeding, if there are any adverse reactions to the root, it’s always a good idea to take your dog to the vet—even if it’s nothing serious, you may gain some insight into your dog’s dietary preferences or a possible allergy, even.
We can definitely answer the question, can dogs eat jicama? They certainly can so give this wonder food a try and you’ll have a happy, healthy pupper on your hands!