Jicama is probably one of the most amazing tubers that neither you nor your dog are eating. Unless you grew up with jicama in your kitchen, it can be an intimidating root vegetable because most Western households have traditionally not used it. Thankfully, this is changing. But as more and more people begin incorporating jicama into their meal planning, the question is raised about whether or not jicama is safe for dogs to eat.
Jicama is kind of like an apple crossed with a water chestnut. Unlike other root vegetables, jicama is cultivated on vines, which can grow up to 20-feet long. Jicama is native to Mexico and South America and goes be a few names: Mexican potato, Mexican turnip and yam bean (though, it is not related to the yam). The tuberous legume has been eaten throughout Central America for centuries. The Greek meaning for its scientific name, Pachyrhizus erosus, means thick root.
Is jicama healthy for dogs?
Yes, dogs can eat jicama. Replete with vitamin C, dietary fibers, iron and potassium, jicama is a healthy treat for dogs. In fact, jicama is dense with nutrients, but low in calories and fat. These three properties make jicama a beneficial food for dogs who are either struggling with their weight, or dogs who are on pancreatic or diabetic diets.5
However, dogs can only eat the bulb of the jicama root. The leaves, stock and seeds of the jicama plant are toxic to dogs. But unless you're growing jicama in your garden, you won't need to worry about these parts of the plant. The bulb of the jicama root is what grocers sell at your local market, and neither you or your dog will come into contact with the toxic parts of the jicama plant.
Benefits of jicama for dogs
Brimming with antioxidants Just a single 1/4 cup serving of jicama provides dogs with four essential antioxidants: vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium and beta carotene. Antioxidants protect dogs against cell damage caused by free radicals, which are the harmful molecules that cause oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress is linked to diseases like cancer, heart disease and cognitive brain disorders. Antioxidant-rich foods like jicama reduce the risk of these diseases to your dog.
Good for healthy gut bacteria Jicama is rife with a prebiotic fiber called inulin, which feeds your dogs healthy gut bacteria. Dogs who eat a prebiotic diet increase their "good" gut bacteria and decreases the "bad" bacteria, which results in a well-balanced gut flora that positively impacts weight, mood and immune system health.
May boost cardiovascular health Jicama provides your dog with two key nutrients that are known to improve heart health.
Jicama is rich in soluble dietary fiber which can lower bad LDL cholesterol in dogs. The soluble fiber in jicama also helps dogs lower their cholesterol levels naturally by preventing bile from being reabsorbed in the intestines.
Jicama also contains a high amount of potassium which veterinary researchers have connected to lower blood pressure by relaxing your dogs blood vessels. One study suggests that potassium improves circulation and protects against heart disease and stroke.
Promotes gastrointestinal health The same dietary fiber in jicama that benefits your dog's cardiovascular system also promotes efficient digestion and gastrointestinal health. Dietary fiber bulks up stools, which makes jicama an ideal treatment for dog's who are suffering from diarrhea.
In addition to dietary fibers and antioxidants, jicama is also rife with inulin. One study suggests that inulin can increase your dog's bowel movements by up to 31 percent, which is promising for pups with constipation. This is yet another property that makes jicama an effective digestive regulator for dogs suffering from irregular defecation.
How to prepare jicama for dogs
Dogs can have difficulty digesting new foods. It's usually nothing serious. The difficulty with new foods will often manifest as digestion discomfort, upset stomach and in extreme cases: diarrhea or vomiting. Pet parents often won't notice when their dogs are suffering because the signs are so subtle.
However, it's best to anticipate the potential for problems when introducing new foods like jicama to your dog by occasionally feeding them small amounts over a period of 1-2 weeks. This introduction strategy helps dogs acclimate with fewer complications.
Dogs can eat jicama raw or cooked. Cooking usually helps to further mitigate any digestional discomfort, but dogs are quite able to eat raw jicama as well. Jicama can be shredded and sprinkled on top of your dog's chow, or simply served in small bites. Be sure to cut jicama into small pieces to reduce the risk of choking or gastrointestinal blockage.
Are there any concerns with feeding jicama to dogs?
Toxic poisoning from leaves, stock, skin and seeds is the biggest concern when feeding jicama to dogs. As long as your dog is eating the bulbous root of the jicama plant, poisoning is not a problem to worry about.
Native to Mexico and South America, jicama is a healthy treat for dogs. While it is not widely used across the U.S., this flavorful and crisp tuber is becoming widespread as Americans incorporate more Latin American cuisines into their diets.
While the bulbous root of the jicama plant is safe for dogs to eat, the leaves, stock, skin and seeds are toxic. But this isn't much of a worry because grocery stores typically only sell the edible part of the jicama plant.
Jicama is brimming with antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium and beta carotene. It's also rich in potassium, dietary fibers and inulin. The nutrients in jicama help dogs maintain a healthy cardiovascular system, immune system and gastrointestinal system. It's also a low-calorie, no-fat alternative for overweight dogs who may be on a pancreatic or diabetic diet.
Curious about what other foods your dog can eat? Check out our guide to everything your dog can and cannot eat.