Knowing which foods your dog can and can’t eat is one of the most important things about being a dog owner. As everyone knows, dogs are quite capable of eating anything and everything! Dogs are naturally curious about different foods and will often eat first and think later—usually without you even noticing. Unfortunately, this means that he might happily chow down on something he finds that isn’t good for him, or may even make him sick.
Of course, it’s also possible for a dog owner to feed their precious companion a particular food that they think is okay, but turns out to be harmful. Knowing what foods dogs can and can't eat isn't always straightforward.
There are lots of foods out there that harbor nutritional benefits for both humans and dogs. In fact, you might be surprised to find out how many different fruits and vegetables dogs can eat!
One food that regularly causes a lot of confusion is carrots.
Carrots are a root vegetable that is most commonly bright orange, but can also come in yellow, white, orange, red, and purple colors. Carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A, and renowned for their ability to support healthy vision (among other benefits!).
But, can dogs eat carrots?
Are carrots good for dogs to eat?
Yes! Carrots are safe for dogs, and therefore dogs can eat carrots. They’re not only a safe choice of vegetable but an excellent source of nutrients. They’re also perfect as a reward for good behavior during your dog’s training sessions and free from the added sugars of commercial dog treats. Not all dogs eat carrots—but those who will can reap some great benefits.
The benefits of giving your dog carrots
Carrots are a rich source of vitamin A. Carrots are one of the best vegetable sources of beta carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is crucial for good vision, which will help your doggo to see in the dark! Vitamin A is also very important for growth, development, and proper immune function.
Carrots help with digestive function. Fiber is important in any animal’s diet because it helps to move waste through the digestive tract. Carrots are particularly rich in soluble fiber, which keeps your dog’s bowels regular. Soluble fiber also nourishes the ‘friendly’ bacteria that reside in the intestines and help with the breakdown of nutrients. If your dog has diarrhea or loose stools, adding carrots to his diet can add bulk to his stools.
Carrots provide important antioxidants. The carotenoids in carrots provide powerful antioxidant activity that helps to fight off the damage caused by free radicals. In dogs, antioxidants are crucial for healthy immune function and reducing the risk of many chronic illnesses such as heart disease, various degenerative issues, and certain types of cancer.
Carrots help with dental care. Frozen carrots can help improve your dog’s dental health by gently scraping the teeth as they chew. This also helps to reduce the buildup of plaque. Many dog chew treats are designed to mechanically scrape the teeth in this same way, but carrots are a much healthier option. They’ll also help to massage the gums and give your dog’s teeth a gentle, daily cleaning.
Carrots are a natural multivitamin. Along with fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants, carrots provide a host of other beneficial nutrients: potassium, folate, and Vitamin K1. Vitamin K is a type of fat-soluble vitamin that plays an important role in blood clotting, bone metabolism, and regulating blood calcium levels.
- Carrots provide sustained energy. The carbohydrate content of carrots is mostly starch and sugars such as sucrose and glucose. Raw carrots have the lowest glycaemic index, which means the sugars are released slowly, providing energy throughout the day. These are also beneficial for dogs with diabetes, as they won’t cause your dog’s sugar levels to spike suddenly. Cooked and pureed carrots have a higher GI, but still provide an abundance of nutrients.
Can carrots be bad for dogs?
Carrots are safe for dogs. But as with most fruits and vegetables, carrots should be given in moderation. While they’re a low-calorie treat, they do contain a high amount of natural sugar. Eating too many carrots every day can add unnecessary calories to your dog’s diet, which can lead to weight gain and other health issues.
The high fiber content of carrots can also cause gastrointestinal problems if your dog eats too many in one sitting. Large amounts of plant fiber can cause gas, bloating, or a tummy upset if he’s not used to it. Be sure your dog has plenty of fresh drinking water to help the fiber move through his digestive system without problems.
How to prepare carrots for dogs
Remember: before feeding a new food to your precious pooch, be sure to talk to your veterinarian about the ideal serving size.
In most cases, you can feed your dog carrots in much the same way as you’d eat them yourself. Wash and peel them first, especially if you have bought them from a grocery store. Slice them into small sticks or rounds, depending on your dog’s size. Even baby carrots can be a choking hazard for smaller dogs. Keep serving sizes moderate—it’s entirely possible to have too much of a good thing!
It’s important to note that carrots contain cellulose, a type of fiber that cannot be broken down in the gut. This is why you may see chunks of carrot in your dog’s stools! While this is still helpful for his fiber intake, you can help your dog reap all the amazing nutritional benefits of carrots by lightly cooking them.
Steamed fresh carrots are a great way to add texture and flavor to your dog’s meals, and you'll find that he loves them as much as raw carrots. Steaming (versus boiling) also helps to retain much of the nutrients in the carrots.
As mentioned above, frozen carrots also make a great dental treat for your dog. Just make sure you’re close by when he’s eating them, and watch for any signs of choking.
As a special treat, why not add a bit of peanut butter on top of a carrot? Even the pickiest of eaters will enjoy that.
Learn more about foods that dogs can and can't eat