It happens almost daily. There you are, peeling fresh carrots to toss into the roasting pot when few chunks fall to the kitchen floor. That’s one more mess to clean up. That is until your pup comes charging past you, nearly knocking you over to swipe the little orange stumps. Oops! Before you start worrying about how that carrot chunk will settle in your dog’s belly (and perhaps running to the store for more carrots!), it might not be a bad idea to toss another bite to your canine buddy. Can dogs eat carrots anyhow? Carrots, it seems, aren’t just healthy snacks for humans. And dogs enjoy them too.
Are Carrots Safe for Dogs?
Actually, yes. Carrots are a great alternative to treats for your dog. They are packed with vitamins and nutrients that are good for dogs. The bulky vegetables help fill them up and provide a healthy snack. Most dogs love them, especially the crunch.
As omnivores, dogs enjoy both fruits and vegetables, and meat. Of course, it’s always best to check with your veterinarian before offering your canine buddy anything other than dog food, but they do seem to really have a fondness for carrots.
How Should I Prepare Carrots for my Dog?
Let’s face it, dogs will eat anything. But they seem to like carrots a whole lot. Most will eat them any way you prepare, but a fresh, raw carrot provides that added crunch that is also helpful to clean their teeth of plaque. Think: crunchy dog treats. It’s a good idea to wash the carrots ahead of time, just like you’d do with other vegetables and fruits before serving them to your family.
Pesticides and other harmful chemicals could cause problems for your dog if they aren’t properly washed off before he snacks. Although grown differently, organic carrots may also have harsh chemicals sprayed on them so it’s always best to rinse them off before tossing them into a waiting, drooling dog mouth. It’s also a good idea to peel carrots before giving them to your dog.
The American Kennel Club suggests that, although carrots are safe for dogs, most should eat treats in moderation — about 10 percent of their diet — so it’s best to limit things like carrots to special occasions. Carrots also tend to be fibrous, and to many of them can lead to digestive issues, such as diarrhea. Despite this, fiber can be a good thing to add to your dog’s diet to help ensure that waste is properly moving through his digestive system. This is important to prevent constipation and to make sure his body can absorb the nutrients from the foods he eats.
As with most things dog, size does make a difference. Bigger dogs can get away with a few more than little dogs because they need more calories. Still, it’s best to treat them like a few-and-far-between dessert.
One more thing to consider is the size of the carrot bite you feed your dog. You’ll want to cut them down into bite-size morsels to help make sure your dog doesn’t choke on them. Your vet is the best source of information about what snacks to give your dog, so it’s best to check with them on how to serve carrots up as well.
As a side note, it’s best to lightly steam carrots before you serve them to your dog in order to maximize the nutritional benefit to your pet. Carrots have a wall of cellulose that dogs can’t digest, and cooking them can help get around that wall. Once this wall is broken down, the beta-carotene in carrots can be metabolized by a dog. Beta-carotene is a rich precursor to Vitamin A.
This nutrient supports good eye health, immune health and a healthy coat and skin. Most dogs never see a Vitamin A deficiency, but too much can become toxic. So, it’s important to make sure your dog doesn’t get too much in his diet.
Pros and Cons of Feeding Dogs Carrots
Every dog owner wants to give their best friend a little treat now and then. While there are a variety of dog treats on the market, not all are created equally from a nutritional standpoint. The AKC advises that carrots are safe for dogs, and are a great option for a nutritious snack for dogs. They are also typically more affordable than traditional treats. Because carrots are lower in calorie than most treats, small pieces can be used for things like training and rewarding.
An unexpected option is serving up carrots frozen. The AKC suggests this might be a good way to help soothe a teething puppy’s sore gums, and perhaps as a way to prevent chewing on things that don’t belong to him. Think, chew toys!
That said, carrots are also good sources of vitamins, potassium, and fiber. One of those vitamins is Vitamin A, which is important for healthy skin and coat but also to help dogs dodge night blindness. Also, deficiency in Vitamin A can make male dogs infertile and cause females to give birth to puppies with vision problems, stunted growth and possible loss of hair.
Another benefit of carrots for dogs is their high level of antioxidants. These help make sure your dog doesn’t suffer from oxidation and severe damage to tissue. Antioxidants give an electron to free radicals roaming your dog’s body and draining it of important cellular components.
As far as dental health, it’s true that most dogs do not like their teeth brushed. A vet will be the best person to help if your dog has a plaque buildup on his teeth, but tough chews or crunchy treats can help scrape it off and keep his teeth clean. Dogs naturally enjoy chewing, and the sweet crunch of carrots are an inexpensive and simple choice to help satisfy his need to chomp and keep his dental health in check.
There are a few drawbacks to giving your dog carrots as treats or as part of their meals. One concern is that carrots are loaded with fiber. Although usually good for the digestive tract and to keep dog tummy’s full, too much fiber can give your dog diarrhea. That can be difficult to manage and, if serious enough, can lead to dehydration.
Another potential downside to feeding a dog carrots is that they are high in sugar. Diabetic dogs should be given food and treats as directed by a veterinarian, and carrots can be included. However, they should be used in moderation and not as added calories, but as supplements. It’s important to check a diabetic dog’s blood glucose levels and be sure to not give him carrots if it is running high.
What About Feeding Your Dog Other Vegetables?
Many vegetables are healthy for your dog to eat as an alternative to treats. Other good choices are broccoli, Brussels sprouts, celery, cucumbers, green beans, peas, and spinach. The AKC recommends going easy on some of these, but all are safe for dogs in small quantities.
On the other hand, there are certain vegetables that aren’t safe for dogs to eat. Asparagus, garlic, onion, and mushrooms are not OK. Spinach, also, shouldn’t be the top vegetable you give your pooch. It is high in oxalic acid, which could lead to kidney damage in your dog.
Carrots are great alternative treats for dogs, as they are nutritious and low in calorie. They are good for a dog’s dental health and can be good to serve frozen for teething puppies. If you choose to serve your pooch carrots, it’s best to chop them into bite-size chunks to avoid choking. It’s also important to rinse them thoroughly and peel them before feeding them to your dog.
Cook carrots by lightly steaming them before giving them to a dog. This will help ensure that he can properly absorb and digest beta-carotene, an important precursor to Vitamin A. Too much of this nutrient, however, can cause kidney failure in dogs, so be sure to not overdo it. Check with your vet to find out how many carrots to feed your dog and how often to let him have these sweet treats.
Carrots are rich in antioxidants, which can help prevent the breakdown of tissue in your dog. They are also high in potassium, which helps muscles and nerves work properly. Carrots are also packed with critical sodium, a mineral that helps nutrients get into cells and removes waste products out of cells. Too much sodium, though, can make your dog overly thirsty, cause diarrhea and vomiting and even make him confused. At worst, it can cause seizures and lead to coma.