Navigating the world of dog nutrition can be tough for pet parents. There are just so many options out there when it comes to dog food – from grain-free, kibble and wet food (to name a few), the choices are seemingly endless.
To make things more complicated, even food that is good for humans, such as some vegetables, can be toxic to dogs. Onions, for example, are always to be avoided. This is because they hold sulphur-containing oxides, which are dangerous for dogs because they destroy their red blood cells.
However, if instead of onions you’re wondering, if dogs can eat carrots and if they are safe for dogs, then you’re in luck. Because the answer is yes, carrots are a safe and healthy treat for your dog.
There are, however, a few exceptions to the “carrots are good for dogs” statement. We will go into these below, alongside the many benefits of this orange vegetable for your pup.
Why are carrots good for dogs? Carrots contain vital vitamins, nutrients, and fibre, all of which can do wonders for your dog.
Heard that carrots can help you see in the dark? Well, that’s not strictly true. However, they do contain vitamins and nutrients which are good for the eyes, both in humans and dogs.
This is largely down to the beta-carotene in carrots - the pigment that gives carrots their colour - which is converted into vitamin A, a vitamin crucial for healthy vision.
Potassium is important in a dog’s diet because it affects nerve impulses, heart function, and brain and muscle activity.
Vitamin B6 helps to maintain a potassium-sodium balance in your dog's body. Another plus is that it may help them maintain proper bladder health.
Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin. It is very important because it activates your dog's blood's ability to clot.
Carrots also contain lots of fibre which is essential for maintaining a well-balanced gut. A strong, healthy gut ensures pups’ poops stay normal, and supports everything from their skin and fur to their long-term wellbeing.
Protects against disease
On top of all that, dogs that consume more leafy green vegetables and yellow-orange vegetables (such as carrots!) have been found to be less susceptible to certain diseases and cancers. For example, according to a 2005 study by the Purdue School of Veterinary Medicine, Scottish terriers (a breed particularly prone to bladder cancer) were 70 - 90 percent less likely to develop bladder cancer when fed more of these types of vegetables.
Can dogs eat raw and/or cooked carrots?
Carrots, either raw or cooked, are a healthy and safe option for dogs and make a nutritious addition to meals.
However, when it comes to whether dogs can digest raw carrots, the story is a little different. This is because carrots have a wall of cellulose that isn’t digestible by dogs. This means that, in order to reap the full vitamin and nutrient benefits of carrots, cooked carrots can be a better choice than raw.
An even easier way to include carrots in your dog’s diet may be to choose a brand of dog food that already contains cooked carrots. Look for those that are gentle on the digestive system and free of artificial ingredients.
Are carrots bad for dogs?
As all owners know, dogs can be greedy and guzzle down food without chewing once!
This means carrots can pose a choking hazard to dogs, especially if they are the wrong size for the breed. Questioning whether to feed your dog those baby carrots? Doctors warn they are the “perfect size to get stuck in the esophagus of a 20-pound dog like a Pomeranian or Shih Tzu”.
This means it is important to cut carrots into the right sized chunks for your dog before feeding it to them. If in doubt, ask your vet!
Carrots, whilst good for dogs, also contain calories and naturally occurring sugars. This makes it important to count carrots into your dog’s overall calorie consumption for the day and adjust the rest of their meals accordingly.
Other benefits of carrots for dogs
As well as containing vital vitamins and nutrients, carrots have a number of other notable benefits for dogs:
Carrots can clean a dog’s teeth
While dogs can swallow food whole, a larger piece of carrot will force your dog to bite into it. This chewing mechanism acts as an abrasive on your dog’s teeth, cleaning plaque and any remaining food from the teeth. Celery and apple are two other great teeth cleaning options if you don’t have a carrot handy.
Carrots can be helpful for teething pups
A cold carrot can be a soothing thing for teething pups to chew on. Give it to them whole and straight out of the freezer.
Carrots: a cheap chew toy
A carrot is a cheaper and green alternative to the typical plastic chew toy. Although eco-friendly tough dog toys are also a brilliant choice if you’re looking for something durable and longer-lasting.
Carrots are not just safe for dogs, they’re positively good for them. Provided, that is, you cut them up to the right size for your breed of pooch. They’re loaded with eyesight supporting nutrients and vitamins, which are great for your pet. They’re also a cheap chew toy that can help keep your dog’s teeth clean.
Despite their many benefits, you shouldn’t overfeed your dog carrots – they still contain calories and sugars. Thinking about feeding your dog carrots for the first time? Any changes to your dog’s diet, especially if they have a sensitive stomach, should take place over a period of weeks to allow your pup to adjust. It’s best to consult a vet if you have any concerns.