Can Dogs Eat Carrots?
If you want to share your dinner with your dog, then there are a number of different fruits, vegetables, and other foods that are safe to give to them.
So how about carrots? In this post, we’re going to take a look and see if dogs can eat carrots – or whether you should save them for your rabbits!
The short version of this story is that yes, dogs can eat carrots. As with any human food though, it is important that they enjoy carrots in moderation, and there are certainly some caveats to consider if you want to ensure they enjoy them safely.
When giving dogs any kind of fruit or vegetable, there are generally two issues that you need to consider. One is the danger of giving them anything with too much sugar. Dogs are smaller than humans and if you give them a small amount of sugar for us, it is actually a large amount of sugar for them. This is why some fruits are not safe for dogs.
The good news is that carrots and other vegetables in generally are typically much lower in their sugar content than fruits like grapes or cherries (not good for dogs!).
If you give your dog carrots, they will get a small amount of sugar for energy, but it won’t be enough to lead to serious issues like nerve damage or increased risk of obesity and diabetes.
The other danger when thinking of giving human food like vegetables to dogs, is that it might contain too much fiber. While fiber is very good for dogs and humans in smaller quantities, if you give them too much it can become problematic. Dogs have slightly different digestion as compared with humans, and if they get too much fiber this can then cause gastrointestinal problems like gas, like constipation, like diarrhea, and like a range of other problems.
For all these reasons, you should focus on giving your dog foods that aren’t too high in either sugar or fiber.
While carrots do contain more sugar than meats, and while they do contain a bit of fiber, neither of these things are in high enough quantities as to pose a serious risk for your dogs. Your dog can safely eat a carrot every day. Just don’t give your dog significantly more than one carrot a day, or you might find that you’re picking up a lot of stool from the garden!
HEALTH BENEFITS OF CARROTS FOR DOGS
So now that you know that dogs can eat carrots, the next question is: should your dog eat carrots?
The simple answer is yes: carrots are very good for dogs!
One of the big problems with the diets that many dogs eat is that they are entirely reliant on a single source. Many of us will find one dog food product that we like and then rely on that entirely to form the majority of their diet. We don’t vary different types of food and we don’t think to change their diet up from time to time.
No matter how well formulated your dog food is, there’s no way that it can entirely replace a balanced and varied diet that your dog would be expected to find naturally in the wild. This is the same for humans: there is no single ready meal that a human can eat every day without eventually becoming ill!
Even if your dog is getting enough energy and enough of everything else, they will likely be missing out on some nutrients: whether those are omega 3, calcium, magnesium, manganese, vitamin A, potassium… you name it!
In order to ensure that your dog is eating a healthy and balance diet, you should:
- Try to feed your dog more than one dog food product – and better yet, try to give them a range of different products.
- Give your dog a little human food as well to help them get a varied and mixed diet. That could mean occasionally giving them some banana, a little bit of watermelon, or in this case… a carrot!
So what benefits can you expect them to get from carrots? Here are just a few:
The vitamin A and beta carotene found in carrots makes them excellent for a host of health benefits in dogs. This is perhaps best known for the significant boost in eye health that it can provide. Dogs that eat lots of carrots can expect to enjoy better vision and avoid problems like macular degeneration and cataracts. These are actually serious issues that affect a lot of older dogs and it’s not common to see old dogs with glazed over eyes who struggle to see in the dark or bump into things like chairs and table legs.
Giving your dog a healthy source of vitamin A such as carrots can help them to avoid these issues and see clearly into old age.
Vitamin A also has a lot of other general benefits for dogs and humans alike. Vitamin A helps to improve healing and recovery from wounds for instance, and it also helps to generally strengthen and improve the skin. This means that vitamin A can help to prevent dogs from suffering with fleas and other skin problems that can otherwise leave them very unhealthy.
One of the components found in carrots called lutein can further help to boost eye health. But recent studies suggest that the benefits go beyond this and also help to increase brain function. Studies show that young children who get enough lutein in their diet are more likely to perform well in exams and academically in general. This makes sense when you consider that the eye is in fact actually an external part of the brain!
While we have no evidence that this same effect would be seen in dogs, it is highly likely that it would have a similar benefit. What’s more, is that lutein has also been shown to be effective at boosting mitochondrial function. The mitochondria are the “energy factories” of the cells that convert glucose into ATP and fuel our actions. When you increase lutein, you actually boost your ability to burn fat and you increase your energy levels. Studies show that when you give lutein to mice, they run further on their wheels voluntarily and burn more calories/lose weight as a result.
Carrots are actually fantastic for your dog’s teeth. This isn’t because of some added nutrient, but rather thanks to the fact that carrots contain a healthy amount of fiber. Too much fiber is bad for dogs, as we’ve already seen, but in smaller quantities it can be beneficial.
Not only this, but the type of fiber found in carrots is perfect for teeth. When you bite into a carrot, it helps to “brush” the teeth and clean them, brushing away things like plaque, acting like a “natural” dog toothbrush.
Chances are that you don’t clean your dog’s teeth daily as you do your own, and this is why many dogs have bad breath. If this leads to the development of cavities, then it can be a serious issue for your dog that impairs their ability to play and to enjoy their food – the two things that dogs love most in life!
Carrots can also combat cancer. This is thanks to the content of antioxidants, but also due to numerous other elements found in carrots. Studies show that carrots help to reduce the likelihood of lung cancer, as well as the likelihood of numerous other types of cancer.
Finally, carrots are a great choice for dogs because they provide a low-fat snack. They are tasty, they are easy to ingest, and they don’t contain lots of calories or lots of fat.
This is similar to how we might try to trick kids into eating fruit instead of snacks. Your dog wants to share what you’ve got at the table, they want to enjoy something a bit sweet that feels like a treat… Why not give them a carrot and minimize the damage while also ensuring that they get a host of additional health benefits?
HOW TO GIVE YOUR DOG CARROTS
If you want to share carrots with your dog, then one way to do it is to chop them up small and boil them. You can then place the smaller pieces of carrot in their food bowl with the rest of their food.
That said, it’s fine to give your dog carrots raw with the skin on, too. So there’s no harm in just holding out a carrot for your dog to bite the end off – which will be even better for their teeth!
Note that it is possible for dogs to overdose on carrots though, so just keep it to one a day or ideally one every few days. And be sure to check if there are already carrots in the dog food you are giving them!