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.
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?