Can I Give My Dog Carrots?
When it comes to dog treats, there are two things all pet owners agree upon: 1) they smell weirdly delicious, and 2) they are painfully expensive. This is especially true for the health-conscious pet owners who look for dog treats that are made of whole food ingredients and low in added salt and sugar. So, as health AND budget-conscious pet owners, many of us stalk the grocery store aisles looking for affordable ‘people food’ treat options. The produce aisle is the first place to go for health, but when we take cost into consideration, the list of potential dog treats narrows. Carrots, however, are cheap year-round, store well, and require little preparation.
But most dog owners have also come to realize that some fruits and vegetables can be dangerous for our pets. So, can dogs have carrots? Are these crunchy orange vegetables a good treat option, or does gobbling up a carrot necessitate a trip to the vet’s office?
Good news: Carrots aren’t just an ‘okay’ option, they are probably one of the best vegetables you could feed your dog! Carrots are cheap, nontoxic, and, full of potential health benefits that will keep you and your dog coming back for more. Bonus: most dogs adore carrots, raw or cooked. It seems that they truly are nature’s dog treat.
Carrots are known mostly for their bright orange pigment, but that brilliant color does more than just look pretty: carrots get their color from beta-carotene, which the body converts to Vitamin A. Vitamin A has a ton of health benefits for your dog! This vitamin plays a key role in maintaining eye health, which is why we associate carrots with strong eyesight. Maintaining healthy levels of this important vitamin will help prevent cataracts and macular degeneration, which are the two leading causes of blindness in canines.
Vitamin A is also a key component of healthy skin and a soft, luxurious coat. Supplementing your dog’s diet with carrots may help their fur stay silky, healthy, and dandruff-free. Healthy skin is also itch-free skin, so a dog who is getting enough Vitamin A will be far more comfortable than one who isn’t. It’s important to note that our canine companions can’t convert beta-carotene to Vitamin A as efficiently as we can, though, so carrots shouldn’t be the only source of this vital nutrient in your dog’s diet.
One more note about Vitamin A: because this powerful vitamin is fat soluble, consuming too much of it can result in Vitamin A toxicity, which occurs when it builds up inside your dog’s body. Fortunately, you would have to feed your dog massive amounts of carrots to reach toxic levels. If your dog is already taking a supplement, however, make sure to limit the amount of beta-carotene that they eat on a regular basis. Moderation is important!
Our favorite orange root vegetables are also very high in fiber, which accounts for a good chunk of their health benefits. Fiber works as a natural sort of ‘broom’ that sweeps out the colon, moving waste through quickly and efficiently (and therefore relieving or preventing constipation). But, since fiber absorbs water, it can also help treat diarrhea by soaking up extra fluid inside your dog’s intestines. Less fluid sitting around means firmer, fuller stool. Just be careful not to overdo it—too much fiber may actually cause diarrhea!
In addition to regulating your dog’s digestion, fiber reduces the risk of some cancers (particularly colon cancer), heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. The high fiber content and the low calorie content found in carrots make it a perfect food for pudgy dogs who are trying to drop a couple pounds—since fiber takes up a lot of space inside the stomach, it fills up your pup without adding a whole lot of calories. This means that your dog gets to eat fewer calories without feeling physically hungry. Who wouldn’t love to eat their way to weight loss?
Things to Keep in Mind
Carrots are a great, pain-free way to clean your dog’s teeth, too. The crunchy, fibrous quality of carrot flesh serves as a sort of edible tooth brush, scratching plaque off your dog’s teeth and lowering their chances of developing cavities. Carrots, of course, are not a substitute for a toothbrush, but they’re a great addition to your dog’s oral hygiene routine.
Whether raw or lightly cooked, carrots are a spectacular food to feed your dog regularly. They are high in fiber, full of the vitamins that protect skin, eye and coat health, and low in fat and calories. They can help regulate your dog’s digestion, easing diarrhea and constipation. In their raw form, these crunchy orange vegetables make great toothbrushes, too. Just remember to practice moderation: while your dog can benefit from eating small amounts of carrots regularly, overdoing it may result in stomach upset or digestive problems.