You already know that carrots are incredibly healthy for you, but what about your dog? Can they eat carrots? The answer is yes, carrots are just as good for dogs as they are for humans.
However, that doesn’t mean you should start shoving carrots in your dog’s face like they’re Bugs Bunny. There are a few things that you should know before you start tampering with your pooch’s diet, and we go over them in this guide.
Disclaimer: Before changing your dog’s diet or introducing new ingredients or supplements that they haven’t eaten before, especially when it comes to human food, make sure to consult your veterinarian first. Every dog is different and requires an individual approach to nutrition, depending on their age, health, level of activity, and medical history. Guidelines offered in our article have been fact checked and approved by a veterinarian but should be used as a mere guide on food safety, rather than an individual nutrition plan.
Are Carrots Safe for Dogs?
Carrots are absolutely safe for most dogs. Still, there are a few important considerations to keep in mind before offering carrots to your pooch.
That said, don’t expect them to get as excited for a carrot as they do for junk food.
The Benefits of Feeding Your Dog Carrots
If you’re trying to decide between giving your dog a carrot or a pint of doggy-safe ice cream, the first benefit should be clear: Carrots are a low-calorie food. You can feed your dog many carrots and not come close to replicating the number of calories that they’d get from other, less healthy snacks.
Carrots are full of important nutrients like vitamin A, which is essential for proper growth, development of the muscles and neurological system, and a powerful immune response. They also have antioxidants, which can do everything from fighting inflammation to neutralizing free radicals, but further research is required to confirm the benefits of antioxidants in dogs.
There’s truth to that adage about how you never see rabbits wearing glasses: Carrots are excellent for maintaining healthy eyesight. They’re loaded with beta carotene, lycopene, and lutein, all of which may help protect your pup’s peepers, in case of vitamin A deficiency, but further research is required to confirm these benefits in dogs without vitamin deficiencies.
Your dog can see benefits from carrots even if they don’t eat them. Their tough texture makes them excellent teething toys, especially if they’re frozen, and they can keep your puppy from gnawing on your couch or shoes (or you). Still, supervise your pup during chewing, as some may try to swallow a large chunk, which presents a choking hazard, and frozen carrots can be quite firm and may fracture teeth in some dogs.
Furthermore, gnawing on a carrot may help remove a bit of plaque from your dog’s teeth, giving them a nice little cleaning. It’s not enough to replace the daily brushing that they need, but it’s a nice bonus.
Are There Any Risks to Giving Your Dog a Carrot?
Carrots aren’t risky in terms of their nutritional content, though as with anything, your dog could get an upset stomach if they eat too many.
There are around 9.6 grams of carbohydrates in 100 grams of raw carrots. Raw carrots have a fairly low glycemic index of 16 (out of 100 for sugar itself), and for boiled carrots, it ranges from 32 to 49. However, carrots are much healthier snacks than dog treats or most table scraps, so we wouldn’t worry too much about your dog getting overweight unless they’re ingesting whole bags of the things.
A bigger concern is the choking risk that carrots pose. This risk will vary from dog to dog; some will chew the carrots into manageable little pieces, while others will gobble down huge chunks at a time. If your pup falls into the latter category, you’ll have to cut the carrots for them (but not in round chunks) or cook them so they’re nice and soft.
Also, be careful about giving your dog carrots that were originally cooked for human consumption. The risk here isn’t the carrots themselves, but rather the other ingredients that might have been in the dish. Ingredients that are commonly found in cooked carrot dishes include garlic, onions, or certain spices, all of which can be toxic to dogs or at least cause an upset stomach.
You should also be sure to wash the carrots thoroughly before serving them if you’re not going to peel them. You want to remove any traces of pesticides, herbicides, or any other chemicals that could be left on them from their time on the farm.
How to Convince Your Dog to Eat Carrots
If you want your dog to take advantage of the nutritional benefits of carrots but you can’t convince them to eat the things, there are a few tricks that you can try to change their mind. Understand, however, that if your dog has a strong enough distaste for the veggie, there’s likely nothing that you can do to convince them to give it a try.
The easiest thing to do is experiment with different cooking methods. Some pups will happily gobble down a raw carrot, while others prefer them to be cooked or mashed. Of course, some dogs will eat them regardless of how they’re prepared, while others won’t touch them no matter what you do.
You can mash or puree the carrots and mix them with your dog’s food in hopes that they won’t notice. Remember that dogs will primarily judge the food based on its scent, not its appearance, so you might be able to overpower the carrot smell by adding chicken broth or something similar.
You can also try cutting the carrots into sticks and soaking them in boiling water and chicken stock. The chicken flavor will seep into the carrot sticks, making them delightful treats that you can use as training rewards if you like. But if your dog doesn’t like carrots, respect that, and find other safe dog treats that they can happily enjoy.
Carrots are one of the best (and yes, safest) foods that you can serve your dog. They’re loaded with vitamins that are essential for protecting your dog’s eyes, nerves, muscles, and more. Plus, they can double as engaging chew toys that may clean your dog’s teeth at the same time.
Carrots are not without their drawbacks, as they can pose a choking hazard and have a moderate amount of natural sugar inside, but for the most part, carrots are fantastic snacks for any pooch.
The hardest part might be to convince your dog to eat them!
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