You already know that carrots are incredibly healthy for you, but what about your dog? Can they eat carrots? The answer is yes, and they’re just as good for your pooch as they are for you.
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’ll go over them in this guide.
Are Carrots Safe for Dogs?
Carrots are absolutely safe for dogs. In fact, every part of the carrot is safe for your pup, including the skin and leafy green tops.
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 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 in other, less healthy snacks.
Carrots are chock-full of important nutrients like vitamin A, which is essential for proper bone growth and powerful immune response. They also have antioxidants, which can do everything from fight inflammation to improve your dog’s brain and eye health.
There’s truth to that adage about how you never see rabbits wearing glasses — carrots are excellent for your dog’s eyesight. They’re loaded with beta carotene, lycopene, and lutein, all of which protect your pup’s peepers from the damage that they’d get from free radicals or the sun’s UV-B rays.
Your dog can see benefits from carrots even if they don’t swallow 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).
What’s more, gnawing on a carrot can 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 regardless.
Are There Any Risks to Giving Your Dog a Carrot?
Carrots aren’t risky in terms of their nutritional content, although as with anything, your dog could get an upset stomach if they eat too many.
They’re also fairly high in natural sugar, which could lead to weight gain if consumed in excess. However, carrots are much healthier snacks than dog treats or most table scraps, so we wouldn’t worry about this too much unless your dog is putting away 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 might want to cut up 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. Some 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 in 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.
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, brains, 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 fair amount of natural sugar inside, but for the most part, carrots are fantastic snacks for any pooch.
The hard part is convincing your dog to eat them!
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