As far as vegetables go, people can’t go far wrong with carrots. They’re full of fantastic vitamins, potassium and lots of goodies that make us hardy and healthy.
Luckily, it’s the same story for our pets, and their low sugar content make them easy on your conscience too.
Can dogs eat carrots? Indeed they can – read on to find out what health benefits they can get from doing so.
Are carrots good for dogs?
Absolutely – feeding carrots to dogs helps them in so many ways.
Both raw carrots and cooked carrots work wonderfully for a way to help your dogs get more of the good stuff into their system – and moreover, dogs themselves tend to be pretty fond of them too.
Of course, it’s advisable that you treat carrots as a supplement to your dog’s meals, rather than a base meal outright.
Diced carrots added to the regular meals your dog enjoys, or the occasional chunk of carrot fed to your dog as a reward for good behaviour, prove good ways of getting this vegetable into your pet’s regular diet.
Thanks to how solid carrots are, and how fun they are to chew, carrots are good for dogs’ teeth – another thing to consider when introducing them to their diet.
A good crunchy carrot will help your dog clean their own teeth without realising it, and break down plaque build up.
This makes carrots a popular choice for those dog owners who otherwise struggle helping their dogs clean their teeth – some pooches get pretty antsy if you try and poke around their mouths, after all.
Of course, when feeding carrots to your dog for the first time, it’s best to approach it in the same way you would when introducing any new kind of food to your pet.
Let him or her sniff around this intriguing new object and get to know it as you hold it out to them first – that’s especially important for puppies.
Either your dog will volunteer to have a cheeky nibble of the carrot him or herself, or they will feel encouraged by you eating a little bit of it in front of them.
But another important reason to supervise your pet when first eating a carrot is because, owing to how hard these veggies can be, an over-enthusiastic dog trying to eat it too fast might run the risk of choking by mistake.
Health benefits of carrots for dogs
For we humans, carrots are considered vegetables that help sharpen our senses, bolster our immune systems and release energy consistently over a long period.
Although dogs needn’t eat anywhere near as much fruit and vegetables as people are recommended to do, the health benefits of carrots for dogs are nonetheless similar to those found for their masters.
Carrots contain beta carotene, for instance, which gets turned into Vitamin A by the dog’s body as much as by the body of a human.
Healthy growth and consistent energy are promised here, but carrots eaten by dogs also offer Vitamin K and potassium.
The nutritional value of carrots for dogs means that your pet will be less likely to feel poorly, thanks to a bolstered immune system – but also that their bones are stronger and more solid.
For young dogs and puppies who are still growing, helping bones become stronger is very important.
Likewise, those pooches past the prime of their life can rely on stronger bones to help them stay mobile even long into their later years.
Many experts quite correctly attest that the high amount of natural sugars present in carrots can cause complications like obesity or diabetes, but one would be have to be very much overdoing it – quite literally dishing out carrot chunks like candy – to have such an untoward effect on their dog.
In fact, as low-sugar or low-fat alternative to traditional dog treats, carrots can be quite a good substitution, reinforcing good behaviour as much as they do health and wellbeing.
How many carrots can a dog eat daily?
While humans are recommended five portions of fruit or vegetables a day in order to lead long, healthy and active lives, it’s a bit of a different story for dogs.
Their nutritional and digestive needs are quite different to our own, so we must always be mindful not to overdo it when finding new ways to treat our beloved animals.
Vets and experts often agree that much of this is made more tricky due to the fact that dogs come in all shapes and sizes – no other animal in the world is so diverse within its own species as dogs can be.
Smaller and younger dogs, quite naturally, would need to eat less carrots than larger dogs, and older dogs of all sizes should always take care in their diet too.
One carrot a day, preferably diced into slices to make it easier for them to enjoy, comes recommended for smaller dogs.
Medium dogs could have perhaps one and a half carrots, again preferably cut up – and larger dogs, no more than two.
However, all dogs are individuals, so definitely take your pooch’s personality and tendencies into consideration as you work out the best approach.
In fact, it might even be the case that your dog doesn’t like carrots, but you’re very hopeful to work them into your dog’s diet to help them get the health benefits we have been discussing.
If that’s the case, a bit of cleverness often pays off. You can smuggle grated or diced up carrots into their regular meals, or mash carrots into a paste and see if your dog responds better to a different texture.
What to do if your dog eats a carrot
It’s the moment every dog owner dreads – the instant you realise your dog has helped him or herself to something you didn’t want them to nibble on!
Luckily, because carrots are so good for dogs, you have very little to fear if your pooch has been naughty by finding their own carrots, or begging for them off someone else who didn’t know better.
Perhaps the one biggest risk that’s worth covering, particularly for raw whole carrots or young, overenthusiastic dogs, is the choking hazard potential.
Dogs might well gag and retch a little if they try and wolf down a carrot all at once, as is only to be expected. Help your dog with a refreshing drink of water if this is the case.
If you’re particularly worried that the hardness of raw carrots, even if you’ve finely cut them up, could prove problematic to your pooch, just opt for cooked carrots.
When carrots are cooked, they lose none of their vitality and nutritional value, so you’re not sacrificing any of the good stuff for your dog through doing this, and might well help them enjoy them more.
In the worst case scenario, the fibre found in carrot peels, if your dog has been overindulging, might contribute to a touch of constipation or tummy upset.
It’s much the same as if your dog overdoes it in eating anything – a bloated feeling and some discomfort.
Your pet might well volunteer to just sleep the feeling off, so don’t disturb them if they look a touch drowsy and irate.
Of course, the risk of high blood sugar, obesity and diabetes can come hand in hand with too many carrots for your dog, as these risks well could with many fruits or vegetables.
However, to run the risk of this, you’d have to be willingly handing over carrots to your dog as a base meal rather than a supplement or occasional treat.
Moderation, as with so many things, is definitely the key here.
If your dog has become so fond of carrots that they’ve begun to try and dig them up in your garden though, certainly nip that behaviour in the bud.
Discipline and encourage your dog to know that your vegetable patch is off limits.
Cordon the area off if needs be, and discourage wanton digging in the garden by your enterprising hound, to make sure he or she isn’t helping themselves to anything they shouldn’t.
Carrots have been a wholesome part of soups, stews and big dinners for centuries, and people have come to rely on them for their health benefits, sense sharpening chemicals and overall boost to immunity.
The good news is that your dog can benefit in just the same way, albeit by enjoying carrots in smaller portions than their masters.
Over time, you’ll come to learn if your dog prefers his or her carrots cooked or raw, but don’t be shy in introducing them to his or her diet.
Your dog stands to benefit wonderfully, as long as carrots are treated as a side dish rather than the main course.