Can dogs eat carrots?
You have probably been aware of carrots’ health benefits since childhood, when you were told that eating the pile of orange, coin-shaped vegetables on your dinner plate would prevent the need for glasses later in life. While that may be a stretch, the nutrients in carrots are good for your eyesight. But, what about dogs? Are carrots safe for dogs to eat, and do they have the same proven health benefits?
The short answer is, “Yes, dogs can eat carrots.” In fact, most dogs love carrots, and they make great treats. Carrots are also chock-full of vitamins and nutrients that are healthy for dogs.
What are the benefits of carrots for dogs?
This sweet, crunchy vegetable contains many beneficial vitamins and nutrients that can boost your pooch’s health, such as:
- Beta-carotene, which is converted into vitamin A, and is good for your dog’s eyesight, immune system, and healthy skin
- Vitamins A, B, C, D, E, and K
- Lycopene and lutein, nutrients that protect your dog’s eyes from free radical damage and UVB radiation
Carrots are high in fiber, which aids in digestion and helps maintain regular fecal consistency. If your dog has a mild case of diarrhea, adding carrots to his diet will increase bulk and absorb excess water.
Carrots can also be beneficial for your dog’s dental health. The hard, fibrous vegetable will rub against your dog’s teeth as he crunches down and can help wear away plaque. Oral bacteria produce plaque, which coats your dog’s teeth and mineralizes into hard tartar if not brushed off regularly.
The fact that carrots are high in natural sugar means too many carrots without brushing can also lead to dental decay.
Are there negative effects of feeding carrots to dogs?
Carrots’ sweet flavor comes from natural sugars that are much healthier than added sugars; however, a large amount of any sugar source can cause intestinal upset and diarrhea. The fiber in carrots can also cause flatulence and diarrhea. Introduce carrots by first feeding only a few pieces to see how they will affect your pet’s gastrointestinal system.
How can carrots be added to a dog's diet?
Carrots can be fed to dogs raw or cooked, but they should be cooked if you are looking to add a jolt of nutrients to your dog’s daily diet. Carrot cells, like all plant cells, are surrounded by cellulose, which is not broken down by digestive enzymes to release internal nutrients. Cooking will break down the cellulose so your dog gets the most benefit. Lightly steam the carrots with a little water or chicken broth on your stovetop or in the microwave. Boiling carrots is not a good idea, because most nutrients are lost in the process. After steaming, and cooling, feed your dog a few carrots as treats, or add some to her normal dinner. Of course, always ask your family veterinarian first because they can best guide you for your specific pets needs.
Raw carrots provide a satisfying crunch, and they can be substituted for dog biscuits during training sessions, or given as a reward for good behavior. They are lower in calories and fat than dog treats, and are an affordable, nutritious treat alternative that most dogs drool over. Puppies who are teething can be given a whole carrot, or a frozen carrot to soothe inflamed gums.
However you choose to add carrots to your pup’s diet, ensure they are thoroughly clean, and peel them to remove all dirt and pesticides that may be lurking in the skin.
As a special treat, cook up a batch of these carrot and cheddar chewies from epicuricloud.com:
Carrot and Cheddar Chewies
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ cup plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt
- ½ cup finely shredded carrots
- 1 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
- 1 lightly beaten egg
- ⅓ cup chicken broth
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees fahrenheit.
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, or spray with non-stick cooking spray.
- Mix together flour and baking powder in a medium bowl.
- Put yogurt, carrot, cheddar, oatmeal, and half the flour mixture in a separate bowl.
- Mix on low speed, gradually adding the remaining flour mixture.
- Slowly add the egg and broth, and continue mixing on medium speed until the dough is well-combined.
- Using a teaspoon, scoop portions and roll to form a ball. Place onto baking sheet.
- Use a fork to flatten the treats slightly. They will puff a little during baking, but do not spread much, so can be placed close together on the baking sheet.
- Bake for approximately 12 minutes, or until lightly browned on the outside but still soft on the inside.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool.
- Share a few with your furry friend, who is probably drooling at your feet from the smell of these delicious treats baking.
- Keep leftovers in an airtight container for up to five days, or freeze to keep fresh longer.
Recipe yields 60 chewies.