Can dogs have carrots?
A dog’s diet is one of the most important aspects of their health. Because each dog is an individual with unique dietary needs and preferences, it is up to the owner to find the best food for their dog. Some dogs eat commercial kibble, some eat canned foods, and others eat raw diets prepared by their owners. One thing all these foods have in common is the ingredients of their diet.
Although wolves typically ate a high percentage of meat, they also ate small amounts of plant matter, often found in the stomach of their prey. Dogs today are similar; a healthy diet for them is 75-85% meat and 15-25% plant based (fruits and vegetables). One vegetable in particular, the carrot, is the object of a common question in dog owners minds, “Can dogs have carrots?” The answer to that is yes, not only are carrots safe for dogs to eat, but they also make super healthy dog treats!
Benefits of Adding Carrots to their Dog Food
Carrots are a simple root vegetable that contains lots of vitamins and minerals, even the leafy tops are nutritious and safe to eat. They are low in calories and fats but high in fiber, beta-carotene, vitamins A and K1, as well as antioxidants. In particular, vitamin A is essential for a dog’s well-being. It supports overall health, boosts the immune and reproductive systems, and eye health. Carrots, like any other treat, are best in moderation and should never exceed 10% of your dog’s daily calorie intake and this is a case where less is more.
This is especially important since carrots have a naturally high amount of sugar, and too much Vitamin A can accumulate in your dog’s body and make them ill. But so long as you are mindful, carrots can be utilized as a healthy dental chew, a nutritious snack, and even to relieve discomfort in teething puppies.
Why Preparation Matters
Although no method of preparing carrots will be harmful to dogs, in order to really reap the benefits you are seeking, you should understand what each method is best for. Raw carrots are great for your dog’s teeth, but they cannot be digested properly because a dog’s stomachs are not capable of metabolizing cellulose. On the flip side, cooked carrots are easily digested and super nutritional, but can’t clean your dog’s teeth. Cold or frozen carrots (which are appropriately sized to prevent choking) can relieve the pain and discomfort your puppy may experience as their teeth come in.
If you are interested in feeding your dog carrots for the dental aspects, veterinarians recommend washing and peeling a raw carrot. This will gently scrape your dog’s teeth and prevent plaque build-up as they bite and chew. If you have a small dog breed, it is important to use baby carrots or cut large carrots into sticks or rounds to prevent them from choking.
If you are more interested in the nutritional value of carrots, it is best to lightly steam them as opposed to boiling them. Steaming enhances their flavor, retains nutrients, and increases both digestibility and absorption of beta-carotene. Blanching is an alternative technique wherein the carrots are briefly submerged in boiling water, and then submerged in ice water. Boiling them, however, can result in the loss of the nutrients as it leaches out into the water.
What other Fruits and Vegetables are Safe for Dogs?
Many people don’t realize how many fruits and vegetables are safe for dogs to eat. Dogs, like humans, have preferences and may not enjoy all the same foods, so having a variety of options for your dog may be best. Same as carrots, these foods should be given in moderation, cut into appropriate sizes for your dog to eat, and lacking any pits, large seeds, or undesirable peel/covering.
Popular Fruits for Dogs and their Benefits
Bananas: This can be an excellent treat since they are high in potassium, copper, biotin fiber, and a variety of other vitamins and minerals. They do have a fairly high amount of sugar, though, so they should only be an occasional treat.
Find out more about Bananas in this previous article: Can dogs Eat Apples, Bananas & Pineapples?
Blueberries: Blueberries are a superfood. They contain lots of antioxidants, which help prevent damage to cells in the body, have anti-cancer properties, and fight heart disease.
Find out more about Blueberries in this previous article: Can dogs Eat Blueberries?
Cranberries: These can be a great fruit if your dog suffers from urinary issues. You can also feed them dried, as a quick and easy treat.
Strawberries: Not only are strawberries a tasty treat high in vitamin C, but they also contain a tooth-whitening enzyme called malic acid. This means your dog can have a nutritious snack and a great smile all at once.
Find out more about Strawberries in this previous article: Can a Dog Eat Strawberries?
Pumpkin: If your dog is prone to an upset stomach, this is the fruit for them. Pumpkin is super high in fiber, which helps relieve gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea and constipation, and generally promotes better digestion.
Popular Vegetables for Dogs and their Benefits
Beets: Nutrients in beets like fiber, folate, vitamin C, manganese, and potassium can support your dog’s immune and digestive systems, and healthy skin and coat.
Green Beans: These are low calorie and high in fiber, and boast many important vitamins and minerals, like calcium, iron, and vitamins B6, A, C, and K. These nutrients are great for boosting the immune system, reproductive system, and eye health.
Find out more about Green Beans in this previous article: Can Dogs Eat Green Beans?
Kale: Loaded with vitamins A, C, and K, kale can promote blood and muscle health, a stronger immune system, and good digestion. It even has the potential to fight cancer and other inflammatory diseases.
Spinach: This is another vegetable chock full of nutrients, containing magnesium, potassium, folic acid, iron, calcium, carotenoids (like beta-carotene), and vitamins B6, B9, E, C, and K. Feeding your dog spinach is great for inflammatory and cardiovascular issues, and can potentially raise energy levels and immunity.
Find out more about Green Beans in this article: Can Dogs Eat Spinach?
Sweet Potatoes: Being high in fiber, sweet potatoes are great for digestive health. They contain manganese, vitamins B6 and C, as well as large amounts of beta-carotene, just like carrots!
Find out more about Sweet Potato in this previous article: Can Dogs Eat Sweet Potato?
Top 6 Reasons why Carrots are a Superior Vegetable for Dogs
1. The entire carrot is nutritious and edible. Even the leafy tops, which can be bitter, are rich in nutrients and contain around six times more vitamin C than the actual root of the carrot. If the idea of eating the bitter greens is unappealing, they can also be used as a garnish.
2. There is little to no food waste. Since the entire carrot can be eaten or used, you don’t spend money on something you only use half of.
3. They are super cheap. A two-pound bag of large carrots sells for less than two dollars in the grocery store. You can get regular or organic carrots for that price! Even baby carrots are affordable at around a dollar for a pound.
4. You can get them year-round. Unlike some fruits or vegetables, carrots are easy to find every month of the year.
5. There are a variety of ways to prepare them. Carrots are versatile; you can clean and give them raw, freeze them, or cook them by steaming or blanching.
6. It is easy to adjust the serving size. Because carrots can be purchased in multiple different serving sizes, it’s no trouble to get the right size for your dog. Plus, they are easy to chop into quarters, slices, or chunks as you or your dog prefer.
Can dogs have carrots? Whether your dog is trying their first fruits and vegetables, or looking for a new favorite, carrots are completely worth your time. They are packed with a variety of nutrients, including vitamin A which is vital for overall health and normal functions within the body, which benefits all dog breeds. Plus, between options like frozen, raw, or cooked, you are sure to find something your dog loves.
Not only is it safe for dogs to eat carrots, but also healthy and fun!
Check out the links below for more great articles.
References and Resources
AKC Staff. (2019, December 5). Fruits & Vegetables Dogs Can and Can’t Eat. American Kennel Club. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/nutrition/fruits-vegetables-dogs-can-and-cant-eat/
Hunt, T. (2019, January 12). Don’t discard those nutritious carrot tops. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/food/2019/jan/12/carrot-tops-chimichurri-waste-not-leftover s-tom-hunt#:~:text=While%20bitter%20greens%20add%20a,of%20potassium%2C%20calcium%20and%20phytonutrients
Kriss, R. (2016, June 15). Can Dogs Eat Carrots? American Kennel Club. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/nutrition/can-dogs-eat-carrots/
Ochoa, S. (2019, September 10). What are the Best Fruits for Dogs to Eat? SitStay. https://sitstay.com/blogs/good-dog-blog/what-are-the-best-fruits-for-dogs-to-eat
Pineda, J. (2020, March 9). Can Dogs Eat Carrots? Are Carrots Good for Dogs? Dogster. https://www.dogster.com/dog-food/can-dogs-eat-carrots-are-carrots-good-for-dogs
Purina. (2018). Can Dogs Eat Carrots? Purina. https://www.purina.com/articles/dog/nutrition/can-dogs-eat-carrots#:~:text=Can%20Dogs %20Have%20Carrots%3F,dogs%20like%20the%20flavor%2C%20too
Raw Bistro. (2020, March 4). Can Dogs Eat Carrots? Benefits of Carrots for Dogs. Raw Bistro. https://rawbistro.com/blogs/raw-bistro/can-dogs-eat-carrots
Raw Bistro. (2019, April 4). 10 Dog-Friendly Vegetables for a Healthy Pup. Raw Bistro. https://rawbistro.com/blogs/raw-bistro/10-dog-friendly-vegetables
Redbarn. (2021, January 19). The Top 5 Reasons to Include Carrots In Your Dog’s Diet. Redbarn.com. https://www.redbarn.com/blogs/blog/the-top-5-reasons-to-include-carrots-in-your-dogs-diet