Are Carrots Good for Dogs?
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If we look at a dog's mouth, we see they have teeth which are well-suited to eating meat. Our own canine teeth are named after the much longer and sharper teeth of canines which are used to tear through animal protein. Much of a dog's nutrition is required from animal protein. Not only do they derive their energy from it, but there are essential amino acids which are difficult to find from other sources as they cannot otherwise be synthesized by the dog's body. For this reason, eating vegetables such as carrots may seem like an unnecessary or even potentially harmful practice. However, the process of domestication has led to changes in canine diet which contradict this.
At AnimalWised, we ask are carrots good for dogs? We look at the nutritional properties of carrots and compare them with the nutritional needs of dogs. We also look at other practical benefits dogs eating carrots may provide.
Can dogs eat carrots?
The process of domestication has had various impacts on the canine species. Much of this has to do with their behavior and their interaction with the human species. A physiological change has also occurred due to this process. While their wild counterparts will still have an almost exclusively carnivorous diet, the domestic canine (Canis familiaris) has adapted to feeding from humans. This means they can incorporate other foods into their diet.
Dogs can eat carrots. Although they are a foodstuff which is relatively high in carbohydrates, they can be useful for a dog. Not all fruits and vegetables are suitable for dogs, but carrot does not have any ingredients toxic to canines. below we look at the specific nutritional value of carrots to have a better idea of the benefits they can provide dogs.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 100 grams of raw carrot contains the following in terms of composition:
- Energy: 41 Kcal
- Water: 88.29 g
- Protein: 0.93 g
- Fat: 0.24 g
- Carbohydrates: 9.58 g
- Total fiber: 2.8 g
- Total sugars: 4.74 g
- Calcium: 33 mg
- Iron: 0.30 mg
- Magnesium: 12 mg
- Phosphorus: 35 mg
- Potassium: 320 mg
- Sodium: 69 mg
- Zinc: 0.24 mg
- Vitamin C: 5.9 mg
- Total vitamin B: 20.2 mg
- Vitamin A: 835
- Vitamin E: 0.66 mg
- Vitamin K: 13.2 mg
- Total saturated fatty acids: 0.037 g
- Total monounsaturated fatty acids: 0.014
- Total polyunsaturated fatty acids: 0.117
Properties and benefits of carrot for dogs
As we can see above, there is very little protein in carrots. It is important to remember that dogs need a large amount of protein to sustain their organism. The nutrients found in carrots can also help them to be healthy, although not in the same here. Here we look at how carrots can benefit dogs, specifically:
A healthy source of carbohydrates
Dogs do not need a lot of carbohydrates in their diet, but healthy carbs from carrots can help to provide them with the right nutrition. This is the reason many dry kibble companies produce products which are relatively high in carbohydrates. There is an argument that there is too much carbohydrate in some, especially when they are derived from grain. However, the carrots found in carrots are healthy in small doses,
Carbs can help with the tissues of the heart and central nervous system in general, promoting cardiovascular health. They are also good at providing a short boost of energy. For this reason, they are a great option for a healthy snack when training or exercising your dog.
Promotes eye health
You may have heard that carrots can help you see in the dark. While this is a mythical extrapolation, there is truth in the fact that carrots can help with human eyesight. While the benefit is not to the same extent, it can also help canine eyesight. Carrots contain beta carotene which is synthesized into vitamin A, strengthening the immune system, combating cell oxidation and improving the animal's vision.
Benefits gastrointestinal health
When a dog has diarrhea, we need to treat the underlying cause which has this gastrointestinal disorder as a symptom. In many cases of diarrhea, the problem will resolve rapidly once treatment begins. Some may also require dietary changes to help restore gut health. A soft food diet for dogs which contains vegetables such as cooked rice, pumpkin and carrot can help supplement the treatment prescribed by the vet.
Prevents the appearance of tartar
Dogs have a predisposition toward the development of oral bacterial plaque and subsequent tartar. This is especially so if we neglect their oral hygiene. For example, many caregivers do not brush their dog's teeth regularly. You may know of some dental treats you can buy which are hard and help remove this tartar with an abrasive action. Raw carrot can perform a similar function if used in conjunction with general dental hygiene.
Helping dogs with obesity
As carrots contain such a low percentage of fat and calories, they can help in the diet of an overweight dog. Adding it to their food provides energy they need and regulates intestinal transit, while still satiating their appetite.
How to give carrot to a dog
While carrot can be good for dogs, it will depend on how you give it to them. As with any food, if they overeat carrot it will cause them harm. Although carrot contains healthy carbohydrates, these are partly in the form of sugars which can be harmful to a dog and promote conditions such as kidney disease and diabetes in dogs.
Learn more in our related article on what to feed a dog with kidney disease.
For this reason, we need to know how to feed carrot to a dog in a healthy way.
Should I give my dog raw or cooked carrots?
By cooking food in boiling water, we change the starch content of the vegetable. This prevents raw starch from being digested and fermenting in the colon, something which causes flatulence and related health problems. Although raw carrot can be ingested and assimilated by the dog, cooking can make it more palatable. For this reason, raw carrot is good for dogs, but cooked carrot is better.
The leaves and skin of carrots must always be removed before cooking or giving to the dog. This is because they are often not clean and contain concentrations of substances which may cause gastrointestinal upset.
How often to give carrot to a dog
We recommend trying a small amount and observing how the animal reacts. If they do not have digestive issues, we can increase the amount up to a maximum of 20 grams per day. However, we need to ensure a dog has the right levels of protein and other nutrients, so a varied diet with other types of vegetables and animal protein is required, so it is best not to give carrot every day. If you are at all unsure, consult your vet to find what's best for your dog.
Can I mix carrot with other foods?
Carrot can be a helpful ingredient when making homemade food for dogs. This is especially the case when the dog is recovering from an illness or has certain chronic health problems. In these cases, your veterinarian may recommend making a simply soft food diet for your dog which contains carrot, as well as boiled chicken and rice to help their organs recover. You should only give your dog this diet if instructed to by the veterinarian as it may not meet the needs of all dogs.
Can I used carrot as a treat?
As stated above, carrot can provide a short burst of energy when the dog is exercising. This can be useful if we are educating or training a dog to be used as a treat. It is also beneficial for their teeth as it can help remove plaque and tartar, providing another reason it can be helpful when used as a treat. However, it is also relatively high in sugar, so it should not be given too much. For example, don't use it as a treat if it is already part of their main diet.
Can puppies eat carrots?
Due to the amount of calcium and carbohydrates that make up this food, carrots can be healthy for puppies. However, this is only after they have completed to weaning process. Carrot should also be given in smaller amounts than adult dogs. This is partly because we don't affect their appetite for other food. It is also because puppies are still developing and will need protein more than any other nutrient.
Carrots can also be used as a reward or treat during a puppy's education. Again, it should only be given in moderation, but it may be very helpful to the young dog.
If you want to read similar articles to Are Carrots Good for Dogs?, we recommend you visit our Homemade diets category.
1. Chew, B. P., et al. (2000). Dietary beta-carotene stimulates cell-mediated and humoral immune response in dogs. Journal of Nutrition, 130(8), 1910-1913.