Carrots are one of the most popular and colourful vegetables found in our fridges and pantries, and they are incredibly good for us. But can dogs eat carrots too, and are they nearly as nourishing for our furry friends?
Dog’s don’t necessarily need to eat supplementary vegetables provided they are on complete dog food, but many are safe and healthy snacks for your pup to enjoy.
Just remember to always check if a new food is safe for your pet to eat, and how best to prepare it according to their size and habits.
Yes, dogs can eat carrots. In fact, carrots make a healthy and affordable snack option for your pup, particularly if you want to try and cut out highly-processed and calorie-packed dog biscuits.
Not only can a dog eat the carrot itself, but the leaf is also safe for them to eat. Theoretically, you could pull a whole carrot out the ground, leafy stem and all, and your dog could gobble the lot safely. Feeding them so much carrot at once isn’t advisable though, as overfeeding can cause obesity and stomach upset.
Carrots are safe for dogs to eat, provide plenty of great nutrients, and many pups enjoy the taste and texture. Carrots make a great treat for your pooch, they're also very similar to another yummy root veg, a parnsip. As always, remember to feed in moderation.
It is uncommon but possible your dog may have an allergy to carrots. In which case, eating them may cause vomiting, diarrhoea, and itchy skin. If your dog shows any signs of discomfort or illness, do not feed them any more and contact your vet for advice.
Just as it is perfectly safe for an adult dog to snack on a crunchy carrot, puppies can enjoy eating carrots too.
Carrots have even been used as a natural remedy for teething puppies before. Puppies are born without teeth and at around three weeks old, their teeth will start to sprout from their gums.
Then when they are a few months old, a puppy will start losing these teeth so their adult teeth can grow in. Some vets recommend freezing carrots and then giving them to your dog, as the crunchy texture encourages them to chew while the cold helps to soothe their gums.
Depending on your dog’s size and chewing habits, you will need to cut it up into small pieces to prevent choking. So rather than freeze the entire carrot, simply cut up the carrot as you would normally for your dog and then freeze the pieces for a few hours.
Yes, dogs can definitely eat raw carrots. Feeding a carrot raw means that it will retain all the nutritional value, plus, many dogs love the crunchy texture. On the other hand, dog’s aren’t adapted to efficiently digest carrots.
This means that they cannot absorb all the nutrients in the vegetable, and you might find some small pieces of carrot in your dog’s stool. A bit like sweetcorn, it can sometimes come out looking just like it did on the way in.
Most dogs really love the flavour of carrots, particularly when raw, alongside the satisfying crunch from chewing them.
Crunching through raw carrots can also help to gently clean your dog’s teeth, as it encourages them to chew and the texture of the carrot and high water content can help to lightly clean their teeth. This is no replacement for regular brushing though, which is vital for good oral health.
Just remember to thoroughly wash (and maybe peel) the carrot before feeding it to your dog to remove any potential traces of pesticides.
Cooked carrots are also safe and healthy for dogs to eat and cooking will make them easier to digest. As with all foods, cooking at high heat or for prolonged periods can reduce the nutritional value, whereas light cooking can make it easier to digest and can even improve the absorption of some nutrients.
For example, carotenoids are better absorbed by the body when they have been cooked.
The best way to cook carrots for your dog is to lightly steam them. There should be little to no change to the nutritional value of the carrots when prepared in this way. Steam them just long enough to soften them up, but they should still have a satisfying bite in the centre. Many humans like to enjoy carrot and swede mash, which dogs can also eat, as long as it's kept totally plain.
You can also boil carrots for your dog, but some owners worry that this reduces the nutritional value of the food. It is true that this is the preparation method where the most nutrients are lost because they leak out and into the boiling water.
If you are worried about losing nutrients while cooking carrots, just minimise the cooking time and temperature. The best methods to cook carrots without losing any nutrients is to prepare them in the microwave or steam them. If you plan to boil the carrots, use the smallest amount of water possible to minimise the nutrients lost.
Carrots are not only healthy and nutritious snacks for humans, but they also offer a boost of vitamins and minerals for your pooch too. Plus, just like with human food, naturally vibrant and colourful food is a sign it has not lost any nutrients by undergoing harsh processing.
As indicated by their bright orange colour, carrots are full of beta-carotene and vitamin C. Beta-carotene is converted into vitamin A which is an essential vitamin for dogs. Vitamin A is vital for healthy eyes, skin, fur, and muscles.
Meanwhile, both vitamin A and C are powerful antioxidants which are important for combatting free radicals and neutralising reactive oxygen, which can both harm your dog’s body. Antioxidants have also been proven to help reduce inflammation and can help prevent some kinds of cancer in dogs.
Do be aware that Vitamin A can build up in your dog’s body, so never overfeed your dog anything rich in the vitamin or beta-carotene. As with any and all snacks, feed them in moderation.
Carrots are packed full of other vitamins and minerals too, from several B vitamins to biotin. All of these contribute to their health and immune system. Biotin especially is important for maintaining healthy skin and fur, which helps to protect your dog from skin irritation and giving them a thick, glossy coat.
Carrots are also a good source of fibre which will help to regulate your dog’s bowel movements and contribute to a healthy digestive system. Adding some carrot to your dog’s diet can help to increase the firmness of their stools.
As with any new food, introduce carrot slowly and gradually to your dog’s meals because an unexpected increase in fibre can cause gastrointestinal upset.
Finally, carrots are a low-calorie and low-fat snack. This makes them a paw-some treat for dogs who need to lose weight or are on a controlled diet due to conditions like pancreatitis or chronic colitis.
Unless the cake contains toxic ingredients like raisins, it won’t be toxic to your dog and is “safe” to eat. So if your dog hoovers up some cake you dropped, don’t panic. But that certainly doesn’t mean you should actively feed your dog carrot cake; it can still potentially make them sick.
As with most cakes we humans enjoy, it’s best not to feed them to your dog. This is because cakes are high in sugar and fat, and their body is not adapted to digesting it. The high butter and oil content is especially unhealthy for dogs, and their high-fat content could even cause a case of acute pancreatitis.
In addition, sugar is associated with excess calories and weight gain, and it isn’t good for your dog’s teeth and oral health. Many common cake ingredients like sugar and milk are also likely to upset a dog’s stomach and can cause vomiting and diarrhoea if they eat too much.
As cake contains many ingredients unhealthy for dogs, feeding them cake or other table scraps over time can lead to weight gain and obesity. These are problematic for your pooch, as an overweight dog is prone to several secondary illnesses such as diabetes and even cancer. The excess weight causes problems on its own, such as joint pain, as it puts more strain on their bones and joints.
Uncommonly, some carrot cakes can contain raisins, which are toxic to dogs. Additionally, low sugar cakes may contain the sweetener xylitol, which is also toxic to dogs. If your cake contains these ingredients your pup should never eat it. If they do somehow eat cake with harmful ingredients, you will need to monitor them for symptoms of illness and contact your vet for advice.
However, if the cake doesn’t contain any toxic ingredients, it is “safe” to eat so your dog shouldn’t be at risk of any harm, but they may have an upset stomach. Avoid feeding your dog cake willingly, unless it is a specially made dog-friendly cake.
Yes, dogs can eat carrots and many pooches enjoy these healthy, crunchy snacks. Feeding your dog chopped carrots in moderation can provide several health benefits, and make a low-calorie snack option for your furry friend.
Pure recipes, so your dog can reap every benefit of the humble carrot in every meal! Pure offers complete and balanced nutrition to help dogs live healthy, happy lives.
Written by: Dr Andrew Miller MRCVS
Andy graduated from Bristol University in 2010 and sees nutrition as a foundation for our pet's wellbeing and takes a common-sense approach. We are what we eat, and it shouldn't be any different for our pets.