If you're holding a carrot stick in your hand, and your dog is looking up at you with those pleading eyes, you need to know: Can dogs eat carrots? Yes, dogs can safely enjoy this veggie.
In fact, carrots are one of our favorite human foods to share with our furry friends. Our dogs love the taste, and we love the doggie-friendly health benefits. But that doesn't mean carrots are right for all dogs or in all forms.
Learn how to safely feed carrots (and how much to feed) to your pooch. Plus, discover the benefits of sharing this healthy snack.
When Can Dogs Eat Carrots and When Can't They?
As far as people food goes, carrots are one of the safest to add to your dog's diet. It even appears as an ingredient in many dog foods. But you should still take some precautions. Here's a list of the best types of carrots to share with your best friend. Some dogs may also have health conditions that aren't compatible with this veggie — we'll also cover those below.
Parts of the Carrot to Feed Your Dog
Dogs can eat every part of fresh carrots, including the vegetable, stalks, and leaves. So, if you grow this veggie in your garden, you won't have to worry about your dog getting into trouble. (Although, you may have to worry about your carrots becoming your dog's new favorite snack.)
Types of Carrots to Feed Your Dog
With a few exceptions (see below), dogs can eat nearly any type of carrot. But, not all human seasoning is safe for dogs, so it's best to feed carrots as plainly as possible. Try these preparations the next time your dog eats carrots:
- Whole carrots: Your dog can eat a whole carrot or baby carrots in place of a bone or chew. Just be careful to only feed this dog treat when you're available to supervise your dog. Whole carrots can be a choking hazard.
- Sliced carrots: This bite-size option may be more appropriate for small dogs or frequent snacking.
- Raw carrots: You don't need to do anything to your carrots before sharing them with your pup. Many dogs love the light sweetness and natural crunch of raw carrots.
- Roasted carrots: Roasting brings out the natural sugars in carrots, allowing our pets to enjoy a sweet treat. But make sure to roast with only a small amount of dog-friendly oil like olive oil, flaxseed oil, or coconut oil. And leave off the seasoning or use a dog-friendly seasoning like turmeric for dogs.
- Steamed carrots: This softer option makes a good topper for your dog's food. Share it with your dog before you add any seasoning for yourself.
- Boiled carrots: Plain boiled carrots are soft, making this preparation ideal for older dogs and dogs who are missing teeth. Try boiling them in dog-friendly bone broth to make an enticing treat.
- Carrot puree: For dogs who can only eat soft foods, you can make a carrot puree by adding steamed or boiled carrots to your blender with a little bit of water or dog-friendly bone broth.
- Frozen carrots: Buy a bag of frozen carrots, and keep them on hand for your pup. You can feed your dog frozen carrots directly from the freezer — many dogs enjoy a cold treat — or you can thaw to room temperature or microwave them before serving.
Types of Carrots to Avoid
Not all carrots are created equal. These are the types of carrots that we, as pet parents, choose not share with our pets. While most of them are still non-toxic dogs, these options are less healthy than the ones listed above:
- Canned carrots: While dogs can eat canned carrots without short-term effects, canned vegetables are high in sodium, which is used as a preservative. High amounts of sodium aren't good for your dog over the long-term.
- Honey carrots: Dogs can eat honey, so this favorite preparation of carrots is non-toxic. However, it's very high in sugar, which is bad for our pets. The natural sugar in plain carrots is enough to satisfy most dog's sweet tooth. But for more sweet treats, you can try feeding a dog-friendly fruit.
- Seasoned carrots: Many common seasonings are not safe for dogs. Garlic and onions are toxic to dogs in large quantities, and many spices can irritate a sensitive stomach. Feed your furry friend unseasoned carrots or carrots made specially for them using only beneficial seasoning.
Health Conditions to Consider Before Sharing Carrots
There are very few health conditions that are incompatible with carrots, but if your dog has any of these issues, you may want to talk to your vet before adding any new foods to their diet.
Technically, dogs can be allergic to any food, but carrot allergies are extremely rare. If you're worried about food allergies in dogs, try giving your dog a few small pieces of carrots everyday for three days. Stop for two days. Watch your dog closely over the five day period to see if any symptoms — like hives, upset stomach, or diarrhea — develop. If not, you can safely share this veggie with your pet.
Carrots can be a friend or foe for dogs suffering from obesity — it all depends on how you serve them. If you replace higher calorie snacks, like bones, chews, and other dog treats, with carrots, your dog can see health benefits. However, if you add carrots to your dog's already-too-big diet, then even this low-calorie snack will add calories and can contribute to additional weight gain.
Make sure to keep carrots and other snacks to less than 10% of your dog's daily calories, and slightly decrease the amount of dog food you give them to allow for the extra calories from snacks.
Because carrots are high in natural sugar — with about three grams of sugar per carrot — they may not be the right choice for a diabetic dog. Although, they may still be better than other higher calorie dog treats. It will depend on your dog's individual circumstances. Talk to your vet before feeding carrots to a diabetic dog.
Dogs with sensitive stomachs can get an upset stomach and loose stool from nearly any new food, especially when fed in large quantities. To help your furry friend, only feed your dog a few small pieces at a time.
Follow the same process that you would to test for food allergies: Feed a few small pieces every day for three days, stop for two days, and watch to see if your dog develops any signs of an upset stomach over the five day period. If not, you can slowly increase the amount of carrots you feed your dog (up to 10% of their daily calories) if you want.
Are Carrots Good For Dogs?
Carrots are very good for dogs. They're loaded with nutrients and the nutritional benefits that go along with them. Here are the vitamins and minerals your dog can get from eating carrots:
- Beta-carotene: Your dog's body transforms this antioxidant into vitamin A, which it uses to support the immune system.
- Vitamin C: Another antioxidant, vitamin C also helps support your dog's immune system, although unlike the human body, a healthy dog's body will actually produce enough vitamin C on its own.
- Vitamin K: This essential nutrient helps blood clot, allowing your dog to heal from injuries.
- Trace minerals: Carrots also contain small amounts of potassium, calcium, and magnesium, electrolytes that help your dog's muscles and nervous system function.
What Are the Other Benefits of Carrots for Dogs?
Beyond the impressive nutritional profile, carrots offer a few other benefits for dogs. Here are some of the key reasons we choose this snack for our furry friends.
Carrots are both low calorie and low fat, making them a great choice for nearly all dogs. Unlike other dog treats, carrots offer a sweet taste and a satisfying crunch without the high calories that go with them.
We like to offer a whole carrot (or a baby carrot for small dogs) instead of a calorie-dense bully stick or bone. It may take your dog a little while to adjust to this healthy change, but once they do, they'll be excited to get their carrot.
Dental Health Chew
Carrots — especially raw carrots — make an excellent chew toy. Like other all-natural chews for dogs, raw carrots can help clean your dog's teeth. As your dog chews, the texture of the carrot helps scrape away plaque and tartar, protecting your dog's dental health.
Frozen carrots also make a great snack for teething puppies. The cold can help relieve the pain from teething.
So, Can Dogs Eat Carrots?
Yes, dogs can safely eat carrots in most forms, including raw, boiled, steamed, and frozen carrots. We prefer not to feed our dogs canned, sweetened, or overly seasoned carrots because the added ingredients in these foods can come with long-term health consequences. And if your pet is suffering from obesity or diabetes, you should always talk to your vet before introducing a new food into your dog's diet.
As long as you take these precautions, your dog can get great nutritional benefits from carrots. And because most dogs like the sweet taste, this is one veggie that's easy to feed to our furry friends.To learn more about your dog's health and wellness, check out the Native Pet blog.