5 Reasons to Include Carrots In Your Dog’s Diet
Imagine…you had a busy month and forgot to order a replacement case of natural bully sticks. Your dog is nosing around and looking for a treat, but you’re fresh out. You open up your fridge to see if there’s any people-food you can give him when your eyes spot the bag of baby carrots in your produce drawer. You pick them up and wonder, “Are carrots good for my dog? Are carrots even safe to feed a dog?”
While some human food isn’t safe for your dog’s stomach (we’re looking at you, chocolate), carrots are perfectly safe for your dog. In moderation (because carrots are a tad high in naturally occurring sugar), carrots are a great treat to keep around the house for your dog and provide an astonishing amount of nutritional benefits.
Here are the five best reasons you should be feeding your dog carrots*.
1.) Supports Dental Health
As a pet parent, one of the challenges we all face is keeping your dog’s teeth clean. If you start young, many dogs learn to tolerate a daily brushing of their teeth—some even enjoy it, which is ideal. If you adopted an older dog or weren’t proactive enough to start brushing early, you may be faced with plaque buildup on your pup’s teeth. (If your dog currently has a buildup of plaque, it is recommended that you take him for a professional cleaning and then add tough chews to his routine to prevent buildup going forward.)
As you probably know, mechanical scraping by chewing on tough chews, is one of the ways to give your dog’s teeth a daily cleaning. There are some types of chews to choose from, but one that many dogs find delicious because of its sweet taste and crunchy texture is a raw carrot. Carrots may help to support dental health by gently scraping the teeth and preventing plaque buildup.
As a side note, while the crunchy texture of carrots is beneficial to their teeth, dogs cannot metabolize the nutrients of raw carrots because each cell of a carrot is protected by a thin wall of cellulose. You will notice that the chunks of carrot your dog chewed up will pass through him looking the same on the way out. To reap the nutritional benefits of carrots, you must lightly cook or steam carrots. My dogs love cooked carrots almost as much as the raw crunchy ones!
2.) Low Calorie, Low Fat
If you are faced with a pup that has a pooch, carrots provide a great, low-calorie snack to satisfy his appetite between feedings. Carrots are low calorie and low fat—with only about four calories per baby carrot, making them a healthy treat option.
Carrots are are high in soluble fiber. Just nine baby carrots (about 3oz), contains 2 grams of fiber. If your dog has loose stools, he may benefit by adding carrots to his diet to add some bulk to his stools. Be cautious when adding them to his diet in large amounts too quickly —start slow. They may cause some gas and intestinal upset if he isn’t used to the additional fiber. Be sure he gets plenty of fresh water to assist the fiber through the digestive system.
When you were a kid, did your parents tell you to eat carrots because they would improve your eyesight? The reasoning behind that parental nugget of wisdom is pretty spot-on. Beta-Carotene is a carotenoid that is an antioxidant and a precursor to Vitamin A. As you will recall, because of the wall of cellulose in carrots that is not digestible by dogs, you must cook the carrots to receive the nutritional benefit from carrots.
5.) Vitamin A
Vitamin A provides a host of nutritional benefits to your dog. Beyond supporting eye health, it also assists in supporting immune health and supporting skin and coat health.
While it is almost unheard of for dogs to have a deficiency of Vitamin A because it is an essential nutrient for dogs and is required to be added to all commercially produced dog foods, if you are making your dog’s food at home or buying a food that is supplemental and not a full feed, your dog may need the supplementation of Vitamin A. Because Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, it can build up in the body and become toxic. Please be careful to not over-do it with any item that contains Vitamin A. If you have any questions regarding how much vitamin A is needed or how much is too much, please consult your vet for any questions.
Those are the five reasons why carrots are a safe and healthy treat for your dog! As with any treat or meal complement, please feed your dogs carrots in moderation.