It would seem that the same vegetables we think of as good for our overall well-being are also as good for a dog's. Carrots are especially good for dogs, and are recommended by vets the world over.
But be careful: carrots contain a lot of vitamin A, and too much of that can be harmful.
What is it about the carrot that makes it a good dog treat? Why aren’t carrots marketed as much as dog treats?
So without further ado let us look not just at why dogs can eat carrots but also why they should be eating them:
What are the ingredients of a carrot?
According to the carrot museum, one seven inch long carrot weighing approximately 78 grams includes the following nutrients and minerals:
Sodium: 60 mg
Carbohydrate: 7 g
Dietary fibre: 2 g
Sugars: 5 g
They are also rich in beta carotene, phytochemicals, glutathione, potassium, calcium, iron and vitamins A, B, C and E. It’s clear that carrots are packed full of goodness for both dog and human but how do these ingredients affect a dog’s health?
Read on to find out...
Dog health benefits of carrots
Upkeep of good dental hygiene
Dog owners are advised by dog health experts to brush their dog’s teeth regularly. Some even suggest a tooth clean once a week especially for a little dog. But doing so is not always easy.
Most dogs can’t stand the feel of a brush in their mouth let alone the feel of it going from side-to-side and over their gums. So for those owners whose dog cannot stand tooth brushing, a carrot may be the next best thing.
Teeth: Can dogs eat raw carrots?
If you attempt to clean your dog’s teeth once a month then between brushes feed her a raw or partially cooked carrot. Simply cook and chop up the carrot and put it into her food bowl.
The action of the hard carrot on her teeth will reach behind the teeth and the molars at the back of her jaw giving her teeth a good clean. If she doesn’t eat carrots try putting a little bit of meat paste around them or mix in the chunks of carrot with her food.
Teeth: Can puppies eat raw carrots?
Remember: small dogs and puppies should eat small chunks of carrot otherwise they may choke. Do this once a week as a substitute of dental cleaning and you will see a marked difference in their dental hygiene. And of course, the added benefit is that they are taking on board a considerable amount of nutrition.
Puppies get the same benefits of eating a carrot as a grown up dog would but you need to be mindful of the fact that her teeth are not as strong. Therefore, if you intend to give your puppy a carrot you should cook it until it is a little more soft, to enable your puppy to eat it.
Prevention of cancers and diseases
Studies show that some cancers (especially prostate cancer) slow down when a patient’s diet includes carrots. This effect is thought to be due to the anti-oxidising nature of free radicals found in the vegetable.
Canine cancer sufferers could benefit from eating carrots in the same way. It is thought the carotenoids (pigments) found in the carrot may be the driving force of this effect.
Humans studies have shown that a carrot-inclusive diet may also decrease the likelihood of contracting some cancers such as cancer of the colon, rectum and lung.
The carrot’s vitamin C content is also believed to stem attacks by bacteria and viruses by boosting the immune system of the eater.
Supportive Vitamin A
Vitamin A has a crucial part to play in the well-being of a dog and may even go some way to prevention of certain autoimmune diseases such as haemolytic anaemia.
According to British scientist Penelope J. Morris and others in their study ‘Safety evaluation of vitamin A in growing dogs’, Vitamin A has functions, ‘supporting vision, bone growth, reproduction, cellular differentiation and immune response in dog’.
It is said that eating carrots helps us to ‘see in the dark’. But in truth we can’t and won’t ever be able to see in the dark regardless of how many carrots we eat. However, people who are already deficient in Vitamin A will notice a marked improvement in their vision.
It is assumed that dogs accrue the same benefit from a peaked level of vitamin A.
A dog that is diagnosed as obese is at risk of things like osteoarthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart and respiratory disease, kidney disease and cancer. Often obese dogs are fed too many treats or too much human food (of the wrong sort). Introducing carrots into your dog’s diet as a substitute of fatty treats will go some way to improving her health
How you present the carrot to your dog depends on her size, age and breed. Small dogs need small chunks of carrot, and puppies and some small dogs will need the carrot to be cooked until it is verging on soft. Always slice the carrot if you don’t think your dog is capable of eating it whole. Giant dogs of course should be OK with a whole carrot.
The goodies of a puree carrot are thought by some nutritionists to be more quickly absorbed into the dog's blood stream, and puree or mashed carrots tend to have a higher concentration of beta-carotene, the precursor of vitamin A. Try this nutritional treat but remember: don’t give your dog too many carrots because the Vitamin A can be toxic in too high a concentration.