Can Dogs Eat Carrots? Everything You Need to Know

by Richard Walther, DVM
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Can Dogs Eat Carrots? Everything You Need to Know
human's hand feeding dog a carrot

Carrots are a health powerhouse for people, but can dogs eat them? We already know how dogs and apples mix, as well as the potential dangers of peanut butter, but, are carrots good for dogs? Are any parts of them potentially toxic? Can dogs eat raw carrots or do they need to be cooked? How many are enough?

These and many other questions might be on your mind, and we have the answers! Read on to find out how to safely feed carrots to your pooch.

Pro tip: Your dog ate too many carrots? Luckily, not every upset tummy requires a trip to the vet and most minor issues can be treated at home, but having pet insurance might help take the bite out of the next urgent vet visit.

dog eating carrot Image source: American Kennel Club

Are Carrots Good for Dogs?

Many pups love carrots, especially when enjoyed as a crunchy treat. Because of their nutrient-dense properties, carrots can be a healthy addition to your pup’s diet.

When your canine companion eats carrots, they are getting a boost of vitamins A, B, C, D, E, and K, potassium, beta-carotene, calcium, niacin, phosphorus, and magnesium. Carrots are also loaded with lutein and lycopene, essential phytonutrients that help protect eyes from UVB radiation and damage caused by harmful free radicals.

Below is a list of some of the most important nutrients and health benefits of carrots for dogs.

Vitamin A

Carrots are rich in Vitamin A, which supports eye health, boosts the immune system, and makes your pet’s skin and coat healthier.

However, be careful - because vitamin A is an essential nutrient for dogs, it’s a required additive to all commercial dog foods. If your furry pal has too much of this fat-soluble vitamin, it can build up in the body and become toxic. If you have any questions regarding how much vitamin A your pooch should consume, make sure to consult your vet.

Beta-carotene

Beta-carotene, a pigment that gives carrots their signature orange color, is the beginning form of vitamin A that is necessary to maintain good vision, especially at night. It also works as an antioxidant, helping to prevent disease and infection, ensure normal bone development, maintain good reproductive health, and prevent cancer.

Dietary fiber

Carrots are very rich in soluble fiber - one cup of raw carrots contains 3.58 g dietary fiber. Fiber can help improve digestive health and regulate loose stool in dogs.

Low-fat, low-calorie treat

Carrots are a great treat for diabetic dogs, as well as those working on their figure. With only 53 calories per cup, these crunchy veggies are an amazing treat option between feedings.

Great for the teeth

Keeping your pup’s teeth clean is a challenge for all pet parents. When it comes to dog dental health, it is recommended to start when they’re young. However, if you’ve adopted an older pooch or you didn’t start brushing on time, you’ll probably find plaque buildup that requires professional teeth cleaning.

Adding tough chews such as frozen carrots to your pet’s diet after a professional cleaning is a great way to give them a gentle cleaning and prevent further plaque buildup. Some vets also recommend frozen carrots for teething puppies as a way to relieve teething discomfort.

When Are Carrots Bad for Dogs?

When fed in moderation, carrots are a healthy, low-fat, and low-calorie treat. However, like other veggies and fruits, they are high in natural sugar. Too much sugar can cause obesity and dental decay.

Carrots also contain high levels of fiber. Adding large amounts of fiber to your dog’s diet too quickly can result in gas and stomach upset. So, be sure to introduce them slowly and provide lots of drinking water to prevent blockages. If you suspect your furry companion has had too many carrots and you notice signs of digestive upset, such as vomiting or diarrhea, contact your vet right away.

Pro Tip: While the cost to treat an upset stomach likely won't break the bank, more serious health issues can cost several thousand dollars. You might be faced with a difficult decision if you don't have dog insurance and can't afford emergency vet costs.

In general, when it comes to serving carrots, the same rules apply as with other treats: they should make up less than 10% of your pup’s daily calorie intake.

An average-sized pup can safely eat 2-3 baby carrots per day but make sure they’re chopped up into smaller pieces to avoid choking hazards.

Before giving your furry pal a new food, consult with your vet to get advice about the ideal serving size.

dog eating carrot on the floor Image source: Rover

Raw or Cooked Carrots - Which is Better for Your Dog?

Dogs can safely eat both raw and cooked carrots. In fact, every part of the carrot is safe for your pooch to eat, including the leafy greens at the top.

Note: If possible, buy organic carrots to make sure they don’t contain any pesticides. If you buy non-organic carrots, be sure to rinse them before feeding them to your dog.

Raw carrots

Grating carrots on top of your pup’s meal is an excellent low-prep option that adds extra deliciousness. Just wash the carrots before grating them. There’s no need to peel them; in fact, when peeling carrots for yourself, you can save the peels for your canine companion and cook them into a tasty carrot puree.

It should be noted though that raw carrots have a wall of cellulose that isn’t digestible by dogs, so it might be better to cook them in order to reap the full nutritional benefits for your pooch.

Juiced carrots

Carrot juice is very rich in vitamin A, but the dietary fiber is lost during juicing. You can return some of the pulp back into the juice to ensure that your furry friend doesn’t miss out on the beneficial fiber. Again, you don’t need to peel - simply wash the carrots and run them through a juicer. If your pooch doesn’t consume the carrot juice immediately, you can store it in the refrigerator for one day.

Frozen carrots

Although raw carrots are very tasty, pups can’t break them down like we can, which means that you may find carrots in their stool in the same condition they went in. That’s why, in order to take advantage of all the health benefits, raw carrots should be broken down to a fine mush or flakes before you freeze them into cubes.

Cooked carrots

The healthiest way to cook carrots is to steam them for about 10 minutes. This method of cooking enhances the carrots’ flavor while retaining most of the nutrients.

Another way to cook carrots is to bake them. Carrots are perfect for baking because of their natural sweetness. Preheat the oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet pan with parchment paper. Arrange the sliced carrots onto the prepared baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the carrots are tender and golden brown.

Can dogs eat carrot cake?

Even though the ingredients usually found in carrot cake are not toxic to dogs, the high sugar content and the presence of milk might lead to digestive upset.

Main Takeaways

Carrots are a tasty, affordable addition to your pup’s diet. They’re safe to serve on a daily basis and provide a healthy, low-calorie alternative to other dog treats.

Both raw or cooked carrots can be a great addition to regular dog food, a training reward, or a tasty snack. However, make sure to feed them to your pooch in moderation as too much fiber and sugar can have unwanted side effects.

Carrots can also pose a choking hazard, especially for small dogs and young puppies, so make sure to give them small slices.

Always follow your vet’s advice, even when it comes to people foods that are safe for dogs. Doing so will help you protect your pooch from weight gain, digestive upset, and other health issues.

Ricky Walther, DVM

About the author

Richard Walther, DVM

Associate Veterinarian - Blue Ravine Animal Hospital

Ricky Walther, DVM, is a small animal general practitioner at Blue Ravine Animal Hospital in the greater Sacramento, California area. Realizing the positive financial and medical impact that pet insurance can provide for pet parents and the profession, he lends support and advice to companies like Pawlicy Advisor that simplify the process of connecting with veterinary financing resources.

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