A common question that I get is if your furry friend can eat carrots or foods made with carrot. Have any clue? Can dogs eat carrots? If you want to add a human food such as carrots to your dog’s diet, read this article first!
Dr. Jess describes the risks and the benefits of feeding carrots to your dog, as well as which types of carrots dogs can eat (if any!), and which is best left out of their food dish.
Dog food experts have had many arguments regarding the safety of serving human foods to dogs.
As commonly as carrots are for us humans to eat, they may pose a threat to dogs.
Let me, the veterinarian, explain myself…
It’s always the best idea to double-check which foods your dog can and can not eat because many foods that are safe and healthy for humans are quite toxic or harmful for your dog to ingest, or even deadly to them.
Taste is never worth the risk of harming your pet.
That’s why I am so glad that you are here making an educated decision before feeding your dog carrots!
What Do Dogs Typically Eat?
A common canine diet for pet dogs consists of a complete dry, semi-moist, or wet food, and possibly some form of supplements in some specific cases (however, not all pet dogs need supplements).
As discussed further down in this article, a complete feed incorporates all of the nutrients required for the dog to lead a healthy life, and all of those elements, are included in that complete food, as long as that feed is fed at the recommended doses and the dog is currently healthy with no medical issues.
Foraging can also be included in the diet if the dog is allowed to roam, or the dog is feral, and of course there are treats that are a part of many dog’s diets!
Treats and chews should never be a major part of your dog’s diet plan. They should only be as a little snack or reward, not a staple in their daily diets.
The diet of every dog breed will very when you are looking into a healthy and complete diet for your pup. So it is important to know when offering food to your dog, what constitutes a healthy choice, and what does not.
Some breeds are more prone to obesity, others are more prone to skin problems, teeth issues, heart conditions, etc., so specialty formulated dog foods that are breed specific can serve a purpose for some dogs.
An improper diet could put your dog at risk of having problems properly digesting their food and absorbing nutrients correctly. And we don’t want that now do we???
Some dogs eat anything and everything. They’ll eat whatever you offer them- they’re like vacuum cleaners sucking up anything you put in front of them and then some!
Some dogs are just the opposite, on the much pickier side of things. Pickier pups can be harder to properly feed because they just won’t eat any food we give them. Try feeding a picky dog something like okra!
So let’s talk specifically about carrots, since that’s why you clicked over here today, and talk about how it could affect your dog’s overall health and well-being.
Let’s Talk Carrots:
Carrots are a type of root vegetable that belong to part of the nightshade family of veggies.
They come in many different colors such as orange, yellow, white, purple, red, and even black.
They also come in many different sizes and shapes, from long and slender, to short and stumpy, and everything in between.
The taproot (the orange section of your typical common carrot) is typically what is consumer here in the United States, but the stems and leaves can also be eaten, although less popular.
Carrots are typically eaten raw or cooked by boiling, steaming, frying, and can be seen in many dishes such as soups, salads, stir frys, vegetable medleys, and even in cakes such as carrot cakes. Carrot varieties can also be seen in many baby foods and dog foods as well.
Carrots have many known health benefits associated with them. But let’s start with their nutritional profile and move on from there to decide if dogs can eat carrots.
Healthline does a wonderful job summarizing the basics of carrot nutrition:
‘Carrots are about 10% carbs, consisting of starch, fiber, and simple sugars. They are extremely low in fat and protein. Carrots are a good source of several vitamins and minerals, especially biotin, potassium, and vitamins A (from beta carotene), K1 (phylloquinone), and B6.’https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods/carrots#nutrition
A raw carrot is a rich source of vitamin B6 and vitamin C. However, once the carrot is cooked, the amount of both of these vitamins diminishes dramatically.
Good Source of Vitamin A and C:
Many people have heard that carrots contain a large amount of vitamin A.
Vitamin A has been shown to help with eyesight in low light situations and also can play a role in macular degeneration prevention.
Carrots have a healthy dose of vitamin C in them – a vitamin that helps with the protection of important body systems that keep the body running and functioning appropriately.
Even a cooked carrot will offer vitamin A and C when ingested.
Carrots also contain a notable amount of vitamin K as well.
Contains Antioxidants That May Decrease Chance of Cancer:
Multiple research studies have shown that carrots are a fantastic source of anti-inflammatory compounds, which effectively can help fight different forms of inflammation.
Antioxidants are thought to help reduce inflammation inside the body by binding (attaching) to and suppressing (decreasing) inflammation-promoting molecules known as free radicals. [source].
Carrots are also a good source of certain antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin for example (both carotenoids), antioxidants that have been studied extensively to promote healthy bodies.
Studies have shown that antioxidants may help reduce cancer cell growth, decrease inflammation reactions, and improve overall health.
Helps Digestive Function:
Carrots contain a healthy dose of fiber to help aid in digestion.
Your pet needs a balanced amount of fiber in their diets to keep their gastrointestinal tract healthy and moving and digesting food appropriately.
May Lower Blood Sugar Levels
Carrots contain high amounts of good-quality fiber and potassium, which may help regulate blood sugar levels [source].
This will come in handy if you have a diabetic pet or are trying to prevent your dog from becoming diabetic!
Potassium helps encourage blood vessels to relax, which will decrease the risk of high blood pressure occuring and other cardiovascular issues, such as heart disease.
Can You Feed Carrots To Dogs?
There are some foods that us humans can eat that can be toxic to your dog and need to be avoided all together.
While the toxicity level in an actual ripe carrot itself is minimal, you shouldn’t give them too many because problems may arise as I will discuss further down in this article. [source]
So, long story short- Yes!
Adult dogs can have carrots, IF given to them safely, and I’ll cover that in just a bit.
You do not want to feed the wrong carrots or the wrong amount or frequency, potentially making your furry friend unintentionally sick.
Do Dogs Like Carrots?
Dogs are natural carnivores.
Some dogs find the flavor of carrots to be a delicious one, and they will easily snack on them, just as some people love carrots, from their salads to their baked dinners.
So yes, some dogs like carrots. Some dogs even LOVE them.
Other dogs will definitely turn their nose away from the veggie. This is completely normal, and many many dogs will not eat carrots at all.
Is The Rest Of The Carrot Plant Safe To Eat?
The green parts of the carrot plant – the leaves, stems, flowers, etc. contain a alkaloid chemical known as solanine which can produce a toxic substance when digested in the dog’s GI tract.
The more ripe that a carrot gets, the more that this toxin is metabolized out of the vegetable.
That’s why it is safest to feed your dog the carrot itself, but should never be offered the leaves, flower, stem, or green, unripened veggie.
This toxin has the potential to cause health issues in your dog if ingested. Some of the signs that your dog may be showing solanine toxicity symptoms include:
- muscle weakness
- muscle fasciculations (tremors or quivering)
- Excessive drooling
- Digestive upset
- Cardiac (heart) issues
- Ataxia (coordination / movement issues)
Can Carrots Be Harmful to Dogs?
Before we can decide if carrots are safe to feed our dogs, we need to first understand some of the risks involved if we do feed our dogs carrots.
There are a few key things to keep in mind. These three factors include:
Harmful Reason #1: Loose Stool/Diarrhea
Too much fiber can mean hypermotile, or increased movement, of one’s digestive tract.
Some dogs are more sensitive to additional fiber in their diets, so they are more likely to have loose stool and in some cases, full-blown diarrhea.
Other dogs will not be impacted by any additional fiber in their diets.
Many dog owners also report that their dog has increased flatulence after eating carrots.
This is very common and typically go away after the increased gas is removed from their systems.
If your dog acts uncomfortable due to extreme gas from their carrots treat, stop offering them carrots and contact your veterinarian immediately.
Harmful Reason #2: Allergic Reaction to Carrots
A dog can develop an intolerance or an allergy to any food, so there is always the possibility that your dog is allergic to carrots.
If you suspect your dog is allergic to carrots , do NOT feed this food to your dog.
If your dog is allergic to carrots and accidentally ingests it, go to your nearest animal emergency room immediately.
When this happens, the attack sets off a hypersensitivity reaction and can result in any of the following symptoms:
Common symptoms of adverse/allergic reaction to food:
- Itching/Increased grooming
Harmful Reason #3: Choking Hazards
That’s right, carrots can be a choking hazard, especially if your pet is allowed to break off or knaw off the carrot themselves.
Carrots are less likely a choking hazard when they are cut up into smaller bite-sized pieces by whomever is offering them their treat.
Always monitor your dog when they are eating to ensure that if your dog does choke, that you can seek medical attention for them immediately.
How Many Carrots Can a Dog Eat?
This depends on the specific dog in question. Most the time, carrots, given in small amounts periodically, are most likely just as healthy for your dog as it is for you.
Moderation is key here; never go overboard when feeding carrots to your dog, no matter if your dog has a stomach of steel or not. Small amounts every once in a while is okay for most dogs.
Smaller dogs do not need as many carrots as a larger dog to have the same effect.
Dogs with loose stool or those that are constipated, do not need to be offered carrots at all.
The best thing to do to gauge how many carrots you should be feeding your dog safely, would be to contact your veterinarian about the specific pet in question.
When first starting to offer your dog carrots, start with 1 teaspoon-worth of the vegetable. Monitor them for 24 hours to see if there is any type of adverse reaction, and offer more if your dog does well with the first carrot offering and is interested in another carrot treat.
Small dogs can have up to 1-2 Tablespoons of bite-size carrot, while a large dog can have up to 3-4 Tablespoons.
Do not feed your dog carrots more than 1-2 times per week and it’s not a good idea to have those days back-to-back.
Space them out to give your dog’s GI system more of a chance of not becoming upset due to an overload of multiple days of carrots.
Are Carrots Beneficial For Dogs?
The random taste of a carrots or a small bite as a treat is totally fine – it will not harm your dog.
However, there’s no need to offer it in large quantities, as this can cause some major health issues for your pup, as I discussed above.
Basically, if your dog consumed a bit of carrots, you don’t need to drive them straight to the vet to get their stomach pumped.
If they start showing any odd signs of being affected by this new food (a list of signs and symptoms to look out for is further down in this article), contact your local veterinarian to get more information on what to do next.
So, yes there are some negative effects that can be seen with some dogs who consume carrots.
However, this does not mean that a large number of dogs see many more health benefits versus those few health concerns.
Some of the health benefits for dogs who consume Carrots include:
- High Fiber: Fiber is great to keep the digestive system flowing smoothly and also helps dogs feel satiated (feeling full for longer after eating).
- Low Calorie: If your dog is overweight, you are liking looking for low calorie options for treats, etc.
- Low Fat: Again, if you are looking for lower-fat options to serve your overweight dog, may be a good add-on option.
- Vitamins, Minerals, Antioxidants: A carrot has many different vitamins (vitamin B6 and vitamin C), minerals (oh hey there potassium), and antioxidants (lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene to the rescue!) to help keep your dog happy and healthy.
Can Dogs Eat Raw Carrots?
Dogs can be fed raw carrots. Due to the toxicity that occurs when solanine is ingested by your dog, do not offer your dog other parts of the carrot – only offer up the taproot, or colorful (orange) root section of the vegetable.
Also, many dogs will not eat a raw carrots when offered. Instead, offering them cooked carrots will be the way to go.
Some dogs do not like the taste of raw carrots, so don’t be shocked if your pup turns up their nose to raw carrots.
Can Dogs Eat Roasted Carrots? Baked Carrots?
Yes, dogs can eat roasted carrots and baked carrots, as long as no seasonings or other cooking products were used in the cooking process.
Your dog will be much more likely to accept a cooked carrots from you due to the softer texture and stronger smell compared to if you were going to try and offer them a raw one.
Make sure that the carrots is fresh and not overly ripe or rotten no matter what way you are deciding to prepare it.
Can Dogs Eat Mashed Carrots?
Dogs can eat mashed carrots as long as those mashed carrots are cooked and that the cooked mashed carrots were not prepared with cooking oil, butter, or seasoning or spices.
Can Dogs Eat Carrot Chips?
Nope. Dogs should not eat carrot chips.
Carrot chips are usually cooked in fats and contain many different spices, seasonings, and added salt – extra sodium that your dog does not need.
How to Serve Carrots to Dogs:
After checking with your vet to make sure that carrots should be a part of your dog’s menu, start by offering your dog 1 Tablespoon worth of carrot, or around the size of a cherry tomato.
If your dog does not show any adverse reactions after 24 hours or more, then you are likely safe to continue feeding your pup carrots, gradually increasing the amount according to your vet’s guidelines, or up to 2 Tablespoons for small dogs, and up to 4 Tablespoons for larger dogs.
- kitchen cutting knife
- kitchen cutting board
- 1 fresh carrot
- Remove the carrot stem, leaves, and/or other greenery, as they can be poisonous.
- Wash the veggie thoroughly to get rid of any chemical, pesticides, or pests.
- Cut the carrot in slices and then into bite-sized pieces.
- Prepare an amount equivalent to the size of a cherry tomato to give to your dog, keeping in mind not to feed any dogs with health issues or those are not full grown.
- Place any leftover carrot you may wish to keep in an airtight food-safe storage container in the fridge until ready to use.
Consult with your local veterinarian before adding or switching up your pet's diet. If your pet shows signs of adverse reaction to their diet, contact your vet immediately.
Keep the following in mind when serving food to your dog:
And remember that dogs need more than a bowl or plate of carrots – they need a complete and balanced diet, which they can obtain through feeding them a complete feed.
Whichever complete food you choose for your dog, it needs to have the AAFCO label indicating the diet is complete and balanced for your dog’s life stage.
AAFCO approved foods have gone through testing and compliance to make sure that the diet is safe and healthy for your pet.
Dogs already get everything that they need from their kibble or canned food.
How Many Carrots Can My Dog Have?
Can dogs eat carrots? As I mentioned previously, they can eat cooked and properly prepared carrots.
Most dogs are safe consuming a carrot if they are a healthy adult dog.
A smaller dog will be good with a tablespoon or two worth of fully cooked carrot, while a large or giant-size dog could handle a more substantial amount of tablespoons-worth of cooked carrots after a ‘ramping up’ period (a gradual increase in amount offered). Large-breed dogs can handle 3-4 Tablespoons of carrot.
But never offer more than a tasty bite or two, no matter what size dog you are feeding.
So don’t give your large dog an entire cooked carrot the very first time they eat the veggie!
Too many carrots can lead to digestive upset, increased flatulence (stinky stinky dog gas!), and other bodily conditions.
I highly recommend contacting your vet first before starting your dog on carrots, and also suggest that you start by offering your pup a small amount of carrot and then working up to a full amount.
A little bit of carrot typically goes a long way!
It’s always better to be safe than sorry!
Talk to your vet about the appropriate serving size of carrots for your dog.
Can Puppies Eat Carrots?
I would never advise a puppy owner to feed carrots to their puppy unless your veterinarian is recommending it due to specific medical needs.
Why do I say this? Because your pup’s first months of life should consist of specialized puppy diets approved by your local veterinarian upon puppy examination.
Puppies tend to have an even more delicate digestive system than adult dogs so giving your puppy carrots might cause diarrhea, vomiting, or other adverse reactions.
Find Out If Your Dog Can Eat These Foods!
- Brussels Sprouts
- Christmas Cactus
What to do If Your Dog Eats Carrots:
If it is just a bite or two of cooked carrot, just watch them for the rest of the day for any signs of adverse reaction.
If you are concerned with this small amount or if it was a raw carrot, of course, contact your veterinarian right away. Most dogs can tolerate a small amount of carrot on occasion – they typically do just fine.
If it is a large amount of carrots, contact your veterinarian right away to discuss details and what to do next.
It is extremely likely that your vet will request that you bring your dog in immediately to get evaluated if they have gotten themselves into a large amount of carrots, or a rotten or uncooked carrot. We vets want to help and we will best help if we are notified right away.
Trust me, us vets are happy to help!
The information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional veterinary help.