Carrots are widely considered to be a healthy food. They're not only tasty but they're also packed full of vitamins and minerals too. Whether roasted, boiled or eaten as a snack—carrots are one of the most versatile vegetables around.
But while we know they're excellent food for humans, in the animal kingdom, we more often associate rabbits eating carrots versus dogs.
So can dogs have carrots? And can puppies eat carrots too? If so, what are the benefits, risks and daily serving limits?
In this article, we'll explain why carrots are a delicious dietary addition for dogs using the latest research and health advice available.
Can dogs eat carrots?
Yes, carrots are 100% safe for dogs to eat.
In fact, carrots are a common ingredient in fresh, dry and semi-moist dog foods. Most dogs love carrots, whether as a raw crunchy treat or cooked in with homemade dog food.
So yes, dogs and puppies can absolutely have carrots. Even better, carrots have some incredible health benefits for dogs.
Are carrots good for dogs?
When your dog eats carrots, they don't simply enjoy the taste... they also receive some fantastic health perks. Just as is the case for humans, carrots are a rich and nutritious source of vitamins and minerals for your dog.
Here are three science-backed benefits your dogs can enjoy from carrots:
Benefit: #1: Phenomenal nutritional profile
Carrots are known for their high levels of beta-carotene (which is converted to vitamin A in the body), vitamin K, potassium and more. In fact, carrots are also a source of iron, copper, zinc and manganese, including almost 5 mg per 100g of vitamin C [*]. These nutrients are essential for a healthy functioning canine.
Carrots aren't just a source of vitamins and minerals. They're also a healthy, low-calorie treat. But like other fruits and vegetables, carrots are surprisingly high in natural sugars—so be sure to feed it to your dog in moderation according to the daily limits we outline later in this article.
As part of a healthy balanced diet, carrots can serve as a fuel food, replenishing many of the important vitamins and minerals dogs burn as they play.
Benefit #2: Potent source of vitamin A
Vitamin A is essential to normal healthy function for dogs and people alike. As mentioned, carrots don't actually contain vitamin A; rather, carrots are rich in beta-carotene—a precursor to it.
Without vitamin A, dogs can suffer unhealthy weight loss, poor immune function and visual problems like night blindness. It can also impede normal growth for puppies, resulting in smaller stature [*].
That's where carrots can help.
Foods such as carrots, spinach and broccoli are brimming with carotenoids, of which beta-carotene is the most important. When consumed, the dog's body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A so it can support nutrition and development.
Benefit #3: Boosts eyesight
Carrots aren't only rich in beta-carotene; they contain high levels of other antioxidants including lutein. Both beta-carotene and lutein are critical for eye health. Because they're some of the few antioxidants which accumulate in the retina, they can help protect it from oxidative stress.
In one study, supplementation with antioxidants proved to be "beneficial and effective in the long-term preservation and improvement of various functions of the canine eye [*]." So, all the stories we're told about carrots helping us see better are true. And they're also true for our dogs too.
Can puppies eat carrots too?
Yes, puppies can have carrots too. The same rules apply to puppies and adult dogs alike. As carrots are high in natural sugars, make sure not to overfeed carrots to your puppy. In the proper feeding amounts, carrots provide essential vitamins and minerals to growing puppies.
That's not all.
Carrots are the perfect crunchy treat if your puppy is teething. Cool them down in the fridge, and they can soothe your puppy's sore teeth and gums. Your puppy will love them!
You now know that dogs can have carrots. But are there any downsides?
Like all fruits and vegetables, carrots are a perfect healthy treat in moderation. Low in calories and packed with vitamins and minerals, they're a simple, tasty addition to a dog's diet.
Most dogs love carrots. After all, they're high in natural sugars. That's one reason they find them so delicious.
However, dogs are natural carnivores. If carrots comprise too much of a dog's diet, they won't receive the properly balanced nutrients needed to maintain their health. Too many carrots can even cause weight gain, as is the case with eating any food high in sugar.
Most importantly, do not feed your dog the leaves and stems. The green parts of a carrot contain an alkaloid chemical that can make your dog sick if ingested.
So, just as for people—carrots are fantastic in moderation.
How much carrots to feed daily?
Your dog already likely has carrots in his or her diet. Commercial dog foods use carrots to fulfill nutritional requirements including vitamin and minerals required by AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles. If you're making your own homemade dog food with carrots, it will likely be included in that recipe too.
Keep track of how many carrots you give your dog as a treat. Overall, carrots shouldn't total more than 10% of your dog's diet.
For those of your wondering, carrots make up approximately 7.5% of our Perfect Kibble recipe.
Depending on your dog's size, you can slice the carrots into either sticks or rounds. If you're cooking them as part of wet dog food, use a small amount amongst other ingredients, keeping it to 10% or less of the recipe.
The bottom line
So can dogs have carrots? They definitely can, and in our informed opinion, dogs should include carrots in their daily diet.
Very few foods provide the beta-carotene levels found in carrots, and they also contain vitamin K, potassium, iron, copper, zinc and manganese.
Dogs enjoy carrots roasted, boiled or raw. All these benefits together are why we recommend including carrots for up to 10% of your dog or puppy's diet.