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Pet Talk: Carrots are a Good Treat Alternative

Q: Our dog loves carrots. Is this a good treat to give him?

A: Carrots are widely considered to be a healthy alternative to traditional dog treats because of their low fat and calorie count (about four calories per baby carrot). With as many as 53 percent of dogs in the United States being overweight, many of these dogs could benefit from a treat that doesn’t add inches to their waistline. For treats, cut into bite-size pieces and give in moderation. You may want to ask your veterinarian if carrots are a good treat for your particular dog, and, if so, on a daily basis how many he could have.

Chewing on raw carrots may also help support dental health by gently scraping the teeth and preventing plaque buildup. Be sure to supervise your pup when giving a whole carrot so he doesn’t choke by swallowing too big of a piece.

Magic, a collie I used to have, loved carrots. I would give him a whole carrot to take on a walk. He would run around carrying his prized carrot as if it was a toy, then he would stop, lay down and gnaw on it awhile only to get up and play with it again. He repeated this over and over again until it was gone. He so enjoyed his carrot.

Carrots are high in soluble fiber, so if your dog has loose stools he may benefit by adding carrots to his diet, which will help his digestive system. Be sure to introduce them slowly so your dog’s system can gradually become accustomed to the change and avoid uncomfortable gas or an upset stomach.

Though whole or pieces of raw carrots have some benefits for dogs and are not harmful, they have no nutritional value for our canine friends. Dogs cannot metabolize the vitamin A or betacarotene in this vegetable because a thin wall of cellulose protects each cell of a carrot. You will notice chucks of raw carrot your dog ate will pass through him looking the same on the way out. To reap the nutritional benefits of carrots for your dog you need to break down the cell wall by pureeing them in a blender or food processor or by lightly cooking or steaming them.

Hope this helps.

Sally Salopek is the owner and operator of Attend-A-Pet pet sitting services in northern Door County. She has also worked professionally with animals in health care, pet grooming, training, wildlife rehab and rescue. Send your pet-related questions to her at [email protected]