FoodFact: Can Pet Dogs or Cats Eat Carrots?
Carrots – the orange-red colored root vegetable has sneaked its way into most of our traditional and modern cuisines. Right from Carrot Cake to our favorite Gaajar Ka Halwa it’s everywhere! Young or old, this vegetable is loved by everyone. But can pets eat carrots too?
The good news is YES! Carrots are safe for dogs as well as cats. They can have it whenever they want; however, after exercising certain precautions. Carrot may be a great vegetable to have and your pet might crave for it. But as the old saying goes, ‘Excess of anything is Poison’. Hence, exercising a little moderation while feeding carrots to your pet is a wise idea.
Where did Carrots originate?
Carrots originally known as Daucus Carota has its origin in Central Asia. Its wild ancestors originated in Persia. Carrot seeds have been found in Switzerland and Southern Germany dating back to 2000–3000 BC. The ancient Romans even used it as a medicinal herb and as an aphrodisiac.
They were originally available in a variety of colors like purple, white, yellow, red, and even black. Finally, the ‘orange’ color of the carrots was created in the 17th century by the Dutch to honor their flag at the time. It’s been widely available in that color since then and has now become an important part of the vegetable family all over the world.
Why are Carrots so popular in India?
Winter is considered as the season of carrots in India. As soon as winter approaches, you can find Indian mothers feeding carrot juice to their children, preparing pickled carrots and cooking delicious Gaajar Ka Halwa. The orange carrots were brought and mostly made popular in India by the Britishers in the 18th century. Since then, it has been widely produced and consumed in different parts of the country, with Haryana being the largest producer.
What is the nutritional build-up of Carrots?
Carrots are a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals. They are light and are chiefly made of water and carbohydrates. The edible portion has 10% of carbs which consist of starch and sugars. Carrots also are low in fat which makes it a great vegetable to munch on without the fear of weight gain. Carrots are high in fiber, with a single medium-sized carrot containing approximately 2 grams of digestive fiber. They also rank low in glycemic index.
Glycemic index is the measure of how quickly certain foods raise blood sugar level after a meal. Eating foods with low glycemic index has various health benefits and works out great, particularly for people with diabetes. It is the lowest for raw carrots and increases as you cook them.
Carrots also contain various soluble and insoluble fibers with Pectin being the most important soluble fiber present. Soluble fibers help in slowing down the digestion of sugar and starch, which makes us feel full for a longer period of time. They can also impair the absorption of harmful cholesterol. Insoluble fibers, on the other hand, reduce the risk of constipation and ensure healthy bowel movements.
Carrots are a rich source of various vitamins and minerals. They contain beta-carotene which is converted to Vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A promotes better vision, develops immunity and leads to an improvement in overall body function. Biotin (formerly known as Vitamin-H) plays an important role in metabolizing fat and protein in the body. Vitamin K1, also known as phylloquinone is needed for blood coagulation. It also improves the bone density, and helps to develop stronger & healthier bones & joints. Vitamin K is vital to blood clotting and helps support dental and bone health. Lastly, Vitamin B6 turns carbohydrates, fats, and proteins into energy.
Amongst the plant compounds presents, Carotenoids are by far the best compound present in carrots. The main carotenoids present are Beta-carotene, Alpha-carotene, Lutein, Lycopene, Polyacetylenes, and Anthocyanins. They are found in different proportions; however, they demonstrate powerful antioxidant activity which helps in the reduction of various diseases like cardiovascular, degenerative, and also reduces the risk of certain types of cancer.
That’s great, but are Carrots good for pets?
Carrots can be a great choice for dogs & cats. They are healthy, refreshing, and tasty. The plethora of vitamins and minerals present in carrots provide a number of benefits to your pet. The Vitamin A present in them enhances your dog’s vision. Especially for an aging dog, who is losing his vision, feeding carrots can help restore their eyesight. Vitamin A can also assist your dog in flushing out the harmful toxins in their body. It has also been known to reduce the bile and fat that collects in the liver. Carrots are also a great choice for active dog breeds as they contain vitamin K which increases the bone density and protects them.
Carrots can also improve your pet’s oral health. When your dog or cat chews on carrots, the crunchiness helps by scraping off the plaque, food particles and other gunk stuck in their teeth. Also, the minerals found in carrots help prevent any tooth damage to your dog or cat. The carotenoids present also reduce the risk of getting cardiovascular diseases. Regular consumption of carrots can reduce cholesterol levels because of the high amount of soluble fibers.
So, how can I serve Carrots to my pets?
Carrots are safe for your pets and can be served in various ways and proportions based on the size of your dog or cat. If your dog is big you can serve an entire carrot to him, which he will chew and tear off. However, if your dog is small or if you have a cat it is necessary to cut the carrot into small pieces before feeding them so that they don’t choke on it.
Carrots for dogs can be even grated and peeled before feeding if they are fussy eaters. Another way is to freeze the carrots; frozen carrots may help relieve discomfort for teething puppies and can slow down an aggressive chewer while still offering vitamins and minerals.
You can even prepare carrot sticks and present it to your pet which they will surely chew for hours. Also, if your dog or cat is not a vegetable lover, juicing may be a fun way to add carrots to their diet. Just remember to add the pulp back after juicing so that your pet doesn’t miss out on the fibers!
What about Preserved or Packaged Carrots?
Carrots for pets in any preserved or packaged form is a strict NO-NO! Most packaged foods contain preservations which can be detrimental for your dog’s health. Also, the artificially flavored carrot chips or sticks can trigger an infection or allergy in your pet which may cause irritation or any other side-effects in your pet. Most processed, canned or dehydrated (chips) carrots, prepared for humans may contain salt or seasoning. Make sure your pet never gets their paws on these.
Carrots are low on carbs & fats, and high on fiber and water – which makes them a great treat for your pet. They’re easily digestible and prevent constipation in your pets because of the presence of soluble fibers. Carrots are filling and provide many nutritional benefits to your pet, especially for the senior dawgies who can benefit immensely from the vitamins and minerals present in them.
However, as pet parents, you have to exercise certain precautions and moderations on the quantity of carrot fed to your dog. Carrots are safe for pets and impose very few side-effects. But in case your dog or cat encounters any infection or allergies, it is advised to take them to the vet immediately. After all, a healthy and happy pet makes a happy family!
Always know that vegetables can be an interesting and nutritious addition to your pet’s diet. But a majority of their protein needs to be from animal sources. If you wish for your pet to thrive, add vegetables to their meat-based diet. A solely vegetarian diet will severely affect the quality and span of your pet’s life.
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