Many dog owners opt to feed their dogs homemade diets to ensure that they get adequate nutrition and to protect against some of the risks posed by prepackaged dog foods. You can incorporate vegetables such as carrots into your dog's diet as a snack or part of homemade food.
Dog Nutrition Basics
There is an ongoing debate in the veterinary community about whether or not dogs are carnivores or omnivores. Those who believe dogs are natural carnivores argue that wild dogs get fruits and vegetables by eating the stomach contents of their prey. Experts who believe dogs are omnivores point out that many important nutrients are available in vegetables. Both sides, however, agree that protein is the most important component of a dog's diet, so carrots should only be a small portion of your dog's diet, not a staple food.
Carrots are extremely high in vitamin A, which is important for eye health. Insufficient vitamin A intake can lead to eye infections and vision loss, so carrots are an excellent way to ensure your dog's eyes stay healthy. They contain virtually no fat, making them a good choice for overweight and older dogs.
Each cell of a carrot is surrounded by cellulose, which dogs cannot metabolize. This makes most of the nutrition in carrots inaccessible to dogs until the cellulose is broken down. To maximize the nutritional benefits of carrots, puree the carrots in a blender or feed baby food made from pureed carrots. Carrots are relatively high in sugar, so they should not be your dog's primary source of vegetable nutrition. Instead, give your dog a pureed carrot every few days.
Many vegetables are not safe for dogs or do not offer good nutritional benefits, so don't simply offer your dog bites of your salad. Other healthy vegetables to give your dog include bok choy, parsley, bell peppers, mustard greens, dandelions and zucchini. All vegetables contain cellulose and must be pureed to maximize their nutritional benefits.
- Raw and Natural Nutrition for Dogs; Lew Olson
- Unlocking the Canine Ancestral Diet; Steve Brown
- Dr. Pitcairn's New Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats; Richard H. Pitcairn et al.
- carrots image by Alison Bowden from Fotolia.com