A vibrant orange root vegetable domesticated in Central Asia from the wild carrot, the carrot that we value as food today was originally developed centuries ago. But not for its nutritious roots. And not for the benefits of carrots for dogs. It was actually developed for its aromatic leaves and seeds of all things!And why orange when it’s believed they were originally purple, yellow or white? (Colours, incidentally, which have been reintroduced in recent years). Well, once upon a time, there was this Dutch chap named William of Orange. (That is true by the way). William of Orange was also King William III of England and King William II of Scotland. Popular chap was our Willy!
Anyway, the story goes that around this time, the Dutch were mainly carrot farmers. This was the late 16th/early 17th century by the way. These Dutch carrots farmers introduced a strain of carrot that contained higher amounts of beta-carotene. A feature of which is, you guessed it, orange! Whether or not the individuals responsible for this tinkering with nature knew that the introduction of carotene would produce an orange carrot is anyone’s guess. But once they had perfected their first orange carrot, the Dutch continued to produce them in honour of their king, William of Orange, at the expense of the original purple, yellow and white carrots.
One other interesting thing about carrots is the myth that carrots help you see better in the dark. And it is a myth by the way. Carrots can help in that regard, but only if a person or a dog has a vitamin A deficiency. But not otherwise. Sorry!
Benefits of carrots for dogs
Low in calories and high in fibre, carrots are a great source of vitamin A for dogs. They’re also a good source of vitamins C, D, E and K together with vitamins B1, B6 and potassium. They are good for a dog’s teeth and make an excellent low-calorie treat. And, because they’re high in soluble fibre, they are good for the canine digestive system too. They also help support the immune system and help maintain a dog’s healthy skin and coat.
How to feed carrots to your dog
There’s no need to peel your dogs carrots. Most of the goodness is close to the surface so don’t waste valuable nutrients. Simply finely dice raw carrots and boil or steam with them with other vegetable ingredients in your dog’s food. Or steam or boil whole carrots and mash or purée them. Grate and sprinkle raw on top of your dog’s meal before serving or combine boiled or steamed carrots with other ingredients and apportion or serve.
Bear in mind that as much as many dogs enjoy a raw carrot, only when carrots are puréed, shredded or lightly cooked are they able to break down the cellulose wall that surrounds the vegetable. And only by doing that can they benefit from its nutrients. Eaten raw, a dog may well enjoy a carrot and its dental hygiene will certainly benefit, but the carrot will come out much the same way it went in. With all its beneficial nutrients still locked inside!
Raw as a low calorie treat, or ideally lightly cooked, carrots are just as good and just as beneficial for dogs as they are for humans.