You’re at the dining room table, and for the first time in months, it looks like your child has eaten all their vegetables. What a victory! But tonight’s vegetable was carrots, and your child hates carrots. You then glance around, and you don’t see your dog, but you hear crunching. You look under the table and see him stare up at you, with orange carrots all over his face. Your child has wised up and has been slipping your dog carrots under the table all dinner long. While you’re happy your dog is eating healthy, you’re concerned that your child is not. But it is perplexing- why does your dog like carrots so much?
The Root of the Behavior
Aside from being tasty to some dogs, chewing is fun! A carrot is crunchy and gives a dog a chance to chew something delicious. If you feed Rover a carrot whole, he’ll have tons of fun breaking it down. His jaw will get exercise from all the crunching, and he’ll have a healthy treat.
It’s tough to say why some dogs are drawn to carrots and others aren’t, but a dog’s taste buds are very different than a human’s. A human has almost 9,000 taste buds, but a dog has a little less than 2,000 taste buds. A dog’s palette is not nearly as refined and typically tastes foods as salty, sweet, bitter, or sour. To them, a carrot does not need a fancy recipe of butter, salt, or other seasoning added. The carrot in its purest form is good enough for a dog. Dogs use their nose to choose their food more than their taste buds, so the smell of carrots might be enticing to them. A dog relies primarily on smell to determine if he will try a particular food, so to a dog, a carrot must trigger his happy smell receptors. Carrots can be sweet and sometimes bitter; a dog recognizes these flavors and smells and decides what to do from there.
If your dog was given different foods as a puppy, he’s probably more willing to try a carrot. Dogs who were fed different foods are more receptive to new smells and tastes as compared to dogs who were only fed dry food and nothing else. A carrot can also be helpful to a teething dog. Vets have recommended a cold carrot to relieve the discomfort of teething in puppies. This relief will give the dog a positive memory of carrots, which will make him more likely to eat carrots later on in life.
Encouraging the Behavior
Feeding your dog carrots is a great way to treat your dog, keep him chewing, and provide him with nutrients. Carrots do more than give your dog an edible chew toy. Carrots support and encourage dental health. A raw carrot is an excellent way for your dog to scrape his teeth and prevent the buildup of plaque, which will make his trips to the dentist easier. Carrots are also a healthy alternative to manufactured, caloric treats. It’s so easy to give your dog treats from a bag or scraps from the table, and that also makes it easy for your dog to gain weight. Treating your dog to a carrot is a healthy alternative that makes him just as happy. Carrots also have fiber, which aids in digestion. If your dog has loose stool, consider giving him a natural treat like a carrot before buying him expensive dog food advertised to have high fiber. Chances are, the carrot tastes better. This orange root also contains Beta-Carotene, which helps with eyesight too. However, for this nutrient to be released and absorbed by dogs, the carrots need to be cooked. It’s up to you to cook the carrots or not, but remember that adding other ingredients change the flavor and nutritional value. Carrots also contain vitamin A, which helps his immune system and keeps his skin and coat healthy. Even though there are these wonderful benefits to feeding dogs carrots, it’s important not to overdo it.
Other Solutions and Considerations
Just like a balanced diet advice for humans, the concept of everything in moderation also applies to dogs. If a pup has too many carrots, his digestion could be upset by the extra fiber, and vitamin A can build up in his system, which can become toxic. Vitamin A is included in most dog foods, so there shouldn’t be a worry that this is missing from your pup’s body.
If you’re not sure how many carrots to give your dog, talk to your vet. Because every dog varies in size and weight, it’s important to make sure you give your dog the right amount. This will keep your dog happy and loving carrots. He’ll be able to gnaw that carrot, and you’ll know he has a healthy treat.
You might have a dog who loves pup-corn, but carrots are much healthier and safer. Rather than having your child slip carrots under the table, make it a point to feed this affordable, natural, orange root vegetable to your dog as a regular treat. He will be fur-ever grateful that he doesn’t have to beg at the table for his favorite treat anymore.