Carrots: The Alternative Dog Treat

Rosee hurt her left rear leg a couple months ago. At first no one noticed anything different in her, except sometimes when drinking water from her bowl she would lift her leg up and down, not resting much weight on it. Pretty soon her lifting turned into holding her leg up all the time and hopping around the house. She never cried when someone touched her leg or her hip, she never whimpered in her sleep because of discomfort, and she never acted unlike her normal self, except for holding her leg up. It became clear after a few weeks of cutting down on walks and rambunctious playing that home remedies were not going to get her leg back to normal, so off to the vet she went.

After a quick examination by the vet and a trip to the scale, it was determined that Rosee had probably sprained a muscle in her leg. Nothing too bad to worry about, but it would require two weeks on an anti-inflammatory medication. . . . oh, and no walking, no running, no jumping, no wrestling, basically no moving of any kind that isn’t slow and steady and doesn’t put extra stress on her hurt leg.

In case I haven’t made it abundantly clear throughout other parts of this site Rosee is young and energetic. Simon is young and energetic. Put the two together and they create quite a formidable pair to keep still. Simon’s always moving, always needing to be wherever he thinks the action (or food) is. Rosee, with her need to always be first, sees him move and works to get in front of him at every occasion. The idea of keeping her mostly still for two weeks, at minimum, and somehow keeping Simon entertained as well seemed daunting, but necessary. However, along with her hurt foot the vet also mentioned that Rosee was slightly, a little, just a tad overweight.

Now, I had always just seen Rosee as a built, muscular little girl. But when she hit almost 85 lbs. and she looked more like a short log, with no real definition in her sides, it became clear that losing weight could do her some good and it could also help take some stress off of her hurt leg. The vet told my family that to help Rosee lose weight along with cutting down somewhat on her dog food, giver her only vegetables as treats.

Cut to changing the way I look at dog treats.

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Treats are no longer crumbly bones that fall apart, or beef-smelling little nuggets that linger in my nostrils long after serving their attention-getting purpose. No, treats can be bright and colorful and healthy, without smells that make me never want to eat a hot dog again as long as I live.

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You remember carrots, celery, and cucumbers? You know, those little orange and green things most people find julienned on top of salads? Yup, those are what you can give dogs, without negatively affecting their waistlines. I know, amazing! Spectacular! Unheard of! (Unless of course, you are more evolved than I am and already know of said healthy treats to give your dog, then I applaud you.) The fact is I never thought I had to stray from what could be found down the aisles of pet stores, and that everything in moderation would be motto enough. It all seemed to work well enough for Simon, but alas though they look extremely similar Rosee and Simon are not the same.


The vet mentioned that Rosee’s metabolism is simply slower than Simon’s 110 and her needs have to be met accordingly. So, carrots became Rosee’s go to treat. When we are on walks, when she stops barking at the garbage trucks, when she rolls over on command—she always gets a nice orange sliver of carrot as a reward.

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Luckily, Rosee is happy to get as many carrots as I’ll give her. She sees them as an incredible prize that she is always in the mood for. Simon, however, is a dog of a different color. He loves carrots, but he deigns them as undeserving of his palate when something more interesting has his attention. And by something I mean a bird on the lawn, another dog at the park, a person across the way, or a smell in the air. He is prone to fits of distraction caused by pretty much anything. My sister and I have been working with him to conquer his wildfire personality, and he has come a long way with learning to control his impulses, though he still has some work to do (and always will). However, he does not have a weight problem, his metabolism keeping him revved up twenty three hours most days. It is not such a big deal that Simon does not only consume carrots as treats. He finds enjoyment through many other outlets, including walks and toys. Most days I’m lucky if he decides hot dog is a worthy opponent to swallow, so food treats are not always the way to go with him.

Long story short, alternatives to traditional dog treats do exist and are worth looking into if your dog needs to lose some weight and can’t handle the calories that come with beef-flavored ones. Carrots, and other vegetables safe for dogs, are easily digested, haven’t caused Rosee or Simon any gestational discomfort (i.e. farts), and are cheap to buy at any grocery store. Carrots haven’t turned her poop orange or anything weird, and I am proud to say have helped her lose ten pounds. She is now a svelte 75 lbs. that moves better and more comfortably.

So, if you find yourself needing something better to give your dog as a treat, look no further than your own salad toppings. Carrots have really made a positive difference in Rosee’s life, which is odd enough to say, but it’s true.

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However, if your lovable canine is anything like whirlwind Simon who spits carrots out (if he even decides to take them) then you are better off finding out what exactly makes your dog tick and using that as a treat, as long as it’s still good for them of course. And don’t be afraid to use unconventional things like walks and toys as treats as well alongside food treats.

You never know what could be your dog’s orange and crunchy prize. (But don’t be surprised if it’s carrots.)

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