Can dogs eat carrot cake with you, or is this recipe best kept as a human treat?
Dogs can eat very small amounts of plain carrot cake, as long as it doesn’t contain:
- macadamia nuts
- or chocolate.
Even without these toxic ingredients, the sugar content in carrot cake can contribute to weight gain, diabetes, heart disease and tooth decay in dogs.
So, it’s usually better to just give your dog a simple raw carrot instead!
Some Fun Facts About Carrot Cake
Carrot cake is a staple of fashionable city bakeries, diners, and home bakers all over the world.
You probably think you already know it pretty well. But here are some things I bet you didn’t know:
- Carrot cakes have been baked and enjoyed since at least the mid-16th Century. And more pudding-like precursors were probably around for hundreds of years before that.
- The first written record of adding cream cheese frosting is from the U.S. in the 1960s. But, food historians suspect Europeans had already been adding it for much longer.
- Carrot cake enjoyed a boom in popularity during and immediately after World War 2, when food shortages made getting hold of cake ingredients tricky.
- In New York, one bakery’s carrot cake recipe is so popular that their cakes have travelled the world. They even made the New York Times.
- The world’s largest carrot cake was baked in British Columbia, Canada in 2016. It weighed 4,574lbs, and contained around 35,000 carrots!
Can Dogs Have Carrot Cake?
Broadly speaking, plain carrot cake recipes are not toxic to dogs. That is, recipes which only contain variations of:
- Cream cheese
None of these ingredients are poisonous to dogs. Most dogs can have them in small amounts without any ill-effects.
But, it’s important not to go overboard, for the following reasons:
Carrot cake tends to be very high in natural sugars (from the carrots) and refined sugars (from the… sugar).
Sugar is very calorie-dense. So, even small quantities can lead to weight gain, and complications which go with it. Such as:
- heart disease
- and worsening of joint diseases like hip dysplasia.
A key ingredient in cakes of all types is fat – from oil or butter, and from egg yolks.
Dogs need a greater proportion of fat in their diet than people do, which they use as fuel for exercising.
But too much fat can overload their pancreas, and cause pancreatitis which requires veterinary treatment.
Bear in mind that some dogs may have dietary sensitivities to even basic cake recipe ingredients.
Wheat (in flour), eggs, and milk (in yoghurt and cream cheese) are among the most common canine allergens.
Dogs allergic to these ingredients may:
- get stomach ache
- be sick
- experience diarrhea
- or have itchy skin.
Lots of carrot cake recipes include extra flavors, like vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg, for a more complex and tasty treat.
Cinnamon is not toxic to dogs. But, eating too much in one go can irritate and inflame the lining of their mouth.
Nutmeg is rarely toxic to dogs in small quantities, but too much in one sitting is.
Is Carrot Cake Bad For Dogs?
The answer to “can dogs eat carrot cake?” is not a simple one.
On balance, carrot cake occupies an uneasy place between “not exactly poisonous” but also “hard to justify why you’d give it to a dog”.
Letting them lick the crumbs off your plate as a rare treat is unlikely to do them any lasting harm.
But there are some ingredients in customized carrot cake recipes which you should look out for and never, ever let your dog eat.
These ones are definitely toxic to dogs:
- Raisins. Like their juicy precursor grapes, raisins cause sickness and kidney failure in dogs, which can be fatal.
- Sultanas. Sultanas are raisins with slightly less water removed, but just as toxic.
- Walnuts. Walnuts themselves aren’t toxic to dogs. But they often harbor fungi called mycotoxins, which cause tremors, seizures and neurological damage in dogs.
- Macadamia nuts. Macadamia nuts cause vomiting and hindleg paralysis in dogs, even in very small amounts.
- Xylitol. Xylitol is an artificial sweetener sometimes included in low-calorie recipes for cakes and frosting. It is very poisonous to dogs. Even small amounts can cause fatal liver failure.
- Chocolate. Chocolate contains caffeine, and compounds called theobromines, which are poisonous to dogs.
If your dog eats carrot cake containing any of these things, it’s important to get veterinary advice right away.
Is Carrot Cake Good For Dogs?
Can dogs eat carrot cake with any benefits?
We’ve seen what can go badly wrong with giving carrot cake to dogs, but is there anything in it which can actually do them good?
Carrots are a great source of fiber, potassium, and vitamins A and D.
Raw carrots are a great low calorie treat for dogs, and frozen carrots are often recommended for teething puppies to soothe sore gums.
But carrot makes up a relatively small proportion of most carrot cake recipes. So the nutritional benefits tend to be overwhelmed by cake’s unhealthy qualities.
Can Dogs Eat Home Made Carrot Cake?
Yes. If anything, homemade carrot cake is the best, safest kind to share with your pooch.
When you make a cake yourself, you can make sure all the ingredients are safe for your dog, and go easy on ingredients like sugar and frosting.
In fact, why not try your hand at one of these carrot cake recipes designed specifically for spoiling dogs?
Brown Eyed Baker Dog Birthday Cake
This recipe relies on lots of carrot and just a little honey for sweetness.
It’s free from spices and flavors, but does include lashings on many dogs’ favorite treat – peanut butter.
Make sure you choose a dog-safe peanut butter without xylitol.
Urban Bakes Dog Birthday Carrot Cake
This decadent recipe for spoiling your dog on a special day goes one step further, with a yummy cheese topping.
Tastemade Carrot Cake For Dogs
Besides carrot it’s flavored with whole wheat flour, sardines, and an unsweetened cream cheese frosting.
Definitely not one for sharing though!
My Dog Ate Carrot Cake: What Should I Do?
Most dogs who sneak a serving of plain carrot cake won’t suffer any ill-effects.
If your opportunity-grabbing hound managed to scoff a whole cake whilst unattended, call their vet for advice.
Based on the size of your dog, the size of the cake, and it’s ingredients, they’ll help you make a risk assessment and decide whether veterinary intervention is necessary.
If your dog gets hold of carrot cake containing any of the toxic ingredients listed above. Call their vet immediately and explain what has happened.
Don’t wait to see if they experience symptoms of toxicity. It’s important to get treatment before the damage starts being done.
How to Give a Dog Carrot Cake
The best way to share the taste of carrot cake with your dog is by making them a dog safe recipe, which is low in sugar and free from harmful ingredients.
If this sounds like too much work, then don’t worry. There are so many wonderful and appetizing dog treats available that they’re not going to miss out by leaving this one to you.
Here are some links to tasty treats which you can give to your dog without guilt or worry:
- Best Organic Dog Treats – Which Brand Is Best for Your Pup?
- Treats For Raw Fed Dogs
- Best Dog Training Treats for a Super Successful Training Session
Can Dogs Eat Carrot Cake – Summary
So, can dogs eat carrot cake?
Dogs can safely eat small servings of plain carrot cake. But it’s vital to avoid recipes with raisins, sultanas, walnuts, macadamia nuts, xylitol or chocolate.
Carrot cake is also high in sugar and fat, which means too much can cause or worsen health problems like obesity, diabetes, heart disease, hip dysplasia and pancreatitis.
If in doubt, keep this treat on your plate, and choose something more suitable for your dog instead!
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References and Further Reading
- The Guinness Book of World Records
- The Carrot Museum
- Mandigers & German. Dietary Hypersensitivity in Cats and Dogs. 2015.