Even people who don’t own a dog know that chocolate is dangerous for dogs. So why do you often see what appears to be chocolate-dipped dog treats at boutique pet shops and specialty stores? What looks like chocolate to you is probably actually carob – a chocolate-like alternative that is safe for your pup.
What is Carob and is it Toxic?
Chocolate may be delicious but it is incredibly toxic for dogs because it contains a dangerous compound called theobromine. The human body is able to metabolize this compound, but your dog’s digestive system processes it much more slowly – this allows toxic levels of theobromine to build up in your dog’s body, causing a number of health problems. A small amount of chocolate may only give your dog an upset stomach, possibly with some diarrhea or vomiting, though a large dog might be able to consume more chocolate without any negative effects. In large amounts, however, theobromine can lead to seizures, muscle tremors, internal bleeding, irregular heartbeat, and even heart attack or death. Dark chocolate and baking chocolate have the highest levels of theobromine followed by milk chocolate and white chocolate.
As dangerous as chocolate is for dogs, carob is safe for dogs. Carob is extracted from the carob bean which grows on the carob tree, a type of flowering shrub which belongs to the same family as peas, Fabaceae. Like cocoa beans, carob beans can be ground into a powder which can be used as-is or made into carob chips. Carob has a naturally sweet flavor, similar to chocolate, but it also contains a variety of healthy nutrients such as vitamins A, B, and D as well as calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, and protein. Additionally, carob is a good source of fiber for dogs as well as pectin, a substance that helps to flush toxins from the body. Carob does not contain any theobromine, nor does it contain caffeine, fromamide, or phenylthlamine – these are other dangerous substances found in chocolate.
Easy Dog Treat Recipes with Carob
Because carob comes in both powder and chip form there are a variety of ways to use it. If you have a recipe for homemade dog biscuits that you like, try making a carob dip to use as icing for the treats. Simply melt 1 ½ cups of carob chips in a double boiler then stir in 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil or shortening. Then, simply dip your homemade biscuits into the melted carob or brush it on and let it set in the refrigerator until it hardens.
To use carob chips in making homemade dog treats, start by preheating your oven to 350°F. Combine 2 cups of whole wheat flour with ¾ cups old-fashioned oats and 1 tablespoon of carob powder. Melt a cup of natural peanut butter in the microwave then whisk in 1 cup of milk. Stir the peanut butter mixture into the dry ingredients then fold in ¼ cup of carob chips. Pinch off pieces of the dough and roll them into balls and flatten them slightly on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake the treats for about 15 minutes then cool them completely and let them set for 2 hours until hardened.
If you are looking for a tasty treat that will help cool your dog down during the summer, try making some carob frozen yogurt drops. Melt about ½ cup of peanut butter or almond butter in the microwave then stir it into 2 cups of plain yogurt. Whisk in 1 tablespoon of carob powder then pour the mixture into small paper cups or a silicone baking mold. Freeze the mixture until solid then pop them out of the molds and store them in a plastic freezer bag and serve them one at a time.
So go ahead and spoil your pup with a sweet treat – carob is safe for dogs! Keep in mind that you should only give your dog treats in moderation, no matter what they have in them.
Kate Barrington is the loving owner of two cats (Bagel and Munchkin) and a noisy herd of guinea pigs. Having grown up with golden retrievers, Kate has a great deal of experience with dogs but labels herself a lover of all pets. Having received a Bachelor’s degree in English, Kate has combined her love for pets and her passion for writing to create her own freelance writing business, specializing in the pet niche.