Can Dogs Safely Eat Carob?

Carob is a type of chocolate substitute, which in small amounts is safe to give your dog. While dogs enjoy the sweet taste of chocolate, it contains chemicals, which are toxic to them. Fortunately, carob has a similar taste without the toxic effects and you can give your pup treats containing this sweet substance without worrying about them harming your pooch.

dog eating chocolate
Chocolate isn't safe for dogs, but carob, with a similar flavor, is.
credit: Barna Tanko/iStock/Getty Images

The Lowdown on Carob

Carob is a sweet substance made from the beanlike fruit of the carob tree (Ceratonia siliqua). The pods are dried and ground up into a powder, which you can use as a direct substitute for cocoa powder. Carob chips, bars and other forms of this sweet treat are usually available in health food stores or the health food aisle of your local grocery store.

Carob is rich in protein and fiber, while it's low in fat, calories and sodium. Neither the pods, nor the plants themselves are considered toxic to dogs, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Chocolate Toxicity in Dogs

Chocolate is made from the seeds of the cacao tree (Theobroma cacao), a completely different plant than the carob tree.

  • These seeds contain a substance called theobromine, which is the main chemical responsible for its toxicity to dogs. Dogs cannot properly metabolize theobromine the way humans can.
  • The darker the chocolate, the higher the concentration of theobromine and caffeine, which is also toxic to dogs.
  • Theobromine can cause your pup to experience gastrointestinal side effects including vomiting and diarrhea in small doses.
  • It can lead to more serious side effects such as high blood pressure, a fast heartbeat, tremors, seizures and even death, warns the VCA Animal Hospitals website.

Carob Advantages and Considerations

Unlike chocolate, carob contains no caffeine or theobromine, meaning it's not toxic to dogs. Carob does contain tannins, which can lower blood sugar and insulin levels, according to WebMD. If your pooch is diabetic, you might want to consult with your vet about feeding him carob because of the tannins it contains.

When feeding your pup carob, do so in moderation, recommends the ASPCA. A few carob chips every now and again as a treat should be fine, but feeding your pooch a lot of carob at once could possibly cause him some minor stomach upset.

Carob Treats for Dogs

Use carob powder instead of cocoa powder as a one-to-one substitute to make canine-safe cookies.

  • Substitute carob chips for chocolate chips when baking.
  • When shopping for pup-safe treats, check the ingredients to ensure that anything that resembles chocolate is actually carob.
  • Always start out by giving your pooch a small amount of something new, including carob, in case he has an allergic reaction to it.
  • When purchasing carob to make dog treats with, chose unsweetened carob so you don't overload your pup on sugar. The extra sugar isn't really necessary because carob is naturally sweet.