Dogs love to eat anything sweet and delicious, but if your pup tries chowing down on chocolate, it could be dangerous for him. Fortunately, there's a safe alternative to the sweet stuff that is safe for dogs. That substance is carob for dogs, commonly used as a chocolate substitute for people, too.
If you have some carob, feel free to share it with your dog, but make sure that whatever you're feeding him isn't high in sugar or other ingredients that aren't good for dogs. A safe bet is to stick to dog-specific treats made with carob.
What is carob chocolate?
Carob is derived from the pods of the carob tree (Ceratonia siliqua), a species of tree that grows in the Mediterranean region and produces fruit that contains a sweet pulp. This pulp is dried and turned into a powder that is similar in appearance and flavor to cocoa powder, according to the Honest Kitchen. The powder is used to make carob chocolate chips, bars, and other treats.
Many health food stores sell carob powder and carob chips that can be used as a direct substitute for cocoa powder and for chocolate chips in recipes. Carob powder and carob chips are high in fiber and naturally sweet and safe to use when making homemade treats for your dog. That's because carob doesn't contain any of the ingredients that chocolate does. Think of it like dog-safe chocolate.
What about chocolate?
In case you're wondering why chocolate is so dangerous for dogs, the reason is that chocolate contains several chemicals that a dog's body can't process in the way a human's body can. These chemicals include theobromine and caffeine. Both of these substances are stimulants that are dangerous to dogs. They also belong to a group of chemicals called methylxanines, according to Vetinfo, that should never be given to dogs and can be fatal in large amounts.
Dark chocolate and baking chocolate are the richest in theobromine and the amount of caffeine in chocolate can vary by manufacturer. Although a small amount of chocolate or cocoa powder may not harm your dog, the chocolate and its side effects can last in her system for up to 72 hours, warns WebMD. Side effects of ingesting chocolate include shaking, diarrhea, panting, restlessness, and even seizures. In large quantities, chocolate can be fatal to dogs.
Although white chocolate is the least dangerous form of chocolate for dogs, there is no dog-safe chocolate. That's why carob for dogs is such a great alternative for your pup.
Carob for dogs
Because you want to avoid giving your dog chocolate, carob is a good dog-safe alternative to chocolate. You can use carob to make homemade treats for your dog, or you can purchase dog treats that contain carob and safely feed small amounts to your dog.
One thing you should avoid is feeding your dog carob sweets and baked goods designed for people. These sweet treats may contain large amounts of sugar, which isn't a good choice for your dog's health, according to PetMD. Worse yet, these treats might contain xylitol, a sugar substitute that can be deadly to dogs. To avoid any problems, stick to carob-based treats made specifically for dogs, not people.
Feeding carob treats to dogs
When it comes to treats of any kind, it's best to limit the number of treats you feed your dog to 10 percent of his overall diet, recommends WebMD. Dog cookies and treats don't typically contain the vitamins, proteins, and nutrients your dogs need to stay healthy. Also, treats, including carob for dogs, can quickly pack on the pounds.
When you start feeding carob to your dog, start with a small amount to see if your dog likes the substance and that it doesn't upset his tummy. And when making homemade carob treats for your dog, stick to unsweetened carob that doesn't contain added sugar.
Chocolate safety for dogs
If you aren't sure if something contains chocolate or carob, don't feed it to your dog. And if you suspect that your dog has eaten chocolate, contact your veterinarian right away to see what treatment he recommends. He may want your dog to come into the office to induce vomiting or tell you how to induce vomiting at home, which will remove as much of the chocolate from her system as possible to minimize any side effects.
Because carob and chocolate look and even taste so similar, you should carefully label each to avoid using chocolate rather than carob when you make dog treats.