If you feel like rewarding your well-behaved doggy with the occasional yummy treat, be sure to always steer clear of chocolate -- a well-known canine toxin. But carob tastes a lot like chocolate, and though your refined palate can surely tell the difference, we're betting your pooch will love carob just as as much as he would chocolate. Most importantly, carob isn't at all poisonous to your four-legged friend.
Dangers of Chocolate
According to the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, chocolate is a serious medical danger to dogs and cats because it contains theobromine, an alkaloid that functions as a cardiac stimulant and a diuretic. Not only can excessive levels of chocolate lead to convulsions in dogs, it can even be fatal. Some of the symptoms associated with chocolate poisoning in dogs are frequent urination, weakness, vomiting, fever, fast breathing, shivering, panting and diarrhea. Never, ever allow your dog to eat chocolate. Also keep in mind that that darker-colored chocolate is especially toxic to dogs, although all varieties are potentially harmful.
Although chocolate is a severe hazard for dogs, the ASPCA reports that carob is not. Carob is extracted from the pods of the carob tree, Ceratonia siliqua. This evergreen tree originated in the Mediterranean region. The sweet pulp of the pods has a pleasant flavor that is reminiscent of chocolate, and because of that is frequently used for pets—and unlucky allergic people—as a safe, significantly healthier alternative. Other names sometimes used for the plant are "algaroba" and "sugar pod."
The ASPCA indicates that since carob is free of methylxanthines, it should not be threatening to your precious pooch. The organization also notes, however, that it may be suitable to keep portions of carob to a minimum. If you give your pet just a tad too much, he may experience a slight case of of tummy ache and perhaps even diarrhea. One or two carob chips, for example, make a good treat.
By Naomi Millburn
ASPCA: Animal Poison Control FAQ
ASPCA: Carob Chips
Warren Humane Society: Carob Cookies for Dogs
Wisconsin Humane Society: Top Gifts for Your ValenTAIL
ASPCA: People Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Pet
Purdue Agriculture: Carob
ASPCA Professional: Chocolate Intoxication
About the Author
Naomi Millburn has been a freelance writer since 2011. Her areas of writing expertise include arts and crafts, literature, linguistics, traveling, fashion and European and East Asian cultures. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in American literature from Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.