It never really matters what you’re munching on. As long as it looks like food and smells like food, your greedy pup will always be right there next to you, eyes wide and lips smacking, ready to receive their fair share.
More often than not, you’re also happy to let them indulge (when you’re eating something safe for them to also eat, of course).
But unfortunately, some of our most favoured foods aren’t suitable for sharing, especially the UK’s most devoured and beloved sweet treat… chocolate.
As a dog owner, you’ll be well aware that choccies and doggies have never gone together.
A compound called Theobromine is in all our favourite bars and is toxic to canines, causing diarrhoea and vomiting after as little as one square! Large amounts can even be fatal.
If your pup ever manages to ingest chocolate, you are expected to treat the incident as poisoning and call a Pet Poison Helpline as soon as possible.
We know – they aren’t to know this can be the case. But you do, so it is your responsibility to keep all chocolate out of their reach.
But if you still want to sit alongside your pup and share a bag of chocolate buttons, we’re here to tell you that it is possible.
Because although dogs can’t eat chocolate, they can usually eat the world’s most trusted chocolate alternative… Carob.
Before we get into the details, we strongly recommend that you read the label of your dogs’ carob treats. Sadly a lot of carob treats contain very high levels of sugar – even those in dedicated pet stores. Therefore, try to look for no added sugar carob.
If you’re unsure about your dog having carob, just stick to safe dog treats. As long as they have a treat when you do, they will be happy.
What is carob?
Far from a synthetic, fake chocolate alternative formed in a lab, carob products are perfectly natural and are created using carob beans, much like how chocolate is derived from cocoa beans.
These beans are found in pods which grow on a carob tree. This is a shrub that belongs to the same family as peas. The plant is often found in the Middle East and the Mediterranean, and their fruit has been used for years to create a grounded powder for cooking.
It’s now commonly used to form carob chips (a chocolate chip alternative).
Naturally sweet in flavour, carob was often used as a sugar alternative. Given its cultivation, flavour, plus high carb and fat content, it wasn’t long before it began drawing inevitable comparisons to the big C (chocolate).
Carob originally became an alternative to chocolate in the 1970s during a move towards natural-health foods. Carob is free of caffeine and theobromine, while also containing plenty of vitamins and minerals, making it a far healthier option.
Carob powder also contains much less fat and sugar than standard cocoa powder, meaning the carob revolution was particularly prevalent in baking circles and in the hands of domestic health goddesses.
There was even attempts to make it the key ingredient of brand new candy bars and cement itself as a genuine contender to Cadbury’s dynasty. However, the fad didn’t last long.
Unfortunately, carob was just never quite as nice and so by the 1980’s it’s bid to become the new chocolate had failed.
This meant carob never quite made that big leap into the confectionary stand, as it was never truly able to complete with the taste of the almighty cocoa.
However, it has managed to survive in certain forms.
Because while it’s still a less enjoyable alternative for the common man, for those with dietary restrictions or outright intolerances to chocolate (like dogs), it’s a certified lifesaver that still allows you to chow down on all the choc-chip cookies you like!
Why carob is the best chocolate alternative for dogs
The main reason that carob is a fantastic treat for your dog is that it contains no caffeine, formamide or theobromine, substances which are all found in standard chocolate.
While that might read like a load of scientific mumbo jumbo, the facts are that these compounds are dangerous or toxic when ingested by dogs. Theobromine in particular is the main culprit when it comes to chocolate-induced vomiting, diarrhoea, seizures, heart attacks or death in canines.
But not only is carob a safe way for them to ingest sweet, chocolatey flavours, but there are also nutrients within it that are beneficial to dog health.
Carob is a fantastic source of fibre for dogs and it also provides them with a bountiful source of pectin, which helps flush out toxins and improve their overall health!
If that wasn’t enough, it also contains twice as much calcium as cocoa products and offers a variety of nutritious extras such as vitamins A, B, D, magnesium, potassium, iron and protein.
So now we’ll answer your next question:
How can I give my dog carob?
Carob ideas for dogs
Although some health food stores do stock carob ‘chocolate’ bars for you and your pooch to scoff, it’s a rare product in this sense and you’ll probably find carob products much more prevalent in the baking aisles of your local supermarket.
Carob is most commonly available as:
- a powder
This means the best way to give your dog that chocolatey goodness they’ve been craving is by whipping up some homemade dog treats, using carob as the sweet and enticing key ingredient!
We recommend combining oats, flour, peanut butter and carob powder to create an irresistible peanut butter dog biscuit that even you’ll find hard to resist, never mind your mutt!
It’s also an ideal substitute for when you’re baking your very own chocolatey treats like brownies and cookies, as it means you can switch out your cocoa powder and chocolate for carob, ensuring your baked goods are always dog-friendly should they ever fancy a bite!