If there’s one thing that dog lovers usually have drilled into their heads, it’s this: “Don’t give your dog chocolate!” We all learn that chocolate is bad for dogs. Of course, that doesn’t stop your dog from begging for it. One solution that’s often suggested in place of chocolate is carob. But, what is this chocolate look-alike? Can dogs eat carob safely? We’ll tell you more about carob in our nutritional guide below.
What’s the difference between carob and chocolate?
Carob powder (or flour) and carob chips look similar to powdered chocolate and chocolate chips in color but there are several important differences.
The cacao that is used to make chocolate comes from the pods of the Theobroma cacao plant. It contains both caffeine and theobromine which are bad for dogs. Both caffeine and theobromine can have an effect on your dog’s central nervous system, increasing the heart rate, and potentially leading to some serious problems. (Effects usually depend on the size of your dog and the amount and kind of chocolate your dog eats.)
Carob comes from the pods of the evergreen carob tree which grows in the Mediterranean. It contains no caffeine or theobromine.
In addition, cocoa from the cacao plant is naturally bitter so it typically has sugar added. Carob is naturally sweet so sugars don’t need to be added.
Carob is also lower in fat than chocolate.
There is a difference in taste. Carob doesn’t really taste like chocolate but it has its own unique and enjoyable taste. Compared to chocolate, it has a nuttier flavor. In many recipes, carob can be substituted for chocolate on a 1 to 1 basis.
Due to the sweetness of carob, it’s often used in desserts, as a syrup, and even in drinks.
Nutritionally, carob is made up of 89 percent carbohydrates, 3 percent fats, and 8 percent protein. Most of the calories come from sugars. Carob is very low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium. It’s a very good source of dietary fiber. It’s also a good source of riboflavin, calcium, potassium, copper, and manganese.
A one-ounce serving (28 grams) of carob flour contains 62.2 calories. It has 24.9 grams of total carbohydrates and 0.2 grams of total fat. The serving also has 1.3 grams of protein.
In terms of health benefits, carob is naturally low-fat but it is higher in sugar and carbohydrates than cocoa.
Carob powder contains no sodium which is a benefit for most people. Most of us have too much sodium in our diets.
Carob powder contains no caffeine, unlike cocoa.
Carob contains calcium but has no oxalates. Some foods, such as cocoa, contain calcium but they also contain oxalates. Oxalates reduce the body’s ability to absorb calcium. Diets high in oxalates also increase the risk of developing kidney stones.
Carob powder is also high in insoluble fiber. Plus, carob is gluten-free.
The tannin content in carob powder makes it a natural remedy for diarrhea. Tannins are polyphenols found in some plants.
The fiber in carob is a rich source of polyphenol antioxidants. One study identified 24 polyphenol compounds in carob fiber, especially gallic acid and flavonoids which have been shown to reduce oxidative stress.
Unlike chocolate, carob doesn’t contain tyramine which has been associated with migraine headaches.
We did find a caveat that pregnant women should not eat carob in large quantities. Allergies to carob are rare though there is a low risk of allergic reaction for people who have allergies to nuts and legumes.
Can you give your dog carob to eat?
Yes, dogs can eat carob. Carob is widely used as a substitute for chocolate in dog cookies and treats.
Carob powder/flour or chips are generally used as an ingredient in a recipe. Most people don’t just give their dog a hand full of carob chips to eat or put carob powder in their dog’s food. However, you can sprinkle a little carob in your dog’s food as a special treat if you like.
How much carob can you give your dog?
If you are using carob to make dog cookies or treats, we recommend that you use your best judgment as far as how many cookies and treats your dog should eat. Carob is just one ingredient in these snacks. Even though carob is generally a healthy ingredient, there could be other ingredients in the treats that increase the calories or make them a little less healthy.
If you are buying carob cookies or treats for your dog, make sure you read the ingredients. Some companies do add sugar to the recipe, even though carob is naturally sweet.
While carob is safe to give to dogs, too much of anything can be problematic. Remember that carob is high in fiber and that it affects the digestion. Giving your dog too much carob at one time can lead to some poopy results.
How often can you give your dog carob?
Given in moderation, you could let your dog have 1-2 carob dog cookies per day. Or, you could use carob as the primary ingredient in a cake for your dog or any other kind of special occasion treat.
Carob doesn’t contain anything that would be harmful to your dog.
We do recommend that you keep an eye on your dog’s daily calories. Treats and snacks should only make up about 10 percent of your dog’s daily calories.
Carob is a popular substitute for chocolate in recipes for dog cookies and treats. It’s naturally sweet so many dogs like it even if it doesn’t exactly taste like chocolate. Carob also has lots of health benefits that make it a good replacement for chocolate.