One of the first things you learn as a new puppy parent is which human foods are healthy for your pup to consume and which ones are a no-no. Chocolate is unquestionably at the top of the “no” list.
Even a modest amount of chocolate will send many dogs scurrying for the yard with an upset stomach. This is because chocolate contains theobromine that poses a serious health risk to dogs.
That’s where carob comes in. Carob is a tasty treat for your dog, but is it safe for dogs to eat it? In this article, you’ll find an answer to this question and instructions for making a delightful treat for your dog. So let’s delve in!
The Short Answer
Yes, dogs can eat carob. Unlike chocolate, it doesn’t contain caffeine or theobromine; therefore, it’s totally safe for your dog to eat. However, it’s advisable to read the label on any carob treats you give to your dog to know their nutritional facts.
What Is Carob?
Carob, or Ceratonia siliqua, is derived from the pods of a tree with the same name. Its trees were first grown by the ancient Greeks but are currently grown across the world.
When a female carob tree is fertilized, it produces hundreds of dark brown pods that hold its pulp and small seeds. The pods from the carob tree are about one foot in length and roughly an inch broad. These pods are usually harvested in the fall.
In addition, the carob bean inside the ripe pod is dried, roasted, and pulverized into a powder. This powder is known as carob powder, and it can be purchased as it is or transformed into chocolate-like carob chips.
Even though the powder and chips are similar to cocoa powder and chocolate chips, they have a distinct flavor. Carob beans have a naturally sweet flavor and aren’t as bitter as cocoa beans. This is why carob chips aren’t manufactured with extra sugar.
It’s important to mention that carob has been used for over 4,000 years. It dates back to ancient Greece. Interestingly, chewing on carob pods helped Greek singers retain healthy vocal cords and calm and cleanse their throats.
Health Benefits of Carob
Carob holds certain health benefits that make it a healthy treat for your dog. Here are some of them:
Prevents Upset Stomach and Weight Gain
As carob dog treats contain less sugar and fat, they help prevent an upset stomach and unnecessary weight gain. For instance, carob powder contains 51 grams of sugar and just about a gram of fat, but semi-sweet chocolate chips contain 92 grams of sugar and 50 grams of fat in one cup. Notice the difference?
Has Antioxidant Properties
Carob contains antioxidants that protect bodies against free radicals. Free radicals can cause damage to cells, and this may end up in several diseases.
There are three types of antioxidants found in carob:
- Flavonoids (primarily quercetin and myricetin)
- Phenolic acids (such as gallic acid)
- Tannins (mostly proanthocyanidins)
Carob is also high in tannins, which aid in fighting toxins in the digestive tract and prevent harmful bacteria from growing in the intestines. In addition, these tannins have a drying tendency, which helps in drying stool, making them an effective diarrhea solution.
Moreover, carob has insoluble fiber, which helps your dog’s digestion and prevents constipation.
Contains Vitamins and Minerals
Carob contains vitamins A, B, and D and minerals like calcium and iron. Vitamin A is beneficial to your dog’s fur, bones, and teeth.
In addition, calcium aids in the development of strong bones and lessens the likelihood of your pet getting joint problems later in life. Iron also aids in the synthesis of red blood cells.
Why Carob Instead of Chocolate?
Compared to chocolate, carob doesn’t contain caffeine or theobromine. However, these two elements are known to affect certain sensitive individuals and dogs adversely. For example, theobromine may cause seizures and muscle tremors, and it’s present in both dark chocolate and milk chocolate.
What’s more, carob has fewer calories, nearly no fat, and six times the fiber content. Plus, it has ten times the calcium and more than twice the potassium. Carob is also free of oxalic acid, a constituent in cocoa that may cause kidney stones.
In addition, it helps manage blood sugar levels. From the results of two studies on the impact of carob or chocolate cookies on blood sugar levels and meal consumption, carob snacks produced lower blood sugar levels. They also satisfied individuals and caused them to eat less in the following meal.
However, cocoa’s flavonoids may increase cognitive performance and happiness. Yet, this isn’t a reason to give your dog cocoa, as it’s still dangerous to it.
So, what does this mean to you as a dog owner? It means that carob could be a wholesome substitute for chocolate. However, it may not appeal to all taste buds. Therefore, you have to make sure that your dog actually likes carob.
How to Use Carob in Dog Treats
Carob can be used in several ways because it comes in powder and chip forms. But, first, let’s look at three recipes to make carob dog treats.
If you already have a favorite homemade dog biscuit recipe, you can make a carob dip to use as icing for your treats. Here’s how:
Melt 1/2 cups of carob chips in a double boiler, then add 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil or shortening. Next, dip or brush your baked biscuits in the melted carob and leave them in the refrigerator until hardened.
Adding carob chips to your dog’s diet will definitely make your dog happier. It works similar to baking chocolate chips.
Here, you start by preheating your oven to 350°F. Next, combine 2 cups of whole wheat flour, 3/4 cup of old-fashioned oats, and 1 tablespoon of carob powder in a mixing bowl. Then, heat a cup of natural peanut butter using a microwave and add 1 cup of milk. The next step is to mix the peanut butter mixture with the dry ingredients. Finally, roll them over to have your dough ready.
Then, pinch out pieces of dough and shape them into balls, flattening them slightly on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake the goodies for 15 minutes, then cool completely before allowing them to harden for two hours.
Carob Frozen Yogurt
You can make some carob frozen yogurt drops for your dog if you’re looking for a sweet treat to keep it cool. Here, melt about half a cup of peanut butter or almond butter in a microwave, then whisk it with 2 cups of plain yogurt.
It also helps to add a splash of warm milk while you mix. This creates a chocolate-like consistency. But, again, it’s a trial and error thing, so don’t worry; you’ll figure it out.
Then, whisk your ingredients with 1 tablespoon of carob powder. Next, pour the mixture into little paper cups or a silicone baking mold. Lastly, freeze it until it’s solid, remove it from the molds, store it in a plastic freezer bag, and serve in bits.
As you’ve seen, carob is a nutritious and pleasant treat for dogs. Also, because it has numerous health benefits for your pet, you won’t feel guilty about giving your dog some treats every now and then.
Giving your dog its favorite treats, especially healthy ones, is beneficial, but you should never give it too much of a good thing!
Always start with a small amount, then increase it gradually. And before making any changes to your dog’s diet, always consult your veterinarian.