What Is Carob?Carob is the fruit harvested from the carob tree native to the Mediterranean region (scientifically known as Ceratonia siliqua). For baking purposes, the plant functions almost just like chocolate—it even has a mildly sweet flavor. Carob powder has been used in health foods as an alternative to cocoa powder for humans for years, but why should humans have all the fun? The practical purposes of carob for our dogs is overwhelming, as you can read on and see.
Why Carob Instead of Chocolate?The compound that makes chocolate toxic for dogs is called theobromine. Our human bodies are able to metabolize this compound, but your dog’s digestive system works differently. That’s because it processes it much more slowly, which allows toxic levels of theobromine to build up in your dog’s body.
The health risks vary, sometimes on the amount or type of chocolate eaten. A small amount of chocolate may only give your dog an upset stomach, but in larger amounts, theobromine can lead to seizures, muscle tremors, internal bleeding, irregular heartbeat, and even heart attack or death. Dark chocolate and baking chocolate have the highest levels of theobromine, followed by milk chocolate and white chocolate.
The amazing thing about carob is that it doesn’t contain any theobromine. On top of that, it’s also free of caffeine, fromamide, or phenylthlamine, other dangerous substances found in chocolate. Carob is extracted from the carob bean that grows on the carob tree, a type of flowering shrub which belongs to the same family as peas (Fabaceae). Like cocoa beans, carob beans can be ground into a powder that can be used as-is or made into carob chips. Boasting a naturally sweet flavor, similar to chocolate, carob also contains a variety of healthy nutrients such as vitamins A, B, and D as well as calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, and protein. If that’s not enough to get you to try this delish treat, carob is a good source of fiber and pectin (a substance that helps to flush toxins from the body).
Carob for Dog TreatsIf you're adding carob chips or powder to your treat recipe (like the Honest Kitchen’s I Love Carob Dog Treat recipe), just add in the carob ingredients that the recipe calls for. The carob chips won’t melt the same way that chocolate chips do, but don’t be fooled, they’re just as soft and scrumptious when those cookies come out of the oven. Because carob doesn’t melt the same way as chocolate, it can be a bit trickier to work with, especially when it comes time to icing your dog treat. I use a double boiler on the stove, as I find the consistency of the melted carob is a lot smoother. Here’s what I always do when melting carob chips on the stove for decorating purposes:
- Using the double boiler, fill the bottom pan half way full with water. Make sure that the water level never reaches the bottom of the top pan.
- Set on medium-high heat until the water boils. Turn the temperature down to simmer.
- Place the top pan on top of the bottom boiler. Add 1 cup of carob chips and 1 teaspoon of canola oil for a glossy appearance. Depending on your icing or dipping needs, you can add more oil.
- At first, the carob will look dry as it begins to melt, but use your spoon or spatula to mash them into smaller pieces.
- Stir continuously with a spoon or spatula until the chips become smoothly liquid, about 10 minutes.
- Carob doesn’t reheat well after it’s already been melted, so if you make too much, you won’t be able to use it again. Only make as much as you need at that time.