Yes, it's totally safe to use carob for dogs... and it's non-toxic chocolate-y goodness is a popular and versatile ingredient in many dog treat or pupcake recipes.
While chocolate comes from the cocoa bean, carob comes from carob bean.
Carob beans grow in pods on carob trees which are evergreens, native to certain Mediterranean and Middle Eastern areas.
Carob beans are also processed in a similar way to cocoa beans, and for baking we usually buy it either as either carob powder or carob chips.
Carob doesn't contain caffeine or theobromine, but it is fiber rich and contains important nutrients including a variety of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It also has a beneficial effect on the digestive system. This makes it a nutritious, as well as delicious, dog treat ingredient, not just an empty sweetener.
It's super easy to use this dog-friendly chocolate substitute!
If you're using a recipe which already calls for carob then just follow the directions. If you want to substitute carob powder or carob chips for for cocoa powder or chocolate chips you can do it in a 1:1 ratio
This just means that you make a direct substitution with the same measurement, ie 1/2 cup carob powder for 1/2 cup cocoa powder, same with the chips.
Carob does contain a little less oil/fat than cocoa, so you can also add a little extra oil/butter or whatever fat is used in the recipe when adjusting it for carob rather than chocolate.
I will give you a heads up that carob chips don't react to heat the same way that chocolate chips do. It's not so much that they don't melt, it's that they melt differently.
If you're melting them to make frosting or dip treats, then the best method is to use a double boiler and melt small quantities of chips at a time. Adding a little warm milk or oil can help make the melting process smoother if you're struggling.
You can also use the microwave, heating the chips for 20 - 30 seconds at a time and stirring at each interval. If you're using the microwave it helps to add a little bit of warm milk or to the chips as you're stirring. It helps attain a more chocolate-like consistency. It's definitely a trial-and-error type thing.
Also, carob doesn't reheat well once it's melted so melt small batches at a time to avoid wasting it.
When adding carob chips to a recipe they may, or may not, go all melt-y in the oven. I've used different brands over the years and Sunspire Carob Chips are my go-to favorites now. They contain a little malt powder, palm kernel oil and soy lethicin, and these additions may be what makes them melt better than some other brands I've tried.
When I make carob chip dog treats the carob chips melt quite dramatically while baking, but the chocolatey-ness hardens quickly as they cool and my dogs love having their own version of chocolate-chip cookies!
There is also a slight color difference between baked goods made with carob as opposed to cocoa. Carob is darker and not always as rich-looking as cocoa or chocolate, but no dog is going to complain about that.
As you can see, carob is a fantastic complement to peanut butter and some of my favorite recipes (well, they're my dog's favorites to be fair) combine both flavors.
This website is always a work in progress and more carob goodies will be added to this page as it grows.