Today is National Hot Chocolate Day (January 31st)! Normally hot chocolate (or hot cocoa) isn’t something you can share with your dog because… CHOCOLATE!
Did you know that there is a non chocolate faux chocolate you can use to make your dog a toast, tasty mug of hot chocolate? Its.. CAROB!
First things first: Hot chocolate is not hot cocoa!
Harking to our childhood, we could have a mug of hot chocolate or a mug of cocoa. Both of which would have been whipped up with a package of powdered cocoa, give or take mini marshmallows. Turns out hot chocolate and hot cocoa are two DIFFERENT things! I didn’t know either!
(Google searches add to the fluidity of hot chocolate and hot cocoa being interchanged with one another – a hot chocolate search lands on recipes for powder, packages of cocoa powder and recipes with chocolate chunks.)
Despite the name swapping, there is a marked difference between hot chocolate and hot cocoa – is the CHOCOLATE!
If the chocolate added is a powder it is… hot cocoa!
If the chocolate added is melted from a hunk, chips or ground chocolate it is… hot chocolate!
How do we celebrate National Hot Chocolate Day if dogs can’t have chocolate?
We use CAROB instead!
Carob comes from the dark brown pea pod fruit of the carob tree. It can be ground into powder, made into chips or even found as syrup. It has a taste similar to chocolate, though less bitter, naturally sweet and slightly nutty.
Why is carob safer for dogs than chocolate?
The lack of theobromine & caffeine. Two similar toxic components both found within the cacao bean. And from the cacoa bean comes chocolate!
While we as people can easily digest and pass the theobromines and caffeine found in chocolate, our dogs absorb the theobromines slower before excreting them via urine (a half life of about 18 hours!). This slow metabolism means the theobromines builds into a toxic level before dogs can clear it out of their systems!
Theobromines primarily affect the central nervous, cardiovascular and respiratory systems as well as having a diuretic effect. Which can lead to tummy upset, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive urination, increased thirst, hyperactivity, and increased heart rate. Severe toxic levels can lead to heart arrhythmias, heart failure, tremors, seizures or coma.
EEEEEK! That’s terrifying! Even more reason not to let our dogs get into chocolate! Yes, the degree of symptoms depends on the type of chocolate (the darker & more bitter the chocolate the higher the theobromines are!), the amount of chocolate and the size of the dog that nommed it. Let us just have a no chocolate for dogs rule!
Which brings us back to carob. Unlike chocolate, carob has NEITHER theobromines or caffeine! Which makes it safer for dogs to eat!
Onward to the recipe!
Hot Chocolate for Dogs
- 1 cup oat milk *
- 3 tbsp carob chips (we used Missy J's Carob Chips)
- 1 tbsp honey or maple syrup, optional
- Put milk into saucepan.
- Warm to just under boiling.
- Add the carob chips (and optional honey or maple syrup).
- Stir until the carob chips are melted.
- Remove from heat and cool to room temp.
- Serve in a dog friendly mug or bowl.
- Froth in a blender and sprinkle with a touch of cinnamon. You can add a dollop of whipped cream, dust with carob powder or 1 or 2 small marshmallows (more than that will lead to an upset tummy!).
For our version we did a bigger version (as the mug is a soup cup haha!). Milk we did 2 cups, 3 tbl of carob chips & 1 tbl of honey. Add or subtract milk or carob chips as you need for more or less amount to ratio of flavor.
Even though we modified the recipe to fit the mug, Blue didn’t get to drink the whole thing. Yes he’s 118 lbs, but oat milk and carob aren’t in his everyday foods and I didn’t want him to get a super upset tummy or have the runs. We also recommend that you bring your hot chocolate (or cocoa) to a place that is easy to clean, as mugs and bowls tend to have a sloshy effect when drunk with a tongue!