- Cocoa butter is not the same as chocolate — They may come from the same plant, but cocoa butter isn’t toxic to dogs the way chocolate is.
- It’s often found in paw balms — Its soft but thick texture makes it a great moisturizer for dry or cracked paws.
- It’s safe for topical paw pad treatment, but it’s still something to monitor — Always make sure it dries properly to avoid unnecessary ingestion.
- There are also plenty of ways to protect your pup’s feet — But the quickest and easiest are regular paw checks, grooming, and a little TLC!
What is cocoa butter?
Cocoa butter is a fatty extract that comes from roasted cocoa beans, and it’s a common ingredient found in dog paw balms thanks to its velvety texture and moisturizing properties. Products made with it are designed to create a protective barrier on paw pads, lock in moisture, and improve skin elasticity.
But doesn’t chocolate come from cocoa beans, too?
Pet owners sometimes balk at the idea of cocoa butter because roasted cocoa beans are also used to make chocolate, which is toxic to dogs. But, fear not — cocoa butter isn’t the same as chocolate, and cocoa butter-based products have very little in common with the plate of brownies on your kitchen counter. In fact, the only overlap is that soft, velvety texture mentioned above. It’s the cocoa powder in chocolate that you have to worry about.
Cocoa butter versus cocoa powder
Two things come from roasted cocoa beans: cocoa butter and cocoa powder. Both are very important to chocolatiers. A big difference between the two, however, is that cocoa powder contains high levels of theobromine and caffeine: the compounds that make chocolate toxic to pups. Cocoa butter, by comparison, only contains fractional amounts.
👉 Cocoa butter is used to make chocolate rich and smooth, whereas cocoa powder is what makes chocolate dangerous to dogs.
Why is chocolate toxic to dogs but not humans?
It’s because humans metabolize chocolate much faster than our canine friends. Theobromine and caffeine are stimulants that affect the central nervous system, cardiovascular system, and respiratory system, so it’s dangerous when they stay in the bloodstream too long. Humans get a quick little sugar buzz from them, but our pups could experience some very serious side effects.
Is some chocolate more dangerous than others?
Yes. A good rule of thumb? The darker the chocolate, the more harmful it is. Pure cocoa powder, dark chocolate, and milk chocolate are typically the most dangerous for pets. White chocolate still isn’t safe, but your pup would have to consume large quantities of it to get really sick.
🚨 Mulch made from cocoa bean hulls contains theobromine and is also unsafe for dogs.
How much chocolate is dangerous?
The severity of chocolate poisoning depends on three factors:
- The type of chocolate
- The amount eaten
- The weight of the dog
👉 Merck’s chocolate toxicity calculator is a great resource to determine how harmful chocolate can be for your pup.
Common causes of dry paws in pups
Products with cocoa butter can help soothe your pup’s dry paws. Though crusty paws can be caused by a number of factors, below are a few of the most common:
- Weather conditions. Don’t underestimate the importance of paw protection, especially in the colder months when harsh chemicals used to melt ice and snow can cause a problem for your pup’s paws.
- Paw pad hyperkeratosis. This skin condition is caused by thickened or extra skin that grows on a pup’s nose or paw pads.
- Environmental irritants. Many everyday chemicals can irritate your pup’s paws, including road salt and lawn chemicals.
- Injuries. Watch out for any injuries that affect your pup’s paws, like cuts, scrapes, burns, and even frostbite. A thin layer of paw balm spread over the affected area can help!
- Compulsions. Compulsive chewing or licking can be due to a lot of reasons — the most common being infection, irritation, or boredom.
Ways to protect your doggie’s paws
Below are some tips and tricks to make sure your pup’s paws are as healthy as can be:
Check their paws regularly — This is not only great for overall health and happiness but also can help you spot any signs of infection or irritation.
Keep up with grooming — Your dog’s nails shouldn’t touch the ground when they stand, so if you hear a lot of clicking or scratching as your pup walks, their nails are probably in need of a trim. The hair between paw pads can also get matted and become painful, so make sure to keep it trimmed to avoid Grinch feet.
Make your own solution — A DIY paw balm can help protect your pup’s paws from irritants and abrasive surfaces that cause dried, cracked, or bloody paw pads. Some can be made with ingredients you likely already have at home, like virgin coconut oil or even olive oil.
Treat them to a paw massage — Massaging a paw balm into your pup’s paw pads after application will help it absorb properly and may also help with circulation. Try gently rubbing between their pads and toes in a circular motion to make sure the balm is fully dry.
Invest in doggie booties — Not only are dog booties adorable but they’re also amazingly protective. For dogs with a cut or injury, we love this wound-protecting option from Ultra Paws.
Pup-safe picks for dogs with dry paws
Our pick with cocoa butter
A high-quality vegan balm
Paw Soother by Natural Dog Company
Our fav balm for winter weather
Frequently asked questions
What is cocoa butter?
Cocoa butter is a fatty substance extracted from cocoa beans. Like shea butter, it’s a fairly common ingredient in paw and nose balms for dogs.
Is cocoa butter good for dogs’ paws?
Yes. It’s often used to hydrate and nourish paw pads, improve skin elasticity, and form a protective barrier to shield your pup’s feet from anything that might irritate their paws. A paw balm that contains cocoa butter might be the best thing for your pup’s cracked paws!
Is cocoa butter toxic to dogs?
Generally, no. But you should never allow your pup to ingest large quantities of it.
How toxic is cocoa butter for dogs?
It’s not. Cocoa butter is different from its chocolate counterpart in that it contains fractional amounts of theobromine, the toxic compound found in the cocoa plant.
Can I use a moisturizer containing cocoa butter on my dog?
Yes, but always make sure to consult your vet before incorporating a new product into your dog’s regimen!
How much cocoa butter should I use on my dog’s paws?
You don’t have to use much. Spread just a thin layer of balm on your pup’s paws, and make sure to monitor your dog as the balm dries to ensure they don’t try to lick it off. Most paw balms are gentle enough for daily use!
What happens if my dog ingests cocoa butter?
It depends on the amount consumed and how much your dog weighs. Merck’s chocolate toxicity calculator is a great resource. You can get an idea of how harmful cocoa butter might be for your dog by setting the chocolate type to white chocolate, which is just cocoa butter mixed with sugar and milk.