- 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.
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. Cocoa butter is also used in skin creams, moisturizers, desserts, hair conditioners and lubricants.
Is cocoa butter safe for pets?
Contrary to what many may think, cocoa butter is safe for pets, and is chock-full of moisturizing vitamin E that can soothe dry and inflamed feet and skin.
We know that 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.
🚨 Mulch made from cocoa bean hulls contains theobromine and is also unsafe for dogs.
The effects of cocoa butter on dogs
Even a small amount of cocoa butter can soothe dry spots on your pooch. Here are some of the most noteworthy effects of cocoa butter for your dog’s health.
The use of cocoa butter on dog feet or other areas of dryness should have little to no ill effect on your furry friend. Beyond the occasional stomach ache or diarrhea if too much is licked off, your dog should only be able to get the moisturizing effects that vitamin E and other compounds can bring to your dog’s skin and coat.
There are no long-term, noteworthy effects that have been associated with the use of cocoa butter for moisturization purposes. Dogs should not ingest large quantities, as this can cause symptoms of toxicity due to trace amounts of theobromine in cocoa butter.
We do want to note: The trace amounts that can be encountered when a pet parent is using cocoa butter to moisturize aren’t enough to harm your furry friend. However, if you’re concerned, we do recommend asking your vet for personalized recommendations.
Toxic levels of cocoa butter for dogs
Different levels of cocoa butter and cocoa powder can be toxic for dogs. Determining the toxic level for your specific dog can depend on the breed type, the weight of the dog, and other areas of your dog’s health.
The good news? Your vet can help you determine the best risk-free way to use cocoa butter moisturizers and related products. If your pup gets into chocolate bars or other treats, however, it’s an entirely different story. Chocolate, as many know, is a toxic substance to dogs across breed types. 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.
Signs your dog may have ingested cocoa butter
Below, we’ve listed some signs to watch for if you’re concerned that your dog has had too much cocoa butter. As always, if you see odd behaviors or feel that your dog is at risk, please take them to the vet for a formal evaluation and diagnosis.
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and gastrointestinal distress
- Allergic reactions
- Convulsions or seizures
- Heart arrhythmia (known to many people as irregular heart rate or rate fluctuations)
What to do if your dog eats cocoa butter
Whether your dog licked a bit of cocoa butter cream or got into the cocoa butter moisturizer, there are steps you can take to ensure their safety. Ultimately, getting your vet involved is the best way to keep your dog safe and healthy, despite ingestion. We’ve summarized what you should do below, including options to consider if your vet isn’t available.
- Address any immediate symptoms—For example, if your dog is vomiting, try to keep them calm and comfort them as you determine the next right step.
- Connect with a vet—They can help you to determine how to treat your dog or if vomiting should be induced. If your vet isn’t available, consider calling the ASPCA’s Pet Poison Control Hotline or with emergency vets in your area.
- Monitor for other symptoms—Watch and wait to see if any other symptoms form, and notify your vet accordingly.
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Our pick with cocoa butter
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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.