Is Shea Butter & Cocoa Butter Toxic to Dogs?

100-percent natural African shea butter (Flickr Photo/daveynin)

Shea butter is made from the nuts of an African tree called the Karite Nut tree. Most nuts can make dogs sick--don't let your dog eat any shea butter. Cocoa butter is not toxic to dogs, but you still probably shouldn't let your dog eat it.

Shea Butter's Toxicity

Even though shea butter is diluted by water, it is still made from nuts, which are toxic to dogs. Most types of nuts are dangerous to dogs because of they contain high levels phosphorus, which can cause bladder stones, tremors in the skeletal muscles and paralysis of the hind legs. If your dog has consumed a toxic amount of nuts, symptoms can include difficulty getting up, panting and painful, swollen limbs.

Cocoa Butter vs. Chocolate

Even though cocoa butter and chocolate are made from the cacao plant, cocoa butter doesn't contain theobromine. Since white chocolate is made from cocoa butter, it also does not contain theobromine, but it does contain sugar, which is bad for dogs.

Theobromine is the chemical in chocolate that makes it toxic to dogs. Theobromine can cause vomiting, diarrhoea and an irregular or increased heart rate, which can result in death.

Why Cocoa Butter Isn't Toxic

Chocolate and cocoa butter are made from the nib of the cacao plant. The nib is first ground into chocolate liquor, and the cocoa butter is extracted from it. Cocoa butter doesn't retain any theobromine from the chocolate liquor when it is extracted. The nib is made of about 55 per cent cocoa butter.

Toxic Doses

Nine mg of theobromine per pound of a dog's body weight will cause mild symptoms of theobromine poisoning. Severe symptoms will occur when your dog consumes 18 mg of theobromine for every pound of body weight. Milk chocolate has 44 mg of theobromine per ounce. Semisweet chocolate has 150 mg of theobromine per ounce and baking chocolate has 390 mg of theobromine per ounce.


If your dog has consumed shea butter, cocoa butter, cocoa product, house hold product or food that is making him sick, call your vet immediately. If your vet's office is closed or you cannot reach her, call the Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435. You may be charged a £39 consultation fee for the call.