Dogs & Candy: The Not-So-Sweet Truth Ahead of Halloween

Pups love a good treat, but can they eat candy?

Pups absolutely love their treats, but even more than that, they absolutely cannot resist having a bite or two of human food. During holidays and other times throughout the year, more candy than normal may be present in your home. Whether a well-meaning guest gives it to your pet, or your dog decides to table surf for their own, you may be wondering: can dogs eat candy?

Is Sugar Harmful To Dogs? 

Your furry friend may like the idea of sweets, but sugar is not good for your pup's system. According to Bond Vet, dogs have sweet and savory taste buds just like their human counterparts do, but the sweets that they are historically used to are natural sugars — Naturally occurring sugar like those found in fruits, vegetables, and most other carbohydrates are easy to digest.

Sugar or artificial sweeteners, especially those in sugar-free candies, are not naturally occurring and can wreak havoc on your pup's stomach and digestive system. Since each pup is different, their reaction will be as well. If your dog has a very sensitive system, then a small amount of candy may cause a reaction in your pooch. If you have a larger dog or their system is less sensitive, they may react to large amounts of candy.

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Ingestion of sugar can lead to the following reactions:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Pancreatitis
  • Liver failure

While sugar may cause vomiting and other reactions, the severity will vary from pup to pup. Pet parents should also note that increased consumption of sugar over time can lead to things like diabetes, tooth decay, and obesity.

Toxic Candies

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Some types of candy are harmful to your dog's health no matter the quantity they consume. The ingredients that are in certain types of hard candy or even chocolates can cause a number of health problems if ingested by your pooch.

Artificial sweeteners like Xylitol are incredibly toxic to your pup and are one of the more common ingredients in hard candy. It is also found in sugar-free candies, peanut butter, and toothpaste. Be sure to always buy your pup dog toothpaste for this exact reason, and check the labels on your peanut butter before giving some to your pup. Xylitol can cause low blood sugar, upset stomach, liver damage, hypoglycemia, seizures, and ultimately death.

Chocolate toxicity is one thing that dog owners are acutely aware of. If your dog ate the slightest bit of chocolate when you were a kid, you probably thought they were going to immediately die. However, that isn't quite how it works. The amount of chocolate your dog eats will affect their level of toxicity along with their size.

If a small dog eats a large amount of chocolate it will have a higher level of theobromine poisoning than if a large dog eats a tiny amount. Also, the type of chocolate will have an effect, too. Milk chocolate is the least dangerous form of chocolate, but dark chocolate can be highly toxic — In fact, the darker the chocolate, the more harmful it is to your pup. Toxicity can cause upset stomachs, muscle tremors, seizures, and abnormal heart rate. If they eat enough chocolate, they can even die. So keep those dark chocolate bars way out of your dog's reach.

Caffeine is harmful to pups as well and can cause similar effects as chocolate. It can be very dangerous especially if there is any coffee and chocolate mixed together.

Raisins and grapes are also dangerous and can cause kidney failure if eaten in large amounts. It's best not to leave either of those out where your dog can eat them. Macadamia nuts are also pretty toxic too. It can cause many neurological issues, muscle shakes, vomiting, high temperature, and leg weakness.

Also, keep your pup away from milk products like ice cream, and Halloween treats like candy corn.

The candy is not the only thing you have to watch out for. If your dog gets into the Halloween candy bowl, the wrappers can prove to be just as harmful. While they may seem like a great chewy toy at first, the candy wrappers can cause a blockage in your pup's intestines that can require intervention from a vet.

If your pet ingests any of these you can call animal poison control, ASPCA Poison Hotline, or head to your closest emergency vet.

Safe Treats For Pups

There is plenty of safe dog treats out there. Some look even tasty enough for humans to eat! If you want your pup to have something other than dog food to eat over the holidays, grab them some themed treats with ingredients that are safe for your pup's dietary needs.

Biscuits, bones, and treats make for the perfect alternative to candies. If you do have candy out, keep it out of your dog's reach or up high so they cannot get into it without you seeing.

Has your dog gotten into candy before? Tell us about it on our Wide Open Pets Facebook page!

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