The simple answer is “it depends on the candy”. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not automatically a problem when dogs eat candy, especially if you’re avoiding treats that are toxic to dogs. It’s fine if a dog eats any candy that’s healthy or appropriate for them, but let’s take a look at this in closer detail.
Can Dogs Eat Candy With Sugar?
Sugar is not innately toxic to dogs, although it can affect their blood sugar if they eat too much of it. While dogs may not typically eat candy in the wild, they are omnivorous and can eat sugar-containing foods like fruits and berries. This is why treats don’t actually need to be sugar-free before you give them to your dog.
However, processed sugars (including table sugar) can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and other issues in your dog. If dogs eat candy with lots of sugar, you could see anything from stomach issues to death. This is why you shouldn’t let your dog eat too much processed sugar, though small amounts of most fruits are fine.
Avoid giving your dog anything made from grapes, though, including raisins. That causes kidney failure in dogs.
So, can dogs eat candy with any artificial sweeteners? Some may be safe, but it’s better to research them first. Xylitol is well-known as a problem, but there may be less information on other sweeteners. If you’re distracted by the events of a holiday like Halloween, it can be hard to remember the details of every ingredient.
This is why you should research every ingredient before you give something to your dog. Other sweeteners may not be as bad as xylitol, but the sooner you can get past Halloween concerns and be sure your dog is safe, the better.
What Else Is Toxic To Dogs?
Dogs are particularly sensitive to a few foods and ingredients in candy. Further, some may have specific allergies, so you should test for those before you let your dog eat candy.
Most artificial sweeteners, including xylitol, are bad for your dog. These are commonly found in sugar-free foods such as mints and gum, but you may also see them in things like peanut butter or toothpaste (though mostly in brands that aren’t specifically meant for your dog).
The best sweeteners for dog food are always natural, preferably with the rest of a fruit or vegetable. Xylitol isn’t the only artificial sweetener in candy that your dog could notice, so if you want to avoid issues like liver failure, make sure you research every ingredient in your candy.
Adult dogs without other health issues like diabetes or obesity can often enjoy raw honey as a sweetener instead of artificial options like xylitol. However, make sure you don’t give your dog too much or your dog could start gaining weight.
In other words, natural candy is better for your dog than artificial candy. Artificial sweeteners like xylitol often purport to be “low calorie”, but it’s better to have something with more calories instead of something toxic.
Dogs are often interested in coffee, especially if it has milk in it to give it a creamy smell. However, much like chocolate and sweeteners like xylitol, caffeine is broadly toxic and could quickly harm your dog’s body. This is true whether your dog is eating coffee beans or just licking something that can contain caffeine.
Chocolate is famously bad for dogs. Outside of affecting their blood sugar, even a small amount of chocolate can lead to tremors, seizures, or problems with their digestive system. Dark chocolate is especially bad for dogs and can cause severe heart and muscle problems.
Your dog may be able to eat a little white chocolate and be fine, but don’t give that as a treat. Darker is always worse when it comes to chocolate for dogs, so keep an eye out for that around Halloween.
The main problem ingredient in chocolate is theobromine. Theobromine is an alkaloid also found in some other plants, notably including kola nuts and leaves from the tea plant. This is why you should be careful about giving your dog tea-flavored treats, too.
Can Dogs Eat Candy At All?
If most sweeteners and even non-sweet things like chocolate are out, is there anything left that you can keep in your dog’s reach without having to worry about their health? Yes, but it’s important to read labels and avoid things like macadamia nuts and other types of potentially dangerous ingredients.
The best type of treat for your pet dog usually includes fruits or vegetables. Apples, sweet potatoes, bananas, small carrots, and most berry-type foods (except grapes/raisins) aren’t dangerous. Many dogs also enjoy peanut butter, and adding that to treats is a frequent delight for them.
What else can dogs eat?
Most dogs also like bacon, and you can mix that with fruit to make a more complex treat. Pets have different needs and preferences, so make sure you watch your dog for any signs of trouble while they’re enjoying their food.
Your dog may enjoy cold treats, so consider making popsicles for your dog using fresh fruit and berries. Avoid this if your dog has sensitive teeth, though, because the sudden cold could hurt a bit. Talk to your vet if you notice any sign of dental problems.
It’s easiest to control the ingredients when you’re baking or making them yourself. You can include just the right amount of fat and calories, as well as ensuring that the treat doesn’t contain anything that could cause diarrhea or other emergency symptoms in your pup.
The long list of sweets that are bad for your dog is why it’s so important to be careful around Halloween (although toxins are dangerous at any time of year, not just on Halloween). This is particularly true if people are passing sweets around and your pup is eating things off the floor that could contain bad or even toxic ingredients.
The best way to prevent negative symptoms in your dog’s body is by eliminating the cause of those and ensuring they never have exposure to dangerous ingredients. This is ultimately much safer for your pup than trying to treat symptoms after they occur, especially if you don’t know which ingredient is the cause of those symptoms.
What About Store-Bought Treats?
Store-bought sweets for dogs are generally safe, especially if they come from a reputable manufacturer. Many of these sweets have plenty of vitamins and minerals to help keep dogs healthy, and they can even come in fun shapes or colors the way human candies do.
Be careful of wrappers, though. Dogs may devour those when trying to get treats, so make sure anything with wrappers on it is kept safely out of sight. Sweets don’t need to poison your pet to hurt them if they’re surrounded by a digestive system-blocking casing.
Store-bought treats should never have ingredients like macadamia nuts, which are toxic to dogs. Look for labels that specifically call out that they’re treats for a dog, rather than generic treats.
But can dogs eat candy from a pet store? As long as it’s labeled appropriately, these are the best to buy. Treats and candy from other places are much more likely to cause problems like kidney failure or liver failure, even if you avoid feeding your dog problematic ingredients like chocolate.
What Should I Do If I Suspect My Dog Ate Something Bad?
Call your veterinarian or a third-party provider like the Pet Poison Hotline immediately. If you can’t reach either of them, try to get to an animal hospital instead or search for answers online.
Poisoning can affect a pet quickly, so the sooner you have some tips and information, the better. Your pet doesn’t need to be in pain or showing signs of poisoning to be hurt by something they ate.
Keep a particularly close watch for tremors, vomiting, diarrhea, and any other danger signs. It’s always better to be careful in an emergency, especially because pets may have a severe reaction soon after eating a dangerous treat.
Your pet may also need a blood or urine test to look for problems like pancreatitis, which can be hard to detect from the outside. This is why you should call for professional help as soon as possible, even if you get some great tips or information when you do a search online.
Unfortunately, death is a relatively common result if your dog eats something it shouldn’t. Even if they survive, they could suffer health problems like seizures just from eating a few bites of the wrong candies. This is why you should always try to stick to dog-healthy treats, like specialized gum, when possible.
Your vet (or another expert) may ask you to try and induce vomiting, especially if your pup may have eaten raisins or other foods that can take some time to digest. Getting the food out of your dog’s body can help minimize any potential damage. It can also help you identify the cause of their problem, which lets them know the best treatment options.
Preparing Ahead Of Time
Talk to your vet before Halloween comes around and ask them what you should do if your pup eats raisins or starts vomiting from an unknown cause. You can also ask your vet how to induce vomiting in any dog.