Can Dogs Eat Candy Canes?

One discussion that has always been popular amongst dog owners is the question of can dogs have candy canes? Candy canes are no doubt are a great treat for adults and children alike. It is only natural that when you have a taste for candy canes, you want to share with your canine friend.

But, as much as this can be a tasty treat for you, can the same be said of your dog? This brings to mind that some treats that may be suitable for you, may not necessarily be for your dog(s). The impact on you may be different from the impact on your dog.

Here, we are going to look at the effects candy canes will have on your dog and see if it is a good idea for them.


Are Candy Canes Safe for Dogs?

Can Dogs Eat Candy Canes

To start with, there is a long history relating to candy canes. Our parents then, usually use it as an object of bribe to their children whenever they need something done by them. While it may not be the same today, one thing still remains, candy canes are loved by many – both adults and kids.

As much as they may be okay for humans to consume, it is a different thing finding its way into the mouth of a dog. This is not to say that a tiny piece of candy cane finding its way into your dog’s mouth can be lethal.

But, it has been observed that the effect on dogs is not palatable and may cause irreversible harm to their health. For this reason, it is not safe and recommended for dogs to eat candy canes.


What Happens When A Dog Eats A Candy Cane?

Eating a small amount of candy cane, your pooch is likely to be fine; but consuming in large amounts (which is usually the case), probably accidental, usually leads to being sick.

Even worse is when your dog eats, together with the candy, the plastic wrapper. The obvious outcome of this is usually vomiting, difficulty in defecating, lack of appetite and lethargy. Particularly for the wrappers, it can lead to a blockage on the intestines, or stick to the lining of your dog’s stomach.

As a result of the sugar contained in the candy, there’s likely to be a case of mild gastrointestinal upset for your dog. A worst-case scenario is conditions such as nausea and diarrhea. At this point, it is advisable to avoid the intake of food for about 8 hours.

The truth remains that candy canes are first of all junk food items – whether for humans or for pets, as they are packed full of sugar. More long-term complications that may occur include diabetes, weight gain, pancreatitis, and heart disease, among many other problems.


Major Risk Involved with Candy Canes

Other than the sugar content of candy cane, a more serious ingredient associated with candy cane is xylitol and is considered harmful and toxic to dogs.

Xylitol is an artificial sweetener and is considered a sugar substitute. This can put your dog at risk. According to veterinarians, this sweetener can be highly toxic for dogs as they are otherwise known as wood sugar or artificial sugar.

Preventive Vet also featured in one of their articles that this singular ingredient is responsible for poisoning about 6,000 every year that passes. As we all know, dogs are omnivores, and as such, they have a sensitive and delicate digestive system as compared to humans. Even though this sweetener may not do any harm to humans, it does to dogs.


Adverse Reactions of Xylitol

It is important to note here that the severity of the effect of this ingredient is not the same for all dogs – it varies from one dog to the other. Two dogs can have the same dosage, but the effect is more serious in one than others. Whatever way you look at it, the effect this ingredient has on dogs are:

1. Insulin Surge

The interaction xylitol in humans and dogs was observed to be different. Unlike sugar content, xylitol contains zero fructose and as such has negligible effects on insulin and blood sugar. But, when ingested by dogs, it is mistaken by their bodies for glucose. This is a major negative effect of xylitol.

The ingestion of this ingredient causes a surge of your dog’s insulin to deadly levels. This is what we generally refer to as low blood sugar. This results in a massive drop in blood formation, thereby causing brain hemorrhage.

2. Liver Damage

An experiment about the effect of xylitol was carried on 8 dogs. It was discovered five of them died, leaving three as survival. A diagnosis of their death reveals hepatic failure (failure in liver function) as the cause. This means the liver is unable to perform its normal functions anymore.

This goes on to suggest that xylitol causes damage to the liver of dogs. Before now, it was unknown that this could be a possibility. This alone has gotten the attention of a lot of dog owners.


Sugar Vs Xylitol

Most of the time, the sweetening ingredient in Candy canes is sugar and peppermint flavorings. But, in an attempt to make it more friendly for human consumption, alternatives to sugar is used, which in this case is xylitol.

This is fondly called sugar-less candy canes. Whichever way the candy is made, one thing is certain: they are still not recommended for your pup. As much as one might consider it not fatal without xylitol, they are not healthy as well.

When consumed in large amounts and over a period of time, it can cause your dog to become overweight and more so develop conditions such as heart disease, pancreatitis, diabetes, or more. As we have already established, the sugar or xylitol content is not advisable to be ingested by your dogs.

No matter how delicious they may smell, be careful enough to avoid getting the dogs involved in this treat.


Symptoms Of Xylitol

Whenever you notice any unusual or troubling symptoms in the behavior of your pups, get them attended to immediately so avoid leading to more severe conditions. Symptoms to look out for include:

  • Abnormal behavior
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizures
  • Jaundiced gums
  • Depression
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy or weakness
  • Clotting
  • Bruising
  • Tremoring or trembling
  • Drunk walking


What To Do When Your Dog Eats Candy Canes?

It is sometimes difficult to completely avoid your dogs from consuming candy canes. There’s always a chance that they will come across candy canes, whether from you or people around.

If it happens that your pet has eaten any candy cane, your first move may be to right away look at the packaging to check for the presence of sugar or xylitol. There shouldn’t be much cause for alarm if the candy is made of sugar since this is just accidental.

But, it is a different case if made of xylitol and they probably consumed a good amount of it. In such a situation, you should consult your veterinary officer as soon as you can to guide you on the needful. Note that it is considered unsafe to try first aid at home without the knowledge of the veterinary officer.


Final Words On Can Dogs Eat Candy Canes

I believe it has now been clear that dogs should not be allowed to eat candy canes. They’re not safe, and as such avoid voluntarily giving them to your dog. If for any reason you want to give your pooch a treat, you can give carrots, blueberries or bananas. You may want to make him some candy cane-look-alike biscuits.

In case you are a lover of candy canes and you have them around the house, you want to make sure they are out of the reach of your pup. Should your dog get a hold of them and consumes, it’s best to immediately get in touch with your vet and discuss the situation, especially if it’s a sugar-free candy cane.

Did you enjoy going through this article? Was it helpful or do you still have any concerns? Do you have any experience of dogs and candy canes? I would love for you to share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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