You love sharing with your dog, and that can include food. You enjoy hard candy, but can your dog enjoy it with you? Is it safe for your dog to eat hard candy, or can it be harmful to them?
What happens if a dog eats Hard Candy?
Hard candy can pose dangers for your dog. With all the things that can harm your pet, including poisonous house plants and cleaning supplies, candy can seem innocuous. However, that wrapped goodie might be a bad idea.
One of the biggest dangers of giving your dog hard candy is choking. People are accustomed to eating hard candy. Humans old enough to eat hard candy know not to swallow a whole candy, or attempt to bite it.
We can suck on the candy and enjoy the sweet flavor. However, your dog isn’t equipped with the skills to eat it safely.
Once the candy becomes moist in the mouth, it’s also slick. This can cause your dog to unintentionally swallow it. They may also swallow it because they are accustomed to swallowing dog food without chewing it thoroughly.
However, swallowing the candy can cause it to get caught in the windpipe. If the candy gets lodged in the windpipe and blocks it, your dog will not be able to breathe. This can quickly be fatal.
Tooth breakage is another danger of hard candy. When you eat a hard candy, it’s unlikely that you bite it, because it can be painful or damage your teeth. Your dog doesn’t consider this.
They typically bite whatever they are eating, which can cause their teeth to break.
Jaw or Mouth Injury
Your dog can also injure their jaw or mouth. If they bite down hard, they can injure their jaw. If you’ve ever woke up with a sore jaw from grinding your teeth in your sleep, you have an idea how this feels.
In addition to jaw injury, hard candy can injure your dog’s mouth and gums. If they bite the candy and it breaks into pieces, these can be jagged.
The mouth has fragile tissues which can easily be injured with jagged pieces of candy. They can cause cuts or abrasions.
There’s also a small chance that the pieces can be swallowed and cut your dog’s windpipe or esophagus.
High Sugar Candies
High sugar candies can pose a danger to your dog in large amounts. It causes both short and long term symptoms.
Short-term effects of too much sugar include hyperactivity and restlessness. This will be followed by a crash, which can cause lethargy and depression.
Both dogs and humans rely on beneficial bacteria to break down their food. A high amount of sugar can upset the bacteria balance in your dog’s digestive tract, which can lead to stomach troubles.
When your dog eats sugar, the bacteria on the teeth feed on it. This creates acid, which wears at the enamel on the teeth. Frequent sugar exposure can lead to cavities and tooth decay for dogs just as it can for people.
Obesity and Diabetes
Over time, too much sugar can cause diabetes and obesity. These conditions can cause many complications, including increased risks of heart failure, early death, and arthritis.
Excess sugar changes your dog’s metabolism over time. They use more insulin to process the sugar, which can deplete their insulin levels. It also causes the metabolism to slow down, which can cause more problems.
Pancreatitis can occur as a result of your dog eating too much fat, sugar, or a combination of the two. It can occur due to high fat dog food, but it’s much more common when your dog eats unhealthy people foods.
The pancreas releases digestive enzymes. When it functions normally, the enzymes activate when they reach the small intestine, where they break down food.
Pancreatitis causes these enzymes to activate when they are released. This causes inflammation and damage to the pancreas. In severe cases, the pancreas essentially begins to eat itself.
Signs of pancreatitis include vomiting, diarrhea, stomach bloating, lethargy, and fever. Your dog will appear to be in pain. A loss of appetite and thirst are common as well, putting your dog at risk of dehydration.
Pancreatitis is dangerous because many of the symptoms are the same as a stomach flu. You may assume your dog just caught a bug, when they are actually facing a serious health condition.
Pancreatitis must be treated by the vet. They may give IV fluids to prevent dehydration and prescribe an anti-nasuea medication for your dog. They will also recommend a low fat diet to prevent further complications.
Xylitol is a sugar substitute. It’s most commonly used in sugar-free gum, but it’s sometimes used in sugar-free candies as well.
Xylitol is extremely dangerous for dogs. In humans, xylitol doesn’t stimulate the pancreas to release insulin. In dogs, the pancreas mistakes it for sugar, even though xylitol doesn’t raise glucose levels. This causes a severe drop in blood sugar that can occur within 10-60 minutes after eating.
Candy wrappers are another hazard for your dog. They aren’t likely to unwrap a candy. Instead, they will eat the wrapper and the candy. This can cause an intestinal blockage.
Candy wrappers, especially plastic or foil wrappers, can’t be broken down by the digestive system. The only way to get rid of them is for them to go through the digestive tract and out in poop.
However, if your dog eats too many wrappers, they can cause a bowel obstruction. These can occasionally require surgery, and are very dangerous if not treated.
What to do if a dog eats Hard Candy?
Your dog snuck into your hard candy. What do you do?
If your dog is choking, you’ll need to remove the object. Your dog may be gagging, coughing, wheezing, or unable to make any sound at all. Open their mouth and see if you can reach the object with tweezers or forceps.
If this doesn’t work, hold them upside down or by their hind legs and perform the heimlech manuever. Be sure to bring them to the vet as soon as the emergency is over and the dog can breathe again.
Assess The Situation
Assessing the situation has two parts. First, you’ll want to check your dog for symptoms. If they are choking, you’ll need to perform the heimlech maneuver.
Watch for gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea or vomiting. You’ll also need to watch for lethargy, extreme thirst or lack of appetite, fever, and lack of consciousness.
Assuming your dog isn’t in immediate distress, you’ll want to move on to determining what and how much your dog ate. Once you have this information, it’s time for step 2.
Call Poison Control
Contact the ASPCA poison control hot line. They are available 24 hours a day. They have a large database, and can calculate the danger your dog is in based on their weight and how much of a substance they ate. This guidance can be life saving for your pooch, and sanity saving for you if they are in the clear. Their number is 800-548-2423.
Even if your pooch isn’t showing symptoms of illness after eating hard candy, it’s a good idea to check with poison control, particularly if they ate a large amount, or candy containing xylitol.
Call Your Vet
The next step is to call your vet. Give them the information that you gave poison control, and let them know the advice of poison control, even if your dog isn’t showing any symptoms. If your dog snuck into the candy, there’s a chance they have ingested candy wrappers.
Your vet may recommend you bring your dog in for an evaluation, or they may instruct you to monitor them at home.
Is hard candy bad for dogs?
Generally, hard candy isn’t a great idea for dogs. However, there’s a caveat to that. You can give your dog some types of hard candy in small amounts. Even if the candy doesn’t contain ingredients that are toxic to your dog, there are still concerns about tooth injury and choking.
Hard Candy Considerations
It’s best to give your dog candy that they can’t choke on or hurt their teeth on. This includes skittles and smarties. These candies are too small to pose a choking hazard and aren’t hard enough to hurt your dog’s teeth.
You’ll also want to limit the amount of candy your dog ingests. The recommended limit is 10 grams. One jolly rancher is 6 grams.
Sweet Options for Dogs
Just because you can’t let your dog chow down on candy doesn’t mean you can’t give them a sweet treat. Let them join in the fun with these sweet options that you and your dog can enjoy together.
Cakes and Cookies
You can actually make cakes and cookies for your dog. Limit the sugar in the recipe. Avoid artificial sweeteners, which can be harmful to your dog.
Applesauce is a great addition to your baked goods. It can allow you to cut down on sugar and fat without compromising taste.
Avoid chocolate as well. It can be dangerous for your dog, because they can’t process it the way humans can.
Pumpkin cake or carrot cake are great choices for your dog. These foods are healthy for your dog, and the sugar and carbs in the cakes are safe in moderate amounts.
Bacon oatmeal cookies are an interesting option as well. The flavors go surprisingly well together. They are healthy for your dog, and you may enjoy them as well.
Yogurt is another option for a sweet treat for your pooch. Pair it with fruit or peanut butter for a healthy snack.
Pumpkin or Sweet Potato Pie
Pumpkin is great for your dogs. It can even be used as a dog food topper. Sweet potatoes are healthy for your dog as well. Everyone loves pie, including your dog. You’ll never have to leave them out of thanksgiving dessert again.
Banana pudding is another dessert staple that is safe for your dog. Remember to watch the sugar content. Most puddings contain lactose, which can give your dog gas in high amounts, so keep the serving size small.
How much hard candy is likely to be too much for a dog?
This really depends on the ingredients in the candy. Assuming that there are no toxic ingredients in the candy, it isn’t likely to harm your dog in small amounts, once they swallow the candy.
The cut off amount is generally considered 10 grams. More than that is not ideal, and may cause stomach upset. To put this into perspective, one jolly rancher is 6 grams. Technically, two jolly ranchers would be over the ideal amount, at 12 grams, but likely safe. More than that could be a problem.
How much candy it takes to be a problem for your dog will also depend on how large they are. A 10 pound dog can handle much less sugar than a 100 pound dog.
To find out if your dog ate too much candy, it’s best to call your vet or the poison control center if it’s over 10 grams.