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Can Dogs Eat Candy Canes? What Should You Do If Your Dog Ate a Candy Cane?

Can Dogs Eat Candy Canes

‘Tis the season once again of gift-giving, merry-making, and countless nights and days of bountiful meals, fancy holiday treats, and sinful desserts.

For most, if not all of us, the holiday season is a much-anticipated time of the year. With the omnipresence of candy cane decors, and sugary treats, who could hate the holidays? But how about our canine companions? Can dogs eat candy canes?

What Are Candy Canes?

Candy canes are hard candies that are shaped like a cane and covered with a colorful wrapper to jive in the festive spirit of Christmas.

They are made from sugar and corn syrup, and they usually come in different color combinations and flavors. The most popular are red and white striped candy canes, and peppermint candy canes, respectively.

Candy canes are well-loved traditional Christmas decors and treats. Homeowners love placing them on their Christmas trees, not just because they’ve become a symbol of this season, but also because they are edible.

Hence, kids and adults alike can enjoy picking them on their Christmas tree and savoring their sweet flavor together.

Can Dogs Eat Candy Canes?

It may look like a safe and tasty treat for your pup, but candy cane can be a bit complicated and problematic for dogs. And while not all candy canes contain ingredients that can be toxic for dogs, it’s best to simply put these sweets out of your dog’s reach.

Again, candy canes can be problematic for dogs and cats because they carry several risks for them when ingested. At a glance, it may seem that these sugary treats are only harmful to your dog because of their sugar content. As we know, too much sugar in dogs can lead to several health issues such as diabetes, and obesity.

However, there’s more to candy canes than being rich in sugar. In fact, sugar free candy canes are even more dangerous because they contain a toxic artificial sweetener called xylitol, which can be extremely dangerous for canines and felines when consumed, especially in large quantities.

Can Dogs Eat Candy Canes? What Should You Do If Your Dog Ate a Candy Cane? 1

Why You Should Not Give Candy Canes to Your Dog?

Overall, candy canes are unhealthy and unsafe for dogs not only because of what they contain but also because of the following reasons:

Candy Canes May Contain Xylitol

Sugar-free candy canes and other sugar-free candies often contain an artificial sweetener called xylitol as a sugar substitute. The problem is that xylitol is toxic for dogs.

When a dog eats a sugar free candy cane that contains this toxic ingredient, it can lead to life threatening side effects. Consuming foods that contain xylitol can cause a drop in a dog’s blood sugar levels, and can even cause liver damage.

Hence, you should never let your dog eat candy canes, especially the sugar-free variants. And if you suspect that your pup has eaten some, you should take him to the veterinarian immediately.

Below are some signs that your pet dog has eaten food or some human treats that contain xylitol:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Bruising
  • Seizures
  • Tremors
  • Coma
  • Racing heart rate
  • Jaundiced gums
  • Black-tarry stool
  • Difficulty of Walking or Lack of Coordination

Candy Cane Wrappers Can Be Hazardous to Dogs

Candy canes are covered with clear wrappers that even humans have difficulty removing at times. Unfortunately, dogs can easily eat candy canes with their wrappers still on.

And when this happens, there’s a chance that the wrapper may stick into your dog’s esophagus while on its way down to his digestive tract.

Although your dog will most likely pass out the wrapper, there’s still a possibility that he may develop intestinal obstruction.

Watch out for the following symptoms if you suspect that your dog has ingested any foreign object, such as a candy cane wrapper:

  • Vomiting
  • Decreased Appetite
  • Straining to Defecate or Difficulty of Defecating
  • Aren’t Defecating
  • Lethargy
Can Dogs Eat Candy Canes? What Should You Do If Your Dog Ate a Candy Cane? 2

Candy Canes Have Sharp Edges

A piece of candy cane can be easily chomped into sharp pieces inside your dog’s mouth, and these sharp pieces can cause a tear in your dog’s esophagus or could puncture his digestive tract just like a chicken bone.

If your dog consumed a candy cane, you should watch out for the following:

  • Hacking cough
  • Bloated belly
  • Straining to defecate
  • Loss of appetite

They May Contain Chocolate

As mentioned earlier, candy canes can also come in different flavors, and they could also be infused with other sweet favorites such as chocolates.

And as we know, chocolate is toxic to dogs. Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine, which can cause damage to a dog’s brain and internal organs.

Chocolate poisoning in dogs can cause the following:

  • Seizures
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Vomiting
  • Increased heart rate
  • Restlessness

They Contain Peppermint

Eating peppermint candies and other peppermint treats like candy canes can also cause some problems for dogs.

Peppermint oil is a very strong flavor, and dogs can easily be tempted by its smell. When a dog eats sweets or treats with peppermint extract, he will most likely experience gastrointestinal problems.

So, to avoid upsetting your dog’s stomach, it’s best to give him dog treats or biscuits, instead. Or you can also give him a slice of banana with peanut butter.

But of course, when adding treats into your dog’s diet, you should always stick to the general rule or the 90/10 principle – and that is only 10% of your dog’s daily caloric intake should come from his treats.

They Contain Toxic Colorings

The candy cane itself is made from sugar and corn syrup. However, the red stripes are made using Red 40, a dye that is derived from petroleum.

This dye is linked to cancer in lab animals. Hence, it’s best not to even let your dog lick the dye off his paws if he comes in contact with these candy canes with red stripes.

Additionally, the green color of the candy canes is created using copper chlorophyllin, which dogs should not eat at all because it is toxic for them.

Can Dogs Eat Candy Canes? What Should You Do If Your Dog Ate a Candy Cane? 3

They Can Contain Citrus Oils

Orange and lemon-flavored candy canes contain citrus oils that can also be problematic for dogs that are sensitive to citric acid.

Dogs should not eat these candy canes, as well as other foods with citrus oils because it can lead to pancreatitis.

Citral, which is another component in lemongrass essential oil can also cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs.

What Should You Do If Your Dog Ate a Candy Cane?

Pet parents should always be vigilant with what comes inside their dog’s mouth, especially if it involves human foods, which most often contain ingredients that are toxic for them. And as discussed in this article, candy canes are just one of the seasonal treats that you should avoid offering to your dog at all costs.

In case your dog ends up eating a candy cane, you should first identify what type of candy cane he ate, and what are its ingredients. If the candy cane contains real sugar and not xylitol, then, you can breathe well because your dog should be okay. However, you should still observe him for any unusual behavior.

On the other hand, if your dog ate a sugar-free candy cane, you should take him to the vet immediately, or if it’s beyond clinic hours, you should call an emergency veterinarian in your area. Don’t take this lightly, or assume that your dog’s condition can wait until morning comes.  

Bonus Recipes

Below we have included cookie recipes that are perfect for the Holiday Season. Enjoy!

Pupper-Mint Candy Cane Twists

Pupper-Mint Candy Cane Twists

Cinnamon & Sugar


  • 3 cups Flour best suited to your dog's diet: whole wheat, barley, rice, sorghum… whatever suits your pup best. Feel free to use a mix. I find that actually works best.
  • 1/2 cup Powdered milk nonfat
  • 1/2 tsp Baking powder
  • 2 large Eggs
  • 1 cup Chicken broth
  • 4-5 Mint leaves
  • 2 tsp Pet-friendly food coloring 
  • 1 large Egg for a wash


  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Whisk together the flour(s), powdered milk, and baking powder. Then whisk the eggs into the chicken broth.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stir until combined, and knead into a dough. You may want to add extra flour, a teaspoon at a time, if the dough is too sticky.
  • Divide the dough into two parts and let it rest for a moment while you complete the next steps. 
  • Make a paste with the mint by chopping it, adding a bit of water, and muddling it with a mortar and pestle. If you don't have a mortar-pestle set handy, use a small metal bowl and the back of a spoon. The amount is so tiny that it doesn't really make sense to use a food processor. And it doesn't have to be a perfect paste. Even finely chopped mint is great. Knead the mint into one of the dough balls.
  • Add the pet-safe food coloring to the other ball. NOTE: Pet-friendly dyes are readily available online, but you can also use a touch of beet juice. Think about how beets, which are actually good for dogs, stain your hands!
  • Add the pet-safe food coloring to the other ball. NOTE: Pet-friendly dyes are readily available online, but you can also use a touch of beet juice. Think about how beets, which are actually good for dogs, stain your hands!
  • Roll out your two doughs separately, forming rectangles of approximately the same size. Cut both doughs into strips, and roll the strips into "snakes."
  • Form candy canes by twisting two snakes together and shaping into the traditional form. Beat the remaining egg in a bowl and use a pastry brush to apply egg wash to each cookie.
  • Bake the cookies for about 12 minutes. You'll want to watch them because cooking time will depend upon thickness. Cool thoroughly before serving to your pet. 


These treats are not only fun for the holidays, but the fresh mint can also freshen up your pup's breath, so he or she is ready to mingle at the season's many social gatherings.
NOTE: Just be sure to use fresh mint leaves. Extracts and oils can be too strong for pets. 
Minty Apple Dog Bones

Minty Apple Dog Bones

Carlson Pet


  • 1 1/2 cup Whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup Barley flour
  • 1/2 cup Rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup Oat bran
  • 2 tbsp Dry milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp Dry baking yeast
  • 2 tbsp spearmint leaves chopped
  • 1/2 cup Applesauce
  • 2 tsp Spinach powder
  • 1 cup Water


  • Preheat oven to 250 F.
  • Place everything in dough mixer and mix on the dough cycle.
  • When dough is formed, roll to 1/4 inch thickness.
  • Using a bone shaped cookie cutter, cut out the shapes. Transfer to a parchment lined cookie sheet.
  • Bake for one hour, checking to make sure they don’t get too brown.
  • Let cool until completely dry, preferably overnight.
  • Treats last up to several months at room temperature.


These adorable mini bones are made of apple and mint (which helps freshen breath and aid digestion) and are super a simple homemade dog treat to make. Bonus, they’re also low in calories.
Candy Cane Cookies

Candy Cane Cookies

Olfa Turki
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 8 mins
Total Time 28 mins
Servings 12


  • 2 cups Almond flour
  • 1/2 tsp Baking powder
  • 1/2 cup Creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup Skim milk

Icing Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 tsp Meringue powder
  • 1/2 cup Powdered sugar
  • 3-4 tbsp Warm water
  • Red gel food coloring (see our note below)


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Combine flour and baking powder in a bowl.
  • Whisk together the milk and creamy peanut butter.
  • Add flour mixture a little at a time.
  • Mix together until fully incorporated.
  • Toss some wheat flour on a cutting board.
  • Roll out dough with a wheat flour-covered rolling pin.
  • Roll out the dough and using the candy cane cookie cutter, cut out the doggie treats.
  • Transfer the candy canes  to a parchment lined cookie sheet.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes.
  • Allow to cool completely on the cookie sheet.

Icing Directions: 

  • Combine all ingredients (not the red gel food coloring) into a bowl.
  • Beat on low speed until the icing can hold a stiff peak.
  • Divide the icing into 2 bowls.
  • In bowl #1 add several drops of red gel food coloring. Stir well.
  • Spoon the icing into a frosting bag with a #2 tip.
  • In bowl #2 of the icing….leave it white.
  • Spoon the white icing into another frosting bag with a #2 tip
  • First outline the red stripes on the candy cane. Allow to dry for 30 seconds.
  • Outline the white stripes allowing 30 seconds for it to dry.
  • Fill in the white outlining with more white icing.
  • Allow to dry for at least 1 hour.
  • Check to make sure that it is dry by touching a small area of the icing.


Regarding food coloring: there is much debate over whether it can trigger allergies in some dogs, or cause hyperactivity.
The overall consensus seems to be that once in a while is okay. Please be careful with substituting plain old food coloring with organic food coloring, as you could inadvertently give your dog dangerous ingredients. Currants, for example, are sometimes used to make organic red food coloring and are toxic to dogs.
Remember, this is a hypoallergenic dog treat for our canine friends, who aren’t really prone to peanut allergies.

Will a candy cane make a dog sick?

You should not feed Peppermint candy canes to your dog. Most notably, candy canes contain xylitol, an artificial sweetener, which is extremely deadly for dogs. It is crucial to understand to NEVER give your dog any sweets containing xylitol as it will, without doubt, make your animal sick and can often be fatal.

Is candy cane safe for dogs?

Just like a chicken bone, a sharp candy cane sliver could damage a dog's esophagus or intestines. If your dog eats a candy cane, keep an eye out for: A hacking cough. A bloated belly.

Can dogs eat candy canes without xylitol?

The answer is yes. A sugar-free, artificial sweetener called Xylitol can be found in peppermint candy canes, as well as other gums and even peanut butters.

What are candy cane ingredients?

The ingredients for candy canes are sugar and corn syrup, which are stored in stainless steel tanks.

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