‘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? Have you seen dogs eating candy canes?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.
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:
- 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:
- Decreased Appetite
- Straining to Defecate or Difficulty of Defecating
- Aren’t Defecating
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:
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased heart rate
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.
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.
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