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Can Dogs Eat Candy Canes? | Are Candy Canes Bad for Dogs?

can dogs eat candy canes

Candy canes are a classic treat that humans enjoy during holiday celebrations.  Their sweet and minty combination has inspired desserts, coffee flavors, and even alcoholic beverages!   We use them as decorations as well as treats.  Can your pup partake in this year’s holiday celebration by joining the family in indulging in a candy cane or two?  This article answers the important questions of “can dogs eat candy canes?” and “are candy canes bad for dogs?” 

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Can Dogs Eat Candy Canes? (The Short Answer)

No, dogs should never eat candy canes.  Candy canes are essentially all sugar and have no nutritional value.  There are also multiple concerns surrounding candy canes as well.  They can have toxic sweeteners such as xylitol, the wrappers can cause obstructions, the sharp edges can cause damage to the esophagus or intestines, and there are a wide variety of flavors, some of which, like chocolate, can be toxic to your dog.

It’s important to remember, that even with the best of intentions, accidents happen and dogs can easily eat things they shouldn’t.  Unfortunately, even if those accidents aren’t fatal, they can result in huge, unexpected veterinary expenses.  That’s why we recommend all responsible dog owners get a free, online pet insurance quote from Healthy Paws.

Are Candy Canes Good For Dogs?

No, candy canes are not good for our four-legged friends. Essentially, there are no nutritional benefits to candy canes. In most candy canes ingredient list you’ll find a similar rendition of: sugar, corn syrup, peppermint oil, and various dyes. More than half of a candy cane is just straight sugar! In one candy cane there is about 50 calories, 11 grams of sugar, 14 grams of carbohydrates, and that’s basically it! There is no protein, fiber, or important vitamins or minerals. 

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Are Candy Canes Bad for Dogs?

We’ve already answered the question, “can dogs eat candy canes?” Now, let’s learn about the dangers of feeding your dog this food! Are candy canes bad for dogs?

Yes, candy canes are bad for dogs!  They’re essentially pure sugar, making them an awful choice for dogs!  They also can become dangerous throughout the digestion process. 

Candy canes have a sweet taste that comes from either added sugars, artificial sweeteners such as xylitol, or corn syrup.  All of these are unhealthy for dogs.  Xylitol is toxic to dogs and should always be avoided.  The added sugars aren’t much better.  Dogs don’t need much sugar in their diet, so a snack that is essentially pure sugar is a poor choice. 

Another issue with candy canes is the wrapper.  They can easily be mistaken as part of the candy by a dog and ingested, causing a bowel obstruction which may require surgery to correct. 

Another commonly overlooked problem with candy canes is the sharp edges.  Most humans suck on candy canes, creating smooth edges, but our pups would just chomp down on it, creating multiple sharp-edged pieces.  Similar to a chicken or turkey bone, the sharp edge of a candy cane could easily cause damage to the esophagus or the intestines.  Signs of injury may include a hacking cough, a bloated belly, lethargy and loss of appetite, or straining to defecate. 

Another problem is the vast choices of flavors that candy canes come in.  After a quick search, I discovered pickle, sriracha, gravy, Cinnabon, wasabi, and birthday cake.  I wish I was joking!  Some of these flavors, such as wasabi, that include a kick, could cause your pup to have a pretty upset stomach.  Most of these use artificial flavoring to get the desired taste.  Additionally, pickles are pretty bad for dogs even if they weren’t in candy cane form!

Are Candy Canes Poisonous to Dogs?

In many cases, some varieties of candy canes can be poisonous to our four-legged friends.  A large portion of candy canes are made with the ingredient xylitol.  Xylitol cannot be digested in dog’s intestines.  Eating just a small amount of xylitol can cause dangerously low blood sugar, liver failure, seizures, and even death.  

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Other Foods to Avoid:

Much like you shouldn’t be feeding your dog candy canes, these other human foods aren’t safe for your dog either:

Other Varieties & Related Foods:

Can Dogs Eat Peppermint Candy Canes?

No, our pups can not have peppermint candy canes.  They shouldn’t have candy canes at all for various reasons.  Mint is typically not safe for dogs, and peppermint flavoring often causes them to have an upset stomach. 

In Conclusion: Can Dogs Have Candy Canes?

No, our pups should definitely not have candy canes.  First of all, they’re loaded with sugar!  Candy canes also have no nutritional value whatsoever.  This makes them a poor choice of snacks to give to your dog.  Candy canes are basically just empty calories for your dog.  In addition to no benefits, there are a lot of risks associated with candy canes.  For starters, they may be sweetened with xylitol, a toxic substance to dogs.  Additionally, the clear, thin wrappers may be accidentally ingested which could cause bowel obstructions.  Once chomped down on by a dog, candy canes have sharp edges that could pierce your pup’s esophagus or intestines.  Although the classic candy cane flavor is peppermint, they often come in other flavors, some of which, like chocolate, can be harmful to dogs.  Candy canes are one food that you should never give your dog.

Disclaimer: We are not veterinarians and this article should not be taken as medical or veterinary advice.  If you have any questions about your pet’s health or dietary needs, please contact your local veterinarian.