"Taste the rainbow" is the catchy tagline for the incredibly popular candy Skittles. Successful marketing since the 90s and a savvy social media presence has made this colorful treat stamped the number one non-chocolate candy in America. Inherent to the iconic brand are magic, rainbows, and weirdness, played out in numerous bizarre advertising campaigns—think Skittles pox, a sentient beard, a singing rabbit, and most recently, a boy-shaped yogurt monster.
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But as much as you may love the buzz around Skittles and their delightfully fruity flavors, sharing this sweet treat with your dog is not a good idea. Sugar, corn syrup, hydrogenated palm kernel oil, citric acid, tapioca dextrin, modified corn starch, food coloring, sodium citrate, and carnauba wax could be a recipe for disaster when it comes to your pooch, depending on the quantity consumed. After all, sugar, the primary ingredient in Skittles, can be harmful to your dog's health (if consumed in large quantities).
Consequently, even though this round, chewy candy is small, dogs shouldn't eat any amount of Skittles or any sugar-laden candy. So while one wee Skittle may not do any harm, you should not make Skittles a regular treat for your dog—no matter how much he begs to taste the rainbow.
Where do Skittles come from?
Colorful and bursting with flavor, Skittles are manufactured by Mars Wrigley. Founded by Franklin Clarence Mars in 1911 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Mars is the 6th largest privately held company in the United States. The company is the world's leading manufacturer of chocolate, chewing gum, mints, and fruity confections. Along with Skittles (launched in 1974) and M&M's, the company also makes Snickers, Dove Chocolate, 3 Musketeers, Twix, Milky Way, and, of course, Mars bars. And Mars pet care division makes 50+ global brands including Pedigree, Whiskas, and Royal Canin.
Tropical, Sour Skittles, Wild Berry, and Green Apple are just some of the fruity flavors in a box of Skittles, along with the original flavors of strawberry, orange, lemon, and grape... and lime is back! Over 200 million Skittles are made each day!
Can dogs eat Skittles?
Made without animal products, gelatin-free (since 2009), and gluten-free; Skittles sound relatively healthy—at least for a candy—but not for dogs. Dogs should not eat Skittles or candy of any kind, but if one fell onto the floor and your dog ate it, don't be alarmed; just make sure he doesn't eat more. With zero nutritional value and a large amount of sugar, Skittles are not a good regular treat for dogs. However, Skittles, which contain real sugar, do not pose an immediate life-threatening risk such as the sugar substitute Xylitol, chocolate, or raisins do.
While a stray Skittle found on the floor won't hurt your dog, there's no reason to make a habit of feeding them sugary treats that in the longterm could compromise their health. There are many naturally sweet fruit and veggie alternatives that dogs love, like baby carrots, sweet potatoes, watermelon, raspberries, apples, and blueberries, to name just a few.
What are the concerns with feeding Skittles to dogs?
High sugar levels
The primary concern with feeding Skittles to dogs is their high sugar levels. Sugar, the primary ingredient in Skittles, is bad for dogs in large quantities. While a couple of Skittles won't hurt your dog, a frequent sugar habit can lead to various health problems in dogs, like dental problems and issues with weight. In addition, high sugar levels can make a dog sick in the short term. According to the ASPCA, "when a dog ingests a large amount of sugar, an accumulation of water can follow. If this overwhelms the dog's ability to drink enough water—or particularly if he is vomiting—it can lead to abnormal electrolytes, particularly sodium."
If your dog somehow managed to steal and eat a large quantity of Skittles, watch for these signs of increased blood sugar, and seek veterinary care immediately:
- Loss of appetite
No, dogs should not eat Skittles! But if your dog managed to eat one, it should not pose an immediate health risk, unless your dog has existing health concerns. Skittles and other candies should be avoided in your dog's diet due to their high sugar content.
Seek veterinary care if your dog ingests a quantity of Skittles and shows clinical signs of increased blood sugar such as vomiting, diarrhea, and/or loss of appetite.
Instead of Skittles or other sugary candies or high-sugar-content fruits, try nutritious, naturally sweet, but not too sweet, veggies like baby carrots or sweet potato, and fruits like blueberries and raspberries for a treat. And to stay on the right track when considering foods and treats for your dog, check out our list of everything dogs can and cannot eat.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
- The Fact Site: A Brief History of Skittles
- Snack History: Skittles
- The Honest Kitchen: Dogs and Sugar: Good or Bad?
- Creative Review: Weird Skittles Is Back
- Candy Club: Best American Candy
- ASPCA: Why Sugary Candy Is Dangerous to Dogs
- ASPCA: Healthy Safe Snacks to Help Your Pet Slim Down
- Mars: Mars Wrigley|Mars Incorporated
- Spoon University: Are Skittles Vegan? An In-Depth Look at Skittles Ingredients