Dogs are cherished members of the family, and sometimes, pet owners are tempted to share a sweet treat with them beyond their usual everyday dog food. While an occasional sweet treat doesn't pose a life-threatening risk, many foods are downright toxic to dogs, such as raisins, chocolate, grapes, the sugar substitute xylitol, onions, and garlic to name a few. Other foods, like sugar, can adversely impact your dog's health if fed regularly and thus should be avoided. Consequently, pet parents need to be mindful of all the ingredients in anything they feed their dog, especially human foods and treats.
Take gummy candy, for instance — a broad category of gelatin-based, chewy, sweet treats that many people adore. But can you share these colorful, fruity gummies with your pooch? Well, the main ingredient in gummies is sugar, and although sugar is not toxic to dogs, they should not eat gummy candy. If your dog has one gummy, they won't need immediate veterinary care like the ingestion of chocolate would warrant, but common sense dictates that any food composed primarily of sugar should not be on your dog's menu regularly.
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What is gummy candy made from?
Gummy candy is one of the most beloved nostalgic treats out there, and the internet is teeming with do-it-yourself gummy candy recipes. The centerpiece of the recipe and star of the gummy candy show is not just the iconic bear but sugar and gelatin. Gummy candy usually contains granulated sugar in addition to the typically high-sugar fruit juices that impart their flavors and colors. Gelatin, a protein derived from animal tissues and bones, is used to make the candy chewy. Gelatin is uniquely moldable into literally thousands of shapes, with commercial gummy candy brands offering vegan alternatives to gelatin in the last decade or so.
It all began in the early 1900s in Germany, when Hans Riegel started his company Haribo, which launched the first gummy candy into the German confectionery market in 1920. The company only began manufacturing its gummy candy in the United States in the early 1980s, which led other brands, such as Hershey and Farley's, to make their own versions. Now, the iconic sweet treat is available in myriad forms, from dinosaurs to fruit rolls. In fact, nearly half of all gelatin made worldwide is used in the manufacture of gummy candy.
Can dogs eat gummy bears?
No, gummy candy should not be a sweet treat you give your pooch. A dog will not be harmed if they ingest some accidentally unless the candy contains the sugar substitute xylitol. But gummy candy is not a good go-to dog treat. Xylitol poisoning is a real risk for dogs who eat a large amount of the sugar substitute. Check the ingredient list to see if the gummy candy contains xylitol before you consider feeding it to your dog. Many human toothpastes contain xylitol, which is why it is only recommended to brush your dog's teeth with toothpaste made for dogs.
Like people, dogs are attracted to sweets, so why not give them a treat with some nutritional value? Try naturally sweet treats in moderation, such as:
- Baby carrots
Should I be concerned if my dog ate gummy bears?
Yes, if your dog age gummy bears, you should check the ingredients for xylitol. For energy, both humans and dogs need sugar in the form of carbohydrates, which is derived from the foods we eat. For example, fructose, the sugar content in fruits, is safe for your pooch (except for raisins and grapes, which are toxic to dogs). But large quantities of granulated sugar and the forms of sugars in gummy candy are not healthy for your dog and put them at risk for some pet health conditions:
- Weight gain, which can lead to obesity and arthritis. A dog with too much body weight is at risk for other health issues.
- Cavities, which can lead to tooth loss and painful oral infections
- Metabolic disorders
- Urinary tract or kidney infection
- Diabetes, which can lead to heart problems and requires a significant financial and personal commitment to daily treatment to maintain blood sugar levels
Xylitol in gummy candies is a threat to pet health
Most gummy candies contain sugar, but if it's sugar-free candy, keep it away from your dog. Some sugar-free gummy bears may contain the sugar substitute xylitol, which is highly toxic to dogs. If your dog eats a small amount of xylitol, they might develop an upset stomach or other relatively minor digestive system issue. To be on the safe side when managing your dog's diet, learn about what your dog can and cannot eat.