Our dogs are cherished members of the family, and sometimes we are tempted to share a sweet treat with them.
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While an occasional sweet treat doesn't pose a life-threatening risk, many foods we eat are downright toxic to our dogs; such as chocolate, grapes, raisins, sugar substitute Xylitol, onions, and garlic, to name a few. And 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 "people 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 bears, worms, frogs, snakes, hippos, penguins, sharks, and jelly babies, collectively known as gummies, with your dog?
Well, the main ingredient in gummies is sugar, so, although sugar is not toxic to dogs, they should not eat gummy candy. Mind you, if your dog gets a hold of one gummy he 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.
Where does gummy candy come 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 to 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 candy?
No, dogs should not eat gummy candy. They will not be harmed if they get a hold of some accidentally, unless the candy contains the sugar substitute Xylitol. But gummy candy is not a good go-to treat.
Like us, dogs are attracted to sweets, so why not give them some nutritious, naturally sweet treats, in moderation, such as the following:
- Baby carrots
What are the concerns with feeding gummy candy to dogs?
High sugar levels
For energy, both people and dogs need sugar in the form of carbohydrates, which is derived from the foods we eat. Fructose, for example, the sugar in fruits, is safe for your dog (except for raisins and grapes, which are toxic to dogs). But granulated sugar and the forms of sugars in gummy candy are not healthy for your dog and puts them at risk for the following conditions:
- Weight gain, which can lead to obesity and arthritis.
- 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.
Xylitol (in some gummy candy)
Most gummy candy contains sugar, but if it's sugar-free candy, be extra careful not to let your dog get a hold of it. Some sugar-free candy may contain the sugar substitute Xylitol, which is highly toxic to dogs.
Gummy candy, composed primarily of sugar, should not be fed to your dog because granulated sugar and other sugar forms (other than naturally-derived sugars from foods) may, in the long-term, adversely affect your dog's health.
If your dog accidentally gets a hold of a small amount of gummy candy, it generally won't harm them, but check to make sure the candy doesn't contain the sugar substitute Xylitol. If it does, get your dog to the vet, as Xylitol is very harmful to dogs.
If your dog has a sweet tooth, you can safely treat them to fruits and vegetables like blueberries, apples, and carrots. Just make sure to avoid grapes and raisins, artificial sweeteners, chocolate, onions, and garlic. To be on the safe side when managing your dog's diet, check out our list of everything your dog 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.