Candy canes are a classic holiday treat. They're sugary, they're sweet, and they're just plain fun.
While you may love to eat them, you wonder: can you give them to your pup?
Before feeding your dog one of these goodies this Christmas season—or even letting him have a lick— take a moment to learn whether or not they're actually good for your dog.
Where do candy canes come from?
Candy canes are the number one selling non-chocolate candy in December, according to History.com and the National Confectioners Association. Annually, the United States produces 1.76 billion candy canes. People purchase candy canes not only to eat them, but also to decorate their Christmas trees with them.
While the exact origins of the candy cane are unknown, there is a theory that they originated in Germany in the 1670s and were given out to choirboys to keep them quiet during something called the Living Creche ceremony (similar to a Nativity Scene).
The candy was imported to the U.S. starting in 1847. Candy canes use to come in one color, white, and became red and white once they started being mass-produced.
Can dogs eat candy canes?
No, dogs cannot eat candy canes. Overall, they are unhealthy for dogs not only because of what's in them, but because of how sharp they are as well.
What are the concerns with feeding candy canes to dogs?
There are many concerns with feeding candy canes to dogs. It is not a good idea to let your dog lick or eat a candy cane at any time.
They can contain Xylitol
Xylitol can be found in sugar-free candy canes. According to Wide Open Pets, a dog could die after eating xylitol. If you suspect your dog has eaten a candy cane with xylitol in it, you'll have to take him to the vet right away. Signs of xylitol poisoning include vomiting, racing heart rate, diarrhea, bruising, seizures, weakness, and lethargy.
They contain peppermint
Candy canes are made with peppermint, which is also toxic to dogs. It can cause diarrhea as well as vomiting when it's ingested in large amounts.
They can contain chocolate
Some candy canes are made of chocolate, which is, of course, toxic to dogs. Chocolate is made of caffeine and theobromine, which can take a toll on your dog's internal organs and brain functions. Chocolate poisoning can lead to seizures, vomiting, increased blood pressure and heart rate, and restlessness.
Candy canes are sharp, and sharp objects can cause tears or punctures in your dog's digestive tract as it passes through his body.
They contain sugar
Candy canes are full of sugar, which is not healthy for a dog. According to Healthy Paws, you should avoid feeding your dog this type of sugar and only feed him certain fruits so that he gets the natural sugar he needs. Dogs that eat too much sugar can gain weight, get cavities, and be diagnosed with diabetes. Some signs that your dog has eaten too much sugar include bloodshot eyes, weight gain, a urinary tract or kidney infection, and agitation.
No, dogs cannot eat candy canes for a variety of reasons. Only humans should eat them. During the holiday season, you can always buy your pup a dog treat that looks like a candy cane or another festive object so that he can get in on the fun, too. If your dog accidentally eats a candy cane, call the vet immediately and monitor him for any health issues. Take him to the veterinarian immediately if something seems wrong.
For more information on everything your dog can and cannot eat, make sure you check out Cuteness' helpful guide.
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.