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So, your dog ate candy? The first thing to do is to figure out what type and quantity of candy your dog ate.

The biggest concern with candy (that isn’t chocolate) is the risk of the ingredient xylitol. Xylitol is a sugar alcohol commonly used as an artificial sweetener that is toxic to pets. This ingredient is often found in sugar-free items, such as sugar-free gum, candy, and baked goods. Dogs are increasingly at risk for potential exposure to xylitol since it has been showing up in more and more products in recent years, even some not labeled as sugar-free. Call your vet or emergency vet immediately if you believe your dog consumed xylitol. 

Why is Eating Candy Dangerous For Dogs?

When a dog is exposed to Xylitol, it damages the dog’s liver, and clinical signs of “intoxication” (poisoning) can develop in as little as 30 minutes to an hour. Ingestion causes a massive insulin release. The blood-sugar drop (hypoglycemia) that results can cause weakness, stumbling, collapse, and even seizures. After this stage, signs of liver disease develop.

If detected early enough—within two hours—affected dogs can be made to vomit. If full-blown symptoms of hypoglycemia appear, your dog must be treated by a veterinarian until the animal’s blood glucose is back to normal.

For many small breeds, xylitol poisoning can be fatal without early veterinary intervention. There is no known antidote for xylitol intoxication. The only therapy is supportive. Your veterinarian’s treatment goals will likely include the correction of hypoglycemia and the prevention of developing acute liver failure.

Hard candy can also cause harm to dogs. Large quantities of hard candies and gum can clump up in their stomach and cause a risk of stomach obstruction.

In addition to the risk of candy, the wrappers can also be an issue. Wrappers can become lodged in your dog’s throat or intestinal tract, requiring surgery to remove them. Foil or cellophane wrappers also have the potential to result in gastrointestinal irritation.

Beagle rummaging through a kitchen drawer.
igorr1/Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

How Can I Protect My Dog?

Dogs certainly have a sweet tooth, and some will even ravenously go for any sweets they can find. It’s important to dog-proof your house and ensure that dogs cannot get into potentially harmful things like xylitol-containing gum and candy. Also be sure to tell any guests who may have these products to keep them out of your dog’s reach when visiting your home.

This article originally appeared in the award-winning AKC Family Dog magazine. Subscribe today!

This article is intended solely as general guidance, and does not constitute health or other professional advice. Individual situations and applicable laws vary by jurisdiction, and you are encouraged to obtain appropriate advice from qualified professionals in the applicable jurisdictions. We make no representations or warranties concerning any course of action taken by any person following or otherwise using the information offered or provided in this article, including any such information associated with and provided in connection with third-party products, and we will not be liable for any direct, indirect, consequential, special, exemplary or other damages that may result, including but not limited to economic loss, injury, illness or death.

Related article: What to Do if Your Dog Eats Chocolate
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