If you love decorating for the holidays, the chances are that your house is filled with candy canes during the entire Christmastide festival season. But is it safe to have those peppermint striped sweets close to where your dog can get a hold of them?
Read on to learn why dogs should not eat candy canes and what makes them harmful to the pups.
We also added information about the dangerous ingredients used to make these beloved striped sweets. Also included are the reasons why you should keep them away from your furry friends.
A brief description of candy canes
Candy canes, as their name suggests, are sweets shaped like canes, usually wintergreen or peppermint flavored. These fun-looking candies are especially typical for Christmas celebrations and decorations.
They usually contain sugar but can also have added butter, cream, vanilla icing, or other ingredients.
Candy canes are said to have originated back in the 1670s in Germany. The legend says that the choirmaster at the local Cologne Cathedral made them and handed them out to the choir boys during the services, with the presumption to help keep them content and quiet.
The sweets were designed to resemble the shepherd’s crooks in honor of the Living Crèche ceremonies held at the cathedral.
In any case, they served their purpose and were much appreciated by the children and parents alike, especially with the alternative being giving them a whacking to help quiet the fidgety boys down.
Today, the candy cane is a preferred sweet used for decorating the Christmas tree, mantelpiece, and the rest of the home during the holidays.
According to the statistics, more than 90% of all candy canes made in the USA are sold in the first half of December. Namely, between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Kids and adults enjoy breaking off the end of each candy and licking the delicious syrup from inside the candy canes. This leads to a snow-like effect, making many people happy during the festive season.
Why are canines attracted to candy canes?
Since most pups love sugar and sweet treats and foods, it is only natural that your four-legged companion will steal some of the candy canes from your Christmas decoration if given a chance.
Even if your dog is not particularly fond of sugary treats, it may enjoy playing and chewing on the candy cane just like it would with any chewable dog treat or toy.
Pups love chewing on things. This helps them stay entertained and helps reduce stress, anxiety, and nervousness.
Chewing is also a natural instinct among canines and allows them to clean their gums and teeth and exercise their jaws.
The problem is that unlike the treats and toys designed specifically for dogs, candy canes can be harmful and even dangerous for them.
So, it is essential to keep them and any other sweets and sugary goods safely away from reach by dogs.
Related: Can Dogs Eat Lollipops?
Do dogs always get sick after eating candy canes?
No, most dogs can have some candy cane without any adverse consequences. But sugar is not good for canines, as it can lead to increased blood sugar, diabetes, and obesity, as well as tooth and gum problems.
You should monitor your pup closely if it happens to gobble up some candy canes or other sugary foods. Watch for adverse reactions such as diarrhea, vomiting, and others for peace of mind.
The best way to ensure that your beloved pet is well is to avoid feeding it any sugary treats and keeping the candy canes safely out of its reach. This will make your holidays much more enjoyable and prevent the need to spend them in the veterinary clinic instead of celebrating with family and friends.
Is it safe for pups to eat candy canes?
Keep in mind that some of these hard sweets contain the artificial sweetener Xylitol, which can be poisonous and even fatal for canines.
In any case, they are definitely not the best treats for dogs, especially for older dogs and those overweight or who suffer from diabetes or have other blood sugar problems.
Contact your veterinarian immediately if you are worried about your dog eating candy canes. You can ask for advice and whether you need to take the pup to the vet for a checkup or treatment.
You will be asked about the type and quantity of sweets that your dog consumed, as well as its age, weight, size, and health. You should also be able to inform the vet or toxicologist how long ago the incident happened.
If your veterinarian asks you to get the dog to the clinic, it will most likely get a physical examination and blood work done. Your veterinarian may proceed to give it some activated charcoal to absorb the harmful contents in the stomach or provide other necessary treatment.
So, remember to follow your vet’s instructions closely in case of an incident of this type.
What are the ingredients in candy canes which are dangerous for canines?
As mentioned earlier, most candy canes are not toxic for dogs, except any sweets containing Xylitol, which is known to be poisonous to canines.
Other ingredients that can harm the dog are the sugar or corn syrup used for making these candies.
They can lead to digestive problems such as vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, and stomach ache.
Keep in mind that often, the red stripes of these adorable canes are made from a Red 40 dye extracted from petroleum, which is found to cause certain types of cancer in animals.
The green stripes can contain a dye based on copper chlorophyllin, which is also poisonous to canines.
Some candy canes and other hard candies contain citrus oils giving them fresh lemon or orange flavors. The problem is that pups are sensitive to citrus oils such as Citral (found in lemongrass oil). Ingesting it can cause vomiting and diarrhea in some more sensitive dogs.
Dog parents need to be most cautious about their pups eating any food containing Xylitol. This artificial sweetener is highly toxic for them, and just one teaspoon of it can cause severe liver damage and can even be fatal to some of them.
So, while sugar is not recommended for pups, it is not as dangerous as the products containing this artificial sweetener or other toxic ingredients for canines.