Can Dogs Eat Candy? What To Know About Dogs and Sugar

Three Minutes
Sep 25, 2023

Understandably, major holidays can be a stressful time for pet parents, particularly with so much candy coming in and out of the house on Halloween, Christmas, Easter, and Valentine’s Day. But can dogs eat candy? The short answer is no! Most candy is toxic to dogs and can cause symptoms that range from an upset stomach to death. Candy and candy wrappers are also choking hazards for your pup.

Let’s dive into which candies are particularly bad for dogs and what you can do if your dog eats them.

Dangerous Candy for Dogs, Ranked

It’s a good idea to keep your furry friend away from candy altogether. But what happens if it’s the day after Halloween and the streets are littered with dropped candy from trick-or-treaters? Or if Santa wasn’t the only one searching for a sweet treat on Christmas Eve? Dogs have a knack for getting into things, so it’s good to know that some candies aren’t as harmful as others.

Let’s review the least to most dangerous candies for your dog.1

Least dangerous

These candies aren’t a threat in small amounts, which means less than 10 grams.1

  • Candy corn
  • Starburst
  • Sour candies, including Lemonheads
  • Skittles
  • Smarties
  • Jolly Ranchers
  • Blow Pops

Moderately dangerous

These candies aren’t safe in amounts of more than 10 grams.1

  • Candy bars like Almond Joy, Snickers, Milky Way, Kit Kat, Twix, and Butterfinger
  • Reese’s
  • M&Ms
  • Tootsie Rolls
  • Dark chocolate (for mid- to large-size dogs)

Dogs should not eat chocolate in general, but it can negatively impact smaller dogs more. Something that is “moderately dangerous” for one dog might be highly dangerous for another, so it’s important to call your vet if you suspect your dog ate chocolate.

Most dangerous

These candies should be avoided at all costs because they're highly toxic to dogs.

  • Sugar-free candy sweetened with xylitol
  • Gum with xylitol
  • Dark chocolate (especially for small dogs)
  • Gummies
  • Candy that contains raisins, including Raisinets

Does Your Dog Eat Things They Shouldn’t?

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What Candy Ingredients Are Toxic to Dogs?

What exactly makes candy so toxic for dogs? There are a few specific ingredients found in many types of candies that pose serious health risks to your pup. Watch out for these four ingredients.


Caffeine is found in chocolate and some other candies. This chemical compound is dangerous to dogs and can cause severe damage to their organs. As a stimulant, caffeine raises blood pressure and can trigger cardiac arrhythmias, as well as seizures, tremors, and weakness. It also affects a dog’s liver and kidneys and may cause vomiting and diarrhea.2

While one lick of a caffeinated candy likely won’t hurt your pup, if you think your dog has ingested much more than that, you should definitely get them checked by a veterinarian. Symptoms of caffeine toxicity can start 30 minutes after caffeine ingestion.


Chocolate contains theobromine, a chemical that’s toxic to dogs. Theobromine toxicity has similar symptoms as caffeine toxicity in dogs. It can cause vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, tremors, seizures, and heart arrhythmia.

The level of toxicity depends on the size of your dog, the amount of chocolate they consumed, and what type of chocolate it is. Darker chocolate contains significantly more theobromine and is more toxic than milk chocolate.

Symptoms of chocolate toxicity may take up to 12 hours to appear. However, getting your dog treated as soon as possible is essential.


Xylitol is an artificial sweetener that’s highly toxic to dogs. It can be found in sugar-free candy, gum, or foods like peanut butter. Xylitol causes a dog’s blood sugar to drop suddenly. Low blood sugar can cause weakness, vomiting, hypoglycemia, acute liver failure, or even death.

Xylitol, even in tiny doses, can make your pup sick. However, symptoms of xylitol poisoning may take up to 24 hours to appear. If you think your pup consumed something with xylitol, don’t wait for symptoms to appear before getting them treatment.


Grapes and raisins are toxic to dogs. While there are still studies and theories pending, we’ve yet to discover what exactly is in grapes that’s poisonous to dogs. What we do know is that even the tiniest amount of grapes or a grape product (think chocolate-covered raisins) could cause acute kidney failure.

Watch out for vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, dehydration, and seizures if you suspect your dog has eaten a grape. These symptoms usually appear within 24 hours, but don’t wait for signs of toxicity to appear. Get your dog checked if you suspect that they’ve swallowed a grape or grape product.

Can Dogs Have Sugar?

While dogs can have small amounts of sugar, they shouldn’t eat it often. The occasional pup cone from your local ice cream shop should be OK as long as you don’t make it a habit.

In the short term, sugar can mess with your dog’s digestive system. It can give them indigestion, vomiting, and diarrhea. Long-term sugar consumption can cause cavities and weight gain while putting your dog at risk for diabetes.3

What Should I Do If My Dog Ate Candy?

Your dog ate candy. What now? The first thing is to figure out what your dog ate. Was it one piece of chocolate, a whole pack of gum, or the entire jar of mixed candies?

Call the animal hospital, your vet’s office, or animal poison control and explain the situation. Let them know what your dog ingested and ask for the next steps. Even if the candy didn’t contain any particularly toxic ingredients, the sugar in it may lead to pancreatitis.4

Depending on what your dog consumed and their weight, your vet may tell you to do a few things:

  • Induce vomiting
  • Withhold food for 24 hours
  • Encourage your dog to drink water
  • Bring your dog in for treatment

How Can Dog Insurance Help With Candy Poisoning?

Candy poisoning in dogs can cause organ damage and a host of other health concerns. Your dog may need emergency care or long-term treatment, depending on what they consumed.

These treatments can be expensive and cause pet parents even more stress. Dog insurance can help cover the costs of testing, treatment, and medication. This lets pet owners focus on their dog’s health.

Take Olive, for example. She was just a pup when she got into some candy that contained both chocolate and raisins, which are two highly toxic ingredients for dogs. Her family was reimbursed $2,000 of the $3,000 claim, thanks to their MetLife Pet Insurance policy.5

Accidents happen, so be prepared with a MetLife Pet Insurance plan. Get a quote today.

Protect Your Dog


 Dr. Hunter Finn

Dr. Hunter Finn is an integrative veterinary expert first, and social media star second. America’s favorite veterinarian owns Pet Method in McKinney, Texas, where he cares for pets while prioritizing their emotional well-being. When he’s not at his clinic, he’s starring in viral videos on TikTok (2 million followers) and Instagram (500K followers) — where he’s been known to snuggle puppies and conquer the latest dance trends.

**As with any insurance policy, coverage may vary. Review our coverage and exclusions.

1 “The Most and Least Dangerous Halloween Candies for Dogs,” Rover

2 “Caffeine Toxicity in Pets,” VCA Animal Hospitals

3 “Can My Dog Eat Sugar?,” Rover

4 “What to Do If Your Dog Eats Halloween Candy,” East Valley Animal Hospital

5 All claims paid amounts are based on MetLife internal claims data from October 2022. Story altered for illustrative purposes.

Coverage issued by Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, and Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 11333 N Scottsdale Rd, Ste 160, Scottsdale, AZ 85454. Coverage subject to restrictions, exclusions and limitations and application is subject to underwriting. See policy or contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC (“MetLife Pet”) for details. MetLife Pet is the policy administrator. It may operate under an alternate or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota) and MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois).

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