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Can Dogs Eat Gummy Bears?

Dog with gummy bears
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These days, our dogs are often considered part of our immediate family. We love them and cherish them like our own children! So it’s understandable that we are tempted to share our favorite experiences with them. 

So what if your favorite treat is gummy bears or other gummy candy? Can dogs eat gummy bears? 

Let’s discuss if our canine companions can eat this sugary treat or other gummy candies. We’ll also dive into potential dangers of feeding gummies to dogs and what to do if your dog gets into a bag of gummy bears. 

Can Dogs Eat Gummy Bears?

While gummy bears and gummy candies are a delicious treat for humans, they are not intended for canine consumption, and should never be shared with our dogs—even if those puppy eyes start to wear you down.

Regular gummy bears and candies are formulated with a large amount of sugar. While sugar is not directly toxic to dogs and unlikely to be life threatening if ingested, it can cause a slew of problems if eaten frequently or in large amounts. Therefore, think twice before feeding your dogs any gummy bears, gummy candies of any kind, and even fruit snacks. 

Much more concerning are the sugar-free variety of gummy candies. These gummies are artificially sweetened with an ingredient called xylitol, which is extremely toxic and life-threatening when consumed by dogs. It’s an emergency if your dog eats anything that contains Xylitol, such as sugar-free gummy bears, sugar-free chewing gum, or any other sugar-free treats. 

Why Are Gummy Bears Bad for Dogs?

gummy bears

As mentioned earlier, one of the main ingredients in gummy bears and gummy candies is sugar. Sugar isn’t harmful to our dogs in small quantities, so if your dog eats one or two gummies every once and a while, it isn’t necessarily a cause for concern. However, in small dogs or puppies, it’s more likely to cause an upset stomach or gastroenteritis

Dogs with gastroenteritis can experience nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, which is never fun for them or those of us who have to clean up the mess. In some cases, dogs can experience such severe gastrointestinal upset from sugar ingestion, that they can become significantly dehydrated and require hospitalization for supportive care. 

Regularly sharing sugary treats such as gummy bears with our dogs can also cause them to gain weight. Obesity in dogs is linked to numerous health concerns such as osteoarthritis, diabetes mellitus, infections, and more. 

Since most of our dogs don’t brush their teeth after consuming sugary treats, feeding them gummy bears or other gummy candy can also predispose them to dental disease

Some dogs are particularly interested in sharing treats with us, and might not differentiate between the candy and the wrapper it came in. If your dog ingests the wrapper or packaging on gummy bears, they could choke or it could become lodged in their stomach or small intestine, resulting in a gastrointestinal obstruction—a life threatening situation. 

The greatest danger lies in the sugar free gummy bears or other sugar free candy that contains xylitol, an artificial sweetener. Xylitol is found in sugar-free gummy bears, sugar-free chewing gum, jelly beans, fruit snacks, breath mints, chewable vitamin gummies, protein bars, peanut butter, mouth wash, toothpaste, medications, and more.

When a dog consumes xylitol, it causes a sudden release of insulin in their body. This insulin causes all their blood glucose (or blood sugar) to shift into their cells, causing their blood sugar levels to plummet dangerously. Without enough sugar circulating in the bloodstream, a condition called hypoglycemia, your dog’s body cannot function properly. Dogs will often vomit, become lethargic, lose coordination, tremor, collapse, have seizures, or even die if blood sugar drops low enough.

Xylitol also causes liver damage. Usually the damage is transient and heals with time and medications, but dogs who ingest enough xylitol will experience liver failure, which is a fatal condition.

As recreational marijuana use becomes legal and more acceptable, veterinarians are seeing an increase in cases of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) toxicity in dogs. In many cases, these dogs consumed “edibles” in gummy form. While it is unlikely to be fatal if your dog consumes an edible, it can have serious, dangerous side effects. These include vomiting, incoordination, tremors, hypothermia, disorientation, hypersalivation, hyperexcitability, inappropriate vocalization, and more.

What To Do if Your Dog Eats Gummy Bears

gummy bears on pink background

If your dog eats gummy bears, first and foremost, don’t panic. Start by checking the label for any toxic ingredients, such as xylitol. If the gummy does not include xylitol and your dog only ate one or two gummies or candies, you’re probably in the clear. Monitor them for any signs of gastrointestinal upset such as vomiting or diarrhea. If those develop, take them to a veterinarian.

However, if your dog ate a whole bag of gummies and/or parts of the packaging, especially if they are a small dog, they should probably be taken to a veterinary clinic immediately. A veterinarian can give them an injection to make them vomit, which can prevent them from developing serious gastroenteritis or a gastrointestinal obstruction. 

Medical attention is likely necessary if your dog ate a gummy or other candy containing xylitol. If your dog is acting normally without any signs of illness, you can call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) at 888-426-4435. This hotline will help you decide if any treatment is needed for your dog based on how much they ate. Alternatively, you can call your veterinary team or take your dog to the nearest emergency clinic to be safe.

If your dog is showing any signs of illness, take them to a veterinarian immediately. It can help if you call the veterinary clinic or hospital to let them know you’re on the way. Don’t forget to bring any product packaging with you and tell the veterinary staff that your dog ate xylitol. It’s also helpful to note the approximate time your dog ate the toxic substance. 

How To Prevent Your Dog From Eating Gummy Bears

Dog in kitchen with head on table

The best way to prevent your dog from eating gummy bears, gummy candy, or any candy in general is to keep them safely out of reach. 

These treats should be stored inside cabinets or cupboards that our dogs cannot open. Do not leave gummy bears, gummy candy, or any other candy within reach, even for a minute, as it only takes a second for our dogs to scarf down something potentially toxic or harmful to them. Furthermore, do not leave them on the counter or any other exposed surface like a dining table, as our athletic canine friends can find their way up if tempted. 

Dogs are masters at rifling through backpacks and purses, even when they are zipped, so keep your bags and your children’s bags out of reach if they contain anything your pet might be tempted to eat. 

If you are tempted to include your dog in indulging your sweet tooth, consider feeding them something specifically formulated for dogs to avoid any negative side effects. 

A few recommendations for sweet treats for dogs include Muttropolis Blueberry Munchers Dog Treats, Ava’s Pet Palace Gone Bananas Dog Treats, and The Anxious Pet Relax & Roll Peanut Butter Soft Chews.

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