A dog with a concerned expression looking at candy canes, indicating it's toxic for dogs.

Can Dogs Eat Candy Canes?

No, dogs should not eat candy canes. Candy canes often contain xylitol, a sugar substitute toxic to dogs. Even if they don’t have xylitol, the sugar content and potential for choking on hard candy make them a dangerous treat.

A photo of Stefan Stumpfl, the co-author of this article.

By Stefan Stumpfl, in collaboration with Dr. Ali Raza.

Updated on Jul 1, 2024

Did You Know?

Candy canes often contain xylitol, a sweetener that is extremely toxic to dogs and can cause hypoglycemia and liver failure.

Candy Canes



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Feeding Frequency


Allergic Risk


Why Are Candy Canes Bad for Dogs?

Candy canes pose multiple health risks for dogs. Xylitol, often found in these candies, can cause rapid insulin release, leading to hypoglycemia and liver failure. The high sugar content can result in obesity and dental issues, and the hard texture can cause choking or digestive blockages.

How Many Candy Canes Can Dogs Eat?

Ideally, dogs should eat no candy canes at all. Even a small amount of xylitol can be life-threatening, and the sugars and additives can harm their health. If your dog accidentally eats a candy cane, monitor them closely and consult your vet immediately.

Common Misconceptions

Some pet owners believe that because candy canes are festive and sweet, they’re harmless in small amounts. This is false! Even small quantities of xylitol can be toxic, and high sugar can lead to long-term health problems.

Similar Toxic Products

  • Sugar-Free Gum: Often contains xylitol, leading to rapid hypoglycemia.
  • Chocolate Candies: Chocolate is toxic to dogs and can cause serious health issues.
  • Hard Candies: Any kind of hard candy can be a choking hazard and may contain harmful sweeteners.

What to Do If Your Dog Eats Candy Canes?

If your dog ingests a candy cane, do not induce vomiting unless directed by your vet. Contact your veterinarian immediately for advice. Time is crucial in such cases for effective treatment.

Signs and Symptoms of Candy Cane Poisoning in Dogs?

Watch out for:

  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of Coordination
  • Seizures

How Long After Eating Candy Canes Will a Dog Get Sick?

Symptoms can appear within 30 minutes to a few hours after ingestion.

When to Contact Your Vet for Advice?

Contact your vet immediately if you suspect or know your dog has eaten candy canes, especially if they show symptoms.

How to Treat Candy Cane Poisoning in Dogs?

Veterinary treatment typically includes induced vomiting, activated charcoal to absorb toxins, and intravenous fluids to stabilize blood sugar levels. Hospitalization may be required for close monitoring.

Treatment can be costly, with prices ranging from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. Having pet insurance can significantly offset these costs, ensuring your furry friend gets the best care without financial strain.

What Are Healthy Alternatives?

Instead of candy canes, consider:

  • Frozen Carrot Sticks: Great for dental health and low in calories.
  • Apple Slices: Sweet and nutritious, just avoid the seeds!
  • Peanut Butter: Opt for xylitol-free peanut butter for a delicious, safe treat.


Candy canes are not safe for dogs due to the presence of xylitol and high sugar content. Always err on the side of caution and consult your vet if you're unsure about any food. Keep your furry friend safe with healthier treat alternatives and make sure to seek professional advice for any dietary concerns.