- Not a substitute for professional veterinary help.
Quick, what’s worse for your dog: Hershey’s or Jolly Ranchers? Or is there a difference?
We asked the author of The Ultimate Pet Health Guide, holistic veterinarian Dr. Gary Richter, for his take on Halloween candy and our pets. We know that dogs and candy don’t mix, but some types are more dangerous than others. Even chocolate treats vary in their potential for harming our dogs.
Dr. Richter is a member of Rover’s Dog People panel of experts.
Not a health threat in a small quantity
A small quantity means less than 10 grams. That’s about two teaspoons. Another way to visualize the quantity: one Jolly Rancher is 6 grams.
- Candy corn
- Sour candy
- Blow Pops
- Jolly ranchers
Unsafe in larger quantities
Larger quantity here means greater than 10 grams. Chocolate is harder on small dogs, so your dog’s weight is a factor in chocolate toxicity.
- Almond Joy
- Kit Kat
- Tootsie rolls
- Dark chocolate (medium to large dogs)
- Milky Way
Unsafe in any quantity
- Bubble gum containing Xylitol
- Dark chocolate (for smaller dogs)
- Raisin-containing candy
- Sugar-free treats sweetened with xylitol
What is xylitol?
The artificial sweetener xylitol is highly toxic to dogs and cats. Sugar-free gum and other “low calorie” foods frequently contain xylitol.
Ingestion of xylitol can lead to low blood sugar, seizures, and/or liver failure.
Milk chocolate vs. dark chocolate
Chocolate is bad for dogs because of a compound called theobromine. The darker the chocolate, the more of that compound exists. So generally speaking, dog owners should worry more about darker chocolates such as bittersweet varieties.
However, that doesn’t milk chocolate is ideal for dogs. Dr. Gary explains, “there is very little actual chocolate [in milk chocolate], but a small dog and a large quantity can be an issue. Also, the sugar and fat can lead to GI upset.”
He adds that “the relative level of toxicity is related to the amount ingested, the type of chocolate, and the size of the animal. Smaller animals and larger amounts of chocolate are the most potentially dangerous combination.”
Dr. Gary lays out these symptoms of chocolate toxicity in dogs:
- elevated heart rate
“Chocolate can be fatal in high enough quantities,” he adds, emphasizing that “the most toxic chocolates are the ones with the highest level of cacao.”
What should you do when there’s a Halloween candy emergency?
If chocolate, artificial sweeteners, raisins, or macadamia nuts are ingested by your pet, contact a veterinarian or animal poison control immediately.
Animal poison control: (888) 426-4435
Dr. Gary makes this final point: “remember, symptoms of toxicity may take hours or even days to show up. In many cases, by the time a pet looks sick, it may be too late to treat them successfully.”
So when in doubt, call in help!