Can Dogs Eat Starburst?

By Britt Kascjak

Is Starburst your favorite candy and you want to share it with your dog? Has your dog recently stolen a Starburst and you’re concerned about if it is going to make him sick?

The good news is that standard Starburst candies are not toxic to your dog.

In small quantities, he can eat a Starburst candy without any long-term problems. But, too much sugar can make any dog feel ill.

You shouldn’t actively feed your dog Starburst. But, if he steals a traditional starburst, he is likely going to be okay.

What Kind of Candy is Starburst?

Original Starburst candies are taffy-like candies with fruit flavors. The flavors include strawberry, cherry, orange, and lemon.

As the company grew, more flavors were introduced including a tropical collection. They also made gummy-style candies and sour candies.

Like the original candies, these variations include high sugar content that could make your dog feel ill.

The one Starburst product that is toxic to dogs is the Starburst Gum. This should be stored somewhere secure where your dog cannot get to it.

Is There Xylitol in Starburst?

The only product in the Starburst line of gum and candies that contain xylitol is the gum.

Xylitol is a natural sugar substitute that is often used in gum and sugar-free candy products. It is preferred to sugar in many situations because it contains 40% fewer calories than regular table sugar.

While xylitol is safe for humans, it is toxic and potentially fatal for our canine companions.

Xylitol Poisoning in Dogs

When a dog eats a product containing xylitol, it is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream. This trigger a sudden release of insulin from your dog’s pancreas.

Human bodies don’t register and respond to xylitol in the bloodstream.

But for dogs, this isn’t the case. As the xylitol enters your dog’s bloodstream the body will sense high blood sugar levels and release a potent amount of insulin from the pancreas.

This causes the dog’s blood sugar level to rapidly drop. This triggers a condition called hypoglycemia which can be life-threatening.

The warning signs of xylitol poisoning in dogs include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness or collapse
  • Staggering
  • Loss of coordination
  • Seizures

Due to the serious nature of xylitol poisoning, immediate medical care is needed. Dogs are often hospitalized for monitoring and supportive care.

Do you suspect your dog has eaten Starburst gum or another product containing xylitol? If so, take him to the nearest emergency vet clinic immediately.

What Happens if a Dog Eats Starburst?

If your dog has eaten a Starburst product that does not contain xylitol, like original Starburst chews, he is likely going to be okay.

While these products are not considered toxic, they can make your dog feel ill.

You will want to watch him closely for the first 24 to 48 hours for signs of serious illness. But, in most cases, he will be dealing with nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Vomiting and diarrhea increase the chance of dehydration in dogs. To combat this, make sure that he has ongoing access to plenty of cool, fresh water.

If at any time you are concerned that there may be something seriously wrong, call your veterinarian.

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Britt Kascjak
Britt Kascjak has been active in the animal rescue community for over 15 years, volunteering, fostering, and advocating for organizations across Canada and the US. Her ‘pack’ includes her husband John, their 3 dogs – Daviana, Indiana, and Lucifer – and their 2 cats – Pippen and Jinx.