Sour Patch Kids: The candy that makes your face scrunch up, eyes water, hair follicles tingle and spine shiver- all at the same time.
And then you reach for another one.
Your dog nudges you gently with his nose. “I’d like one too, best friend” his big, irresistible eyes seem to say.
But can dogs eat Sour Patch Kids?
It’s always hard to find the balance between giving your dog what it wants to eat, and giving it only foods that are good for its health.
The short answer? You shouldn’t give your dog Sour Patch Kids with any regularity.
While it’s true that the treat is non-toxic to canines (with the exception of versions that contain xylitol), the main ingredient of sugar is not something that a canine requires in its diet even in small amounts.
Granted, dogs can eat a little bit of sugar and be completely fine- but it can be very dangerous for a dog to ingest large amounts at once or over time.
Stomach upset, electrolyte imbalances, obesity, and diabetes and are just some of the illnesses that can result from sugar consumption in canines.
How Sugar Affects Dogs
According to their official website, Sour Patch Kids contain sugar, invert sugar, and corn syrup among other ingredients such as corn starch, tartaric acid and citric acid. It all adds up to a whole lot of sweetness (along with that famous kick of sour).
In fact, each serving (16 pieces) of Sour Patch Kids contains a whopping 26 grams of sugar! For something that your dog doesn’t need any amount of, that’s an overload of sucrose, glucose and fructose that it could do without.
When a dog eats sugar, the molecules of the sugar draw hydration away from its cells, leading to a built-up concentration of water in its body.
This buildup can cause an electrolyte imbalance in the dog’s body, especially with sodium, as the dog may prevent a dog from drinking enough. Therefore, while sugar itself isn’t a toxic substance, too much of it can have toxic effects.
Stomach Issues, Cavities, And Weight Gain
Sugar can also create gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea and vomiting due to the disturbance it causes to the microbiomes in the stomach. While these aren’t fatal by any stretch, they can lead to dehydration, and at the very least are supremely uncomfortable for your dog.
Keep in mind that as dog owners, if your pup is feeling miserable and throwing up and pooping all over the place, that’s more misery for us too when it’s time for cleanup.
Sugar can also cause tooth decay and weight gain- both huge (pun intended) issues for canines.
Bacteria in the mouth love sugar, and as they feed on it they produce corrosive acids. These acids then chip away at the coating and enamel of the teeth, leading to cavities and decay. Over 80% of dogs experience dental disease by age 3, and sugar surely doesn’t help in that regard.
Years of continual weight gain can and will eventually result in problems such as metabolic changes, obesity, and diabetes. Once your dog is on the track to these diseases, it can be hard to get off- as each condition feeds into the next.
As your dog’s body composition changes from muscle to fat, it will be less inclined to move and exercise. This lack of exercise only makes it likely to get fatter and fatter, and the fatter it gets the more probable it will become diabetic.
If you give your dog one or two Sour Patch Kids, it’s not a big deal. Your dog should be fine. However, if your dog devours an entire bag of Sour Patches, you will want to call the vet immediately as this much sugar can be toxic.
Typically, when pondering to oneself, “Can dogs eat Sour Patch Kids?”, it’s best to be careful and refrain from giving your dog the treats intentionally. A couple of candies here and there probably won’t hurt, but it’s best to stick to safer, canine-friendly options.
Is The Citric Acid In Sour Patch Kids Harmful To Dogs?
You may be wondering if the ingredients responsible for the famously sour tang of Sour Patch Kids, tartaric acid and citric acid, have any negative effects on dogs.
After all, any sour candy that can have such a visceral effect on human beings could surely be harmful to canines too, right?
You’re half right. Well done!
While tartaric acid has so far not been shown to have any adverse effects on canines, citric acid has been known to cause problems when ingested in large quantities.
According to the ASPCA, the citric acid in the stems, peels, leaves and fruit of citrus plants can cause irritation and central nervous system depression. Even in small amounts, citric acid could cause symptoms of digestive distress.
However, it’s important to remember that while Sour Patch Kids do contain citric acid, it is in very tiny amounts. Citric acid, tartaric acid and artificial flavors and colors make up less than 2% of the total composition of the product.
In such small amounts, the negative effects of citric acid will be non-existent to dogs; at most, it might scrunch up its snout and sneeze as the tartness hits its taste buds. It’s useful to note that even pet foods contain low levels of citric acid, utilized as a natural preservative.
Other Types of Candies Dogs Shouldn’t Eat
While there really aren’t any confectioneries that are suitable for dogs, two types of treats hold the honor of being especially poisonous to dogs:
- Candy containing xylitol
Candy with Xylitol
Xylitol is a chemical sweetener that is frequently found in sugar-free foods such as mints, chewing gum, and “low-sugar” versions of candy.
It will also be found in some variations of medicines, peanut butter, mouthwash, and toothpaste. (That’s why it’s so important to use only doggy-approved toothpaste when cleaning out your dog’s mouth!)
When a dog eats anything with a significant amount of xylitol, the insulin levels inside its body surges. The dramatic increase can result in hypoglycemia, which can be rapidly lethal.
It is absolutely vital that your dog does not ingest anything that contains xylitol. These potentially dangerous foods and products need to be kept far out of paw’s reach, in closed cupboards or on high shelves.
Though you may be tempted to share candy and other treats with your dog, especially if he’s looking at you with those sorrowful eyes, just remember that it could be harmful to it in one way or another- whether there’s sugar or not.
Even tiny amounts of powdered chocolate can be fatal to canines, especially if it is dark and pure.
Chocolate contains a molecule called theobromine, which dogs have tremendous difficulty processing. Chocolate is one food that should be kept away from your dog, without exception.
While chocolate toxicity varies in every case, it can cause restlessness, and seizures in dogs. Other symptoms can include nausea, excessive drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, and a rapid heart rate.
The darker the chocolate, the deadlier it will be- especially to smaller dogs. If your dog accidentally ingests any amount of chocolate, it’s a good idea to consult the vet immediately.
Can Dogs Eat Sour Patch Watermelon?
After getting this far down the article, you should know the answer to this by now: No, dogs cannot eat Sour Patch Watermelon versions of the candy.
In fact, there are over 50 different flavors and colors of Sour Patch candies, and the answer is the same for all of them. Despite the visual and flavor differences, they all contain the exact same ingredients of sugar, (inverted) sugar, and more sugar (in the form of corn syrup).
As such, treat them all the same way, whether it’s Watermelon, Blueberry, Tropical, or Cherry: Don’t give Sour Patch Anything’s to your dog!
Other Foods Dogs Shouldn’t Eat
There are many other human foods that can be harmful to dogs. Here’s a rundown of common types of foods dogs should avoid:
● Coffee or anything with caffeine will have similar effects to chocolate.
● Onions (and onion products), garlic, and chives can lead to gastroenteritis and inflammation of the digestive tract.
● Raw meat is hazardous due to the bacteria that may be present, such as salmonella.
● Grapes and raisins can lead to kidney failure, even in tiny amounts. Avoid foods that contain them such as raisin bread.
● The salt in chips or crackers such as Funyuns and Sunchips can cause health problems such as dehydration and hypernatremia.
It’s generally better to stick with foods that are vet-approved when feeding your dog. Click here to read more about the nine potential feeding mistakes that you can make with your dog.
Food and Candies Dogs Can Enjoy
While you should avoid letting your dog eat sour candy like Sour Patch Kids and Swedish Fish, there are some human foods that are safe for dogs. Just remember that dogs most human foods should only be given in moderation.
Some treats your dog may enjoy include carrots, cooked eggs, bread, fish, plain popcorn, watermelon and peanut butter (as long as it is xylitol-free!).
Just remember, if you still catch yourself wondering whether dogs can eat Sour Patch Kids: while a few are not toxic to dogs, it is best to avoid excess amounts of sugar overall.
How to Train A Dog Not To Eat Forbidden Food
If you want to train your dog not to consume forbidden foods, the first step, above all, is simply not to give it any human foods.
Dogs are not able to determine which foods are safe or not safe, so one of the best ways to to prevent it from eating something harmful is to allow it to eat food only from a certain bowl. You can positively reinforce this behavior and make it a habit through rewards and praise.
You can also train your dog to wait to receive treats in a particular manner. For example, only feed your dog once it is sitting quietly in a certain spot. This will help to reinforce the idea that food should only be eaten in certain situations.
However, you have to remember that your dog is still an animal after all. Even the most well-trained dog may not be able to resist an entire bag of Dentastix or Thin Mints that are open on the countertop.
The safest and most foolproof solution is to keep all foods, especially the dangerous ones, in a location that your dog cannot get to.
What To Do If Your Dog Eats Something Unsafe
In a situation where you see or suspect that your dog ate something unsafe, the first step is always to call the vet for initial advice. The vet will be able to instruct you on what to do next, be it providing first aid or taking it in to the hospital immediately.
If your dog ate something out of a bag or pack, make sure to keep whatever remains of the package so that you can see the ingredients and show it to the vet.
Activated charcoal can be very useful as a first-line option when a dog has eaten certain types of toxins, such as chocolate or pecans. It can make sure that the poison isn’t absorbed into the bloodstream and is instead safely excreted.
You will need to keep a keen eye on your dog for symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, excess salivation, and other unusual behaviors. If you see any of these signs at all, take your dog to the vet right away.
Another one of life’s most enigmatic mysteries, “Can dogs have Sour Patch Kids?”, has been solved.
While a dog can technically consume Sour Patch Kids, the amount of sugar contained within definitely isn’t ideal for their wellbeing.
Dogs really don’t need any granulated sugar in their diets, and an overabundance of it can cause electrolyte imbalances, stomach upset, vomiting and diarrhea.
Long-term consumption of sugar can lead to more dire problems such as metabolic changes, obesity, and diabetes.
Therefore, in the future when your dog is bugging you for a treat, give it some apple slices or peanut butter (no xylitol!) instead. Your dog’s health will thank you for it.
Heather Abraham is a professional blogger who owns two dogs, a cat, a parrot, and a leopard gecko. She has a connection with animals since she was a child. She shares her love for all pet breeds and provides information on pet food, toys, medications, beds, and everything else.
She is committed to learning about the internal workings of animals. Her work permits her to work closely with knowledgeable vets and obtain practical expertise in animal care. When she is not working, her love of animals continues in her writing. Her goal is to educate and uplift readers who also have a passion for animals through her writing.