Can Dogs Eat Candy Canes & Peppermint Candy?

by Hannah Roundy

Two candy canes in a mug of hot cocoa

Although these classic holiday treats are delicious to humans, candy canes aren’t the best snacking choice for dogs.

Can dogs eat candy canes? 

It’s the most delicious time of the year! For humans, the holidays mean Thanksgiving feasts, hot cocoa, sugar cookies, and peppermint-flavored everything. Most pet parents know which foods their pup should avoid. But can dogs eat candy canes?

Sadly, your pup will have to sit out on this holiday treat. There are simply more risks than benefits with candy canes, so it’s not safe for dogs to eat them. 

The Dangers of Candy Canes for Dogs


Xylitol is an ingredient found in sugar-free candy canes. It’s poisonous to dogs and can have deadly consequences. Most sugar-free candy is made with xylitol, so it’s important to keep any sweets away from your dog. That makes holidays like Halloween and Christmas all the more terrifying for our pups. 

When dogs eat anything containing xylitol, it can cause liver damage or dangerously low blood sugar. In turn, this can cause your dog to have seizures, tremors, or general loss of motor control. Take your pup to the vet immediately if you suspect they’ve consumed xylitol. 

Added Flavors

It’s easy to find different flavors of candy canes these days. Aside from the classic peppermint, there are butterscotch, jelly bean, and fruit-flavored candy canes. Chocolate candy canes are very popular but do your best to keep them out of reach from your pup. As most pet parents know, chocolate is very toxic to dogs and can cause vomiting, seizures, nervousness, and diarrhea. 

Choking Hazards

Beyond the risk of xylitol and added flavors, the texture of candy canes isn’t ideal for dogs to eat. Hard peppermint candy is brittle and can easily break apart into sharp shards that can hurt your dog’s intestines or throat. These pieces can also get stuck in your dog’s esophagus and cause them to choke.

It’s crucial to keep candy canes out of reach from dogs because they can also choke on the wrappers. Even if they swallow the wrapper easily, the plastic may block their intestines and cause more severe digestive problems. So for safety reasons it's better to not hang these tasty human treats on the tree or used as decoration throughout your home.

Can dogs eat peppermint candy? 

Candy canes are definitely off the table for pups. But can dogs eat peppermint candy in other forms? 

For dogs, the same warnings about candy canes also apply to peppermint candy. If the candy is sugar-free, there’s a risk your dog can suffer from xylitol poisoning. Most peppermint candy is also hard and can cause digestive upset or choking. 

Outside of toothpaste or dental treats, peppermint isn’t the best thing for dogs. Peppermint essential oil is extremely toxic to dogs and can trigger symptoms like watery eyes, skin redness, excessive itching, or general skin irritation. Mint leaves aren’t unsafe for dogs, but eating an excessive amount of them can cause vomiting and diarrhea. 

What should I do if my dog eats peppermint candy or candy canes?

As all dog parents know, our pups can be sneaky and steal food off the kitchen table. They don’t always realize when food is bad for them and sometimes it’s too late to stop them. 

Dogs are at risk of xylitol poisoning when they eat sugar-free candy canes or peppermint candy. Even a small amount of xylitol can have severe consequences. Vomiting, seizure, collapse, and lethargy are just a few of the symptoms of xylitol poisoning in dogs. 

Call your veterinarian if you suspect your dog may have eaten peppermint candy. They’ll let you know if you need to bring your pup in or take them to an emergency vet. You can also call the Pet Poison Helpline at 1-855-764-7661. They answer calls 24/7 to make sure your dog is happy and healthy during the holiday season. 

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