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Can Dogs Eat Airheads? Vet-Reviewed Health Concerns

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By Kerry-Ann Kerr

Airheads candy bars assorted flavors packets on white background

Vet approved

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Amanda Charles

Veterinarian, BVSc GPCert (Derm) MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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As you approach Halloween and start to get your costumes and treats ready, you might be wondering what is and is not safe to share with your dog. One common Halloween candy you’re likely to see around a lot during this time of year is Airheads, as many children and adults enjoy these chewy treats. Dogs can eat Airheads without any serious side effects but should not, as the sugar in these candies is not good for their health, especially if consumed frequently.

Although dogs can get away with eating a few regular Airheads without any serious symptoms, there are variations of the candy that contain xylitol, such as the Airheads gum. If a dog eats any candy containing even a small amount of xylitol, it can be life-threatening.

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What Are Airheads?

Airheads are a very popular taffy that is available in 16 different flavors, excluding their special edition flavors. You can get them in normal and mini sizes. Regular Airheads are sold nationwide, as well as a few variations of the product such as Airheads Bites, Airheads Soft Filled Bites, Airheads Gummies, Airheads Filled Ropes, and Airheads Gum. Several of these options are also available as Airheads Xtremes.

Airheads candy bars assorted flavors package on white background
Photo Credit: SiljeAO, Shutterstock

What Will Happen If My Dog Eats Airheads?

The good news is that Airheads candies aren’t toxic to dogs, and if they eat a few, they should be fine. They may suffer from a few uncomfortable symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea though. However, this doesn’t mean that you should give your dog Airheads, even on Halloween, because any form of sugar is not good for them.

Your dog probably does have a bit of a sweet tooth because, just like people, they can taste sweet things. This is why they might sneak off with a packet of Airheads when you’re not looking. However, if you want to indulge them with an occasional sweet treat, a small piece of fruit, such as apple, is a better option.

Too much sugar can be detrimental to your dog. It can lead to gastrointestinal upset and regularly consuming excess calories will cause weight gain and eventual obesity.

Obesity in dogs is very common, and the result is a shorter lifespan and a higher risk of developing serious health problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and joint issues.

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What Will Happen If My Dog Eats Airheads Gum?

The results of your dog eating Airheads gum is a lot more severe and instantaneous because this product contains xylitol. Xylitol is a sugar substitute that is incredibly toxic to dogs, and consuming even a small amount can be fatal to dogs. If your dog has eaten even one Airheads gum, you need to take them to the pet emergency hospital immediately because xylitol can cause a massive blood sugar drop in your dog within the first hour of ingesting it.

vet examining a dog in the clinic
Photo Credit: ARVD73, Shutterstock

How Will I Know If My Dog Has Xylitol Poisoning?

Even if your dog is showing no signs, but you know or even suspect they have ingested a xylitol containing product, it’s essential to act fast and take them to your vet straight away.  The earlier your dog is treated, the better the outcome. Dogs with xylitol poisoning can experience vomiting, weakness, lethargy, inability to walk, and tremors. Bad cases can lead to seizures, liver failure, coma, and death.

The good news is that when treated early, your dog has a good prognosis. A dog has the best chance of recovering from xylitol poisoning if they are treated before they develop any signs, so it is essential to act quickly. Veterinary treatment may include inducing a dog to vomit, and administering intravenous fluids, as well as a variety of medications. Your dog may also need to be hospitalized and monitored until they are stable enough to go home.

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How to Prevent Your Dog from Eating Airheads

You’ll need to make an active effort to stop your dog from getting into your candy, especially if they have a sweet tooth. You can do this by keeping your candy on a shelf that your dog cannot reach, in a closed cupboard, or a tightly sealed container.

Mixed strawberry and blueberry candy sweets in an open jar on wooden table
Image Credit: Dentjes, Shutterstock

Other Ingredients That Are Toxic to Dogs

Other than xylitol, there are a few other ingredients commonly found in candy that your dog should never consume. These ingredients are chocolate, raisins, and macadamia nuts. As delicious as these are to humans, they are toxic to dogs, and if consumed, they can make your dog very sick.

If your dog ate a small amount of chocolate, they may have no signs, but if they ingested more theobromine (the toxic component) than their body could handle, they could experience vomiting, diarrhea, shaking, seizures, and an increased heart rate.

Raisins are toxic to dogs and can cause renal failure. Even a very small amount of raisins ( or grapes) can cause problems for some dogs. There is no clear link between toxicity and the amount eaten. Macadamia nuts can be a choking hazard, but more alarmingly, they are also toxic to dogs, most commonly causing muscle weakness, vomiting and diarrhea.

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Conclusion

Although dogs can eat a few Airheads without serious side effects, they shouldn’t. Too much sugar can lead to gastrointestinal upset, and if fed regularly the empty calories can contribute to weight gain and related health conditions. However, if your dog eats the Airheads gum, which contains xylitol, they need to be seen by a veterinarian immediately because xylitol is toxic to dogs and can be life-threatening.

Other ingredients commonly found in candy that are toxic to dogs are chocolate, raisins, and macadamia nuts. It’s important to keep all candy away from your dog by storing it in a place they cannot access or reach.


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