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Can Dogs Eat Smarties? The Surprising Answer!

Beth Crane

By Beth Crane

Can Dogs Eat Smarties

Vet approved

Dr. Lauren Demos  Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lauren Demos

DVM (Veterinarian)

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

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Smarties are candies that can be purchased in the US, the UK, and Canada. However, they’re very different in each country! For example, the Smarties found in the US are tablet-like candies that are safe (but not healthy) for dogs to eat. On the other hand, the Smarties found in the UK and Canada are made of chocolate, which is very toxic to dogs! This article will look at each type of Smartie and discuss which are safe or unsafe for dogs to eat.

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What Are Smarties?

The Smarties in the United States are primarily made from dextrose (a sugar made from corn or wheat) and are not harmful to dogs in small amounts. However, the Smarties in the UK and Canada are chocolate beans coated in a sugar shell, which dogs should never eat since chocolate is very toxic.1

Both types are full of sugar, and they come in a roll or a tube. Examining the ingredients in each Smartie can help us understand how healthy they are for dogs.

glass full of colorful and sweet smarties
Photo Credit: iva, Shutterstock

What Are US Smarties Made Of?

Smarties in the US have a few ingredients that could cause problems in dogs, but they’re generally safe if eaten in small amounts.

US Smarties contain:
  • Dextrose: Dextrose is a sugar made from wheat or corn used like glucose in the body. Dextrose isn’t healthy for dogs but won’t cause harm if eaten in small amounts occasionally. However, if dogs have diabetes or eat lots of dextrose, it can cause problems.
  • Citric Acid: Citric acid is a stabilizing agent in foods and is usually only present in tiny amounts. Again, it won’t cause your dog any harm if they consume small amounts of citric acid, but too much can cause stomach upset. It’s doubtful that a tube of Smarties will contain enough citric acid to harm your dog, but large quantities of it can cause central nervous system depression.
  • Calcium Stearate: Calcium Stearate is used as an emulsifier and stabilizer and won’t cause your dog any problems.

US Smarties contain the equivalent of 6.9 grams of sugar per roll, which is another reason they’re not a healthy treat!

What Are Canadian and UK Smarties Made of?

Smarties in the UK and Canada are mostly made of chocolate, which is highly toxic to dogs.2 They shouldn’t be given to dogs in any amount, and if your dog eats some, you should take them to the veterinarian as soon as possible.

UK and Canadian Smarties contain:
  • Milk Chocolate: Chocolate contains theobromine, which is a component that is toxic to dogs. While milk chocolate is less dangerous than dark chocolate (as it has less theobromine), it’s still harmful and can make dogs very ill (or even kill them).
  • Sugar: Smarties in the UK and Canada are coated in a thin, crispy sugar shell that’s colored and flavored. Sugar isn’t toxic to dogs, but it isn’t healthy for them in any amount. Similar to dextrose, sugar can cause tooth decay and dental problems for dogs and lead to obesity and diabetes.
  • Lecithins: Lecithins are emulsifying ingredients used in many recipes commonly derived from Sunflowers or Soy. Sunflower lecithins may even be used as a supplement to boost brain power!

Smarties distributed in the United Kingdom and Canada contain 10.7 grams of sugar per tube, which is not a healthy treat for humans or dogs.

pure white shih tzu dog on couch looking sad
Image Credit: Lindsay Helms, Shutterstock

Are Smarties Healthy for Dogs?

Unfortunately, both versions of Smarties are unhealthy for dogs. Any candy isn’t healthy since it often contains high amounts of sugar and calories, but Smarties in the UK and Canada are toxic to canines. The US Smarties are usually safe for dogs to eat if they only consume a small amount (less than a roll), but they don’t provide any nutritional value at all and can cause health problems if eaten in excess.

Excess dextrose can cause the same problems that excess sugar can (it’s essentially the same thing), such as diabetes, dental disease, and obesity. Diabetes can be devastating for dogs; it requires strict dietary and medicinal management and can cause signs such as recurring infections and blindness. Obesity reduces the quality of life and can cause pain and problems moving and expressing natural behavior. It has been confirmed to minimize canine lifespans considerably.

Theobromine (Chocolate) Toxicity

Theobromine comes from the cacao plant and affects a dog’s nervous, cardiovascular, and respiratory systems. Because dogs can’t process theobromine in the same way humans can, it causes problems and can even lead to death in some dogs. If your dog ingests chocolate Smarties or any other chocolate (particularly dark chocolate, which is much more potent), you must take them to the vet immediately.

The signs of chocolate toxicity are varied, but common signs include the following:
  • Vomiting
  • Vomiting blood (hematemesis)
  • Excitement or irritability
  • Increased heart rate (tachycardia)
  • Panting
  • Shaking or twitching
  • Collapse

No chocolate is healthy for dogs, so keeping it locked away from them or out of their reach is the best way to protect your dog from theobromine poisoning.

halved red and yellow smarties with
Image Credit: CobraCZ, Shutterstock

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What Are Healthier Options for My Dog?

If you want to give your dog a sweet candy treat, many much healthier and more beneficial foods are available. Many fruits and berries are nutritious and sweet enough to satisfy a dog’s sweet tooth. You must check with your vet before you give your dog anything to supplement its diet.

Here are some healthy, sweet treats your dog can safely enjoy:
  • Blueberries
  • Banana
  • Apple Slices (pips and core removed)
  • Strawberries
  • Melon
  • Orange (skin removed)
  • Mango (stone removed)
  • Peach (stone removed)

What Should I Do if I Think My Dog Has Eaten Smarties?

Call your vet and explain if you think your dog has eaten Smarties of either variety. If they’ve eaten Smarties that are the US variety, the advice will likely be to monitor them for any adverse effects or to bring them in for a quick check-up. On the other hand, if they’ve eaten chocolate Smarties, your vet will want to see them right away.

If you take your dog in, note the time and amount of Smarties they ate, as this can help the vet decide on treatment. Chocolate toxicity is typically treated by first making your dog vomit and administering activated charcoal to prevent more theobromine from being absorbed. Then, monitoring with blood tests and other monitoring equipment can follow if needed. Depending on the amount of chocolate eaten and their signs of illness, they might need fluids or other supportive treatments.

vet examines dog
Image Credit: SeventyFour, Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts

Smarties aren’t a healthy treat for dogs, but certain varieties are toxic and can cause harm. Smarties in the US are sugar candies made from dextrose that aren’t harmful in small amounts but can cause health problems if consumed in large quantities. Smarties made in the United Kingdom and Canada contain chocolate, which is very toxic to dogs, even in small amounts. Both kinds aren’t suitable for dogs, and a small portion of fruit is much better and more nutritious if you want to give your dog a sweet treat.

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