While technically Twizzlers aren’t licorice per se, they’re still a tasty treat, produced by Y&S Candies Inc. The answer to this question has two parts. We have to consider the different flavors, of which strawberry is the most popular. The company also produces a black licorice that we must also address. If we cut to the chance, we’d recommend that you don’t feed either Twizzlers or any licorice to your pet.
Each flavor has some problematic ingredients that take it off the list of treats for your pup. Let’s do a deep dive and discuss them in detail.
Let’s start with what’s in the candy. According to The Hershey Company’s website, strawberry Twizzlers contain the following ingredients:
Our first concern rests with the possibility of food allergies. Dyes, corn, and wheat are present in this list, which raises the first red flag. These are known allergens. The chances are that you are probably religious about reading labels if your pet has this condition. We recommend making it a practice anyway to stay informed about what your dog is eating.
Corn syrup itself and sugar are the other potential warning signs. They offer little nutritional value. We also have to look at calories. The average 50-pound dog needs about 700–900 calories per day. Three Twizzlers add up to 120 calories, significantly more than the recommended 10-percent intake. Sure, you could give him less, but is that what you really want him to eat?
We also must consider the elephant in the room. Sugar isn’t any better for dogs than it is for people. It can increase your pup’s risk of obesity and gum disease. Neither one is a valid reason to put your pet’s health on the line. If that’s not enough to convince you, there’s one more ingredient that we need to put under the spotlight—citric acid.
The manufacturer doesn’t disclose the amount, just the fact that it’s there. We can assume it’s not a lot, given its place on the ingredient list. However, it’s worth noting that it is an irritant for both dogs and cats. It can cause vomiting and GI distress if your pet gets too much. That’s also a risk whenever you introduce a new food.
Bear in mind that once he learns to like them, he’ll likely beg for a Twizzler and may down a bag of them if he’s given a chance.
What about the licorice flavor?
The ingredients are basically the same with two exceptions, artificial color Blue 1 and licorice extract. Both add to the allergy and upset stomach risks. The latter is more of an issue. It contains a chemical called glycyrrhizin. While it’s found in nature, it’s another example that it isn’t a guarantee of safety for neither humans nor dogs.
As Paracelsus, the Father of Toxicology, once said, “The dose makes the poison.” There’s a reason why the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning about it. Eating too much of it or too often can cause imbalances in your body’s potassium levels, which can, in turn, cause an irregular heartbeat, congestive heart failure, and liver damage.
The same risks exist for your dog. The takeaway message is that if you’re over 40, only eat black licorice once in a while. We also recommend that you pass on giving it to your pet altogether. Also, avoid any so-called natural products that contain licorice. It could lead to tragic consequences.
We found a similar ingredient profile for the other Twizzler products, including one that should be a red flag to any dog owner, Chocolate Twists. The company also carries a sugar-free version of the strawberry Twizzlers Twists. However, it contains sorbitol for its sweetener. It’s not toxic to dogs, but products containing another common ingredient, xylitol, are poisonous.
Sharing food with their canine ancestors probably opened the door toward the domestication of dogs. After all, it’s a bonding experience that fosters trust. While you might want to give your pup some of your yummy Twizzlers, it’s best to stick to commercial foods made for him. Don’t risk an allergic reaction or vomiting episode over an inappropriate treat.