My adorable 10-year old cousin came over to visit me today. When he greeted me at the front door, he was holding a pack of Starburst. My yellow Labrador also greeted him and immediately eyed the colorful and fruity flavor candy he was holding. Before feeding my dog Starburst, my cousin wanted to know if this candy is safe for dogs to eat.
Can dogs eat Starburst? No, dogs should not eat Starburst. Some sugar-free varieties of the Starburst candy are also laced with xylitol: a sugar substitute that is toxic to dogs. There’s also no reason for them to do so because Starburst is packed with sugar and provides no nutritional benefit to dogs.
Can dogs have Starburst?
No, dogs should not have Starburst. Even if you rule out the sugar-free variety, Starburst and other sugary treats are harmful to your dog’s long-term health. Eating more than just a few Starbursts in one sitting will also cause your pooch to experience various short-term side effects, which we will discuss below.
What is a Starburst?
Starburst is a bite-sized, sweet, chewy candy sold in several fruity flavors. A pack of the Starburst candy usually comes with 12 pieces. Starburst is manufactured by Mars and is available all over America.
What is Starburst made of?
The ingredients in Starburst include sugar, corn syrup, gelatin, palm oil, fruit extracts, artificial colors and flavors, modified cornstarch, and other preservatives and enhancers. Starburst also comes in sugar-free versions, which substitute sugar and corn syrup with various artificial sweeteners, including xylitol.
How is Starburst made?
Starburst is made by boiling sugar, corn syrup, and oil. The flavors and gelatin are added after the mixture is cooked. It is then spread on a cooling tray and allowed to thicken.
Once the liquid mixture cools, it becomes sturdier and more flexible. A taffy puller then pulls this mixture to aerate it, which makes the candy lighter.
Artificial colors and flavoring are then added while the taffy puller stretches and twists the mixture. After that, it is cooled further, chopped into square pieces, and wrapped for shipping.
Fun Fact: Vanilla Wafers and Cookies is another human snack that contains corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, palm oil, and artificial flavors.
Is Starburst bad for dogs?
Starburst is mostly sugar, corn syrup, and oil. None of these ingredients are healthy for our canine companions so feeding this candy to your furry friends is a bad idea.
Eating these sugary treats in excess can upset your dog’s tummy. Although your pooch will be fine after consuming a few Starburst candies, you should never feed it to your pup on purpose.
Let’s look at some of the prominent Starburst ingredients and how they can negatively affect your canine’s health.
Dogs don’t need sugar in their diet. The carbs they get from their regular dog food are enough for their body to produce sugar. Besides, the processed sugar present in Starburst is of no nutritional value. Granulated, refined, and processed sugars are known culprits behind various doggy health issues.
Starburst is full of sugar. Feeding sugary treats to your four-legged friends can frequently lead to the following symptoms:
- Stomach soreness.
- Stomach inflammation.
- Loss of appetite.
- Tooth decay and dental issues.
- Weight increase.
2. Corn syrup
Corn syrup is, unfortunately, more fattening and more addictive than regular sugar. Like sugar, consuming food rich in corn syrup can cause these symptoms:
- Blood-sugar imbalance.
3. Palm oil
Hydrogenated palm oil is a widely used substance in commercial food products. It is cheap, readily available, and has a long shelf life. When used as an ingredient, palm oil helps prolong the food’s life too.
It is also one of the unhealthiest types of oils. Hydrogenated palm oil is a rich source of fat. When dogs eat an excessive amount of fatty foods, they would most likely experience:
- Heart problems.
- Stomach disorders.
- Elevated cholesterol.
- Pancreatitis (in severe cases).
4. Artificial flavoring and colors
Starburst also contains numerous artificial flavors and colors. While these ingredients are tested to be safe for humans, you can’t say the same for dogs. As a rule of thumb, don’t feed your pooch anything you don’t know the ingredients of.
Handy Hint: It’s best to avoid candy and sugar when it comes to your dog’s diet. Instead, opt for healthier treat options like Brussel sprouts or fruits.
When shouldn’t you feed Starburst to your dog?
It’s not recommended for dogs to eat more than 10g of sugary candies per day. Considering that a single Starburst candy weighs 5g, you can see how a dog can overshoot their daily candy quota after just two Starbursts.
Sugary treats are especially harmful to diabetic, old, and overweight dogs. The amount of sugar in just one Starburst is enough to cause an imbalance in the insulin levels of your furry friends.
Sugar can also cause gum diseases and cavities. If your pups are already suffering from poor oral health, they should avoid all sorts of sweets, including high-sugar candies like Starbursts in particular.
Risks of feeding your dog Starburst
1. Dental problems
Starburst is very sticky and can easily get lodged in your furry friend’s teeth. Dogs also lack the enzyme that can dissolve sugar residue in their mouths. Considering these two factors, you can see how harmful Starburst can be for your canine’s teeth, gum, and mouth.
2. Health complications
Other than being detrimental to your dog’s dental health, Starburst is also a nutritional nightmare. Along with copious amounts of sugars, Starburst also contains hydrogenated oil, citric acid, artificial colors, and preservatives. All these ingredients can harm a dog’s health in different ways.
3. Sugar overload
Sugar can be as addictive as any drug. Considering that the primary ingredients of Starburst are sugar and corn syrup, you can see how the sweetness can be overwhelming for dogs.
This much sugar not only harms the dog’s health but can also cause digestive upsets and stomach cramps. Due to the high sugar content, dogs can easily overdose after just two Starburst candies.
4. Choking hazard
Each starburst candy is enclosed in a paper wrapper, which we discard before eating. Your dog, however, won’t bother taking the wrapper off before munching on the sweet-smelling treat.
Starburst wrapping isn’t meant to disintegrate easily and may get lodged inside your pup’s throat or intestine. The smaller the dog, the higher the choking hazard.
5. Toxic xylitol
Sugar-free variants of Starburst—like the starburst “Fruity Mixies”—contain a cocktail of artificial sweeteners. The most dangerous of these is xylitol.
While harmless for humans, xylitol can cause a spike in a dog’s insulin level. This spike can be significant enough to put your dog’s life at risk and warrant a trip to the vet immediately.
Handy Hint: Xylitol is extremely harmful to our canine companions. If you’re drinking diet Sprite, keep it away from your dog’s reach. Diet Sprite could contain an artificial sweetener called xylitol, which is dangerous to our pups.
Does Starburst provide nutritional benefits for your dog?
No, Starburst does not provide any nutritional value to your dog. The only thing Starburst is rich in is sugary carbs. Dogs are well-capable of harnessing sugar from proteins and other forms of carbohydrates.
However, they don’t have a dietary need to eat sugar. Other than that, there is nothing in Starburst that can provide any nutritional benefit to your pooch.
What if my dog accidentally eats Starburst?
Sugar-free Starburst contains xylitol: an ingredient that can cause a rapid drop in blood sugar and liver damage in dogs. If your dog has consumed this candy, immediately try to induce vomiting. You may need to ask your vet how to do that safely.
Prompt action is critical here; your dog would be safe if the candy is vomited within half an hour of consumption. Once that time has passed, the xylitol gets digested, and the dog’s pancreas starts releasing large amounts of insulin. Your pup would need immediate medical treatment at that point.
If your pooch consumes the regular Starburst, you should brush their teeth thoroughly. Humans have an enzyme called amylase in their saliva for breaking down sugar.
Dogs don’t have that enzyme, meaning if something sweet gets stuck in their teeth, it will likely stay there. The only way to clean it is by thorough brushing.
Symptoms to watch for
If your canine friends have consumed a large amount of Starburst candies, they can get sick. Symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhea, and a change in appetite. However, this isn’t as serious as a dog that has consumed xylitol.
Symptoms of xylitol poisoning include:
Your furry friends will also need immediate medical care if a Starburst wrapper has clogged their throat or intestine. These signs include:
- Rapid breathing.
- Bloody stool.
Handy Hint: Before feeding your canine family member, remember to cut the food into tiny mouth-size pieces. This helps to avoid choking or getting food lodged in the intestines. It’s also best to avoid eating human snacks that are sticky like Mochi since sticky food can get stuck in the dog’s throat and cause difficulty in swallowing.
Treatments if your dog has poisoning or complications from eating Starburst
If your pooch ate a Starburst containing xylitol, things could get grim. The lethal quantity of xylitol is 0.1g per kilogram of a dog’s body weight. If your canine companion eats more than that, they will likely get xylitol poisoning.
Xylitol poisoning requires immediate veterinary attention followed by constant supervision, blood monitoring, and administering medicines to counteract the effects of xylitol on the dog’s glucose level and liver.
If your pooch ate lots of wrapped Starbursts, the paper could pose a severe choking hazard. Smaller dogs have narrower throats and can easily choke on the wrapping. The paper can also clog up the dog’s intestines, leading to very painful constipation.
Your vet may administer Metamucil to help your pup pass the paper easily. Severe blockage may even require surgery.
Canine-friendly and safe alternatives to Starburst
There is really no reason for dog owners to feed their pooch a sugary candy like Starburst intentionally. It’s horrible for their teeth and full of empty calories with no nutritional benefit. However, if you choose to treat your furry family members, you can do it by going for these healthy dog-friendly options instead.
- Pumpkins are tasty, succulent, sweet, and safe for dogs. The high fiber in pumpkins makes them excellent for the dog’s gut too.
- Fruits. Why go for fruit flavor candies when you can feed your dog natural fruits? Apples, bananas, watermelon, blackberries, blueberries, kiwi, mango, oranges, and pears make excellent sweet snacks for dogs. Make sure to remove the seeds before you feed them to your furry friend.
- Baby carrots make delicious bite-sized doggie treats. They’re sweet, easy to eat, safe, and rich in vitamins and minerals.
- Peanut butter. It is safe to say that all dogs love peanut butter. Creamy and delicious, peanut butter is full of good fats and vitamins. Make sure the peanut butter is unsweetened and as natural as possible.
- Roasted chestnuts. As long as they’re unseasoned, roasted chestnuts are a yummy occasional snack for your pooch. They’re rich in minerals and essential vitamins like iron, potassium, and copper.
If you don’t have time to make these canine-friendly alternatives or do not have these fruits in your fridge, don’t worry. Here are some healthy dog treats that we feed our furry family members and they love it!
This 2 pack Three Dog Bakery Classic Cremes includes Carob Sandwich Cookies With Natural Peanut Butter Filling and Golden Sandwich Cookies With Natural Vanilla Flavor Filling. This treat is made in the USA, oven-baked, and does not contain artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
Your dogs will love these oven-baked crunchy treats that are made with fresh pumpkin and a variety of fruit flavors. Produced in the USA, this crunchy dog treat is rich in vitamins, antioxidants and high in fiber.
This real beef flavor dog snack is soft and chewy. It is flavorful and moist and will leave your dog wanting more!
So, can dogs eat Starburst?
Starburst is a human snack with ingredients that are unsuitable for a dog. While the sugar-free Starburst is downright toxic for dogs, the regular variety isn’t a healthy treat either.
As a responsible pet owner looking for the best interest of your canine companion, you should never feed your pooch Starburst or any other candy.
In excess, yes, Starburst candy can harm your dog’s health. Starburst is full of sugar and corn syrup. Too many pieces of the Starburst candy can cause upset stomach, cramping, and abdominal pain in dogs.
Only the sugar-free variety. Regular Starburst does not have xylitol. Starburst Fruity Mixies are gum-like sugar-free candies known to have a high amount of xylitol.
Yes, Starburst jelly beans are safe for dogs, but in moderation. Starburst jelly beans are no healthier than the regular Starburst.
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The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional veterinary advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding dietary needs.
Starburst is a registered trademark of Wm. WRIGLEY Jr. Company. Dogleashpro does not claim any ownership of the Starburst name, logo, or any identifying mark in any way. This article is for educational purposes only.
I’m a pet lover who has years of pet sitting and grooming experience. I thought it would be a great idea to share my experience with all pet owners so they can also keep their canine companions healthy, happy, and clean!