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Can Dogs Eat Airheads? – Airheads Poisoning in Dogs

Dogs are known to love sweets and treats, but not all of them are good for their health. One of these treats is Airheads, a chewy candy that comes in various flavors and sizes. But can dogs eat Airheads? Is it safe or harmful for them?

In this article, we will explore the ingredients and effects of Airheads on dogs, and why you should avoid giving them to your furry friend. We will also suggest some alternatives that are healthier and safer for your canine companion.

What Are Airheads Candy?

First, let’s start with the basics. What exactly are Airheads and what’s in them?

Airheads are a chewy, stretchy candy marketed by Nestle under their Willy Wonka Candy brand. They have a soft, taffy-like texture thanks to their main ingredients:

  • Corn syrup – Sweetener that gives Airheads their smooth, flexible texture. It prevents crystallization.
  • Sugar – Adds sweetness and helps retain moisture to keep Airheads soft.
  • Palm oil – Helps achieve the unique taffy-like consistency. Also provides fat for flavor.
  • Artificial colors & flavors – Give Airheads their vibrant colors and fruity tastes like cherry, watermelon, and blue raspberry.

Airheads are essentially squares of brightly colored sugar paste. While enticingly flavored, Airheads offer little nutritional value. They also pose a risk of triggering canine pancreatitis if overfed.

Now that you know what precisely makes up Airheads candy, let’s look at the potential issues with feeding this sugary treat to dogs.

Can Dogs Eat Airheads?

While the occasional nibble of people’s food is inevitable for dogs, sugary items like Airheads should be limited. Here are some specific concerns with feeding your pup Airheads candy:

Pancreatitis Risk

The significant fat and sugar content found in Airheads candy raises your dog’s risk of developing pancreatitis – a serious inflammation of the pancreas. Pancreatitis can cause vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, abdominal pain, and even liver issues if untreated.

Blood Sugar Spikes

Airheads are pure simple sugars and corn syrup. When rapidly absorbed, these sugary calories can spike your dog’s blood sugar levels. Over time, weight gain and diabetes may develop.


Airheads have lots of sugar but no protein, vitamins, or minerals. Feeding candy provides your dog with empty calories and increased calorie intake that can contribute to unhealthy weight gain. An overweight dog is more prone to joint problems, heart disease, and diabetes.

Loose Stools

Too much sugar and fat can throw off your dog’s digestive balance, leading to diarrhea or other GI upset.

Tooth Decay

The sugars in Airheads linger on your dog’s teeth, promoting bacteria growth that damages tooth enamel. Dental issues are painful and expensive to treat.

As you can see, routinely feeding Airheads candy to your dog is not recommended. But what if your pooch accidentally gets hold of an Airhead?

What Happens If a Dog Eats One Airhead?

Thanks to their naughty counter-surfing skills and sweet tooths, dogs sometimes manage to sneak candy like Airheads. If your pup scarfs down a whole Airhead, take action based on the amount ingested.

Small Dogs (<25 lbs)

Promptly call your vet or emergency clinic. Due to their smaller size, the sugar and fat content of an Airhead may put your dog at risk of pancreatitis or other issues. Monitoring and treatment may be needed.

Medium Dogs (25-50 lbs)

Monitor your dog closely over the next 12-24 hours. Look for symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, or loss of appetite. Call your vet if concerning signs develop or persist for more than 24 hours.

Large Dogs (>50 lbs)

A single standard-size Airhead isn’t likely toxic for bigger dogs. Still, monitor for digestive upset. Avoid feeding fatty/sugary foods for a few days and call your vet if you have any concerns.

For all sizes, make sure your dog has access to plenty of fresh water to flush out excess sugar from their system.

If your dog ate Airheads packaging, watch closely for signs of intestinal blockage like appetite loss, vomiting, constipation, or straining. Call your vet promptly if you notice these symptoms.

Now that you know what to watch for, let’s look at steps to take if your dog eats more than one Airhead.

What If Your Dog Eats Multiple Airheads?

Consuming several Airheads is riskier than one. Here’s what to do based on the amount ingested:

2-3 Airheads

Monitor your dog closely for 24 hours. Limit exercise and food until their digestion seems normal. Contact your vet if you notice vomiting, diarrhea, or loss of appetite.

4-6 Airheads

Call your veterinarian, especially if your dog shows concerning symptoms. Depending on size, your dog may need IV fluids, anti-nausea medication, or other supportive care. Avoid fatty foods for a few days.

Over 6 Airheads

Get emergency veterinary care immediately. Eating this much concentrated sugar and fat puts your dog at high risk of pancreatitis and liver problems. Your pup likely needs hospitalization for diagnosis and treatment.

Bring the Airheads packaging with you to identify ingredients. The exact flavor and colors may help guide your vet’s treatment plan.

Continue monitoring even after your dog’s condition stabilizes. Some pancreatitis symptoms develop 48 hours after a sugar overdose. Catching relapses early improves outcomes.

Preventing Dogs From Getting Into Candy

The best solution is to keep your pooch far away from the candy dish. Here are tips to prevent sugar toxicity accidents:

  • Store candy and sweets out of reach or in secured cabinets your dog can’t access.
  • Avoid leaving candy wrappers or bags out – dogs love investigating crinkly packages!
  • Secure trash cans with locking lids. Dogs are notorious for garbage raiding.
  • Pick up stray candy or wrappers immediately if kids leave them lying around.
  • Keep holiday candy baskets elevated and supervised. Halloween, Easter, and Christmas all provide temptation!
  • Crate your dog when you can’t monitor them around candy or food.
  • Train a reliable “leave it” command so your dog resists snitching sweets.
  • Keep dogs away from purses, shopping bags, backpacks, or coat pockets where candy might hide.

Take precautions, but don’t panic if you discover missing candy. Not all sugar is equally harmful to dogs. Let’s look at some safer candy alternatives.

Safer Candy Options for Dogs

Most candy is chock-full of sugar and ingredients that can make your dog sick. However, some choices tend to be gentler on canine tummies. Here are a few better candy options if you want to share occasional treats with your pup:

  • Peanut butter cookies – Look for dog-friendly recipes without sugar substitutes.
  • Carob/yogurt drops – Carob contains less theobromine than chocolate making it safer.
  • Freeze dried liver – This healthy alternative mimics the crunchy texture of hard candy.
  • Fruit strips – Seek out all-natural brands made from pure blended fruits.
  • Honey sticks – A bit of raw honey provides vitamins plus sweetness.
  • Plain gelatin snacks – Unflavored gelatin makes a decently healthy choice.

Even with these “doggie desserts,” moderation is key. The less sugar and additives your dog eats, the better!

Now that you know about candy safety, let’s recap what to do if your dog gets ahold of Airheads.

What To Do If Your Dog Eats Airheads: Quick Recap

Here’s a quick summary of tips if your pup manages to eat Airhead candy:

  • Stay calm – stress can make symptoms worse.
  • Identify the amount and type of Airheads consumed if possible.
  • Monitor closely for concerning symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, loss of appetite, etc.
  • Call your vet, especially if more than 2-3 Airheads are ingested. Small dogs are at higher risk.
  • Avoid fatty foods. Offer a bland diet and plenty of water.
  • Bring packaging to the vet if hospitalization is needed.
  • Prevent future incidents by securing candy storage and using crates/baby gates.
  • Speak to your vet before offering candy labeled “dog safe.” Moderation is key!
  • Call the emergency vet promptly if symptoms seem severe or you notice signs of blockage.

Here is the continuation of the article:

Long-Term Health Effects of Dogs Eating Candy

While the sugar in occasional Airheads likely won’t harm your dog, regularly feeding candy can cause problems over time. Here are some potential long-term effects of dogs eating too many sweets:


Candy provides excess calories with no nutrition. This unhealthy weight gain stresses joints and organs and worsens diabetes risk.

Dental Disease

Candy’s sugar feeds bacteria growth, leading to plaque buildup, gum inflammation, and tooth decay.


Frequent blood sugar spikes strain the pancreas. This reduces insulin production and controls blood sugar levels.


Repeated high-fat, high-sugar foods like candy increase inflammation within the pancreas. Chronic pancreatitis leads to malabsorption of nutrients.

Liver Disease

The liver filters out toxins from candy additives and excess sugar. Overwork strains its function over time.

Behavior Issues

Just like kids, amped-up energy from sugar highs can worsen hyperactivity and anxiety in dogs.

To keep your pup happy and healthy, be very judicious with high-calorie, low-nutrient snacks like Airheads. Your dog depends on you to make the best diet decisions.

Now let’s recap key points on dogs and Airheads candy.

The Key Takeaways

  • Airheads contain corn syrup, sugar, palm oil, and artificial colors/flavors – essentially just sugar and fat.
  • Eating more than 2-3 Airheads risks pancreatitis, especially in small dogs.
  • Monitor for vomiting, diarrhea, no appetite, or lethargy after ingestion. Seek prompt vet care if symptoms concern you.
  • Prevent incidents by securing candy storage and keeping trash cans locked. Train a “leave it” command.
  • While not toxic in small amounts, Airheads offer no nutrition. They’re best avoided aside from rare nibbles.
  • Safer candy alternatives include peanut butter cookies, carbs, freeze-dried liver, or gelatin snacks. But moderation is still key!

With vigilance, you can keep your pup from gobbling too many goodies. Trust your instincts and call your vet with any concerns. Stay informed on candy safety, and you’ll keep your dog healthy and happy for years to come!

Frequently Asked Questions

How much Airhead candy can kill a dog?

The exact lethal toxicity dose depends on the dog’s size and health status. However, even a couple of Airheads may cause pancreatitis which can become life-threatening without prompt treatment.

Do Airheads have Xylitol?

No, Airheads do not contain xylitol. This sugar substitute is extremely toxic to dogs even in small amounts. However, the high sugar content is still risky.

Can puppies have Airheads?

No. Puppies have lower body fat and a tolerance for sugars. Just a bite of Airhead could trigger hypoglycemia or diarrhea in young dogs.

Will a dog pass Airheads in their stool?

Sometimes. Look for undigested pieces of candy in the stool. This indicates the food moved through the GI tract too rapidly to absorb nutrients.

Can dogs eat Starburst or Skittles?

No, other chewy fruit candies like Starburst and Skittles pose the same risks as Airheads to dogs. Their high sugar content can induce pancreatitis.

Will Airheads hurt my diabetic dog?

Yes. The concentrated sugar and carbs in Airheads can dangerously spike blood sugar in diabetic dogs. Never feed candy, sweets, or junk food to diabetic pets without vet approval.

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