This post may contain affiliate links. We may be compensated if you purchase after clicking a link.

Can Dogs Eat Starburst? [Quick Answer]

Dogs love sweet treats just as much as humans. However, dogs should never be given Starburst or other human candy, as there are several health risks associated with eating them. Keep reading to find out why.

Regular Starburst isn’t toxic to dogs, but you shouldn’t give this candy to your pet. The two main ingredients, sugar and fat, are unhealthy (and potentially dangerous) in large quantities. 

In this article, we’ll look at why dogs shouldn’t eat Starburst and what to do if your dog snags one. We’ll also examine why sugar-free Starburst could even be toxic to your pup.

Can Dogs Have Starburst Candy?

The simple answer is that dogs should not be given Starburst. While most types of Starburst candy don’t contain toxic ingredients (excluding sugar-free varieties), the sugar and fat can cause harmful side effects.

This is because the Starburst recipe is designed for humans, who can tolerate much higher concentrations of these ingredients.

Additionally, a high-quality dog food should already contain the correct amounts of sugar and fat. So, it doesn’t take many Starburst for your pet to exceed their safe intake.

Why Dogs Shouldn’t Eat Starburst

The first two ingredients in Starburst are refined sugar and corn syrup, meaning this candy contains over 55% sugar. Since dogs don’t eat refined sugars in their natural diet, this is an extremely unhealthy concentration.

Another issue is that Starburst contains saturated fat in the form of palm oil. Palm oil can act as a laxative for dogs and cause diarrhea, dehydration, and, in severe cases, pancreatitis. While pancreatitis from eating 1-2 Starburst is unlikely, the side effects from an upset stomach can be severe.

Starburst also contains no nutritional value for dogs and is effectively “empty” calories. If your dog consumes more calories than is appropriate for their size, they can become obese, leading to a range of other potential health problems.

Why Sugary Foods Are Bad for Dogs

Sugary foods can cause short-term discomfort to your dog, such as an upset stomach or diarrhea. Excess sugar can even lead to chronic long-term health issues, which is why it’s vital to avoid feeding your pet human candy.

Here are some of the most common side effects of a dog eating too much sugar:

  • It can cause an upset stomach. Eating sugar can not only cause vomiting and diarrhea, but it can also upset the balance of bacteria in your dog’s gut. All animals need a healthy balance of bacteria to properly digest their food.
  • It can be toxic. Many sweet foods contain theobromine, an ingredient found in chocolate. Theobromine is highly toxic to dogs. However, this ingredient is not found in Starburst.
  • It can cause weight gain and obesity. Feeding your dog empty calories with no nutritional value can cause them to put on extra weight. Obese dogs are at a higher risk of heart problems, hypertension, cancer, joint pain, and conditions like arthritis.
  • Your dog can get cavities. Dogs can develop cavities from sugar, just like people. Feeding your dog sugary foods like Starburst increases the risk of cavities and other dental issues.
  • It can cause your dog’s metabolism to change. The insulin increase caused by regular sugar intake can have a snowball effect on other hormones. This can lead to long-term issues, such as the dog becoming weaker, having less energy, and gaining weight.
  • Your dog can develop diabetes. Not only can the excess insulin from sugar affect your dog’s metabolism, but it can also cause diabetes. The associated high blood sugar levels can damage your dog’s organs, eyes, heart, blood vessels, and nerves.
Blue paw

Be Careful of Starburst Wrappers

What happens if your dog eats both the Starburst and the wrappers? Many dogs aren’t fussy about what they eat, after all!

Unfortunately, wrappers pose a serious threat if they become lodged in your dog’s throat or intestines. Larger dogs may pass wrappers with no difficulty, but smaller dogs are more at risk of a blockage.

If you think your dog has eaten starburst wrappers, visit a vet immediately for a checkup. If your vet needs to intervene, they may attempt to remove the wrappers by lubricating the intestines, inducing vomiting, adding fiber to aid with passing, or surgery in the most severe cases.

Does Starburst Contain Xylitol?

Xylitol is an artificial sweetener typically found in “sugar-free” products. Your dog should never consume any food containing xylitol, as it’s highly toxic to dogs.

This is because xylitol causes your dog’s blood sugar to drop dangerously, while potentially causing liver disease or failure. Symptoms of xylitol poisoning, such as vomiting, seizures, and loss of coordination, typically occur around 15-30 minutes after ingestion.

The good news is that regular Starburst does not contain xylitol. However, Starburst sugar-free gum does contain xylitol

Contact your vet immediately if you think your dog has ingested xylitol. Fast treatment is essential if your pet has eaten this substance.

Note: Xylitol can be found in foods not labelled as sugar-free, so always check the ingredients if your dog has eaten something they shouldn’t.

What Should I Do If My Dog Ate Starburst?

If you find out your dog has eaten Starburst, first check the ingredient list. If the variety contains xylitol, you should contact your vet immediately.

If your dog has consumed regular Starburst and no xylitol, a couple of pieces will likely not be a cause for worry. It’s important to monitor your dog for any negative symptoms though, including:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Pain or discomfort

Symptoms vary depending on your dog’s size, how much they ate, and how sensitive they are to sugar. Contact a vet for advice if you notice any symptoms.

However, if you suspect your dog has eaten a large amount of Starburst, contact a vet immediately. There is a risk of pancreatitis if your dog has had lots of unhealthy fats in a short time period.

Can Dogs Eat Other Types of Candy?

No, dogs should not be given any type of human candy.

Candy has no nutritional value for dogs. The two main ingredients in candy, refined sugar and fat, can cause anything from a mild stomach upset to serious health issues that require a vet intervention.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Starburst Jelly Beans Contain Xylitol?

Starburst jelly beans do not contain xylitol, but they do contain a lot of sugar. In fact, jelly beans are over 70% sugar, which is even more than regular Starburst!

Some jelly beans also contain additional ingredients that aren’t healthy for your pup, such as artificial flavorings and certain vegetable concentrates. For these reasons, you should avoid feeding your dog Starburst jelly beans.


Starburst might seem like a harmless treat for your dog to enjoy, but the levels of sugar and added fats are not healthy for your pup.

If your dog eats a small amount of Starburst, watch closely for signs of illness and contact a vet if there are any negative side effects. If you think your dog has ingested lots of Starburst, xylitol, or a candy wrapper, contact your vet immediately.

Looking for something sweet that’s safe for your dog to eat? Check out our article “Are Blueberries Safe for Dogs?


Kathryn Byrne

Kathryn is a freelance writer who has loved dogs from a young age. She has over 20 years of experience in training her own dogs and is passionate about positive training methods that deepen the bond between people and their pups. Outside of writing, Kathryn is always on the hunt for the best dog-friendly hiking trails in her home state of Vermont.
Leave a Comment