Can Dogs Eat Jelly Beans? (Symptoms You Should Look For)

Can Dogs Eat Jelly Beans? Photo of a dog with a jelly beans jar by its side.

Dogs always look so woefully at us when eating things like jelly beans. But, can dogs eat jelly beans? Here’s the deal with dogs and jelly beans.

Dogs can’t eat jelly beans because many ingredients in them are very harmful, if not toxic, to dogs. The high sugar content can cause serious health problems in dogs, and many jelly beans contain xylitol and caffeine. Both of these can be toxic to your dog, even in small servings (think 1-3 jelly beans).

Are jelly beans safe for dogs?

Under no circumstances are jelly beans safe for dogs. Regardless of flavor, brand, or type, jelly beans have no nutritional value to dogs and are very dangerous.

While there are kinds of human food that you can safely share with your dog every once in a while, you should never intentionally give jelly beans to your dog. This includes all the flavors and kinds of jelly beans like:

  • Licorice jelly beans
  • Jelly Belly jelly beans
  • Jolly Rancher jelly beans
  • Starburst jelly beans

Don’t forget no name and off-brand jelly beans, too!

Why are jelly beans bad for dogs?

So, why are jelly beans considered so bad for dogs, anyway? What makes them so dangerous or even fatal? It comes down to the active ingredients in jelly beans. Namely:

  • High sugar content
  • Caffeine
  • Xylitol
  • Pectin
  • Artificial flavor/colors

High sugar content

This should come as no surprise, of course. Sugar is the entire reason that people eat jelly beans, after all! The high sugar content is bad enough for us, but it will be even worse for dogs.

Not only will it lead to problems like obesity, dental disease, and even create an onset of diabetes, but it can even cause a toxic reaction in dogs. This means that they can essentially overload on sugar. Their heart will race, they’ll get the shakes, and they’ll be almost frantic because they have too much energy.

While it isn’t always fatal, it can be if left untreated. As with the other active ingredients that we’re going to talk about, the amount is much smaller to cause that reaction in dogs than it would be in humans!

Caffeine

Its active ingredient can cause toxicity in your dogs, leading to problems like a fast heartbeat, high body temperature, restlessness, and seizures. This sounds harmless enough, but in dogs, it can be fatal. Caffeine impacts dogs very differently from humans as far as the dosages.

Xylitol

There is xylitol in many jelly beans since it’s used in human food to enjoy a “low sugar” treat or “sugar-free” candy. While it’s not dangerous for humans, even a tiny amount can kill your dog.

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This happens because it can drop your dog’s blood sugar very quickly, and this will make them hypoglycemic. This can lead to shaking, drooling, staggering, loss of consciousness, seizures, coma, and even death. 

Pectin

You might be relieved to learn that pectin isn’t toxic in most cases. It is going to upset your dog’s digestive tract, however. This will lead to diarrhea, vomiting, lack of appetite, and more.

These types of symptoms will usually resolve on their own, but they can lead to severe dehydration in some cases since diarrhea tends to dehydrate dogs quickly. Since dogs won’t eat or drink as they would typically, dehydration is common. This can be fatal if left untreated.

Artificial flavor/colors

More jelly beans have artificial flavors. Similar to pectin, these artificial flavors can cause diarrhea and upset stomach in your dog, leading to the same concerns and symptoms above. Certain types of dyes and/or flavors will be worse than others.

However, one of the things that many people don’t think about is that some jelly beans contain flavors from their original food sources. For example, grape jelly beans can contain traces of grapes, which are toxic to dogs.

Any time you have a jelly bean that is flavored from a food type that is toxic to them, it can be in the final product, so steer away from those at the very least!

Can jelly beans kill dogs?

Unfortunately, yes. Jelly beans can kill dogs, especially if they are smaller dogs or they have a moderate amount of jelly beans. The more they had, the higher the risk of complications resulting in jelly beans.

The thing to remember here is that a dog isn’t just going to drop dead if they ate one jelly bean. When dogs die due to eating this kind of candy, it’s because they were having complications from one or more of the active ingredients but didn’t receive medical attention in time.

How many jelly beans can kill a dog

There is no set number, mainly because there are so many variables; the size of the dog, the health of the dog, the size of the jelly bean, the active ingredients in each jelly bean, the flavor, the brand, etc. 

The rough number is 2-3. Yes, seriously. Just 2-3 jelly beans, depending on those variables, can be enough to kill your dog. That’s why understanding the symptoms of a complication is so essential! It also helps you understand why jelly beans are a serious no-no for your dog.

What to do if my dog ate jelly beans

Let’s face it — dogs will grab things when we least expect them to. So, if your dog has grabbed a few jelly beans from your hand or the floor, it’s okay. This sort of thing happens to even the most responsible pet owners. Here are the steps to follow.

  • Figure out what kind of jelly beans your dog ate
  • Figure out how many jelly beans your dog ate
  • Call your vet and follow their advice
  • Feed them a bland diet
  • Watch for symptoms of complications
  • When in doubt, err on the safe side

Figure out what kind of jelly beans your dog ate

When it comes to the “kind” of jelly beans, there are a few critical factors that your vet will ask you. These include brand name and the type of jelly beans (some have sour bags or tropical bags, etc.). Also, try to get an idea of what flavor your dog ate. This means checking the bag or checking online to match the color or variety in the bag, etc. The more accurate you are, the better informed you’ll be!

Figure out how many jelly beans your dog ate

This is important, especially when remembering the 2-3 number above. It’s scary to know that our dog ate 4-5, of course, but you need to be as specific with the number as possible. When in doubt, round up to the next number. It’s always better to be safe in the counting!

Call your vet and follow their advice

Regardless of the answers to the above points, call your vet. Jelly beans are always a reason for concern, so call your vet as soon as possible and give them the information they ask for.

They’ll tell you to monitor your dog at home for symptoms, or they’ll tell you to bring your dog to be assessed. Whichever option they recommend, make sure you follow that advice! 

Feed them a bland diet

If they recommend monitoring at home, most vets will suggest feeding your dog a bland diet. This means plain white bread, plain white rice, or even plain boiled chicken. Your vet can give you suggestions on that, too. This bland diet will help soak up the ingredients potentially causing harm and push them out of your dog’s system.

If, for whatever reason, your vet tells you not to feed your dog a bland diet, listen to that advice!

Watch for symptoms of complications

Next, you’ll need to start watching for symptoms (below) of a complication. These could take anywhere from 30 minutes to 72 hours to show up. If you see any of them, no matter how mild they may seem, you’ll want to call your vet back and follow their advice. If they show symptoms, most vets will recommend that you take them in to be assessed.

When in doubt, err on the safe side

Why is this here? Because your gut is a powerful thing! Remember, no one else knows your dog as well as you do. If something seems off about their attitude or behavior after they’ve eaten jelly beans, you’ll be the best one to determine that.

If something just doesn’t seem right, call your vet and take them in. Following or ignoring that intuition could be the difference between minor or major complications.

Symptoms to look for if my dog ate jelly beans

We’ve been talking quite a bit about watching for symptoms of a complication. We’ve introduced a few above, but here’s the complete list of ones that you should be watching for:

  • Vomiting/diarrhea lasting longer than 24 hours
  • Refusal to eat or drink
  • Fever/chills
  • Shaking/shivering trembling
  • Disorientation or confusion
  • Extreme hyperactivity
  • Lethargy/Slow response
  • Seizures
  • Loss of consciousness

All of these are going to be signs that your dog is struggling with the jelly beans or some sort of active ingredient in the jelly beans. The more of these symptoms that our dog has, or the more severe they are, the sooner you need to get them to the professionals!

When to take my dog to the vet

If you are considering taking your dog to the vet, it’s probably a good idea. Most pet parents know when they need to take their dog in because, well, they’re responsible pet parents.

Nonetheless, here are a few situations where you definitely need to take your dog in to see the vet as soon as possible:

  • The jelly beans contain xylitol
  • They ate a large portion of jelly beans
  • They ate chocolate/grape jelly beans
  • They are showing symptoms of complications

These are all situations where you’ll need to bring your dog in to ensure that you’re getting a professional’s perspective on your dog’s health. 

To conclude

Even in a small amount, jelly beans can be harmful or even toxic for dogs. Between the high amounts of sugar, the potential for toxic ingredients like xylitol and caffeine, and the potential for stomach upset in ingredients like pectin and artificial flavors, there are no upsides at all to sharing jelly beans with your dog!

No matter what point of view you take, jelly beans will never be a recommended or safe snack for your dog.

Accidents happen, of course, so make sure that you always know what to look for when watching for symptoms.

Know someone prone to sharing sweets with their dog? Share this with them!

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Hi, I'm Andre and I'm the owner of Sula the Border Collie. I love writing about this amazing dog breed here. I joined the Council to be able to reach and educate more people on the joy of having a pet dog.