Marshmallows are delicious with hot cocoa, in smores, or by themselves straight out of the bag. They remind us of our childhood when life was carefree and oh so sweet.
It is quite tempting for humans to share the sweet treat with our loyal dog companions, but are marshmallows safe for dogs? The short answer is no.
Dogs should not eat marshmallows as they lack any nutritional value and can be extremely harmful. Marshmallows contain mostly sugar, gelatin, corn syrup, and modified cornstarch, so while they are tasty, they have no health benefits for pups.
More importantly, some marshmallows contain sweeteners such as xylitol, which are highly toxic to dogs. While one or two marshmallows might not harm your dog, it’s best to skip the sweet treat altogether.
If dogs eat marshmallows, and nothing happens, is that ok? Can dogs eat marshmallows? If so, what marshmallows can dogs eat?
While the occasional marshmallow might not be harmful to your dog, there is enough evidence to convince you that it’s of utmost importance to avoid any and all white, powdery, and sugary dog treats.
Let’s take a look at precisely what is in a marshmallow and why it is not suitable for your best friend, your loyal companion, and sidekick through it all – your dog.
If you give your dog marshmallows, keep them around the house, or are considering giving your dog the sweet treat, please read on to make sure you understand everything there is to know about marshmallows.
Some of the most common ingredients found in marshmallows are sugar, water, gelatin, corn syrup, and modified cornstarch. Marshmallows are made of other ingredients, such as vanilla extract. Sounds delicious, right?
While this ingredients list sounds wonderful to someone with a sweet tooth and doesn’t seem that harmful, think again.
Basically, marshmallows are just a fluffy sugar cloud full – over 95%! – of empty calories. Marshmallows contain 60% sugar, and the rest is starch and water. It’s junk food disguised as a light and airy ball of goodness.
None of which is right for your dog’s overall health. In fact, marshmallows aren’t great for people, either! But like humans, dogs will eat anything that tastes good to them!
Marshmallows can also contain some sweeteners, or artificial sugars, such as xylitol. If you are on the fence, asking yourself can dogs eat marshmallows, we have compiled a guide to help you understand the sweet treat.
If you take anything from this though, note that feeding your dog marshmallows can result in severe consequences.
What Makes Marshmallows Harmful to Dogs?
Now that we know what ingredients are typically found in marshmallows, we can talk about why they are not suitable for dogs to eat.
Too Much Sugar is Harmful to Dogs
Feeding your pup any food that is high in sugar is not recommended, and we’ve discussed just how much sugar is found in marshmallows. In case you missed it, there’s a lot!
When dogs consume too much sugar (hello bag of marshmallows he ripped open), he can experience gastrointestinal upset, including symptoms such as:
- Lack of appetite
- Upset stomach
While one marshmallow might not cause your dog issues right away, lots of sweet, sugary treats can cause health issues down the road, such as:
- Obesity: Eating too many sweet treats, like marshmallows, can lead to obesity in not only people but dogs as well. Additional weight is extremely hard on dogs and can cause joint issues, arthritis, heart disease, and other ailments. The caloric intake can cause blood sugar levels to rise, leading to the next issue, diabetes.
- Diabetes: Diabetes results from insulin resistance, and requires constant treatment. Diabetes in some pets can cause frequent urination, lethargy, infections, blindness, early death, among many other symptoms.
- Oral Health Issues: A dog treat, such as a marshmallow, containing large amounts of sugar can be bad for your dog’s oral health. Giving your dog significant amounts of sugar over a long period of time can result in cavities, tooth decay, gum disease, tooth loss, and other issues. Not only are these painful for your beloved pet, but they are also expensive to take care of.
In severe cases, just one marshmallow can cause symptoms in your pet. The sugar marshmallows contain can be deadly.
Always contact your veterinarian if you have questions or concerns regarding marshmallows or anything else dogs eat that may be dangerous.
Even though a few mini marshmallows might not hurt your dog, it’s best to play it safe. There is a reason dog food does not contain marshmallows!
Can Marshmallows Kill a Dog?
A sugar-free marshmallow treat can contain xylitol, an artificial sweetener, that is extremely toxic to dogs.
Even if consumed in a small amount, xylitol can cause your dog to experience harmful, and sometimes fatal, side effects. Do not give your dog sugar-free marshmallows, or any other food, containing xylitol.
According to Dr. Carly Fox from the Animal Medical Center in New York City, marshmallows containing xylitol is extremely toxic to your dogs.
Dr. Fox said, “Xylitol can cause dangerously low blood sugar, leading to seizures and even death if the dog is not treated properly.” The doctor added, “It has also been shown to be toxic to the liver, even days after ingestion.”
Xylitol is even deadlier than theobromine, a chemical found in chocolate that is also toxic to dogs. If consumed, marshmallows that contain xylitol can cause the following symptoms in your pet:
- Dangerously low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
- Trembling or shaking
- Liver issues
Peanut butter is another treat loved by humans, and dogs. However, the ooey, gooey sweet treat can also contain xylitol, so be careful and always read the ingredients in any food your dog eats.
Call your veterinarian immediately if your dog eats any food containing marshmallows. If your pet is already showing symptoms listed above, take your dog to the vet or an animal medical center immediately.
Can dogs eat Lucky Charms Marshmallows?
Lucky Charms are quite delicious for people. So sharing one of those magically delicious marshmallows with your dog should be ok, right?
Well, technically, your dog would probably be fine if he ate a few Lucky Charm marshmallows.
However, even one marshmallow from the Irish-themed cereal brand has all of those empty calories that your dog can absolutely live without!
My Dog Ate Marshmallows, What Should I do Now?
If your marshmallows contain xylitol, and your dog got into them, contact your veterinarian immediately. Your vet will let you know if you need to bring your dog in to be treated. Don’t wait for symptoms to show up after your dog decided to chow down on a marshmallow before calling.
If your dog ate marshmallows not containing xylitol, watch them closely, and call your vet if you have any concerns at all or if your dog starts showing symptoms.
Never leave a whole bag of marshmallows lying around, or any other food for that matter. Marshmallows that contain xylitol could be deadly.
Pet owners must monitor any and all amount of food their dog digests in order to keep their beloved pet safe.
Dog owners can also research and implement training tips in order to avoid any food-related incidents with a marshmallow or any other sweet treat. There are many foods out there that are safe, and won’t require a visit to your veterinarian.
Alternative Sweet Treats
Marshmallows are bad for dogs, or at the very least, just really unhealthy. And there are not that many great marshmallow dogs treats out there.
But we all want to reward our pups for good behavior or just let them enjoy a treat every once in a while.
The good news is that there are plenty of healthy foods out there that do not contain all of the sugar and harmful ingredients that marshmallows do.
There are many naturally sweet fruits and veggies out there that your dog will drool over. Check out some healthy, natural alternative to those processed marshmallows and the nutrients they provide your pup:
- Apples – vitamin A, fiber, potassium
- Carrots – beta-carotene
- Mangoes – vitamins A, B6, C, and E, antioxidants, potassium, beta-carotene, dietary fiber
- Strawberries – vitamins C and K, folic acid, fiber, manganese, potassium
- Cantaloupe – vitamins A and C, beta-carotene, dietary fiber, folic acid, antioxidants
- Celery – vitamins B, C, and K, folate, potassium, manganese, calcium, riboflavin
- Blueberries – vitamins E, C, K1, and B6, copper, manganese
- Watermelons – vitamins A and B6, beta-carotene, potassium, and magnesium
If your dog has no issues with marshmallows, and you have a xylitol-free bag, then giving your pup an occasional treat is ok.
In fact, marshmallows can be used as pill pockets to make giving your dog medicine easier.
So, are marshmallows bad for dogs? Can dogs eat marshmallows safely?
You might be able to give your dog a marshmallow or two, and he may be fine!
Generally speaking, though, dogs should not eat marshmallows due to the health risks and lack of nutritional benefits associated with the sweet fluffy treat.