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Can Dogs Eat Marshmallows?

What happens if your dog eats marshmallows? Discover the symptoms to look out for, when to call the vet, and learn about healthier alternatives.

Dr. Rebecca MacMillan

Last Updated: September 20, 2022 | 7 min read

Woman with marshmallow on stick with dog

Marshmallows are a tasty treat that many of us enjoy from time to time. Especially in colder or winter months.

Whether the mini ones on our hot chocolates or big squidgy melty ones in s’mores or mini ones in your hot cocoa or cereal. They’re a popular and gooey sweet treat.

But is it safe to share this sweet treat with your dog? Will they be okay? Find out what to do and why they might not be the best decision for your dog.

What Are Marshmallows Made Of?

Marshmallows are a sweet confectionary treat that is made from a mixture of sugar, corn syrup, gelatin, and flavorings (usually vanilla). They are then molded into shapes, most commonly squares or short cylinders, and coated in powdered sugar.

Some marshmallows are made with artificial sweeteners instead in order to produce a low-sugar version. This can be helpful for people who need to watch their sugar intake, such as diabetics. Xylitol is an artificial sweetener that is often used in this situation, and while this ingredient is harmful to people, it is very toxic to dogs.

Are Marshmallows Okay For Dogs?

Most normal marshmallows are not poisonous to dogs, so they can technically eat them, as long as it is only on a very occasional basis. However, we will explore the reasons why it’s not such a healthy idea a little later on.

Marshmallows that contain xylitol, however, are dangerous and must never be given to your pet under any circumstances. Always check the packet ingredients to see if you have a low-sugar marshmallow that could contain xylitol.

Are Marshmallows Good For Dogs?

We know that marshmallows should only be eaten as an occasional treat, and the same is true for our pets. They are not particularly good for us and provide little in the way of nutrition. There are far healthier snacks you could give your dog than marshmallows!

The high levels of sugar and corn syrup can lead to stomach upsets in some animals. Vomiting and diarrhea could occur, as well as abdominal pain if marshmallows are eaten in large quantities. Bloating may also occur.

Even if your dog can tolerate these tasty treats well, the excess calories will do him no favors. Feeding too many high-calorie snacks will lead to weight gain over time. Obesity carries its own health risks, so if your dog is already prone to weight gain, then steer clear of marshmallows.

Some marshmallows can be quite large, which could be a risk to puppies, smaller dogs, or brachycephalic (flat-faced breeds), which have narrow airways and are prone to choking.

Are Marshmallows Poisonous To Dogs?

Dog snout in pile of marshmallows
For some dogs, it is also worth noting that marshmallows could be a choking hazard.

While standard marshmallows are not toxic to dogs, low-sugar versions could be. They could contain something called xylitol, which is an artificial sweetener that could be fatal for your canine friend.

This ingredient is perfectly safe for humans, but in dogs, it can cause serious problems. Ingestion of xylitol causes your dog’s pancreas to release large amounts of insulin into their bloodstream, which causes a sharp drop in their blood sugar levels. If these sugar levels become too low, your dog could suffer from hypoglycemia, a condition that can cause harmful side effects. Irreversible liver failure can also be seen in some cases and is potentially fatal.

The following symptoms may be seen in a dog suffering from xylitol poisoning –

  • Weakness/collapse
  • Vomiting
  • Tremors
  • Pale gums
  • An increased heart rate
  • Seizures
  • Death
Woman laying with dog holding hot drink with marshmallows
Be extra cautious when eating or drinking marshmallows that have chocolate.

It is, therefore extremely important to check the ingredients list before offering your dog one of your marshmallows.

Chocolate is another ingredient that can be harmful to your pet. If you have chocolate-coated marshmallows or ones that contain chocolate chips or flavorings, then you should resist sharing these with your furry friend. 

Dogs are unable to process a certain chemical in chocolate called theobromine. Dark chocolate and cocoa powder are more harmful to dogs than milk or white chocolate as it contains higher levels of theobromine. It is dose-dependent, so smaller dogs will be more susceptible than larger dogs to its effects. Theobromine can cause vomiting, diarrhea, an elevated heart rate, hyperexcitement, tremors, seizures, and liver failure. 

You must get your dog seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible, even if they seem okay after eating the chocolate, as symptoms can take a few hours to develop.

What Should I Do If My Dog Eats Marshmallows?

Has your dog raided your stash of marshmallows? Here’s what to do –

  • Remove your dog from the area – Stop your dog from eating any more marshmallows by removing him from the area so that you can clean up
  • Check what type he ate – If the packaging is still present, check whether the marshmallows contained xylitol
  • Examine your dog to make sure they are okay – Is your pet okay, or are they showing signs of stomach upset, weakness, or collapse?
  • Call your vet for advice – You should ring your vet if the marshmallows contain xylitol or chocolate, but also if your pet has eaten a large number of normal marshmallows or if they are showing signs of choking.
  • Follow your vet’s advice – If your vet wants you to bring your dog into the clinic, then make sure you follow this advice. Prompt treatment leads to better outcomes.

What Other Snacks Could Be Harmful To My Dog?

If you enjoy sharing your snacks with your pet, then it is worth knowing which are the dangerous ones that you should avoid giving. The following must never be fed to your dog – 

Raisins

Raisins (and grapes) have the potential to be toxic to dogs, causing kidney failure and death. The exact mechanism of action is unknown, which means it can be quite difficult to know just how many will make a dog sick. In some cases, one or two raisins can cause problems, but others could eat lots and be fine. As you can’t predict how your dog will react, it’s best to play it safe and not give your dog any at all. Be aware that this includes cake, cookies, pastries, or bread with raisins in it, dried fruit mixes, and chocolate-coated raisins.

Nuts

Macadamia nuts are particularly toxic to dogs and can cause issues with their nerve and muscle function. Some dogs seem more sensitive to the effects of macadamia nuts than others, but it can be hard to predict in advance which those will be. Other nuts that shouldn’t bed fed to dogs include walnuts, pistachios, pecans, or any other nut that has been heavily salted or coated in chocolate.

Chips

Processed snacks like potato chips or Goldfish Crackers can contain high levels of salt as well as flavorings. The odd one should not cause too many issues, but you shouldn’t give too many in case of salt toxicity, plus they could lead to weight gain.

Candy And Sweets

Just like marshmallows, you shouldn’t give your dog other candy or sweets as they contain no valuable nutrients and very high amounts of sugar. Not only that, but some sugar-free candies could contain harmful xylitol. As you should know from earlier on in this article, this ingredient is highly toxic to dogs, causing dangerous side effects. Some hard candies could also be a choking hazard in dogs, especially round ones that could get lodged in your dog’s throat. 

What Healthy Snacks Can I Safely Share With My Dog?

Close Up of Dark Super Fruit
There are many health benefits of blackberries, so it is okay to offer them to your pooch.

As a general rule, you should stick to your dog’s regular diet where possible. He will be getting all the nutrition he needs from good quality commercial food, and any extra snacks will just add calories. However, if you still want to treat your dog, here is a list of healthy things that you could try –

Plain Popcorn

Plain popcorn is a safe snack to share with your dog. Avoid anything coated in sugar, salt, and toffee, as these are all unhealthy for our pets. Stick to plain popped kernels as an occasional crunchy treat for your pet.

Vegetable Sticks

Cucumber, pepper, and carrot batons make excellent low-calorie treats for dogs. These vegetables are all safe and provide your dogs with additional vitamins and fiber. Other safe veggies include zucchini, peas, and green beans. Vegetables should make up no more than 10% of your dog’s daily diet, though, otherwise, you could risk stomach upsets. We have collected a list of the fruits and vegetables that are safe for dogs to eat.

Lean Strips Of Cooked Meat

Strips of lean meat like turkey or chicken make a tasty treat for your pet. Make sure the meat isn’t seasoned or cooked in sauce. It should be served to your dog plain.

Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is something many dogs enjoy. Just make sure they don’t have it too often, as the additional calories could lead to weight gain. It is best to smear it inside a toy or feeding mat so that it lasts longer and gives your dog some mental stimulation while he tackles it. Avoid reduced sugar peanut butter, though as it could contain xylitol, an artificial sweetener that is toxic to dogs.

Fruit

There are lots of fruits that would make a good low-calorie and nutritious treat for your dog. Blueberries, strawberries, melon, apple slices, and pears are all safe for him to try in moderation. Again, make sure you avoid grapes (and raisins), as these can be toxic to dogs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Dogs Eat Marshmallows?

Dogs can eat marshmallows, but it is not recommended. Marshmallows are low in nutritional value and contain high sugar levels, which could cause stomach upsets and weight gain. There is also the risk of poisoning if your dog eats a marshmallow that contains xylitol or chocolate.

Should I Call The Vet If My Dog Eats Marshmallows?

If your dog has eaten one or two regular marshmallows, then he should be fine. However, if your dog has raided your cupboards and eaten a very large amount, or you suspect those marshmallows contain xylitol, then give your vet a call. Prompt treatment (if required) always leads to the best outcomes, so call your local clinic if you have any concerns about your pet.

Final Thoughts

While the odd regular marshmallow is unlikely to do too much damage, we certainly can’t advise that you feed them to your pet. There is no nutritional benefit to this sugary treat, and it carries some risks such as weight gain, choking, or even toxicity (if marshmallows containing xylitol or chocolate are accidentally given). Try and ignore his begging and just stick to your dog’s usual diet. 

The information provided through this website should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease; it is not intended to offer any legal opinion or advice or a substitute for professional safety or care advice. Please consult your health care provider, attorney, insurance expert, or product manual for professional advice. Products and services reviewed are provided by third parties; we are not responsible in any way for them, nor do we guarantee their functionality, utility, safety, or reliability. Our content is for educational purposes only.

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