Can Dogs Eat Marshmallows? What Should You Do If He Just Ate A Whole Bag? Let’s Find Out!
When you think of the word “marshmallows,” what pops into your mind?
S’mores. Hot cocoa. Holidays. YUM!
Marshmallows are so tasty you might even feel guilty looking into your pup’s mournful face as you blissfully pop yet another one into your mouth.
Surely giving your sweet and loyal fur baby just one tiny marshmallow couldn’t hurt anything….
But maybe then you pause for a moment to ponder, “Can my dog eat marshmallows?”
At this point, go ahead and pat yourself on the back. Because you are a wise dog parent indeed!
Marshmallows are popular because they taste great.
But in terms of what your dog’s digestive system is designed to process, they definitely have the potential to cause trouble!
Can dogs eat marshmallows – technically, yes. Occasionally and in tiny quantities. But they probably shouldn’t.
Because the truth is, marshmallow for dogs is okay as a very occasional treat. But all things considered, there are much better treat foods to offer your beloved pup.
And ones he will likely find to be just as tasty as well as far healthier than marshmallows!
Are marshmallows good for dogs?
The short answer is “no.”
In fact, marshmallows are not particularly good for people either. (Boo!)
To explain why, let’s take a look at the ingredients list for one of the most popular brands of store-bought marshmallows:
- Corn syrup
- Modified cornstarch
- Tetra-sodium pyrophosphate
- Artificial color
If you are wondering what some of these things are and how to pronounce them, you are in good company!
Early marshmallows were not so unhealthy as their modern-day counterparts.
Originally, the marshmallow candy was made from an herb called Althaea officinalis.
This herb got its common name of “marsh mallow” from where it likes to grow (marsh) and the fact that its gummy sap was called “mallow” by early confectioners and physicians alike.
For many decades, doctors regularly prescribed taking the herb’s gummy marsh mallow sap extract orally as a treatment for inflammation, sore throats and open wounds.
At the same time, confectioners were busy mixing the sticky, fluffy mallow sap with honey, nuts and natural flavorings to make tasty candies!
Marshmallows and Dogs
Some canine experts continue to cite Althaea officinalis as being both safe and healing for dogs who are suffering from a variety of ailments.
Including (but not limited to) dry coughs, diarrhea, constipation, gastrointestinal distress, inflammation, colitis, spasms, congestion, cuts and wounds and skin rashes.
Here, having dogs eat marshmallows might actually be both safe and beneficial.
Especially if you make your own marshmallows using only dog-safe ingredients that your veterinarian has approved.
But can dogs eat marshmallows on a day to day basis?
When it comes to deciding whether or not to feed your pup commercially prepared pre-packaged marshmallows, it is definitely wisest overall to steer clear.
Are marshmallows toxic to dogs
Whether or not marshmallow for dogs is toxic boils down to two things:
- What ingredients are in the specific marshmallow candies your dog ate.
- The quantity of marshmallow candies your dog ate.
In terms of ingredients, there are three main dangerous categories:
- Artificial sweetener (such as Xylitol).
- Artificial ingredients (such as colors or preservative agents).
Xylitol, for example, is so dangerous to dogs that some veterinarians say it is even more deadly than chocolate.
Xylitol is a very common artificial sweetener that is added to many products labeled “sugar free,” including gum, nut butters and marshmallows.
URGENT SAFETY NOTE
Can dogs eat marshmallows with xylitol in them? No!
If you do choose to offer the occasional marshmallow dog treat, check the ingredients list with great care beforehand.
If the marshmallows contain Xylitol, DO NOT give them to your dog! There is NO treat worth losing your precious pet over!
In terms of the quantity of marshmallows to offer your dog as an occasional treat, there is no universally agreed-upon standard quantity (unless you count “none”).
However, offering just one or two mini-marshmallows is the smartest option at first, at least until you see how your dog responds.
If you really want to let your dog eat the occasional marshmallow, then please talk with your veterinarian about it first. This way, you can discuss the appropriate quantity and frequency for your dog’s specific breed, weight, size, age and overall health.
Are marshmallows bad for dogs?
As long as the marshmallows in question are sweetened with sugar and not an artificial sweetener such as Xylitol, one marshmallow every once in a while (like once a month) is not generally considered so terribly bad for dogs.
Sometimes feeding the occasional sugar-sweetened marshmallow treat can even be beneficial for other reasons.
Such as when your dog won’t take a medically necessary pill unless it is hidden inside a tasty plump marshmallow.
But generally speaking, if you are offering a marshmallow strictly as a treat to your dog, there are many other better treat options you could choose.
And your dog would likely enjoy these other treat options just as much or even more.
Are marshmallows safe for dogs?
Strictly speaking, marshmallows in very small quantities (here, think one or two mini-marshmallows on an occasional basis) are typically safe for dogs.
However, they are not ever going to fall into the category of a “healthy dog treat,” and as mentioned earlier here, there are other far better tasty treats you could choose to offer your dog that she is likely to enjoy just as much.
Can puppies eat marshmallows?
Puppies have very specialized dietary needs at every stage of their first year of life.
In the earliest weeks, puppies are completely dependent on their mothers for all the nutrients their fast-growing bodies need. Even so, an estimated 30 percent of newborn puppies still do not live beyond the weaning stage.
This just shows how important it is not to feed puppies any foods other than what is nutritionally necessary. To help their bodies receive the necessary vitamins, minerals and nutrients to set them up for a lifetime of good health.
It is therefore not advisable to feed puppies marshmallows.
Do dogs like marshmallows?
Some dogs may be more food-oriented than other dogs.
There are dogs that won’t eat anything other than their regular daily diet of dog food. Then there are dogs that would eat the carpet, the tile, even the floorboards if they weren’t nailed down.
Your dog likely falls somewhere in between.
Most dogs find marshmallows to be a palatable food – where “palatable” means the ingredients are such that most species would find them pleasant-tasting.
As well, for some dogs, marshmallows may have a consistence or “mouth feel” that is similar to some of their dog toys – soft, chewy, foamy or squishy. In this case, it can be an honest mistake for these dogs to wolf down one or a whole bag of marshmallows without thinking anything of it.
Dog ate marshmallow – what shall I do?
Most canine parents have a story that begins something like this: “My dog ate a whole bag of….” followed by a detailed recounting of the off-limits item and their frantic calls to the pet poison control hotline.
These kinds of incidents do happen sometimes, no matter how vigilant you are about keeping unsafe items out of your dog’s reach.
For the pet parent who may be reading this article right now while panicking at the thought, “My dog ate a whole bag of marshmallows – what do I do?,” these are the three steps to take:
First, call the pet poison control hotline.
Have the marshmallow bag ready so you can read the list of ingredients to the responder, identify any ingredients that are known toxins/poisons for dogs and then discuss next steps.
Expect diarrhea or constipation and belly bloat
Especially if the marshmallows your dog has consumed are sweetened with sugar, the most likely side effect will be constipation or diarrhea plus stomach bloat. If you notice these effects, it is best to take your dog to the animal emergency room promptly for treatment.
Contact your vet right away
You should consult with your vet as soon as you can, because your vet will be the professional who is most familiar with your dog’s specific health history, including current age, weight, food intolerances and breed-specific health issues.
Can dogs eat marshmallows?
You are your dog’s owner, carer, best friend and advocate. So only you can decide whether you feel at ease with offering the occasional marshmallow treat to your pup.
However, if you have any doubts or reservations, it may be wisest to refrain from offering marshmallows.
Select another treat that you know is both healthy and tasty for your dog to enjoy.
Caring For Your Puppy
For more great information on looking after your dog, check out Pippa Mattinson’s great guide The Happy Puppy Handbook.
Resources and Further Reading
- Rhodes, J., “It’s a Marshmallow World,” The Smithsonian, 2011.
- Brown, K., “10 Herbs for Happy, Healthy Dogs,” Storey Publishing, 2000.
- Mason Woods, E., “7 Easter treats that might kill your cat or dog,” CBS News, 2012.
- Nicholas, J., DVM, “Xylitol: The “sugar-free” sweetener your dog NEEDS you to know about,” Preventative Vet, 2015.
- Jeusette, I. DVM, PhD, et al, “Puppy Nutrition,” Advance Veterinary Research Reports, 2002.