Can Dogs Eat Marshmallows? Here’s All You Need to Know

Though the question, “ Can dogs eat marshmallows ?” isn’t a very popular one, it is still valid and should be looked into.

It is completely normal for dogs to want to fully feel like a part of their human families and you may want to ensure they are always included. Imagine going on camping trips and enjoying s’mores or any other typical camping treat. It is not surprising for your pet to want to have a little taste too.

However, are marshmallows safe for dog consumption? What are they made of? Even if they are safe for your dog to eat, how often should they do so? Should it be every day, every other day or every month?

As your dog’s primary caretaker, his or her wellbeing is your full responsibility. What you feed them is something you always need to pay attention to. This article would answer several important questions and give you some insight into whether or not you should feed marshmallows to your canine friend.

can dogs eat marshmallows

A Little Back Story on Marshmallows

Historically, in Egypt, marshmallows were made from the extract of the mallow plant called Althaea Officinalis. The plant is usually found in the marshes and this was how the sweet came to be known as marshmallows, i.e. mallows found in marshes. Clever, isn’t it?

Originally, marshmallows were made by combining the extracted sap of the mallow plant with honey and nuts to create a delicious sweet. However, sometime in the 1800s, French confectioners began to add egg whites and sugar and this gave it a whole different twist.

Typically, nowadays, marshmallows are made by incorporating air into a mixture of water as well as sugars such as corn syrup and sucrose by whipping them together. In addition, they comprise artificial flavoring and in certain recipes, artificial coloring, sweeteners and preservatives.

Marshmallows also contain fresh egg whites combined with gelatin, a protein gotten by boiling the bones, tendons, skin and ligaments of pigs or cows. There are also acids such as lemon juice or cream of tartar among the list of ingredients.

During ancient times, the mallow plants were used medicinally by doctors. Both humans as well as dogs benefited from the healing properties of the mallow sap. Because of its anti-inflammatory and emollient features, it was applied in the treatment of various skin conditions including rashes, eczema and boils. It was also used in the treatment of tuberculosis, bronchitis, dry coughs and to alleviate any irritation of the mouth and throat. Treating wounds as well as stomach and bladder issues were also done with the herb.

To date, the mallow plant can still be used as a more natural and homeopathic route in the treatment of several illnesses including those previously mentioned.


So, Can Dogs Eat Marshmallows ?

Marshmallows are sweet treats that kids and even adults sometimes find nearly impossible to resist. However, the fact that humans are able to consume a particular food item without problems does not automatically mean that dogs can too.

To be honest, marshmallows aren’t even that great for us humans due to the large sugar content, how much more canines that have more highly sensitive tummies.

As can be seen from the list of ingredients, there isn’t anything potentially dangerous. However, this does not automatically mean that marshmallows can be eaten by your dog, more so in large amounts. There are few things to be cautious of:

  1. Marshmallows contain loads and loads of sugar

A certain amount of sugar isn’t harmful. In fact, it is actually needed for your pet to thrive. Carbohydrates are required by your dog to maintain a great quality of life. Once ingested, these carbohydrates are then broken down by your pet’s body into glucose or sugar. So with regards to sugars that occur naturally, these are perfectly okay for your dog when the recommended amount is taken.

The problem is when there is an excessive intake of processed sugar, which leads to a number of unwanted health issues. Here are a few of such problems:

  • Excessive sugar causes obesity

As with us humans, one of the biggest culprits of weight gain in dogs is an overload of sugar. There are a number of problems that come with being overweight such as fatigue and joint problems including arthritis. Heart disease, diabetes, labored breathing and overall respiratory complications are also highly likely to occur.

Though it is possible that your dog may escape these health risks, obesity would still significantly reduce his or her quality of life. This is as a result of low energy levels which can affect both their mental and physical wellbeing.

  • Stomach upset

In order for us to process and digest food easily, our guts contain bacteria and certain microorganisms. This is also true for dogs. When there is an overload of sugar in your dog’s body, the balance of these microorganisms is disturbed, causing diarrhea and sometimes, vomiting.

  • Cavities

If your dog consumes a lot of sugar, there is also the risk of him or her developing cavities. If your pet eats a high amount of sugar and doesn’t have their teeth cleaned on a regular basis, tooth decay is inevitable.

Even when you drastically cut down your dog’s intake of sugar, there is still a chance of the development of dental caries if you are not on top of his or her oral health. Therefore, it is important to deliberately feed your dog a diet that is low in sugar and pay regular visits to your vet to have their teeth professionally cleaned.

  • Changes in your dog’s metabolism

The extreme intake of sugar would cause substantial changes to the way your pet’s body produces and maintains certain hormones in his or her body. For instance, too much sugar would increase the production of insulin in the body. This in turn can affect a few other body functions and can consequently lead to various infections, obesity and even diabetes.

If your pet’s weight isn’t controlled and it continues to rapidly increase, there is a high chance of them developing Type 2 Diabetes.

  • Diabetes

Insulin is a hormone that is produced in the pancreas which works to control the amount of sugar or glucose in the blood. As mentioned earlier, an excess of sugar in a dog’s body leads to an overproduction of insulin. As a result, cells no longer react to this hormone which causes the pancreas to produce very little insulin or none at all. This is how diabetes sets in.

  1. In some recipes, marshmallows include chocolate

A large number of sweet makers now create chocolate-flavored or chocolate-coated marshmallows. If you never knew before, your canine friend should never be fed chocolate. As soon as you realize a marshmallow has chocolate, keep it far away from your pet.

This is because chocolate contains methylxanthines, a toxic chemical which can disrupt the metabolism of a dog. Though this chemical is higher in dark chocolate, any kind of chocolate is very dangerous for your pet. Even little amounts can induce vomiting and excessive stooling.

  1. Artificial ingredients such as coloring, preservatives and sweeteners like xylitol are common in marshmallows

The basic recipe for marshmallows has been modified over time and nowadays, a number of them include artificial colors, flavors, preservatives and sweeteners such as xylitol. While a little amount of sugar on rare occasions will not cause harm to your dog, xylitol is an absolute no-no.


Effects of Xylitol in Dogs

Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that is a popular substitute for sugar. It is an element that occurs naturally in certain fruits and vegetables like lettuce, plums, berries and mushrooms, to name only a few. It can also be seen in oats and corn. It is largely favored as a sugar substitute as a result of its low glycemic index, which makes it great for people on low carbohydrate diets and those who have diabetes. It is also widely used for its ability to fight the development of cavities and prevent the formation of dental plaque.

It has been mentioned before that blood sugar levels are controlled by the release of insulin in the pancreas. This is both in dogs and humans. However, while xylitol does not induce the release of insulin in humans, it does the complete opposite in dogs. Xylitol is absolutely poisonous for your canine, considered to be even more toxic than chocolates and leads to extreme outcomes including death.

When a dog takes in xylitol or anything that contains it, his or her bloodstream speedily absorbs it. This subsequently causes a strong emission of insulin from the pancreas. The quick release of the insulin leads to an equally fast and intense reduction of blood sugar levels. This is known as hypoglycemia. It can happen within 10 minutes to an hour of consuming xylitol and can be potentially life-threatening.

In addition to hypoglycemia, your pet ingesting xylitol can also cause liver failure, seizures and in severe cases, death.


Symptoms of Xylitol Poisoning

There are a few dangers of xylitol in your dog but the most common side effect is hypoglycemia. Xylitol can lead to a critical drop in your pet’s blood sugar level in as quickly as 15-30 minutes. Even the smallest amount consumed can cause a lot of harm. There are few signs for you to tell if your dog is reacting to xylitol poisoning. These include:

  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizures
  • Tremors
  • A lack of coordination
  • Inability to stand or walk
  • Coma

If not treated immediately, liver damage can happen and extreme cases can result in the death of your pet.


The 10% Rule

Can your dog eat marshmallows? When it comes to feeding your dog treats, it is important to follow what is popularly known as the 10% rule.

What it simply means is that the amount of treats you give to your pet should not exceed 10% of the total amount of calories required for your dog each day. The additional 90% has to come from their regular food which should ideally contain all the necessary vitamins and minerals they need for a balanced diet.


Consider a Healthier Substitute

You know how it is sometimes tedious for us as humans to swallow pills? Well, just like us, some dogs can’t stand taking bitter tablets. As a result, some pet parents usually find it easier to hide pills within a marshmallow to make it go down much more easily.

It is an easier way to go but it definitely isn’t advisable to do it all the time. In some other cases, certain dog owners simply find it difficult to resist their canine’s pleas for marshmallows and give in to them.

There are a variety of healthier treats you can give in place of marshmallows such as peanut butter, carrots, berries and even cheese, if your pet isn’t sensitive to dairy. They may not be as tasty; however, they are definitely more nutritious and completely harmless.

You can purchase pure balance dog food as an alternative here. Check the latest price for pure balance dog food on amazon.


What to Do if Your Dog Eats Marshmallows

What to Do if Your Dog Eats Marshmallows (1)

Accidents happen, no matter how careful you are or how far away from your dog an unsafe item was stored. If it ever happens that your pet ate up a whole bag of marshmallows and you are worried about the outcome, here is what you must do:

  • First, contact the pet poison control helpline

As soon as you discover that your pet has eaten a whole bag of marshmallows, immediately call the pet poison hotline. Make sure you have the bag at hand to read out the list of ingredients to whomever you are speaking to, including any known poisons. They would let you know what step to take next.

  • Closely monitor your dog’s reactions

Usually, when a dog consumes a lot of sugary marshmallows, diarrhea and a bloated stomach are typically the most common side effects. If these start to happen, take him or her to the emergency room right away. Should it turn out that they ate marshmallows which contain xylitol, your actions should be even more urgent.

  • Speak to your vet

It is important to get in touch with your vet as soon as possible. They would be in the best position to advise you based on their already existing knowledge of your dog’s health history including their age, breed, allergies and general health concerns.

Final Thoughts on Whether Dogs Can or Cannot Eat Marshmallows

So, all in all, can dogs eat marshmallows? Are they toxic for your pet? The answers to those questions are both ‘yes’ and ‘no’. A marshmallow being toxic or dangerous for your pet is dependent on the ingredients contained in the particular type or brand eaten. The quantity consumed at a go would also determine whether your pet would be in trouble or not.

Canines can eat marshmallows but only the basic sugar ones and even so, not on a regular basis. The occasional one or two marshmallows once a month or every other month is the safest bet. Anything more may just be a disaster waiting to happen. If it includes xylitol among the list of ingredients, avoid giving it to your pooch completely.

Ensure you always check the label to confirm the presence or absence of xylitol or any other ingredient you suspect may be harmful for your pet. This would be the wisest way to go as it is easier to treat stomach issues caused by sugar than those caused by xylitol.

If you have any doubts about giving your pet marshmallows, totally avoiding doing so is advisable. After all said and done, keeping the marshmallows fully out of the reach of your pet is the most favorable option.

If it ever happens that your pet ends up eating marshmallows, either by accident or because you have no idea it contained something harmful, immediately contact your vet. The earlier you do so, the higher the chances of your pet escaping extreme consequences.

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About David Huner

David Huner is a dog lover. Dog training has become a passion for him. With many years of experience he is here to share his tips and ideas. His goal is to provide exact dog training solutions. His favorite quote is "Train your dogs, enjoy your life and be happy"

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One comment

  1. very nice article
    thanks for sharing this news with us

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