Last Updated on September 22, 2023 by Linda Richard
Everybody loves marshmallows and dogs are no exception to this rule. But can dogs have marshmallows – are they toxic or “just” unhealthy to them? And yes, those are the two starting options, as it should be clear that marshmallows are obviously not “healthy” for dogs.
So, can dogs have marshmallows or is this one of those foods that can necessitate a vet visit after a single bite. Unfortunately, it’s often the latter. Let’s go into a bit more detail below.
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Can Dogs Have Marshmallows?
The quick answer here is “No”. Dogs really shouldn’t have any access to marshmallows whatsoever. There are a few exceptions where a marshmallow won’t be outright “toxic” to your dog but even then it’s categorically unhealthy. So, if you value your pooch’s wellbeing, just keep marshmallows away from it.
When asking “Are marshmallows safe for dogs?” we should first specify that not all marshmallows are the same. Depending on the manufacturer you will have different ingredients in them. Different marshmallows will have different types of sugars and sweeteners in them and those can lead to some drastically varying outcomes.
Why Are Marshmallows Bad For Dogs?
The worst ingredient you can see in marshmallows is xylitol. While it’s not deadly or toxic for people (it’s still unhealthy though) xylitol is incredibly dangerous for canines. This type of artificial sugar can be extremely hazardous for your dog even in small quantities. And, unfortunately, a lot of types of marshmallows have lots of xylitol in them.
So, even a single small bite of a marshmallow can be deadly for your dog. The main negative effect of this artificial sugar is that it will drastically lower your dog’s blood sugar. This, in turn, can lead to seizures and death if the dog isn’t immediately taken to a vet. Even if your dog survives the first brush with xylitol, this chemical is also harmful to the canine liver, even days after ingestion.
Eating xylitol marshmallows can also lead to ataxia in your dog. Also called “Uncoordinated gait” this is essentially a loss of balance and uncoordinated movements. The potential seizures and risk of death remain the biggest concerns, however.
Learn more about: Can Dogs Have Raspberries Or Are They Toxic To Them?
The fact that people usually eat marshmallows while camping (and are away from cities and their vets) only complicates things even further. To make matters worse, it’s difficult to keep your dog away from all food supplies when you are camping cause everything often ends up all over the place.
Can Dogs Eat Marshmallows If They Have No Xylitol?
Xylitol-free marshmallows are less immediately dangerous for dogs. Those marshmallows can be counted as “just unhealthy” but that still makes it a bad idea to give your dog such marshmallows. They are always chock-full of sugar and high amounts of calories which can quickly lead to obesity, diabetes, heart problems, and more.
Eating marshmallows can also very easily lead to gastrointestinal upset and a lot of vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, and reduced appetite. Acute pancreatitis is also a common problem after marshmallow intake in dogs, especially if the gastrointestinal problems continue for a day or two.
How Many Non-Xylitol Marshmallows Can Dogs Have?
Ideally – zero. If you insist on giving your dog at least some marshmallows, the exact acceptable number will depend on the dog’s size and weight. Smaller toy breeds should really never be given more than one while average and large breeds can eat a couple relatively safely. Giant breeds should be able to get away with 3 marshmallows.
However, keep in mind that this is very much speculation. It depends on your dog’s exact age, breed, and health conditions, and predispositions. So, our advice remains that even one marshmallow is one too many.
Can Dogs Have Marshmallows Without Xylitol As Just Occasional Treats?
There are hundreds of better options if you’re looking for training treats for your dog. Even if your pooch seems to love marshmallows above all else, there are still going to be some treats that are more than delicious enough to be effective.
Training treats are supposed to be given regularly as most training regimes take time, often weeks and months. And giving your dog so much concentrated sugar and fat is categorically not a good idea.
Are There Any Health Benefits To Marshmallows For Dogs At All?
Not really. Hypothetically, if your dog is on the brink of starvation, the calories in marshmallows can help. But that’s literally all marshmallows are – empty calories for humans and canines alike. Only they are even more dangerous for dogs than they are for us.
What To Do If Your Dog Has Eaten Any Or Too Many Marshmallows?
In almost all cases, we’d recommend getting your dog to the vet as soon as possible.
If you’ve checked to make sure that the marshmallows have no xylitol, if your dog is generally in good health, and if you’ve stopped your dog after the first bite, you can wait a bit and not rush to the vet immediately. If your dog doesn’t start exhibiting any symptoms in the first 24 hours, the crisis might be averted.
Even then, however, we’d recommend a visit to the vet in a few days, whenever possible. Or, at the very least, call your vet consultation. Even if there aren’t any noticeable symptoms and the dog seems in good condition, there may be liver damage.
So, Can Dogs Have Marshmallows In Any Shape Or Form?
They “can” but only in the smallest possible quantities, only when there is absolutely no xylitol in the marshmallows, and only if it’s an accident and you simply failed to stop your dog from nibbing at a marshmallow in time.
Other than that, there simply is no reason to ever give your dog marshmallows. They offer zero nutritional value, there are countless other delicious treat options, and it’s just an unnecessary risk. Some of the fruits and veggies that are hazardous for dogs at least offer some vitamins and minerals but marshmallows don’t even have that going for them.