Left to his own devices, your dog would probably love to sample every single edible thing he comes across, and often every inedible thing too! Have you ever made yourself a hot chocolate and thought – can dogs eat marshmallows?
While it may be tempting to react to your dog’s curious and pleading eyes and pick one of your creamy drink to throw to your well-behaved dog, read this article first to find out if marshmallows are a safe treat for your dog or whether they should be avoided.
In this article, we will discuss:
- What is marshmallow?
- Is marshmallow safe for dogs?
- Is marshmallow a healthy treat for dogs?
- What to do if your dog eats a marshmallow
- How to prevent your dog from eating marshmallows
Yes, dogs can eat Marshmallows in moderation, occasionally.
Can dogs eat marshmallows? Yes, normal marshmallows made from scratch or sugar are ok in limited amounts. Sugar-free marshmallows made with Xylitol are toxic and should be avoided.
What Is Marshmallow?
Marshmallow is primarily made out of sugar, water, and gelatin, all whipped together into a spongy consistency.
Some marshmallows may also contain vanilla essence for added sweetness and flavor, and be coated with a layer of cornstarch or confectioner’s sugar.
Marshmallow is a popular child sweet and often used as a pretty pastel-colored adornment to top decadent hot chocolate drinks, sprinkled on top of a swirl of whipped cream, and served with a spoon, just like a dessert.
Sticky marshmallow is also used to help solidify together ingredients of sweet treats such as rice crispy bars.
A popular and traditional, not to mention, social way to enjoy marshmallows is by roasting them on a campfire.
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Dog owners may be interested in whether marshmallow is something that they can give to their dogs as a treat due to the gelatin component.
Gelatin is made up of collagen, which is a structural protein derived from animal skin, connective tissue, and bone.
Seeing as dogs would have eaten all of these parts of an animal as part of a healthy and natural diet in the wild, the fact that marshmallow contains gelatin may have you wondering if this makes it a suitable treat for your dog. Keep reading to find out more.
Can dogs eat marshmallows?
Can Dogs Eat Marshmallows?
If your dog has helped himself to the marshmallow stash during a camping trip or scavenged a few fallen pieces from the top of your kid’s hot chocolate, you will be relieved to know that none of the ingredients that go into making most marshmallows are toxic to dogs.
Therefore your dog is not in any immediate danger, and being given the occasional piece of marshmallow is not going to do your dog any real harm.
Some people have made use of the conveniently spongy treat to hide unwanted medications to trick their stubborn pets into taking them.
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When you tuck a pill into the soft center of a marshmallow, it virtually disappears out of sight and scent, and your dog will be none the wiser, making medicine time quick, easy, and stress-free.
There are, of course, exceptions. Some marshmallows contain an ingredient called xylitol, which is an artificial sweetener.
You should check the ingredients list on your packet of marshmallows very carefully for this ingredient because it is toxic for dogs and should be avoided at all costs.
The devastating effects of a dog consuming products containing xylitol can lead to severe damage to the liver. It only takes a small amount of xylitol for it to be extremely harmful to your pet.
Is Marshmallow A Healthy Treat For Dogs?
Don’t be fooled into think that just because marshmallow is generally safe for dogs to eat and that because it contains gelatin that it is a healthy treat for your dog.
On the contrary, marshmallow contains very little to no nutritional value for your dog, and there are much better treat options available that your dog will enjoy and even benefit from.
While marshmallow that does not contain xylitol will not cause any immediate harm to your dog, you should be aware that sugar is very unhealthy, and not recommended to be part of any dog’s diet.
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Consuming sugar can be bad for your dog’s oral health, and it can lead to weight gain due to the high calories that sugar contains. High sugar levels can contribute to all kinds of different health issues.
Obesity in dogs is becoming a real issue, as so many dogs are not only being overfed with unnecessary treats, large meal portions, and not enough exercise but also with high carbohydrate dog food.
Foods that high in sugar like marshmallows only increase the risk of obesity, which can lead to diabetes due to insulin resistance.
If you do want to give your dog the odd marshmallow, be aware that when it comes to snacks, in general, they should only make up around 10% of your dog’s total caloric intake.
To give you an idea, the mini marshmallows that are often added as toppings to hot chocolate drinks or ice cream contain about 2 calories per piece.
In contrast, the jumbo marshmallows contain about 25 calories, which I’m sure you will agree is quite a jump.
What To Do If Your Dog Eats A Marshmallow
Now that you know that providing the marshmallow doesn’t contain any xylitol, it doesn’t pose a safety threat to your dog. You don’t have to panic in the case of your dog helping himself to a fallen marshmallow or two.
If, on the other hand, your dog has managed to get hold of an entire bag of marshmallows and devour the lot without you realizing it, then you can expect your dog to have an adverse reaction to his overindulgence.
Luckily the outcome won’t be life-threatening, but your dog is likely to experience some gastrointestinal upset, which means vomiting, diarrhea, and general discomfort is to be expected.
If your dog has consumed marshmallow that contains xylitol, watch out for the following symptoms, and also ataxia, which is an uncoordinated gait, and seizures.
It would help if you took your dog to see a veterinarian so that they can diagnose and give your dog treatment as quickly as possible.
Treatment for xylitol poisoning may include induced vomiting if ingestion is recent, to bring back up the majority of the marshmallow and avoid your dog absorbing too much of the toxins.
An injection will be administered, and your dog will bring up anything that is in its stomach almost immediately.
Activated charcoal would typically be given as well as a precaution to absorb any residual toxins left behind in your dog’s stomach.
If your dog develops hypoglycemia, they will need to be admitted to the hospital for intensive monitoring.
Your dog will be put on a drip to support and stabilize blood sugar levels, and your dog may need to stay in the hospital for a minimum of 24 hours.
How To Prevent Your Dog From Eating Marshmallows
The best thing you can do for your dog in the case of him eating a bag of marshmallows is to learn from the experience and make sure that he won’t have access to human foods in the future because next time, the food he gets hold of could be toxic.
It could lead to a hefty vet bill, or worse, put your dog’s life at risk.
Make sure that your dog cannot access food cupboards; some dogs can be pretty smart. Don’t leave food lying open on surfaces because big dogs can counter surf, and smaller dogs can be great little jumping jacks.
Don’t be fooled into thinking food is safe just because you haven’t opened a packet yet either. Plastic packets can easily be torn open, providing not only access to the food inside but also a safety risk in itself, with possible ingesting or suffocation.
Feeding your dog a treat just because you happen to be eating something yourself isn’t always a good idea.
To stop lethal accidents happening by offering your dog something that turns out to be toxic for them, it is sometimes a better idea to have a rule not to feed your dog any human foods that you don’t already know to be safe for dog consumption.
Dogs have their treats for a reason. It is to keep them safe and save you from having to do loads of research to put your mind at ease after offering your dog a questionable human food treat.