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can dogs eat marshmallows?

Photo
dog at campfire trying to eat a marshmallow
Posted by Dr. Kim Smyth on Jan 10 2017

If you take your dog camping (or maybe you’re just a fan of the backyard fire pit), chances are you’ve been stared at longingly while toasting that perfect marshmallow. While you may prefer your marshmallow black on the outside and gooey on the inside, your dog isn’t so picky—she’ll take what she can get!

Is it safe for dogs to eat marshmallows?

Most marshmallows are made from sugar, water, and gelatin, and all of these ingredients are "safe" for both dogs and cats. While they certainly qualify as “junk food,” they are not toxic to pets and can be given as an occasional treat if your pet has a sweet tooth.

In fact, marshmallows make a perfect hiding spot for medications. Tuck a pill into the soft center of a marshmallow, and it virtually disappears, hiding in pillowy, sticky, sugary goodness. For pets who are expert pill finders, or those who eschew pill pockets or peanut butter, marshmallows are a great option at medication time.

Now that you’ve been given the green light to your pet’s marshmallow heaven, a few “buts” will, of course, apply.

Marshmallows that contain xylitol are toxic to pets

First, check your marshmallow's ingredients list. More and more food products are incorporating the artificial sweetener xylitol as a substitute for sugar. Xylitol is toxic to dogs, causing blood sugar to bottom out and inflicting severe damage to the liver. If your marshmallows contain xylitol, keep them to yourself.

Follow the 10 percent rule

Second, follow the 10% rule that comes with any pet snack—unbalanced foods (like treats!) should only make up 10% of your pet’s total daily caloric intake. Mini marshmallows contain about 2 calories per marshmallow, while the jumbo marshmallows pack a punch of about 25 calories each.

What to do if your dog eats a marshmallow

If you’ve landed on this article because your pet just ate an entire bag of marshmallows, you can let out a sigh of relief. There is nothing toxic in regular marshmallows made with sugar (not xylitol).

If your dog couldn’t stop at just one marshmallow and instead ate one whole bag, you might see a bit of gastrointestinal upset (vomiting and/or diarrhea), but nothing life-threatening. Because your dog probably won’t learn from his overindulgence, you should take this time to not only weep over your lost marshmallows, but to also make a mental note—keep delicious foods safely behind the pantry door.

Related reading: Can dogs eat ice cream?