Marshmallows are one of those treats that can be hard to resist — and it’s nearly impossible to eat just one. But, can dogs eat marshmallows? The answer is no. Though not all marshmallows are toxic to dogs, they certainly aren’t good for your canine companion. Made from sugar, corn syrup, gelatin, vanilla extract, and coated with either cornstarch or confectioners’ sugar, marshmallows contain very little, if any, nutritional value or health benefits.
Dr. Carly Fox, a staff doctor at New York City’s Animal Medical Center, says if the marshmallow has xylitol (an artificial sugar) as an ingredient, it is absolutely toxic to your dog and can be extremely harmful, even if ingested in small quantities. “Xylitol can cause dangerously low blood sugar, leading to seizures and even death if the dog is not treated properly,” says Dr. Fox. “It has also been shown to be toxic to the liver, even days after ingestion.”
Marshmallows contain an incredibly high amount of sugar and calories and are especially dangerous for any dog with diabetes or weight problems. Even if your pup is healthy, feeding him sugary treats can contribute to obesity, which can lead to diabetes due to insulin resistance.
As for marshmallows that do not contain xylitol, both Dr. Fox and Dr. Lucas White, a veterinarian with Sunset Veterinarian Clinic in Edmond, Okla., agree that eating too many can lead to gastrointestinal upset. Your pup would likely exhibit signs of vomiting, lack of appetite, and diarrhea. If those symptoms persist for more than one-to-two days, your dog could also be at risk for pancreatitis. If he’s ingested marshmallows containing xylitol, your canine companion could exhibit the above symptoms, as well as ataxia (uncoordinated gait) or seizures.
Call your veterinarian immediately if your dog consumes multiple marshmallows. Your vet will most likely choose to induce vomiting if the dog ate the marshmallows within the last couple of hours to prevent prolonged gastrointestinal upset, pancreatitis, and GI obstruction.
Feeding your dog treats that are high in sugar is never a good idea. While these treats might not be harmful in the moment, that can change over time. Ideally, marshmallows should be avoided. Instead, opt for healthier snacks like carrots, green veggies, blueberries, etc., that will provide better nutritional value for your dog.