Can dogs eat marshmallows?

Health and Wellbeing

Few treats are as irresistible as a soft, pillowy marshmallow, especially when dipped in melted chocolate or floating in a hot chocolate.

If your pup seems to have a sweet tooth, you’ve maybe wondered if you can toss a mini marshmallow to them as a treat or perhaps had to Google it quickly after your dog’s nicked one you were toasting.

Can dogs eat marshmallows?

We’ll be answering “can dogs eat marshmallows” and sniffing out any reasons why your dog might be able to munch a mallow, or whether this is another food dogs shouldn’t eat.

CAN DOGS EAT MARSHMALLOWS?

Your dog shouldn’t eat marshmallows, but it shouldn’t cause them serious harm if they’ve munched one as a one-off.

Marshmallows are mostly made of sugar, gelatin, and corn syrup so they’re not very healthy for dogs to eat, but they’re non-toxic and technically “safe” for dogs to eat should they snaffle one or two by accident.

If your pup manages to hoover up a marshmallow that’s fallen on the floor, they’ll likely be ok. Your pup can probably eat one as a very special treat every now and again without a problem, as long as they eat a balanced diet.

Plus, if your pup needs medication, a mini marshmallow can be the perfect secret weapon to hide a pill inside. The sticky texture and sweet taste will easily disguise what you’re really feeding Fido!

Ideally though, your pup will only eat a marshmallow as a very rare treat, or not at all, because all that sugar has the potential to cause quite a few problems if eaten regularly, and there’s simply nothing nutritious about these soft sweets.

Plus, you need to be careful that your marshmallows don’t contain any sweeteners, particularly xylitol. Xylitol is a common sweetener often used in sugar-free or fat-free sweets, but it is highly toxic to dogs. It should also go without saying that if your marshmallow is coated or dipped in chocolate, your dog can’t eat it because the chocolate is toxic to them.

Not all dogs can safely eat marshmallows though - if your dog has diabetes or another condition that requires a special diet, they shouldn’t eat any marshmallows.

CAN DOGS EAT FLUFF?

Yes, dogs can technically eat fluff because it doesn’t contain anything that is toxic to dogs. This marshmallow spread just contains corn syrup, sugar, dried egg white, and flavourings - it isn’t healthy for your dog to eat, but isn’t poisonous either.

But, just because a food is “safe” for dogs to eat doesn’t mean it’s good for them to snack on. Like marshmallows, fluff is packed full of sugar that your pooch doesn’t really need to eat at all, and it could cause illness if they eat a lot of it.

But if you have a piece of toast crust with a little trace of fluff left on, it shouldn’t hurt your pup if they munch on the mallowy treat. Just don’t actively feed your dog spoonfuls of this sweet stuff!

ARE MARSHMALLOWS BAD FOR DOGS?

Yes, eating marshmallows is bad for dogs because they are packed full of sugar, and they simply aren’t a “good” food because they are unhealthy with no nutritional value.

Eating too much sugar will probably cause gastrointestinal problems for your pooch and can make them sick. It will also cause a sudden increase in their blood sugar, which could make your pup hyperactive with a lethargic crash when it wears off.

However, regularly eating sugar can have disastrous effects on your pup’s teeth. We all know eating too much sugar rots our teeth, and it’s the same for our furry friends.

Sugar feeds the bacteria in your dog’s mouth and after feeding, they excrete an acid that wears away the enamel of their teeth. There are also a few strains of Streptococcus bacteria that feed on sugar then produce plaque, which sticks to your dog’s teeth and can calcify or cause cavities. Bits of marshmallow or remnants of sugar can also get stuck in between their teeth and lead to cavities.

Whether your dog is eating sugary treats or not, you should be regularly brushing their teeth to improve their oral health and to prevent problems like bad breath, plaque, gum disease, and tooth decay.

Regularly eating too much sugar will also impact your dog’s overall health because over time it can lead to diabetes and obesity. This is because eating sugar causes your dog’s body to create insulin, and if they eat a lot of sugar and their body is continually exposed to insulin, their cells stop reacting to it in the way they should and become resistant. Diabetes develops as the body stops responding to insulin.

Meanwhile, we all know eating too many calories and too much junk food can lead to weight gain and it’s no different for dogs. Eating too many unhealthy treats like marshmallow means your pooch is more likely to eat more calories than they use, leading to weight gain and obesity.

ARE MARSHMALLOWS POISONOUS TO DOGS?

Marshmallows aren’t usually poisonous to dogs, and typically don’t contain anything that’s toxic to dogs.

However, that’s provided there are no sweeteners in the ingredient list. You’ll need to check the label and make sure there is no xylitol in your marshmallows, because this common sweetener is highly toxic to dogs.

Even a trace amount of xylitol is incredibly harmful to dogs, and it can cause low blood sugar, seizures, liver failure, and even death if your pooch eats some. A dog only needs to ingest 100mg of xylitol per kg of their body weight for it to send their blood sugar plummeting dangerously low, and eating more than this raises their risk of more serious illness.

Xylitol is usually found in sugar-free sweets and gum. However, it could crop up anywhere so it’s a good habit to always check the label.

WILL MARSHMALLOWS MAKE A DOG SICK?

It is possible that your dog can be sick after eating marshmallows. Snuffling one or two mini marshmallows probably won’t be a problem, but if your pooch manages to munch a few large ones they might get a sore stomach and suffer from gastroenteritisvomiting, or diarrhoea.

This is because marshmallows are mostly sugar, which in large amounts can upset your pooch’s stomach. Like a kid after Halloween, too many sweets can make your pooch feel queasy, so if you want to prevent any short-term sickness (and all the mess it can make) you’re better off not letting your pup eat marshmallows. If your dog has a particularly sensitive stomach, they’ll be more likely to be ill.

Symptoms like vomiting or diarrhoea shouldn’t last for more than a few hours, and you should hold off on feeding your pooch if they’re being sick. If you’re worried or their illness persists you must get in touch with your vet for advice.

HOW MANY MARSHMALLOWS CAN DOGS EAT?

Ideally, your dog shouldn’t eat any marshmallows at all and should enjoy healthy treats made for dogs instead. But if your pup manages to steal one, or you need to use one to hide a pill, then just try to feed them as little as possible.

If you have a big dog and they manage to eat one or two mini marshmallows, or one regular-sized mallow, they should be perfectly fine. However, a smaller dog like a Shih Tzu might get a bit sick after eating a whole marshmallow because of their tinier size and more sensitive stomach.

RECAP: CAN DOGS HAVE MARSHMALLOWS?

Technically, dogs can eat marshmallows as long as they don’t contain any toxic xylitol. Most marshmallows don’t contain anything that is harmful to dogs, so they are “safe” to eat.

if you drop a marshmallow and the dog hoovers it up, there’s no need to panic as it shouldn’t cause them any serious harm unless they somehow scoff several of these pillowy sweets. And even a mini marshmallow every now and then as a special treat should be fine provided your pup eats a balanced diet and has plenty of exercise. If your dog is eating sugary snacks, (which we wouldn't recommend), make sure they're getting all their nutrients from their normal diet. For example, a complete, balanced meal like Pure that has got all the nutrients your dog needs without compromising on taste will be the best thing feed. Your dog can still enjoy tasty food that's also healthy!

Dr Andrew Miller BVSc MRCVS

Written by: Dr Andrew Miller MRCVS

Andy graduated from Bristol University in 2010 and sees nutrition as a foundation for our pet's wellbeing and takes a common-sense approach. We are what we eat, and it shouldn't be any different for our pets.