Dog trying to eat a marshmallow off a person's roasting stick

Can Dogs Eat Marshmallows? No, And…

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Many people have fond memories of marshmallows. You may remember sitting around a campfire, roasting marshmallows on a stick, or making smores. Is there a better way to spend a summer evening? Marshmallows are a fun, nostalgic, sugary treat that is hard to resist!

If you like to take your dog camping, you might be wondering “Can dogs eat marshmallows?” How can you resist those big brown eyes staring at you across the campfire?

Before you sneak your buddy a fluffy, sticky treat, though, make sure you understand the ramifications (as you should with all human foods, where you want to ask the question “what foods can dogs not eat?“). Be responsible when giving your dog human treats—while some human food is fine or even healthy for dogs, many snacks contain no nutritional value or are even toxic.

Can Dogs Eat Marshmallows?

No, dogs should not eat marshmallows.

Are marshmallows bad for dogs? Yes, marshmallows are bad for dogs. Marshmallows are bad for humans, too. They are made of sugar, corn syrup, gelatin, cornstarch, and more sugar. There is no nutritional value in a marshmallow—just calories and sugar.

While one marshmallow on its own will not kill your dog (usually—see below), the high sugar content will wreak havoc on their teeth and will cause weight gain if consumed regularly. There’s no reason to give your dog marshmallows. Instead, bring along some dog treats that your dog can enjoy while you make smores.

Marshmallows and Xylitol

There is one instance when a single marshmallow could be very dangerous for your dog, and that is if the marshmallow contains xylitol. Xylitol is a sugar substitute found in chewing gum, diet soda, and other low-calorie foods. It is much sweeter than sugar and contains almost no calories.

Xylitol is toxic to dogs. Even when consumed in small quantities, it can cause a blood pressure drop that can be fatal. A dog that ingests xylitol is at risk of seizure, ataxia, coma, or even death if not treated quickly.

If your dog ingests xylitol and survives, it can cause irreparable damage to their liver. Xylitol is toxic to the liver days after ingestion. Liver damage can be fatal or can lead to conditions that need to be closely managed for the remainder of the dog’s life.

Check the ingredients on everything you serve your dog. Never give your dog anything containing xylitol. If you suspect your dog may have ingested xylitol, call your vet immediately.

Tips from Our Vets

The following is a list of tips on how to think about what human foods are (and may not be) safe for your dog from Dr. Jennifer Coates’ article on Foods Dogs Can and Cannot Eat.

There are some human foods that dogs can eat safely, as well as some human foods dogs can’t eat.

If you have a dog, you might be used to seeing adorable puppy eyes begging for a bite of, well, anything that you happen to be eating.

While it’s natural to want to share human food with your furry pal, many of the foods we eat are toxic to dogs. Some reasons foods may be harmful to your pup include:

  • Foods that are a problem due to our physiological differences (foods we can handle that a dog’s stomach can’t)
  • Other foods aren’t toxic, but are still potentially dangerous for dogs because they are hard to digest
  • Another category of foods that are a problem for dogs are foods that may contain high levels of fat

Some tips and words of caution if you are feeding your pet human foods:

  • Always keep in mind that new foods of any kind, including switching to a different dog food, can cause stomach upset.
  • When you find a human food you’d like to share with your pup, go slowly. Give small amounts at first and watch for any problems like vomiting or diarrhea before giving more.
  • Remember that treats should make up less than 10% of your dog’s diet. So all of the foods that are safe for your dog should be given in moderation to avoid weight gain and nutrient excesses and deficiencies.

What To Do if Your Dog Eats Something He Shouldn’t

Now that you know what foods are safe for dogs, it’s a good idea to know what to do if your pup eats food that’s toxic to dogs.

If your dog does end up eating something he shouldn’t, try not to panic. You have a few options for getting the help your dog needs:

  • The first is to call your dog’s veterinarian, who can advise you to either come into the office or to watch for signs of poisoning, obstruction, or other potential problems.
  • If it’s after hours, you can try calling an emergency veterinarian.
  • Another option is to call a pet poison control line. Be aware that there is a fee to use these services. Two that we can recommend are the ASPCA Animal Poison Control at (888) 426-4435 and the Pet Poison Helpline at (855) 764-7661.

In some cases, you might be told to induce vomiting in your dog. It is helpful to keep hydrogen peroxide on hand in case you need to do this.

Do not induce vomiting unless your veterinarian or someone from one of the pet poison control hotlines advises you to do so, however, because in some cases, vomiting can make the situation worse. [efn_note]Is it ever safe to induce vomiting? November 19, 2019. Accessed April 28, 2021.[/efn_note]

Final Thoughts

So, the answer to “can dogs eat marshmallows?” is definitely no. Marshmallows are a fun treat for humans, but when it comes to your dog, it’s best to steer clear of them. If the marshmallows contain xylitol then even a little bit could be fatal for your pal. Marshmallows without xylitol are full of sugar, artificial flavors, corn syrup, starch, and other problematic ingredients. It’s not a good idea to get into the habit of giving your dog sugary treats as it can lead to obesity, dental problems, and a whole range of health issues down the road.

Instead of marshmallows, try giving your dog fruit, dog treats, cheese, or another veterinarian-approved snack. Your dog’s tummy and teeth will thank you!

Check out our articles on the foods your dog should and shouldn’t eat, including whether dogs can eat cantaloupe, tuna, bread, beets, or ice cream.

Beyond all that, you’re likely also interested in the quality of your dog’s food and your pet’s health, in addition to having questions about what your dog can and can’t eat. We happen to have a ton of resources on these very topics!

One is our guide which will teach you about adding fiber to a dog’s diet, along with or our guide to choosing the best high fiber dog foods. If you’re looking into treating your dog with upset stomach we have a guide for that as well, and we can even help answer how long does it take for dogs to digest food?. If you’re portioning your dog’s food you can also check out our guide to choosing the best automatic dog feeder.

We also have a series of health and nutritional information for your dog. Our puppy size calculator and our dog weight chart can help you determine if your dog is the proper weight and size, and we even have a collection of breed-specific growth charts such as our goldendoodle growth chart, great dane growth chart, golden retriever growth chart, chihuahua growth chart, or our labrador growth chart.

Pet News Daily Staff
Pet News Daily writers are experts in pet care, health and behavior. We are members of Society for Professional Journalists and practice ethical journalism.