Can dogs eat marshmallows, or are they toxic? Are some marshmallows safer for dogs than others?
The Labrador Site team takes a look at whether marshmallows are good for dogs, and how to keep your pup safe from potentially dangerous ingredients in candy. Store-bought marshmallow usually contains one of two ingredients that are unsuitable for dogs. Sugar, which contributes to obesity and tooth decay. Or xylitol, an artificial sweetener used in lots of sugar-free candy, which is toxic to dogs.
Marshmallows that contain sugar are bad for dogs, and should only be given in very tiny amounts, if at all. Marshmallows that contain xylitol are poisonous to dogs and should never be fed to your pup. But some of the other ingredients in this treat are safe for dogs. So it is possible to make your own ‘dog safe’ marshmallows.
Let’s take a look at what else is in marshmallows, what exactly makes sugar and xylitol unsuitable for dogs, and what can go into a homemade dog friendly marshmallow treat.
Can Dogs Eat Marshmallows?
If you’ve just dropped a marshmallow on the floor and your dog has snatched it up, you’ll be relieved to hear that there’s nothing outright toxic in regular sugar marshmallows for your dog.
Marshmallows are primarily made out of water, sugar and gelatin. Water is, of course, no cause for concern. And gelatin is a spongy food made from collagen of various animal body parts. Your dog would be eating animal parts if he was out in the wild. Sugar, while not great for anyone, will not kill your dog in individual marshmallow-sized small doses. But this does not mean that marshmallows are good for dogs.
Marshmallows And Dogs
Sugar is very bad for dogs’ teeth. It is highly recommended that owners brush their dogs’ teeth regularly to prevent plaque building up. This becomes even more important if you are going to feed them sugary products. And, of course, that’s not the end of the story. Sugar-free marshmallows will likely contain xylitol, which is a major concern for dogs.
For example, as little as two sticks of gum containing xylitol will kill a small dog. The first sign of toxicity is hypoglycemia, which can kill a dog in less than an hour. Even dogs that survive can have liver damage.
When Are Marshmallows Bad For Dogs?
As the information we’ve already covered makes clear, sugar-free marshmallows are toxic to dogs. If you fear that your dog has already eaten something containing xylitol, scroll down to the section on what to do if your dog has eaten sugar-free marshmallows, or other treats that include this ingredient.
Marshmallows with regular sugar aren’t immediately dangerous to your dog. However, sugary treats are just as bad for our pets as they are for us! If you share them with your dog, they should only be given in very limited quantities. Scroll down to the section “Should I give my dog marshmallows?” for more specifics.
Can Puppies Eat Marshmallows?
Feeding marshmallows to your puppy is a whole other issue. For starters, many vets recommend avoiding giving pups treats while you are preparing food. When you feed your puppy little scraps of human food, including marshmallows, you may be setting up a dog that will have a lifetime of extensive begging habits. Or may even steal food off your plate.
There’s also the issue of caloric intake. A puppy is going to have much fewer daily calorie needs than a grown dog. Puppies need a very carefully designed formula to grow into healthy adult dogs. Their complete dog food gives them everything their bodies need. So don’t give your puppy marshmallows. It’s a good idea to forgo the sugary treats for your puppy until he gets bigger, if at all.
Are Marshmallows Good For Dogs?
Ultimately, marshmallows don’t really have any health benefits for dogs, in much the same way that they don’t have any health benefits for humans. Can dogs eat marshmallow safely in small quantities? In general, yes. As long as they do not contain xylitol and you are not feeding your dog too many for her body weight, you should be fine. But there really isn’t any good reason to do so. There are plenty of other treats that your pup will enjoy far more, and which will be better for her.
Can Dogs Eat Toasted Marshmallows?
Can dogs have marshmallows that are toasted? Again, this goes back to the question of xylitol. If the marshmallows are sugar-free, you should not give them to your dog. On the other hand, if you’re roasting marshmallows around a campfire and your dog pounces on the one you drop, don’t panic. One marshmallow is unlikely to harm your dog — though you probably will have to clean off all the stickiness on her nose!
Can Dogs Eat Chocolate-Covered Marshmallows?
A popular variation on marshmallows is to cover them with chocolate — you know, because we need even more sugar in our treats! If the marshmallow contains chocolate in any way, do not feed it to your dog. Chocolate is not good for dogs. It’s not just an old urban legend. It doesn’t matter if your neighbor’s cousin’s roommate’s dog got into a little bit of chocolate and was fine.
Chocolate contains toxic substances called methylxanthines, which can stop a dog’s metabolic process. Dark chocolate is by far the worst, but even a small amount of chocolate can cause diarrhea and vomiting. Always take your dog to the vet if you suspect that he has eaten chocolate.
What Should I Do If My Dog Eats Marshmallows
If your dog has accidentally got hold of a single, normal marshmallow, there is no reason to panic. But if he ate the whole bag, you can probably expect a stomach ache, along with other possible reactions. If you see any concerning symptoms, it’s always best to be on the safe side and take your pup to the vet.
Remember, xylitol in sugar-free marshmallows can play a role in triggering insulin release in dogs. Call your vet immediately if your dog is acting funny in any way after consuming something that might have contained xylitol.
How Do I Know If My Dog Has Eaten Too Many Marshmallows
Any signs of distress after your dog has eaten marshmallows should be paid attention to. When in doubt, always play it safe and visit the vet. This is even more of a concern if there is even the slightest possibility that your dog has eaten sugar-free marshmallows. Signs of xylitol poisoning include vomiting, weakness, lack of coordination, difficulty walking/standing, lethargy, tremors, seizures, and coma.
If you would like to give your dog marshmallows as a sweet treat, stay away from sugar-free varieties to be safe. Check all labels for xylitol. And be very careful to keep the sweetener or marshmallows out of your dog’s reach if you’re trying one of the countless xylitol sugar-free marshmallow recipes out there.
Should I Give My Dog Marshmallows?
The first thing to keep in mind when giving your dog any treat is what is commonly called the “10 percent rule.” Dog treats or other food items should not go over 10 percent of your dog’s daily caloric intake. The other 90 percent of your dog’s food intake should be coming through a balanced diet plan, such as their regular kibble food. This can be especially important for Labrador Retrievers, as they often have a tendency towards becoming overweight.
Can Dogs Eat Marshmallows? — An Example
One such example of treats mentioned in the 10 percent rule is miniature marshmallows. 10 mini marshmallows equals 22 calories. A daily calorie intake calculation for a 22-pound adult neutered dog, comes out to a very rough average of about 400 calories daily. So those 22 calories from the marshmallows would come out to about 5 percent of the dog’s daily 400 calories.
That puts into context how many empty calories you’re giving to your marshmallow dog. Just a handful of mini marshmallows is already taking up half the treat calories a dog should be allowed in a day if they’re 22 pounds! But it isn’t even this straight forward, as marshmallows are made up of such a high amount of sugar.
You don’t want your dog gaining weight just because of marshmallow treats. And why would you give him something with no nutritional benefit when there are so many other healthy options?
How To Prepare Marshmallows For Dogs
If you really love the idea of marshmallows for dogs, but want to avoid all the negatives, you can make your own dog-safe marshmallows. These will be both sugar-free and xylitol-free. There are a number of recipes out there. This one for marshmallow peeps for dogs uses gelatin, honey, and water for the main ingredients, in a really cute bunny mold. You could also use the same basic recipe in other shapes, such as a more traditional marshmallow “pillow.”
Ultimately, however, there are plenty of other treats that will be more beneficial for your dog — and she might enjoy them more, too!
Alternatives To Marshmallows For Dogs
Are you looking for a great treat for your dog? Here are some articles with a host of options that your pup might really love!
- 8 healthy snacks for Labs
- Our picks for the best dog treats for Labradors
Can Dogs Eat Marshmallows Summary
Can dogs eat marshmallows safely? Well, if they don’t eat too many, and if the treats contain no xylitol, then the answer is yes. However, we all want to keep our pets as healthy as possible. Too much sugar isn’t good for them, just like it isn’t good for us. Overall, there are far better treat options for a happy, healthy dog. And, very importantly, avoiding feeding your dog marshmallows is the safest way to ensure that they don’t encounter the toxicity of xylitol.
References and Further Reading
- UCDavis Veterinary Medicine, “Treat Guidelines for Dogs”
- Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center, “Basic Calorie Calculator”
- Chetek Veterinary Clinic, “Could Cookies, Candy, or Gum Kill My Dog?”
- Kuzuya, T., “Stimulation of Insulin Secretion by Xylitol in Dogs,” Endocrinology, 1969,
- VCA Animal Hospital, “Xylitol Toxicity in Dogs,”
- Lawndale Veterinary Hospital, “Paws to Protect: Puppies Feeding,”
- Diet and the Teeth : an Experimental Study. Part I. Dental Structure in Dogs
- ”Marshmallow Peeps For Dogs,” Gone To The Snowdogs
This article has been extensively rewritten and updated.