Everybody loves marshmallows. Fried or not, they're a sweet and tasty snack. But can dogs eat marshmallows as well, and are marshmallows for dogs totally safe to consume? Even more so, are there any benefits or side effects from giving marshmallows to dogs?
If you've been wondering, “can I give my dog marshmallows,” then a short answer is yes – dogs can eat marshmallows, but only in small amounts and given as a very occasional treat.
Marshmallows are not toxic to dogs and will not do any harm when you give your dog just a little serving. However, there's more to this, so let's take a look at what marshmallows are, and how giving marshmallows to a dog can affect your pet.
What are marshmallows?
A marshmallow is a very popular sugar-based confection treat. They are often served as small, soft, very sweet, air-puffed candy treats.
Today's marshmallows are based on the old medicinal confection which was made from a marshmallow plant called Althaea Officinalis.
This is what a modern day marshmallow treat looks like:
Sugar, starch, water, artificial colors and flavors, as well as corn syrup (sometimes), are mixed with gelatin to create modern marshmallows of spongy consistency. Some of these ingredients are the reason why marshmallows are not good for dogs in large amounts.
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Marshmallows for Dogs 101
Can Dogs Eat Marshmallows?
Yes, dogs can eat marshmallows safely but only in very small amounts.
A dog is unlikely to experience any negative health effects from the occasional marshmallow treat, but giving marshmallows for dogs much too often or in large amounts is not recommended due to some of the ingredients of marshmallows.
Marshmallows are not a healthy snack overall, but they do contain small amounts of nutrients. Here are the few positive minerals that may be beneficial to canines:
These three minerals provide some health benefits to dogs, although their impact is fairly minimal due to how little of these nutrients are contained in marshmallows.
Moreover, marshmallows can also be very high in calories, which will quickly cause your dog to overeat and interfere with your dog's otherwise healthy dietary regime.
3 Potential Health Benefits of Marshmallows for Dogs
Nevertheless, here are the three potential health benefits of giving marshmallow for dogs.
1. Selenium provides antioxidants for multiple health benefits.
Selenium may prevent canine arthritis and canine cancer and protect dogs from gastrointestinal illnesses and skin problems.
However, much larger amounts must be given to achieve this result, and marshmallows would not be the best dog treat to provide your dog with sufficient amount of selenium.
2. Iron helps improve cell function and blood pressure.
Iron is essential for dogs. It creates hemoglobin, which carries oxygen through red blood cells in the canine body. It helps certain enzymes function correctly within a dog’s body.
Similarly to selenium, there are only trace amounts of iron found in marshmallows, which are not worth the calorie content when feeding marshmallows to dogs.
3. Copper provides multiple health benefits.
Copper is another essential mineral that dogs required. It helps with the canine body’s absorption of iron, development of red blood cells, and the formation of connective tissue and bone. This mineral also serves as an antioxidant.
But once again, the amount of copper found in marshmallows does not justify feeding marshmallows for dogs due to large calorie amount as well as the ingredients found in marshmallows that are not particularly useful or healthy to dogs (even though they may not be toxic).
“So can I give my dogs marshmallow?”
Technically, yes – you can give your dog an occasional marshmallow treat. That being said, it is not recommended that you make this a regular snack in your dog’s diet.
Overall, there are many other tasty treats for dogs that can be given in place of marshmallows, most of which can at least provide actual health benefits to dogs.
Bottom line: In very small amounts, marshmallows are safe for dogs to eat. Because they are tasty, they must be kept away from dogs and only fed in strict moderation.
Safety of Marshmallows for Dogs
5 Potential Dangers of Giving Marshmallows to Dogs
Even though marshmallows for dogs are save, any sugar-heavy diets can result in multiple immediate and long-term health conditions in canines. Let’s look at some of these issues.
1. Excess sugar in a dog’s diet leads to obesity.
While dogs can eat marshmallows, owners must avoid making this a common dog treat because making sugar a regular part of your dog’s diet will lead to weight gain and obesity.
Sugar is not necessary for dogs to consume and it's best to avoid it.
2. Eating sugary foods causes spikes in blood sugar.
Marshmallows are high in sugar content which messes around blood sugar levels in dogs.
Blood sugar spikes are followed by an increase in insulin levels leading to a significant and sudden drop in canine body's blood sugar levels. Dogs who experience this may feel sick, hungry, or lethargic. This can also lead to canine diabetes, according to studies.
3. Marshmallows can lead to gum disease and tooth decay.
Once again, the high sugar content in marshmallows may cause more issues in dogs.
Gum diseases may occur from giving too many marshmallows for dogs. This includes canine periodontitis, where the buildup of calculus and plaque seeps under the dog’s gum line and damages the tissue surrounding the teeth, eventually leading to tooth loss.
An inflammation of the gums, known as canine gingivitis, can result in reduced circulation in the mouth and become a serious, widespread infection from too many sugary treats.
4. Too many marshmallows can cause gastrointestinal upset.
Sugar is completely unnecessary in the canine's diet and it's best to avoid it altogether.
Dogs’ digestive systems are not meant to digest sugar-based foods at all. Diarrhea may develop and will pass after the sugars have worked their way through the dog’s system.
5. Marshmallows may be a choking hazard.
Even though marshmallows are soft and spongy, their consistency (depending on the marshmallow size) can still be dangerous to dogs.
Many dogs often tend to swallow rather than chew, and that can make large marshmallows for dogs a dangerous treat if the marshmallow gets lodged in your dog’s throat. Be especially careful feeding large marshmallows to smaller breed dogs.
Side Effects of Feeding Marshmallows to Dogs
However, many dog owners may assume that if marshmallows are bad for dogs due to high sugar content, they may try to give sugar-free marshmallows to dogs.
Giving a dog sugar-free marshmallows is dangerous.
This is because most sugar-free marshmallows (and other sugar-free treats) contain xylitol, a natural sugar alcohol used as a sweetener in many treats for people.
Xylitol is toxic to dogs. Scientific studies have shown that it contributes to the development of coagulopathy, hypoglycemia, and life-threatening liver disease in canines as well as many other health problems.
Xylitol also contributes to acute liver disease and liver failure in dogs because it destroys critical liver cells necessary for the organ to function in the canine's body.
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More on Marshmallows for Dogs
A Pill Assistant
Even though there's really no good reason to give marshmallows to dogs, one way in which marshmallows may benefit dogs is their usefulness as a pill delivery system for dogs (such as the famous Greenies pill pockets/pouches, which are usually more expensive).
We all know that it can be notoriously difficult to give pills to a dog as they can often smell the medication despite your best attempt to hide it within a type of treat or food.
Pet owners often use marshmallows as a simple tool to get your dog to take his medication. The pill can be placed into the center of the marshmallow and easily hidden within its texture.
To avoid potential choking hazards from using marshmallows for dogs, always try to use only as much marshmallow as is necessary to hide the pill and keep a close watch. Here's our video on how to give a dog a pill in case you've never done this before.
Can Dogs Eat Marshmallows?
However, marshmallows are not an appropriate treat for dogs that are omnivorous by nature, and it’s best to avoid feeding your dog anything full of so much sugar. Overall, there is no good reason to give dogs marshmallows.
If fed to your dog regularly, marshmallows have the potential to cause multiple health problems ranging from mild to very serious. There are better, healthier snack options available for your dog that won’t cause him discomfort or permanently impact his health.
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