Sweet, yummy marshmallows are hard for many people to resist. We like them in desserts, with kids’ treats, on sweet potatoes, in hot chocolate, and roasting them around a campfire. Some people love to eat them right out of the bag. But, alas, they are not good for your dog. They aren’t usually toxic but virtually nothing in a marshmallow is healthy for your dog to eat. And, if they are made with xylitol, a sugar substitute, they can be dangerous for your dog, even in small amounts.
Fluffy little marshmallow pillows are made from sugar, water, and gelatin, then coated with corn starch or confectioner’s sugar. You can make them at home with some effort. Commercially-made marshmallows have some variation of this formula, depending on the brand. Air is a big component in marshmallows to make the pieces foamy and fluffy. Some companies use egg whites in their formula. Different kinds of sugar are also used such as corn syrup and granular sugar. Vanilla is often used as a flavoring.
Marshmallows as a treat are very old and probably date back to ancient Egypt. The mallow plant, an herb, is native to Europe, North Africa, and Asia. The root of the plant was used to soothe sore throats and coughs. Boiling pieces of the root pulp with honey until thickened produced the first marshmallows. By the 18th and 19th century, French confectioners had managed to turn a sweet medicinal herb into a spongy dessert. Gelatin eventually replaced the mallow root. By the late 19th/early 20th century the marshmallow we know today was more or less in place.
Are marshmallows good for your dog?
Marshmallows are deemed to have very little, if any, nutritional value. Since they are made mostly of sugar and corn syrup, they are not very good for any dog. If your dog has weight problems or diabetes, you should not give him marshmallows at any time. Eating such concentrated amounts of sugar can cause serious problems for any dog with pre-existing health problems.
While marshmallows, in general, are not good for your dog because of the high sugar content, there are sugar-free marshmallows which can be toxic to your dog. These marshmallows may use xylitol as a sugar substitute.
If you are buying sugar-free, vegan or other unconventional marshmallows (or candy), be sure to read the ingredients carefully to make sure they do not contain xylitol or other ingredients that might harm your dog. If you leave these foods where your dog can get them, it could be disastrous.
If your dog doesn’t have any health problems, you could safely give him a marshmallow occasionally. One marshmallow once in a while will not hurt your dog. So, if you are camping with your dog, let him have a roasted marshmallow. However, if your dog steals a bag of marshmallows off the kitchen counter, you will probably need to call your veterinarian. Eating that much sugar at one time would be very bad for your dog – and for you. At the very least your dog will probably have some gastrointestinal upset.
For dogs that have any kind of health issues, such as diabetes or obesity, they should strictly avoid marshmallows.
Whenever you are buying marshmallows, be sure to read the ingredients to make sure they don’t contain xylitol or other ingredients that could be harmful to your dog.