Marshmallows are sugary, sweet goodies commonly used in baking and confectionery. Marshmallow Peeps are particularly popular Easter treats, and marshmallow fluff can be added to peanut butter sandwiches. While this product is incredibly versatile, the ingredients can be toxic for dogs. In some cases, even a tiny bit of a marshmallow treat can be dangerous, so you should avoid giving your dog any at all.
While not all marshmallows are toxic to dogs, you should still be incredibly cautious about the food. Even when the ingredients are non toxic, they can cause stomach upset. Sometimes, the effects can be more severe. This guide will explain why Peeps and marshmallow fluff are best avoided when it comes to dogs.
What Are Peeps?
Peeps are marshmallows that have been shaped to look like animals, usually chicks and rabbits to suit the springtime holidays. They’re also covered in brightly colored sugar.
While Peeps started as an Easter treat, the candy has expanded into other holidays too. Now these sugary, marshmallow treats are themed for Halloween and Valentine’s Day, as well as many other holidays.
Can Dogs Eat Peeps?
Peeps, like most marshmallows, are mostly just sugar. They’re brightly colored and adorable, but there isn’t that much to them. This doesn’t make them safe for dogs, though. Peeps can cause stomach upset if eaten in large quantities and can increase the risk of your dog becoming obese, suffering from tooth decay, or developing other serious health problems if consumed on a regular basis.
Many of the ingredients are also artificial, such as the coloring used to make those bright neon shades that Peeps are known for. Some Peeps might also be sugar free, which poses its own risks.
What Is Marshmallow Fluff?
While Peeps are sweet treats on their own, a more versatile marshmallow product is marshmallow fluff. Also known as marshmallow crème, marshmallow stuff, marshmallow paste, or marshmallow spread, it’s a spreadable type of marshmallow.
Solid marshmallows can be a hindrance if you want a heaping pile of gooey marshmallow on your hot chocolate, and the spread is an easier product to wield. It’s just as sweet and sticky as the marshmallows that everyone loves to roast over a fire while being much easier to add to peanut butter sandwiches, for instance.
Can Dogs Eat Marshmallows?
The question of whether dogs can eat peeps or marshmallow fluff can be simplified by asking whether they can eat marshmallows. Since both Peeps and marshmallow fluff contain similar ingredients, there’s not much difference between them other than texture.
Some marshmallows—and marshmallow products—are more toxic to dogs than others depending on the ingredients used in their production. Most marshmallows are little more than sugar, gelatin, and corn syrup. While they’re not exactly healthy, one or two won’t harm your dog. However, some marshmallows contain vanilla flavoring or xylitol, neither of which should be given to your dog.
Overall, it’s best to avoid giving your dog any access to marshmallows at all. These sugary treats go well in human foods like s’mores, hot chocolate, or fluffernutters, but they shouldn’t be given to your dog. There are no health or nutritional benefits in marshmallows to make them a wise choice for your pup. Too many can also result in gastrointestinal upset causing vomiting, and diarrhea.
If your dog gets into a bag of marshmallows and you don’t know how many they’ve eaten, you should seek your veterinarian’s advice. Treats that are high in sugar, such as marshmallows, carry many health risks that should be avoided.
What Are the Risks of Dogs Eating Marshmallow Products?
Many marshmallow products aren’t outright toxic to dogs. In some cases, your dog will be fine if they only eat a bit of a forgotten Peep that a child dropped on the floor. You should still be aware of the potential risks, though, so you know how to protect your dog.
1. Alcohol Poisoning
Peeps and marshmallow fluff are often flavored with vanilla extract. As one of the most popular flavorings, vanilla is in almost everything, especially baked goods and other sweet confectionery.
What many people don’t realize, though, is that vanilla extract is made with alcohol. Some brands contain 35% alcohol or more. This is what makes it dangerous for dogs to consume.
In baked goods, the alcohol content evaporates during the cooking process. Pure, uncooked vanilla extract, however, retains its alcoholic content. Since alcohol, even in tiny amounts, is highly toxic to dogs, vanilla extract should be avoided too.
2. Choking Risk
There’s another simple reason that marshmallow products aren’t the best for dogs. Marshmallows are renowned for their delightfully gooey stickiness. While we might love the texture, it can pose a serious choking risk to dogs.
The marshmallow product that they manage to sneak off your plate can get stuck to the roof of their mouth or their teeth. Large pieces might also get stuck in their throat if they don’t chew them properly. This can be uncomfortable and require a thorough tooth brushing afterward, but it can also be a choking risk.
Sugar isn’t outright toxic to dogs but it’s not healthy for them either. It’s one of those human foods that can be given to your dog in small amounts but never in excess. You also have to be careful about what the sugar is combined with. Chocolate treats are toxic, but the natural sugar in fresh, dog-safe fruits is not.
Marshmallows and other marshmallow products are primarily made of sugar. If your dog only eats a tiny amount of marshmallow, it likely won’t cause a problem. You should make sure they don’t eat very much, though.
Although the primary ingredient in marshmallow fluff and Peeps is sugar, sugar-free varieties are available. These products use artificial sweeteners instead of sugar to produce the same effect. Xylitol is one of the most common varieties of sugar replacer.
However, don’t think that sugar free means it’s safe for your dog. Xylitol is safe for humans but it’s highly toxic to dogs. It can be life threatening and requires immediate treatment.
Marshmallow fluff and Peeps are two popular ways to eat marshmallows. Although both typically contain ingredients that aren’t outright toxic to dogs, some marshmallow products are made with vanilla extract and xylitol. Both of these ingredients are toxic and can even be life threatening for dogs.
If you’re not sure whether a marshmallow product is safe, keep it well out of reach of your dog’s teeth, and give them a dog-friendly snack instead.