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‘Tis the season for gourmet hot chocolate, which usually means fluffy marshmallows floating in rich cocoa. (We’re not drooling, you’re drooling!) While you should absolutely indulge in this delectable treat, do not let your pup steal and eat a marshmallow. Most marshmallows are toxic to dogs and could lead to severe organ damage. Dogs cannot eat anything jam-packed with sugar, including marshmallows (especially if they’re coated in chocolate). If your dog eats one marshmallow, she should be fine, but keep an eye on her—and get ready to clean up any mess that may follow.

Poisonous ingredients in marshmallows

Marshmallows are typically made with corn syrup, gelatin, vanilla, sugar, cornstarch and sometimes tapioca. Whether you buy prepackaged Kraft Jet-Puffed or make them from scratch, these ingredients will be present and your dog should not eat them.

First of all, high amounts of sugar and corn syrup can lead to diabetes and cavities in dogs. Canines with diabetes (or those who are at risk of developing the disease) should definitely avoid sugary treats. Fresh fruits like apples and blueberries are fine to feed your dog in moderation. Yes, they contain natural sugars, but they also provide your pup with fiber and other nutrients.

Second, sweet treats can lead to obesity in canines, which causes a whole host of additional health problems. According to Krista Williams, DVM, and Robin Downing, DVM, at VCA Ark Animal Hospitals, obesity in dogs is linked to higher rates of cancer, arthritis and urinary tract issues. Not to mention a shorter life expectancy.

Surprisingly, vanilla extract is toxic to dogs due to its high alcohol content. We normally don’t think of alcohol when we think of vanilla extract, but it contains as much alcohol as vodka and rum. In fact, the FDA requires vanilla extract to contain 35 to 40 percent alcohol! Since dogs cannot break down alcohol if ingested, it can lead to respiratory and nervous system damage.

Finally, if you’re looking for a sugar-free option for your pup, think again. Artificial sweeteners and a popular ingredient in sugary treats called xylitol can cause major issues internally. As Banfield Pet Hospital notes, xylitol could cause low blood sugar and even liver failure if left untreated.

On the flip side, tapioca and gelatin are safe for dogs to eat. Just to let you know.

Signs to look for

If you think your dog might have swiped a marshmallow or two, monitor them closely for the next few days. You’ll probably see some vomit or diarrhea. Typically, with something like xylitol, symptoms pop up roughly 30 minutes to 12 hours after ingestion. Other sugary foods may make your dog dizzy and uncoordinated. Weakness, fatigue or disorientation are signs your dog probably ate too much sugar.

Though rare, seizures have occurred in canines after eating foods with a high sugar or artificial sweetener content.

The bottom line: Don’t feed your dog marshmallows, no matter how small. It’s just not worth it.

Alternatives to marshmallows

Who doesn’t love to give their pup a tasty treat—especially during the holidays? There are tons of canine-friendly snacks made just for this time of year (or whenever your BFF deserves it) that will leave her feeling good.

BarkBox

1. BarkBox Specialty Peanuts Treats

BarkBox and Peanuts have partnered up for some delectable dog treats this year. Sign up for a subscription or purchase a box to get some Good Beef Charlie Brown or Lucy’s Pulled Pork treats.

Subscriptions start at $23/month

Amazon

2. Bonne et Filou Dog Macarons

They look like real French macarons, but are actually dog treats made with all-natural, human-grade ingredients. Honestly, they look so good, we might take a bite ourselves.

$24 at Amazon

Chewy

3. The Lazy Dog Cookie Co. Mutt Mallows

Unlike human marshmallows, these treats are full of antioxidants and real ingredients like oats, honey and whey. They taste like roasted vanilla so…get ready for your dog to fall head over paws.

Buy it ($6)

Chewy

4. Exclusively Dog S’Mores Sandwich Cremes

Participating in more outdoor activities this winter? Bonfires and s’mores are fun but keep your dog away from those ‘mallows and that chocolate! Feed her these instead.

Buy it ($3)

RELATED: 26 Ridiculously Cute Presents for Your Pet (All Under $30)

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