Real stories from our doctors: Marshmallows for the Pet Lover's Soul

Submitted by: Trevor Ashley, DVM
Banfield Pet Hospital of Hanover, NJ


In April of 2005 I met Pumpkin, a 12-year-old Shih Tzu. He presented with the owner complaining of urinary accidents around the house. A complete workup revealed elevated blood sugar. After some questioning, the owner admitted that she often gave Pumpkin marshmallows as treats.

With a diagnosis of diabetes mellitus, we instructed the family that Pumpkin would need to be on a strict diet and insulin injections twice a day. No more marshmallows. He did well for a time, but it was difficult to regulate his blood sugar. It was determined after further testing that Pumpkin also had a condition called Hyperadrenocorticism (when an overactive adrenal tissue produces excessive amounts of cortisone; Cushing’s-like Syndrome), which makes it difficult to regulate diabetes.

We treated Pumpkin for a few more months, but he did not respond to treatment as we had hoped and his condition declined. In January of 2006, the owners elected humane euthanasia. I discussed with the family what to expect as my PetNurses placed an IV catheter in order for me to administer the medication. As they visited with Pumpkin one last time, I asked if they had any questions before we proceeded, and they asked in a teary voice, “Would it be okay to give him some marshmallows now?” I still get tears in my eyes when I remember that story.