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Can Dogs Eat Popcorn?

Can dogs eat popcorn? If you’re a fan of the snack and your dog’s the type who loves to eat whatever their favorite human is eating, then you may have already asked yourself that question. The answer is yes. Before adding any new food to your pup’s diet, however, consult your veterinarian first to ensure it’s appropriate for your particular pet.  If you’ve ever dropped popcorn on the ground near a dog, then you’ve surely discovered that dogs eat popcorn. It can be a tasty treat for your pet, but serving it to them hot and buttered isn’t ideal. And moderation is key.  Popcorn can become a problem when it’s eaten to excess or is covered in butter, salt, caramel or other toppings that can be toxic to your pet. Toppings can lead to health issues like obesity and high blood pressure, and toxic additions can be life-threatening.

Health benefits of popcorn for dogs

Is popcorn good for dogs?

The answer isn’t simply yes or no.  

Air-popped popcorn without toppings can be an efficient low-calorie snack, but its dietary benefits are minimal.  

That being said, popcorn does have some nutritional value:

  • Popcorn is a whole grain and thus an excellent source of fiber
  • Popped kernels contain magnesium, manganese, phosphorous and zinc
  • Popcorn is a source of polyphenols, which are antioxidants that have been linked to better blood circulation and digestive health, as well as a potentially lower risk of certain cancers
  • Popcorn contains trace amounts of vitamins

You might ask, “Can dogs eat buttered popcorn?” Or “Can dogs eat caramel popcorn?”

In both cases, a couple kernels should be fine, but all that salt, sugar and fat can have negative consequences on your dog’s health. Keep it to a minimum if you allow them to have it at all.

How to feed popcorn to your dog

You could add some popped kernels to their food bowl or let them snatch up the bits you drop between the couch cushions on movie night. If your dog is like most, they’ll love the extra treats you leave behind.

FAQs About Feeding Your Dog Popcorn

No. Unpopped kernels pose a choking hazard and can get stuck in your dog’s teeth.

It’s best avoided. While your dog will probably love the extra flavor, butter, oils, salt and other toppings can lead to intestinal grumblings and other digestive issues. The fats in oil and butter may also contribute to obesity and obesity-related health problems for your dog. Salt can also be dangerous in large quantities.

Gobbling up a dropped kernel or two of caramel popcorn here and there shouldn’t cause you much worry, but eating too much of it can lead to an upset stomach and potential obesity-related issues.   

Yes, plain air-popped popcorn without toppings can be given to your dog in moderation, just like any treat. Remember, treats should make up no more than 10 percent of your dog’s daily caloric intake.

If you like to make yourself plain air-popped popcorn without toppings for a healthy evening snack and “accidentally” drop a few kernels on the ground, that shouldn’t be a problem for your dog. Popcorn is fine in moderation, but you shouldn’t go overboard. You should talk to your vet if you're considering adding a new food, like popcorn, to your dogs everyday diet.

No. Popcorn can be a nice occasional treat, but it doesn’t have enough nutritional value to replace a regular meal. To help ensure your dog’s diet is meeting their nutritional needs, have a conversation with your vet.

Your dog would have to eat a lot of popcorn for the fiber content to upset their stomach. It’s the oil, butter, salt and other toppings that you need to watch out for. Plain air-popped popcorn is best.

Popcorn does contain fiber, but most dogs would have to eat an awful lot of it for it to cause diarrhea. Diarrhea is more likely to be caused by what you add to the popcorn, like butter, oil or another topping. Oils and fats can cause diarrhea and a lot of salt can be dangerous additions for dogs. Plain air-popped popcorn is best.  

Popcorn is bad for dogs when it contains butter, oil, salt, sugar or other toppings. Also, avoid overfeeding popcorn or feeding your dog burnt popcorn or kernels that are not fully popped.

A little bit of popcorn is very unlikely to kill your dog. The biggest risk to your pet’s health will be if they eat a large amount of popcorn with butter, oil, salt or other toppings added, which can lead to obesity and other health problems. There’s also the possibility of an unpopped kernel damaging your dog’s teeth or posing a choking hazard, so make sure all kernels are fully popped.

Your dog should be able to digest popcorn without issue. If they eat a large amount of popcorn or are exhibiting symptoms of an upset stomach after eating popcorn, consult your veterinarian immediately.

You should always consult your vet before introducing a new food item to your dog’s diet, and this is especially important when your pet has a known health issue. If your vet gives the go-ahead, plain air-popped popcorn should not cause issues for a diabetic dog. Popcorn is a bad choice for a diabetic dog—or any dog—when it contains too much butter, oil, salt, sugar or other toppings. Avoid letting your pup have more than a very small amount of plain popcorn.

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