Popcorn is a popular snack for people, especially when it comes to movie nights. But while some human foods are safe for dogs, others can be harmful or even fatal. So before feeding your dog popcorn, it’s worth asking “can dogs eat popcorn safely?”
Let’s explore whether dogs can eat popcorn, the possible safety concerns, and how much popcorn dogs can eat.
Can Dogs Eat Popcorn Safely?
Technically, the answer is yes, dogs can eat popcorn. But there are some important cautions.
Popcorn is not toxic to dogs, but it can pose a choking hazard or cause digestive issues. Popcorn kernels could get lodged in a dog’s throat, leading to breathing difficulties, or even aspiration pneumonia.
Additionally, the hulls of popcorn can irritate the digestive tract, causing vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation. And these are just the risks of air-popped, unflavored popcorn (the best kind for dogs). Flavored or seasoned popcorn have even more risks for dogs, as you’ll see below.
Can Popcorn Kill Dogs?
Popcorn isn’t poisonous to dogs, but it can cause health issues. Eating a large amount of popcorn could even lead to gastrointestinal blockage, a life-threatening condition.
So even if you do decide to feed your dog popcorn, it should just be an occasional snack, not part of his daily diet.
Also, popcorn with added seasonings like salt or butter could create a risk of sodium poisoning or pancreatitis. Popcorn that is stale or moldy could also contain toxins that can harm your dog’s health.
RELATED: How to manage pancreatitis in dogs …
What Kind Of Popcorn Can Dogs Eat?
If you choose to feed your dog popcorn, it’s best to give him organic, plain and air-popped popcorn.
Avoid popcorn with added flavors, salt, sugar, butter, or oil. These ingredients can cause health issues and also put your dog at risk for weight gain or intestinal upset. If you’re eating popcorn with these ingredients and your dog eats a couple of pieces that fall to the ground, it’s unlikely to cause any problems. However, you want to avoid feeding your dog any kind of salted, buttered, or flavored popcorn regularly.
If you decide to feed your dog plain, air-popped popcorn, make sure that the popcorn doesn’t contain any unpopped kernels, as these can pose a choking hazard.
Buy Organic/Non-GMO Popcorn
Some popcorn may be sprayed with pesticides (including neonicotinoids that kill bees) or herbicides, or be genetically modified. Choose organic popcorn to be safe.
RELATED: Read about pesticides in dog food …
How Much Popcorn Can I Give My Dog?
It’s best to limit your dog’s popcorn intake. Even though plain, air-popped popcorn is safe, it’s not a nutritionally balanced food for dogs. So popcorn should be a treat and not a substitute for your dog’s regular meals.
The amount of popcorn you can give your dog depends on his size and weight. As a general rule, give your dog no more than a handful of plain popcorn at a time.
Is Popcorn Good For Dogs?
Popcorn is nutritional and contains plenty of fiber, as long as it’s eaten without copious amounts of butter and salt. Air-popped popcorn is even a popular weight loss food for humans.
Popcorn contains nutrients like magnesium and zinc, but there are plenty of other natural foods that can provide dogs with these nutrients, with none of the risks of popcorn.
Here are just a few other foods you can feed instead of popcorn that provide zinc and magnesium:
- Red meat including beef, plus duck, chicken, lamb and pork
- Fish including salmon and sardines
- Nuts like cashews and almonds
- Seeds including pumpkin, sesame and hemp
RELATED: Can dogs eat fish?
Here are a few other common questions we receive from dog owners who wonder “can dogs eat popcorn?” …
Can Dogs Eat White Cheddar Popcorn?
No, white cheddar popcorn isn’t good for your dog. This type of popcorn contains added flavors and seasonings, which can cause digestive issues or sodium poisoning.
Can Dogs Eat Buttered Popcorn?
No, we don’t recommend feeding your dog buttered popcorn. High fats may lead to acute pancreatitis, which can be life-threatening.
Can Dogs Eat Microwave Popcorn?
No, it’s important to avoid microwave popcorn. The bags can contain grease-proofing chemicals that leach into the popcorn when microwaved. These chemicals can be endocrine disruptors that cause problems like thyroid disease, and may even be linked to cancer.
And … most microwave popcorn contains added flavors, salt, and oil, or even fake butter, which can cause health issues or gastrointestinal blockage. Unflavored, air-popped popcorn is much safer for dogs.
Can Dogs Eat Caramel Popcorn?
No, don’t feed your dog caramel popcorn. This type of popcorn contains added sugar, which can lead to weight gain, diabetes, or dental problems. It may contain artificial flavoring and dyes as well.
Can Dogs Eat Popcorn Kernels?
No, avoid giving your dog popcorn kernels. They can pose a choking hazard or cause digestive issues. Only give your dog fully popped, plain popcorn.
RELATED: Can dogs eat corn on the cob?
Bottom Line | Can Dogs Eat Popcorn?
Even though air-popped popcorn is relatively safe in small servings, popcorn is not a recommended treat for dogs. It’s not toxic, but it can still pose a choking hazard or cause digestive issues. Flavored, buttered, or salted popcorn carries even more risks for dogs and should be completely avoided.
If you choose to feed your dog popcorn, make sure it’s plain, air-popped and preferably organic … and limit the amount he eats.