Can Dogs Eat Popcorn?
NOTE: Always check with your veterinarian first before giving your dog any new foods, especially “people foods.” What might be okay for one dog might not be good for your dog, depending on multiple factors, such as their age, health history, health conditions, and diet. Dogs on prescription diets should not be fed any foods or treats outside of the diet.
Movie nights aren’t complete without two things: a bowl of popcorn and your furry best friend. And as you’re snacking, your pup will probably be staring at you, hoping you’ll share. But can dogs eat popcorn?
Is Popcorn Bad for Dogs?
Popcorn itself isn’t toxic to dogs—but there are certain ways we prepare it that can be very harmful to our pets. Completely plain, air-popped popcorn is safe for dogs to eat in small portions, but popcorn covered in butter and salt is very unhealthy for dogs.
Eating a piece or two isn’t the end of the world, but eating popcorn as a regular snack over time (or devouring a large amount at once) can hurt your dog’s health. The butter can cause serious problems, such as an upset stomach, obesity, or pancreatitis.
But it’s not just the butter—too much salt can cause salt poisoning in dogs. And for very small dogs, such as Chihuahuas, any swallowed unpopped kernels could become a choking hazard or cause an intestinal blockage.
Can Dogs Eat Kettle Corn or Caramel Popcorn?
Kettle corn and caramel popcorn are not good snacks for dogs. In addition to the butter and salt, both types of popcorn have tons of sugar and other preservatives that are very unhealthy for our fur babies. They may give your pup stomach issues like gas, stomach pain, diarrhea, or vomiting.
Eating sugar over time can cause numerous health issues for your dog, including:
There could also be ingredients in the popcorn that are toxic to dogs, like chocolate and xylitol. Overall, it’s best to keep your dog away from kettle corn and caramel popcorn.
How to Safely Feed Your Dog Popcorn
Completely plain, air-popped popcorn can be a safe treat that’s high in fiber for your pup. Just remember: No oils, butters, salts, sugars, or any other added ingredients, and always check for any lingering kernels.
Remember to keep the portions small and in moderation. Treats of any kind should make up only 10% of your dog’s diet. The other 90% should come from a well-balanced dog food. Check out the general portion size suggestions for giving your dog a popcorn treat, listed by breed size below:
Extra-small dog (2-20 pounds) = one to two pieces
Examples: Yorkies, Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, Pugs
Small dog (21-30 pounds) = two to three pieces
Medium dog (31-50 pounds) = five to six pieces
Examples: Basset Hounds, Border Collies, Australian Cattle Dogs
Large dog (51-90 pounds) = small handful of pieces
Examples: Pit Bulls, German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, Australian Shepherds
Extra-large dog (91+ pounds) = handful of pieces
Examples: Newfoundlands, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Saint Bernards, Great Pyrenees
What If Your Dog Eats Popcorn Kernels?
Unpopped popcorn kernels can be hazardous for your dog. They can get stuck in your dog’s teeth and cause dental issues or they can cause choking problems and even an intestinal blockage.
If your dog ate just one or two kernels—depending on your dog’s size—they may be OK. But if your dog is small, or if they ate multiple kernels, or if you see your dog choking—but they can still breathe—take them to your veterinarian immediately.
If your dog is choking and can’t breathe, use the Heimlich maneuver to remove the item from their throat and contact your veterinarian immediately for guidance.
Alternatives to Popcorn for Dogs
If you’re looking for something similar to popcorn that's small and easy to feed your pup, but is much healthier and safer for dogs, you can try treats like BIXBI Liberty Ruff Puffs Chicken-Free White Cheddar Flavor Dog Treats or PupCorn Plus Chicken & Cheddar Cheese Dog Treats.
These are both light, airy, and crunchy like popcorn, but they are specially formulated just for dogs. So there are no hazardous ingredients or dangerous kernels to worry about!
Featured Image: iStock/SolStock
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