Can Dogs Eat Popcorn?

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Dog with box of popcorn (caption: Can Dogs Eat Popcorn?)

It’s time to snuggle up on the couch to watch your favorite movie. Your precious pup loves the smell of the popcorn you’ve made, but should you give your dog popcorn? Maybe you are looking for a new treat to spice things up a bit with your companion, or perhaps you’re just feeling a little curious.

Regardless, the answer isn’t so simple. At first glance, it might seem okay. After all, isn’t popcorn just like any other snack? As it turns out, it’s not the best option, but it’s not terrible either.

Is Popcorn Bad For Dogs?

Well, the truth is that popcorn with large hulls (the corn seed or kernel) can be somewhat dangerous for pets with much smaller throats than us. The corn itself is fine, but the kernels may get stuck between teeth, possibly scrape the throat, or even get lodged in the dog’s airway, making it an unsafe food for dogs to eat regularly.

Other Health Risks

Of course, there are other factors to keep in mind, such as the salt or butter that’s often added to popcorn. These extras only really serve to make the snacks taste better for people, but it’s best to keep them away from your pet.

They aren’t immediately dangerous like kernels. However, they are unhealthy additives that can diminish a pup’s health over time. Be wary of potentially harmful ingredients and additives when giving your canine friend snacks.

Dog sick on bed (caption: how to diagnose and treat dog diarrhea)

Too much salt, butter, or other unhealthy popcorn additives can cause:

  • Digestive issues
  • Diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Kidney damage
  • Obesity

The Safest Way To Give Dogs Popcorn

Plain, air-popped popcorn is the safest popcorn for your dog, but it still needs to be in moderation. Popcorn shouldn’t be an everyday treat for your dog. But on occasion, if you decide to treat your dog to some, it should be plain and air-popped (no oil).

Personal Experience

My dog, Sally, loves it when my family makes popcorn. We make a game out of it and toss it to her to catch. She’s terrible at catching food with her mouth, but it’s still fun to cheer her on in the off-chance that she does catch one.

We monitor how much we give her to avoid causing an upset stomach or other issues. We also try to avoid giving her any with butter and salt on it; we give her plain, air-popped popcorn only.

– Kimberly A., Canine Journal

What Is Hulless Popcorn? Is It Safe?

Amish Country White Hulless Microwave Popcorn Bag

Perhaps you’ve heard of kernel less (aka hulless) popcorn. The name is a little misleading because every corn kernel has a seed, and thus every piece of popcorn has a kernel. However, not all popcorn is created equal, and hulless popcorn has a smaller kernel, which is more tender than your average corn kernel, making it a safer option for you and your pup.

A reduced hull size also comes at a steeper price since it’s rarer than your average corn kernels. While hulless is safer than regular popcorn, it still comes with similar risks.

Is There Special Popcorn For Dogs?

Pup Corn Treats

If you are determined to share movie time snacks with your pup, you may want to try Pup Corn. It’s available in several dog-friendly flavors like cheese, peanut butter, and more.

It also contains a bonus of prebiotics and probiotics to aid your pup’s digestion. Pup Corn is also low in fat, calories, and sodium, offering a good alternative to more decadent dog treats.

Can Popcorn Be Healthy For Dogs?

There are several health benefits to popcorn when it doesn’t get stuck in the teeth or throat. It contains antioxidants that can boost the immune system.

When there’s no salt or butter added, it’s also a low-fat snack. Popcorn can also offer essential vitamins and minerals, like zinc or phosphorus. However, keep in mind that popcorn is not the best way to increase these nutrients for your dog. In fact, you should probably try a doggy multivitamin if you are looking to improve your dog’s nutrient balance. At the end of the day, popcorn is still a snack and should be treated as such.

So, when you weigh the potential health risks versus benefits of popcorn, is it worth treating your pooch to this popped treat? It could be, but perhaps a dog-safe fresh fruit (e.g., banana, pear slices, and oranges) is a more suitable healthy snack with far fewer risks.

With All Snacks, Moderation Is Key

If you take anything away from this, remember that you should give your dog popcorn in moderation like all snacks. Eating too many snacks is never good for anyone’s health, whether they’re dogs or humans.

If you want to know which foods are safe for dogs to snack on, check out our list of foods not to feed dogs, which includes several foods that are dog-approved. And if you want to be extra safe, buy dog treats that are made specifically to enhance your canine buddy’s health.

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