Can dogs eat popcorn? And is it healthy?

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Can dogs eat popcorn? We all enjoy cramming huge fistfuls of popcorn into our mouths at the movies, and many of us like to ping some microwave popcorn when watching our favorite tv show. 

bucket of popcorn and a clapperboard

But what happens when your four-legged friend places their big furry face squarely in your lap and quietly drools onto your trousers? Can your dog eat some of your crunchy popcorn?  

It’s a question as old as time and calls for some exploring. Read on as we find out if popcorn is healthy for dogs! 

Can Dogs Eat Popcorn? 

Can dogs eat popcorn? Yes, a small piece of popcorn can be given occasionally to your dog, but keep in mind that you want to avoid giving them the salted or buttered variety. 

dog sniffing some popcorn

It’s important to always keep popcorn plain if you’re thinking of giving it to your dog.  

Do Dogs Like Popcorn? 

Let’s face it, most dogs are like fur-covered trash cans, they’ll practically eat anything if it smells yummy. It’s safe to say that most dogs enjoy munching on popcorn, and it is a snack that most dogs can eat without any issues.  

can dogs eat popcorn - dog with head in popcorn bucket

If you are interested in giving your dog popcorn, buy plain kernels and prepare them yourself so that they can be given to your dog as an occasional snack. 

Is Popcorn Good for Dogs? 

In moderation yes, popcorn is full of nutrients, protein, iron, and B vitamins. It also has fiber which helps to support healthy digestion in dogs.  

Additionally, popcorn provides your dog with important minerals like magnesium and potassium. 

Plain popcorn is also low in calories compared to many other snacks, so it is a healthy treat to give your dog.  

can dogs eat popcorn - close up of popcorn

Popcorn can also be used as a training treat for dogs, so it is something that you may want to buy to put into your dog’s obedience bag of tricks. It tastes good but does not have an overwhelming smell. This makes it great for use when training dogs with new commands or trying to get the dog’s attention. 

Popcorn can also be used to distract your dog if they are being especially stubborn or difficult. 

However, plain popcorn is one of the safest snacks you can give your dog as it does not have artificial ingredients or any dangerous chemicals. 

Check out this fantastically useful video from the Barking Good Chef.

Is Popcorn Bad for Dogs? 

Popcorn does have a few disadvantages for dogs too. 

Choking

First and foremost, if corn kernels are swallowed whole by dogs they can get stuck in their esophagus or intestines. This could cause an intestinal blockage and require expensive surgery to remove the kernels. 

Nutrition

Additionally, popcorn is not a nutritionally complete snack for dogs and should never be used as a meal replacement or primary dietary component. Only give your dog small pieces of plain popcorn when training them. 

dog waiting for some popcorn

Popcorn can have butter and salt, which can be dangerous for your dog to consume. The high amounts of fat contained in the butter can cause digestive problems, while the high sodium content in salt can lead to serious issues with your dog’s heart. 

Salted popcorn is especially dangerous for dogs because of the high amounts of sodium it can have, which can lead to dehydration. The salt can also cause a dog’s blood pressure to rise, which can be incredibly dangerous. 

It is also important not to use microwaved popcorn since it may have unsafe chemicals and oils which are unhealthy for both humans and our pets alike. 

Diacetyl

Another danger relates to inhaling diacetyl. This can be found in artificial butter flavoring and corn products like kernels and buttered popcorn. 

buttered popcorn

Diacetyl can lead to a severe form of an obstructive lung disease called bronchiolitis obliterans, which is more commonly referred to as “popcorn lung” due to the inhalation injuries caused by workers in microwave popcorn factories.  

This condition damages tiny air sacs in the lungs and prevents enough oxygen from getting into the blood. 

This is a dangerous condition for humans, and it can be fatal if left untreated in dogs as well. If you suspect your dog may have popcorn lung, take them to an emergency vet at once. This will allow them to begin treatment right away rather than waiting until morning when veterinary clinics are open again. 

Nutritional Information for Air-popped, Unsalted Popcorn

Energy382Kcal
Protein12g
Fat4.2g
Carbohydrate77.9g
Fiber15.1g
Calcium10mg
Iron2.66mg
Magnesium131mg
Potassium301mg
Sodium4mg
Zinc3.44mg

For more comprehensive nutritional information on popcorn, check out the US Department of Agriculture website that you can find here.

Can Dogs Eat Caramel Popcorn? 

The caramel in the popcorn can cause serious health problems for your dog, especially if consumed in large amounts. The high sugar content in caramel can cause obesity and diabetes, as well as tooth decay. 

caramel popcorn - can dogs eat popcorn

The risks to your dog’s health may not happen at once but will nevertheless affect your dog’s well-being over time. 

Will Popcorn Hurt a Dog? 

It depends on what you mean by hurt. It’s an obvious yes if any uncooked popcorn kernels slip through the net, they can become a choking hazard for your dog. 

sick dog in a blanket

But there are long term effects that could also hurt your dog, especially if you’re giving your dog unhealthy flavored popcorn: 

  • Obesity 
  • Arthritis  
  • Heart disease.  
  • Bloating 
  • Diarrhea  
  • Nausea & vomiting 
  • Pancreatitis 
  • Cancer  
  • lung related diseases 

Is Popcorn Ok for Small Dogs? 

Small dogs are more likely to experience serious health problems if they eat popcorn, especially salted or caramel popcorn. Popcorn should only be given to small dogs in moderation and always prepared without any added ingredients that can make it unhealthy for your dog. 

Can dogs die from eating popcorn kernels? 

This is a question that is commonly asked, and while some dogs will find popcorn kernels to be a tasty snack, they must go through the kernel without breaking it open. If your dog chews on an unopened kernel of popcorn, it can cause damage to his throat or stomach which may require medical attention for him to recover properly. 

If your dog does not chew the kernels properly and swallows them whole, he may start to choke. This can be extremely dangerous for him since it may cause his throat to swell which could cut off his air supply. 

Choking becomes a bigger issue with small dogs since they have a narrower esophagus. 

FAQ’s 

We’ve prepared a list of some frequently asked questions to help you make an informed decision about feeding popcorn to your dog: 

Can dogs eat toffee popcorn? 

It’s best to avoid giving your dog toffee popcorn since it can be dangerous for them.

can dogs eat popcorn - toffee popcorn

Toffee is full of sugar and fat which can cause serious health problems such as obesity and diabetes. 

Can dogs eat popcorn with salt? 

Salt is the most dangerous part of popcorn for dogs to consume since it can lead to dehydration, high blood pressure, and other serious health problems.  

Can dogs eat popcorn with cheese? 

Cheese in popcorn is not recommended for dogs to eat since it can cause digestive problems.

The high-fat content in cheese can also lead to obesity, which will make your dog more susceptible to heart disease and diabetes. 

Can dogs eat cinnamon popcorn? 

popcorn with cinnamon - can dogs eat popcorn

Cinnamon in popcorn is not recommended since it is very spicy and can cause your dog to experience heartburn. It can also lead to digestive problems and other health issues.  

Can dogs eat buttered popcorn? 

Buttered popcorn is not safe for dogs to eat because it is high in fat. Dogs may get an upset stomach or other health problems if they eat buttered popcorn, and keep in mind that it’s often loaded with salt. 

Can dogs eat sweet and salty popcorn? 

Sweet and salty popcorn is not safe for dogs to eat because it may cause several health problems. This kind of popcorn has way too much salt and sugar, which can damage a dog’s kidneys, as well as cause issues with their teeth and weight. Furthermore, it is known that the artificial flavors in these kinds of snacks can cause problems with digestion and allergies. 

Can diabetic dogs eat popcorn? 

Dogs with diabetes should not eat any type of popcorn, even if it is plain. Popcorn does have some nutritional benefits for diabetic dogs, but there are much better choices out there. Keep in mind that the salt and butter on sweet or salty popcorn can be a significant risk to your dog’s health so you want to avoid it. 

Can dogs with kidney disease eat popcorn? 

Dogs with kidney disease should avoid popcorn because it can be difficult to digest. Fresh or plain popcorn is fine for dogs with kidney disease, but it’s best to avoid the butter and salt. 

There are many kinds of dog food on the market that can be beneficial for your pup’s health even if they have certain conditions like diabetes or kidney issues. Popcorn does not fall into this category, so you should avoid feeding it to your dog. 

Can dogs eat popcorn cooked in coconut oil? 

Popcorn cooked in coconut oil is a tasty snack but use caution when feeding them to your dog. Coconut oil is healthy and has many different uses in humans as well as pets, but the high-fat content of coconut oil can make your pup sick if they eat too much. 

Can dogs eat lightly salted popcorn? 

Lightly salted popcorn is not safe for dogs to eat because it is high in sodium. Dogs are more sensitive to salt than humans, so even a small amount of salty food can cause health problems such as vomiting, diarrhea, and elevated blood pressure. 

Can dogs eat air popped popcorn? 

Air-popped popcorn is safe for dogs to eat. Air-popped corn has fewer calories, salt, and fat than many other snacks, making it a healthier choice for your pup. It also has fiber that helps aid digestion in canines. Plus, air popping the kernels leaves behind more of the nutrients found within the kernel; therefore, there are no nutrients lost when air popping. 

Can dogs eat garlic popcorn? 

Garlic popcorn is not safe for dogs to eat because garlic can be toxic to them. This is because garlic has a chemical called n-propyl disulfide. If your dog eats garlic, it can cause vomiting and diarrhea, as well as anemia from the destruction of red blood cells. 

Can dogs eat spicy popcorn? 

Spicy popcorn is not safe for dogs to eat because it has chili powder. Chili peppers are spicy, but they also have oils that can irritate your dog’s stomach or mouth. The spiciness of these types of snacks increases the risk of gastrointestinal upset and redness. It also causes swelling and itching around your pup’s face and nose. Spicy and chili-flavored snacks can also increase the risk of your dog experiencing an upset stomach. 

Conclusion 

It is safe for dogs to eat some types of popcorn, but it’s advisable for you to only feed your dog plain unseasoned air-popped corn kernels.  

dog with popcorn on his nose, blue background

If your dog eats plain popcorn, they will benefit from the high fiber and low-fat content of this snack. Avoid any dangerous health risks that could occur from other flavored types of popcorn. 

We hope this article was helpful to you. Check out these other related articles.

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Disclaimer

All information in this article is for educational purposes only and is not meant to replace your veterinarian’s advice.

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