Can dogs eat popcorn? Well, yes (but in moderation).
When it comes to popcorn and dogs, moderation is key. Plain air-popped popcorn is safe for dogs to eat in small quantities. Popcorn made with oil, butter, salt, cheese or other toppings is not safe for your dog on a regular basis, although eating a few dropped pieces here and there probably won’t hurt them. And what about microwave popcorn? Microwave popcorn contains diacetyl, the effects of which on dogs is inconclusive and so should be avoided.
“Accidental ingestion of a few pieces of popcorn is often harmless unless your pet has a history of other diseases,” said Dr. Jennifer Herring, DVM and director of emergency and critical care services at the Veterinary Specialty Center in Chicago. “Dogs should not be fed large quantities of popcorn or there could be harmful ill effects, mostly related to the gastrointestinal system.”
Benefits of Popcorn for Dogs
Other than just fun to eat, popcorn does not have much in the way of nutritional benefits for dogs:
- Contains small amounts of the B vitamins riboflavin and thiamine, which are useful for digestion, vision, and maintaining energy levels
How to Feed Popcorn to Dogs
Though a few pieces of popcorn are unlikely to cause any ill effects, you should call your veterinarian if your dog has accidentally eaten a large quantify of popcorn, particularly buttered popcorn. Here are some other things to watch for:
- Treating your dog to few pieces of plain, air-popped corn fed by hand does not pose much risk. Make sure your dog has swallowed each piece before offering another to avoid an upset stomach.
- Do not place a bowl of popcorn in front of your dog as eating too much too fast poses a potential choking hazard.
- Do not leave a bag of popcorn (any kind) where your dog can get into it as the actual bag can pose a life threatening suffocation hazard.
- Avoid feeding kernels of corn that have not popped as these can hurt your dog’s teeth and pose a choking hazard.
- Some dogs may have a negative reaction to popcorn including vomiting, diarrhea or abdominal pain. If you see any of these signs of trouble, stop feeding popcorn to your dog and contact your vet.
“Pancreatitis is also a possibility, as is it weight gain and metabolic damage long term,” says Dr. Herring. “However, these problems are seen more commonly in those pets that have underlying diseases, are fed the buttered or salted versions, ingest large amounts or have other predisposing factors that could lead to ill effects.”
Frequently Asked Questions
Q:Can dogs eat caramel popcorn?
A:No, dogs should not eat caramel popcorn as it is very high in sugar. Even a few pieces of caramel popcorn can cause your dog to feel ill. You should also avoid feeding your dog “sugar-free” caramel popcorn as it likely contains an artificial sweetener called xylitol, which is toxic to dogs.
Q:Can dogs eat popcorn kernels?
A:No, you should keep whole or partially popped kernels away from your dog. The kernels can get stuck in your pup’s teeth and cause dental issues and they also can pose a choking hazard.
Q:Can dogs eat popcorn chips?
A:No. While it’s probably not dangerous if you happen to drop a popcorn chip on the floor and your dog snatches it up, popcorn chips often have added ingredients and flavorings that are not good for your dog to consume, like salt and seasonings such as onion and garlic powder.
Q:Can dogs eat buttered popcorn?
A:Yes and no. A few pieces will probably not cause the any harm unless they have underlying medical conditions but to always be on the safe side, avoid serving buttered popcorn (which is also likely to be loaded with salt) to your dog.
Dog Toys & Treats Inspired by Popcorn
Before incorporating any new foods into your dog’s diet, always consult with your veterinarian to make sure it’s a safe addition to your pet’s diet given their health, diet needs, and current medications. Your vet will tell you if your dog can eat popcorn and the appropriate serving size. If you suspect your pet is sick, please call your vet immediately. For health-related questions, always consult your regular veterinarian when possible as they can make the best recommendations for your pet. (If you need help finding a vet near you use this link.)