Can Dogs Eat Popcorn?

Dog Tips

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Imagine that it’s movie night, and you are munching on some popcorn while watching the movie. Your dog, of course, is patiently waiting for someone to drop some of this delicious treat so they can zoom in and gobble it up.

Your dog may want to eat the leftover popcorn on the floor, but before you let them try it, you need to do some research. Is popcorn okay for my dog to eat? Well, it’s complicated.

Any pet parent knows that one of the things that you need to protect your dog from is themselves. After all, they have a habit of getting into things they aren’t supposed to. To complete this daunting task, you need to do a lot of research.

Training is a very useful tool in keeping your dog safe, but to help them avoid the bad stuff, you need to know what that stuff is — and there is a long list. Or, if you’re looking for treat alternatives to help with training, you need to know what foods are safe for dogs.

At Spot Pet Insurance, we understand how difficult it can be to be a pet parent. We’ve been there ourselves. We’re hoping to make things a little easier for you with the personalized pet insurance plans we offer and educational articles like this one.

So is popcorn something we need to protect our pets from? It’s a delicious snack, but can our dogs enjoy it too? Let’s take a look.

Is popcorn safe for dogs to eat?

Popcorn can help make a mess, or it can be easy to keep under control, depending on who’s eating it. If you’re a handful grabber or you have small children at home, more likely than not, popcorn will end up on the floor, and we all know that dogs are living vacuum cleaners.

Is it okay if your dog eats popcorn off the floor? That will depend on how you prepare your popcorn, but generally speaking, popcorn is safe for dogs to eat. You need to look out for a few concerns, though.

If you like plain, air-popped popcorn, your dog is safe from most dangers that popcorn presents, although there are a few things that you need to keep an eye out for.

What are the dangers of giving popcorn to dogs?

Even though popcorn is generally safe, there are a lot of potential problems. Some kinds of popcorn have things that are toxic for dogs, like garlic. Others contain ingredients that are unhealthy or can be dangerous if enough of it is eaten, like caramel, salt, or butter.

There’s also the popcorn itself. As we all probably know, not all popcorn kernels pop, and some are only partially popped. If you are going to give your dog popcorn, you should give them individual pieces of fully popped popcorn. Kernels are choking hazards.

Sometimes kernels can get caught in your dog’s teeth, which can lead to dental disease. The popcorn itself can also be a potential choking hazard, so be careful if you decide to give it to your dog.

If you want to give your dog plain popcorn, it should only be used as an occasional treat. Too much of it can cause digestive problems, even if it is plain. Usually, problems will appear in the form of vomiting or diarrhea.

What are some things I need to watch out for?

If you decide to give your dog popcorn, you should start small. The first few times, you should give them only a couple of pieces to see how they react. Some dogs can be allergic or sensitive, so they may have an upset stomach or a rash of some kind.

If you notice any of these symptoms, you should stop feeding your dog popcorn and check with your vet. Corn is a grain, so if your dog has an allergic reaction to popcorn, it could mean they are allergic to other grains too.

The best way to keep your dog safe from any of these potential issues is to avoid giving them popcorn. There are plenty of other options for you to try when training your dog, like blueberries.

Does popcorn have any health benefits for dogs?

When we think of popcorn, we don’t think of it as a healthy snack. Instead, it’s more of a fun treat to have every once in a while. Surprisingly, popcorn does have trace amounts of vitamins and minerals.

Popcorn contains things like:

  • B vitamins
  • Calcium
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K
  • Zinc
  • Copper
  • Potassium
  • Manganese
  • Phosphorus

These nutrients are part of a balanced diet, but popcorn may not always have enough. Plus, if there are other added ingredients to the popcorn, it can cancel out the potential health benefits.

How much popcorn can I give my dog?

If you want to give your dog popcorn, it’s best to limit the amount of popcorn you give them, even if it is plain popcorn. It’s still considered a treat since it has other things that aren’t beneficial too.

The question we need to answer next is, “How much is a little bit of popcorn?”

Treats should take up about 10% of your dog’s diet. To calculate 10%, you’ll need to figure out how many calories a day your dog eats. The best way to do this is by looking at how many calories are in a serving of your pup’s dog food.

After you’ve figured that out, all you need to do is calculate 10% and then replace 10% of dog kibble with treats. However, it’s always a good idea to discuss this with your dog’s vet. Your dog may need fewer treats depending on their weight and overall health.

Any dietary changes should be discussed with a vet first, so they can help you figure out what is best for your dog.

What types of popcorn are there?

You are probably aware that there is more than one way of preparing popcorn. After all, there are so many types of popcorn to choose from at the store, and you can also make it yourself.

First, there are two different popcorn shapes. Mushroom popcorn is more often used for popcorn that is coated in something like caramel or chocolate since it has a smoother, round surface.

The most common type of popcorn is butterfly popcorn. This is the type of popcorn that we pop ourselves or buy from the movie theater. Butterfly popcorn can also come in different colors and sizes, so there is a wide range of options.

There are also many different ways that you can prepare popcorn. For dogs, the best way is to use an air-popper, a machine that uses steam and hot air to get the popcorn to pop. Air-popped popcorn can be made plain without anything that can hurt your dog’s health.

There are also electric popcorn poppers. These poppers have an automatic stirrer to keep things moving since burnt popcorn doesn’t taste very good. All they need is a few popcorn kernels and oil.

The easiest way to prepare popcorn, other than buying it at the movies, is by putting it in the microwave. Microwaveable popcorn usually already comes with butter to help it pop.

There are also plenty of ways to pop popcorn by yourself, without a specialized machine. You can pop it on the stovetop, using oil or butter in a pot or skillet. You can also wrap oil and kernels in tin foil and place the package on a campfire or grill.

There are many different types of popcorn for us to enjoy, but not all of them are good for our dogs.

Are there any types of popcorn that I shouldn’t feed my dog?

Since there are so many types of popcorn available, you’ll need to consider which ones are safe for your dog to eat and which ones aren’t. The problem usually isn’t the popcorn itself; it’s what you put on the popcorn that’s the problem.

Most of us like flavorful popcorn, so we’ll drown it in butter and salt. Butter, while it’s not harmful, is not healthy for dogs and can contribute to certain health problems.

Salt is a little more dangerous for dogs. They can get sodium ion (salt) poisoning if they have too much salt, which is harmful to their health. Since dog food already contains the necessary amount of salt, adding more can potentially be dangerous.

Oil is another ingredient that isn’t healthy for your dog to consume, but since it’s used to make most types of popcorn, the types that use oil shouldn’t be given to your pup.

It’s also a good idea to avoid any toppings your dog might have a sensitivity to, as well as toppings that are unhealthy and contain toxic substances.

For example, if you decide to put garlic powder on your popcorn, your dog can become very sick from eating it. Similar problems arise with other toppings, too, like chocolate.

Caramel corn is another very popular type of popcorn, so you’re probably wondering if that is okay for your dog to eat. Unfortunately, caramel is essentially sugar, which dogs tend to have difficulty digesting.

What’s the best way to prepare popcorn for my dog?

Since there are so many different ways to make popcorn, we need to figure out the best way to make popcorn that is good for our dogs. If you’re going to give your dog popcorn, you need to prepare it properly.

There’s really only one way to prepare popcorn that will keep our dog’s tails wagging. Most preparations for popcorn require oil or butter to make the kernels pop. It also helps them taste delicious.

Since the air popper doesn’t need oil or butter but instead uses steam, it’s the best way to make sure that our pups have popcorn that is somewhat good for them.

Microwavable popcorn doesn’t count as plain popcorn since butter is usually already added to the bag.

When we serve our dogs popcorn, it’s best to use them as treats while training your dog. Adding it to one of your dog’s meals can possibly create a choking hazard, so you should be careful how you serve popcorn to your dog.

Are there any toppings I can add to make it taste better?

We’ve established that plain popcorn is the way to go for dogs, but most people would agree that popcorn tastes better with toppings added. Unfortunately, there are very few popcorn toppings that dogs can safely eat.

If you are adding more ingredients to popcorn, you should think of it as a special occasion treat, like a birthday gift or something similar. It’s not something that should be used every day, so your dog doesn’t get used to it if they can have any.

One of the possible doggy popcorn ingredients is melted cheese. Melted, natural cheese (not nacho cheese) can make a delicious topping for some plain popcorn.

Another possible topping is peanut butter. If you are going to serve your dog peanut butter, you need to make sure that there aren’t any harmful products added in, like artificial sweeteners. Natural, plain peanut butter is probably the best option, but you should read the back just to make sure.

If you want to, you could also try sprinkling bacon bits into the popcorn mix. You just need to remember not to give your dog too much so that they can remain in shape.

My dog ate some of my popcorn; what should I do?

Let’s return to the scenario we imagined earlier. What should you do if your dog eats some of the popcorn intended for human consumption?

The first thing you should probably do is call a vet to talk to them. They can give you a better idea of what you should look out for to figure out whether your pup needs to go to the emergency vet or not.

Most of the time, an upset stomach will be the symptom of eating too much popcorn with butter. If you notice other symptoms like excessive drooling, disorientation, or vomiting, you should probably take your pup to a licensed vet.

Policyholders of a pet insurance plan provided by Spot get access to a 24/7 pet telehealth service provided by VetConnect™. If you aren’t sure if the symptoms are indicative of something serious, then talking to a specialist can help.

Keeping your dog healthy

Popcorn can be a delicious treat for us humans, and although it is safe for dogs to enjoy, it might not be the best food for us to give our dogs on a regular basis. Even though you can give dogs popcorn to eat, it doesn’t mean you should. If you decide to feed your dog popcorn, you’ll need to do so responsibly.

Popcorn does have some health benefits, but the benefits it provides are usually covered by your dog’s kibble. Popcorn can be used as a treat, but some potential problems are associated with popcorn.

One of the biggest concerns is that popcorn presents a choking hazard. The kernels are inedible, and the size of the popcorn means that your pup might not be able to chew it well enough.

Even if the kernels are only partially popped, they can present a choking hazard. They can also get stuck in your pup’s teeth, which can cause gum disease and other dental problems.

It’s important to take it slow since allergic reactions may not appear right away. It’s also important to remember that popcorn is a treat, so it should be given to dogs in moderation. The best way to figure out how much popcorn to give your pup is to use the 10% rule.

A dog with a good diet is a happy dog. Popcorn can be a great treat, especially if you add things like cheese or bacon, but it should only be given to your dog every once in a while if they can handle it.

It’s a good idea to avoid letting your dog clean up your popcorn after you’re done snacking, especially if you like having a lot of butter and salt on it. Both of these substances can cause problems for your dog.

Taking care of a dog is a very tall order, and there’s a lot to learn about any pet that you’re a parent to. The best pet parents are the ones who know their pets and can determine what is best for them, whether it means trying plain popcorn or not.

Sources

Can Dogs Eat Popcorn? | AKC

Can Dogs Eat Popcorn? | The Spruce Pets

Can Dogs Eat Popcorn? Is Popcorn Bad for Dogs? | veterinarians.org

How Many Treats to Give a Dog a Day | AKC

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