No movie night would be complete without a big bowl of popcorn, whether you’re at the cinema, in bed, or curled up on the couch with loved ones and friends.
And, of course, your pampered pooch, who helpfully hoovers up all those popcorn crumbs so you don’t have to. But, can dogs safely eat popcorn?
The good news is: popcorn, generally, isn’t actually bad for your dog.
The bad news is: some popcorn types can be very bad for doggos.
Is Popcorn Bad for Your Dog’s Health?
Non-flavored, completely plain, air-popped popcorn is not bad for your dog’s health. In moderation, popcorn is not likely to do your dog any harm.
What is bad for your dog’s health, however, are the ingredients often used in popcorn toppings and flavorings. These include toffee, butter, salt, and many of the weird and wonderful assortment of flavors you can now buy on the shelves.
If your dog accidentally eats one or two flavored popcorn kernels every now and then, they likely won’t come to any harm – but you shouldn’t deliberately feed your dog flavored popcorn, nor should you let them eat lots of your crumbs.
By the way, with the Petcube interactive pet camera you can always monitor what your dog eats and does while you are away from home.
Possible Side Effects of Dog Eating Popcorn
The kind of side effects that your dog will experience when eating popcorn will depend on the flavoring.
Let’s take a look at buttered popcorn. Dogs can eat butter in the sense that it won’t be toxic for them – but only in small amounts. It doesn’t offer much in the way of nutritional value.
A lot of butter in a dog’s diet can be very harmful. Butter has high-fat content, especially saturated fats. This can lead to problems with obesity, and in turn, could cause:
- Problems with the heart;
- Hip dysplasia;
- Certain types of cancer;
Obesity alone has been known to reduce the life expectancy of dogs by two years or more.
When you take a look at other flavored popcorn, the story doesn’t get better. Caramel and toffee popcorn contains a lot of sugar. Your dog doesn’t have the right kind of digestive system to process very sweet foods.
If your doggo has accidentally (or not!) eaten too much popcorn and you are worried this may lead to an emergency situation, it would be wise to be subscribed to the Petcube's Emergency Fund. With this service, you will get an opportunity to have your pet's medical expenses (up to $3,000) covered.
Too much sugar on a regular basis can cause long-term, life-affecting health conditions, such as obesity and diabetes.
How to Safely Feed Popcorn to Your Dog
Popcorn should be treated just the same as other snacks and treats: fed on an occasional basis, and in moderation.
We all want to treat our dogs. There’s nothing wrong with that. You shouldn’t over-treat them, though. According to research, your dog’s treats should add up to no more than 10% of the daily calorie total.
If your dog is meant to eat 1,000 calories in a day, treats (like popcorn and doggy biscuits) should total no more than 100 calories. Moreover, you can always discuss this with a vet online and get more tips and recommendations regarding your pet's nutrition.
This is known as ‘The 10% Rule’.
As well as keeping snacks and treats to a minimum, you should also ensure that you feed your dog completely plain, air-popped popcorn – and absolutely NO un-popped kernels. These can cause blockages in the digestive system, and the small kernels can also get stuck between the teeth or in the gums.
Alternative Snacks for Your Dog
There are so many alternatives for popcorn when it comes to sharing snacks with your dog.
Read more: Healthy Ways to Treat your Dog or Cat
You could cut up raw carrot sticks, and – for an extra treat – dip the sticks in low-salt/unsalted and low-sugar peanut butter.
Coconut also makes a great treat for dogs. Only feed your dog the fleshy inside. The hairy exterior can be problematic, getting lodged in the mouth, throat, or digestive system.
The following are also great snacks for your pampered pooches:
- Sardines (cooked);
- Shrimp (cooked, left in the shell);
- Peanuts (in moderation);
- Turkey (fat removed);
- Peas (fresh/cooked-from-frozen);
- Eggs (fully cooked, hard-boiled);
- Oatmeal (flavor-free);
Is popcorn safe for dogs?
Yes, provided it is completely plain, unflavoured, and air-popped.
Can dogs eat popcorn seeds?
No, dogs cannot eat raw, un-popped popcorn seeds (kernels). They can get stuck in the teeth or gums, and they can also cause blockages.
Can dogs eat caramel popcorn?
It is not recommended to feed your dog caramel popcorn, but one or two kernels are not likely to cause harm beyond hyperactivity, diarrhea, and vomiting.
Can dogs eat buttered popcorn?
They can but in very tiny amounts. Large volumes of butter are not good for your dog’s health.
Can dogs eat cheese popcorn?
The kind of cheese that you find on cheese popcorn is usually loaded with salt (sodium) and saturated fats, which are not good for your dog. It is not recommended that you share your cheesy popcorn with your pet.