It’s movie night and you’re lounging in front of the TV with a bowl of popcorn in your lap. But before you manage to pop a single kernel in your mouth, your dog is there begging to get some.
But even if you are having a hard time resisting those puppy eyes, you may wonder if popcorns are safe for dogs, and should you really feed them to your pooch.
So, can dogs eat popcorn? Small amounts of plain, air-popped popcorn are safe for dogs to eat. While popcorn isn’t toxic to dogs you shouldn’t give your dog any popcorn that contains salt, butter, sugar, or toppings. Buttered or seasoned popcorn can cause stomach upset and lead to obesity if your dog eats it regularly.
In this article, we’ll explain all the benefits and risks of feeding popcorn to dogs. Keep on reading to learn everything you need to know about dogs and popcorns!
Is Popcorn Good for Dogs?
Popcorn in itself isn’t bad for dogs, and it can be a healthy snack. In fact, popcorns contain valuable nutrients such as phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, and manganese.
These popped kernels are also a great source of fiber which is good for your dog’s digestive system. Unsalted, air-popped popcorn also contains vitamins A, K, and B6 all of which are necessary for a strong immune system.
While plain, air-popped popcorns can be a healthy snack for your dog, toppings that make popcorns so tasty are bad for dogs. Salted and buttered popcorns aren’t good for people nor dogs and can lead to obesity and other long term health-problem.
Benefits of Popcorn for Dogs
Feeding popcorn as an occasional treat may have certain benefits to your dog’s overall health. But don’t forget, this only goes for plain popcorns, since toppings and all other add-ons can do more harm than good.
The biggest benefits of popcorn for dogs are:
1. Popcorn Supports Good Digestion
Lots of people forget that popcorns are whole grain, and as such an excellent source of dietary fiber (source). Eating popcorn can increase your dog’s daily fiber intake and support proper digestion.
Air-popped popcorns can improve your dog’s bowel movement and help if they are suffering from diarrhea or constipation.
2. Popcorn for Good Brain Health
Popcorns are an excellent source of vitamin B6 which is necessary for many functions inside your dog’s body. Vitamin B6 supports proper growth and development in puppies and may improve your dog’s brain health and prevent cognitive disorders in senior years.
3. Popcorns Can Keep Your Dog Energized
Popcorns are naturally rich in magnesium which is one of the key nutrients involved in energy production on the cellular level. Magnesium also supports a healthy immune system, helps maintain strong bones, and keeps the heartbeat steady (source).
Risks of Popcorn for Dogs
While your dog can eat popcorn as an occasional treat, eating too much can be risky. Peanut butter, salt, oil, and all other toppings make popcorn bad for dogs especially if fed regularly over a period of time.
The most common side effects of popcorn for dogs are:
1. Upset Stomach
Excess salt, butter, and oil on popcorns can cause digestive upset in dogs and lead to vomiting and diarrhea. To avoid these issues only feed plain popcorns as an occasional treat.
Dogs that are allergic to grains can also experience digestive issues after eating popcorns. So, if your pooch has allergies, avoid popcorn altogether and look at other “people foods” that can serve as treats.
Eating salted popcorns can cause dehydration, and also result in kidney damage if too much salt is eaten regularly. You can avoid these issues completely by feeding plain air-popped or microwave popcorn to your pooch.
3. Dental Problems
If you decide to feed your dog popcorn you will have to look out for uncooked kernels since they can jeopardize your dog’s dental health. Uncooked popcorn kernels can easily become lodged between teeth and cause tooth decay or gum disease.
Furthermore, the kernels can also chip your dog’s teeth or become a life-threatening choking hazard. To be on the safe side, remove any uncooked kernels before feeding popcorns to dogs.
How Much Popcorn Can I Give My Dog?
As with all other human foods, feed small amounts of popcorn to your dog as an occasional treat. Like any other treat, popcorn shouldn’t make more than 10 percent of your dog’s daily calorie intake.
To avoid digestive issues and weight gain, feed only plain, air-popped popcorns to your pooch and as a special high-value treat.
If you have any questions about feeding popcorn to your dog, talk with your vet. They will be able to tell you exactly how much popcorn can your dog eat based on their age, size, and activity level.
How to Feed Popcorn to Your Dog?
If you decide that it’s fine for your dogs to eat popcorn, you will need to prepare and serve it safely.
As mentioned earlier, plain, air-popped popcorns are the best and safest option for your pooch. Luckily you can easily make some using a popcorn machine, microwave, or stovetop.
Make sure that your dog’s popcorn is completely plain and free of oil, salt, butter, or any other additives or toppings. You should also remove any uncooked kernels to minimize the risk of chipped teeth and choking.
Popular ways to feed popcorn to dogs include:
- Offer plain popcorns as treats
- Mix a few popcorns with your dog’s food
- Grab a fistful of popcorns and let your dog eat from your hand
Plain, air-popped popcorns are completely safe for dogs to eat and can be a healthy snack. Most people forget that popcorns are 100 percent whole grain, meaning they are a great source of fiber and essential vitamins and minerals.
Popcorns can be a good occasional treat for your dog as long as you don’t add salt, butter, oil, or toppings. While delicious, all of these things are unhealthy for both people and dogs and can lead to obesity and other serious health issues if eaten regularly.