Woman giving her dog a piece of popcorn

Can Dogs Eat Popcorn? Yes, And…

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Dogs are known for being able to eat just about anything, but can they eat popcorn? Can dogs have popcorn as a snack, or is it something that should be avoided? Let’s take a look at the facts.

Popcorn comes from corn kernels that are popped by heating them inside a closed container. Once they pop, the hulls of the seeds break open and release the steam and flake the corn. Popcorn is a whole grain food and contains fiber, B vitamins, and antioxidants. It also has a relatively low-calorie count and is gluten-free.

So, can dogs eat it? Yes, they can! In fact, popcorn makes an excellent high-moisture treat for dogs because it helps keep their teeth clean.

Can Dogs Eat Popcorn?

Yes, dogs can eat popcorn.

Is popcorn ever bad for dogs? It can be a great, healthy snack for your pup with the right approach. However, there are a few things that you need to be aware of.

First, dogs can be allergic to any food item, even if humans regularly consume them. For example, there is a risk that your dog could be allergic to corn. If your dog has allergies or other health issues, discuss the potential risks with your vet.

Similarly, some dogs may have an allergic reaction to the butter/oil or salt used in the popcorn topping. If you notice any skin irritation, vomiting, diarrhea, or other symptoms, it’s best to stop feeding popcorn to your pup.

Are There Any Safety Concerns Feeding Popcorn to My Dog?

Generally, there should be no issues feeding popcorn to your dog. However, there are a few common issues that come up. One of the biggest concerns is over the salt content in most popcorn. It’s a big concern because dogs can’t tolerate large amounts of salt. So be sure to read the packaging when you purchase your popcorn to make sure it’s low in salt.

Similarly, some toppings contain intense flavors that could upset your pup’s stomach or cause digestive discomfort. Again, you’ll usually see this listed in the ingredients, but it’s always best to err on the side of caution. Also, make sure to pop the kernel well to avoid choking.

How Much Popcorn Can I Feed My Dog?

As with any dog food or treat, you need to watch your pet’s reactions. If your dog appears to have no issue eating it, you can feed it regularly. If you’re feeding plain popcorn kernels, you need to be careful about the portion size. It’s best to feed popcorn as a very occasional treat.

Popcorn is high in starch, which can quickly cause weight gain in dogs. That can lead to other health issues. Similarly, be careful with the toppings. Some of them, such as large amounts of salt, can cause your dog digestive discomfort.

How To Prepare Popcorn for Dogs

If you’re new to feeding your dog popcorn, it’s good to try it out in small amounts first. Try one kernel to start and see how your dog reacts. While it’s essential to take every precaution for your dog’s health, it’s also necessary to teach them how to eat it correctly.

One of the most common ways dogs eat popcorn is to bite the kernel in half. It’s okay to let your dog do this if you’re with them and can watch for any digestive issues. You can also try rubbing the kernels on a paper towel to remove much of the hull. This will allow your dog to crunch on the kernels without biting through.

Tips from Our Vets

The following is a list of tips on how to think about what human foods are (and may not be) safe for your dog from Dr. Jennifer Coates’ article on Foods Dogs Can and Cannot Eat.

There are some human foods that dogs can eat safely, as well as some human foods dogs can’t eat.

If you have a dog, you might be used to seeing adorable puppy eyes begging for a bite of, well, anything that you happen to be eating.

While it’s natural to want to share human food with your furry pal, many of the foods we eat are toxic to dogs. Some reasons foods may be harmful to your pup include:

  • Foods that are a problem due to our physiological differences (foods we can handle that a dog’s stomach can’t)
  • Other foods aren’t toxic, but are still potentially dangerous for dogs because they are hard to digest
  • Another category of foods that are a problem for dogs are foods that may contain high levels of fat

Some tips and words of caution if you are feeding your pet human foods:

  • Always keep in mind that new foods of any kind, including switching to a different dog food, can cause stomach upset.
  • When you find a human food you’d like to share with your pup, go slowly. Give small amounts at first and watch for any problems like vomiting or diarrhea before giving more.
  • Remember that treats should make up less than 10% of your dog’s diet. So all of the foods that are safe for your dog should be given in moderation to avoid weight gain and nutrient excesses and deficiencies.

What To Do if Your Dog Eats Something He Shouldn’t

Now that you know what foods are safe for dogs, it’s a good idea to know what to do if your pup eats food that’s toxic to dogs.

If your dog does end up eating something he shouldn’t, try not to panic. You have a few options for getting the help your dog needs:

  • The first is to call your dog’s veterinarian, who can advise you to either come into the office or to watch for signs of poisoning, obstruction, or other potential problems.
  • If it’s after hours, you can try calling an emergency veterinarian.
  • Another option is to call a pet poison control line. Be aware that there is a fee to use these services. Two that we can recommend are the ASPCA Animal Poison Control at (888) 426-4435 and the Pet Poison Helpline at (855) 764-7661.

In some cases, you might be told to induce vomiting in your dog. It is helpful to keep hydrogen peroxide on hand in case you need to do this.

Do not induce vomiting unless your veterinarian or someone from one of the pet poison control hotlines advises you to do so, however, because in some cases, vomiting can make the situation worse. [efn_note]Is it ever safe to induce vomiting? ASPCA.org. November 19, 2019. Accessed April 28, 2021.[/efn_note]

Final Thoughts

The verdict is in: dogs can eat popcorn, but it’s not the healthiest snack choice. Popcorn is a good source of fiber and antioxidants, but it also contains high levels of sodium and fat. So while it’s okay for your dog to have a small handful of popcorn as a treat every now and then, it’s best to avoid giving them too much.

If you’re looking for more information about which human foods are (and aren’t) safe for your dog to eat, check out our series of guides below:

Can Dogs Eat Asparagus? Can Dogs Eat Cantaloupe? Can Dogs Eat Kiwi? Can Dogs Eat Pineapple? Can Dogs Eat Shrimp?
Can Dogs Eat Avocados? Can Dogs Eat Cauliflower? Can Dogs Eat Lettuce? Can Dogs Eat Pistachios? Can Dogs Eat Tuna?
Can Dogs Eat Beans? Can Dogs Eat Celery? Can Dogs Eat Mangoes? Can Dogs Eat Plums? Can Dogs Eat Turkey?
Can Dogs Eat Beets? Can Dogs Eat Cinnamon? Can Dogs Eat Marshmallows? Can Dogs Eat Popcorn? Can Dogs Eat Walnuts?
Can Dogs Eat Bell Peppers? Can Dogs Eat Coconut? Can Dogs Eat Oatmeal? Can Dogs Eat Pork? Can Dogs Eat Watermelon?
Can Dogs Eat Blackberries? Can Dogs Eat Fish? Can Dogs Eat Olives? Can Dogs Eat Radishes? Can Dogs Eat Yogurt?
Can Dogs Eat Blackberries? Can Dogs Eat Green Beans? Can Dogs Eat Peaches? Can Dogs Eat Raspberries? Can Dogs Eat Zucchini?
Can Dogs Eat Broccoli? Can Dogs Eat Ham? Can Dogs Eat Pecans? Can Dogs Eat Raw Chicken? Can Dogs Eat Hot Cheetos?
Can Dogs Eat Brussel Sprouts? Can Dogs Eat Honey? Can Dogs Eat Peppers? Can Dogs Eat Salmon?
Can Dogs Eat Cabbage? Can Dogs Eat Ice Cream? Can Dogs Eat Peppers? Can Dogs Eat Seaweed?

Pet News Daily Staff
Pet News Daily writers are experts in pet care, health and behavior. We are members of Society for Professional Journalists and practice ethical journalism.