Can I Give My Dog Popcorn?

Can I Give My Dog Popcorn?Popcorn is great for munching during a movie but there’s one problem if you have a dog. It will be a target as your best buddy eyes that delicious snack sitting in your lap.

As your dog turns on the charm, with those puppy dog eyes, you may wonder if it’s alright to give popcorn to a canine. This can be quite a conundrum as the stare-down unfolds right there in your living room. Rest assured, you shouldn’t feel guilty for not sharing.

Popcorn is derived from corn which really isn’t the best type of treat for dogs. Also, the risks increase depending on the other ingredients such as butter and salt. While unlikely, popcorn could also be a choking hazard.

Can I Give My Dog Popcorn? Answer: Not Recommended

To be clear, popcorn itself isn’t considered a very risky type of human food for dogs. It’s still better to err on the side of caution.

Giving your dog a small amount of popcorn isn’t a total disaster and there are worse things they could be eating. That said, this classic snack tends to be consumed after being salted, buttered or otherwise flavored with sugar. These other factors definitely make matters worse for anyone consuming it, including a pet dog.

All types of salted, oily and/or sugary foods tend to be bad for pets. They should be restricted, if not completely eliminated, from your dog’s diet.

Pro Popcorn Perspective

Unsalted and unflavored popcorn, which is not buttered, probably won’t harm your dog when given in moderation. It’s sometimes used as a rewarding treat for training purposes. Sure, owners are doing so without incident and they will tell you that it doesn’t cause any harm. If you feel comfortable giving popcorn to your dog, it’s prudent to provide some that’s completely plain and unsalted.

Though we aren’t fans of corn, popcorn could theoretically be a healthy snack since it’s high in fiber and may help with digestion. Further, the carbohydrates can provide an extra energy boost if combined with exercise.

Downsides of this Treat

The flavored and/or salted types will be harmful, over the long term, to your dog’s health. Make no mistake about it, your best friend’s system isn’t built to withstand such high levels of salt or artificial chemicals. Excessive salt or sweet artificial flavoring can lead to obesity, heart problems, diarrhea, diabetes and even arthritis. Still worse, dogs can experience organ failure in extreme cases. More commonly, they’ll become lethargic as a result of a poor diet.

Careful of the Kernels

Dogs tend to wolf down popcorn pieces pretty fast, especially larger breeds. They can quickly reach the bottom where lots of kernels are typically found. You really don’t want your dog to be swallowing those kernels of corn because they aren’t really digestible and can trigger an upset stomach.

There are rare cases of pets choking on unpopped popcorn kernels. Though this rarely happens, it can cause a quick death as the air passage to the lungs can become blocked. At the very least, the tiny pieces of this snack can get caught between the teeth and eventually cause tooth decay and/or gum disease.

Much Better Alternatives

There are lots of excellent doggie treats and snacks available on the market today. The quality, vitamin-fortified, kind are much better than serving your dog popcorn. Some even have the added benefit of helping to clean your dog’s teeth. Healthy dog treats, from reputable manufacturers, are also much safer and more nutritious than any type of popcorn.

Conclusion on Popcorn

Plain popcorn probably won’t harm your dog if you give them some on occasion. On the other hand, it isn’t a great way to treat them to a snack. If you do serve them this popular food, be sure it’s without any additives such as butter, salt, artificial flavors, etc. A canine weight problem should be a clear sign to lay off foods which are salted and buttered. Also, prevent Fido from swallowing any of the corn kernels. In truth, you really should consider a healthier alternative to popcorn for your dog’s sake.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Anna December, 2013

Popcorn is a fun treat for dogs, but, like all people food, should be given in moderation.

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Brian November, 2013

We usually give our dogs 2-3 pieces of popcorn, unless we drop more on the floor.

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Sandy Hall March, 2013

My dog has kidney problems. She loves popcorn. I need to know if popcorn will harm her kidneys.

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Stan March, 2015

Like people, four-footed folks with kidney problems must, repeat, must be very careful of salt intake. A thoroughly cooked, single piece or two should be okay. But please, no salt, no butter (or whatever those yellow chemicals might become) and be very sure none of the husk remains. No, I’m not a vet. But I did care for human patients when in the service. No additional salt for dogs.

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Robertak February, 2013

I gave my dog some popcorn on two occasions; upon realizing that each time she threw up her entire meal. Not sure if it is the popcorn but am having her checked by our vet. I do know I will not give her anymore popcorn. She is a small Terrier and as evidenced by the info above, they swallow the kernel whole without chewing it. Therefore, it can probably create an obstruction in the digestive tract or upper throat as related in the above article.

This may be the reason she threw up her meal, but am still going to confirm if there are any other causes by taking her to our family vet. If you have any thoughts or comments on this let me know. I love my little ‘Leila” and I am praying she is okay.

Our pets are family members and they become a part of our heart eternally. The popcorn is from the dollar store, yellow color and probably has lots of chemicals in it. I also read that our corn is kept in the bins on the farm for a long period of time where it ultimately develops fungus and mold. Maybe we need to stay away from corn.

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Garrick Simpson November, 2011

What I’ve gathered from your page and others is the following – (1) as long as the popcorn is cooked and is new oil – “not last night’s chip oil”, (2) don’t give them pieces with kernels, I bite those bits off and give him the rest, which is soft and (3) don’t give them spiced popcorn.

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