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, it’s understandable to want to share some popcorn. This can be quite a conundrum as a 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 a good type of treat for dogs. Also, the risks increase depending on the other ingredients such as butter and salt. While unlikely, it could also be a choking hazard.

Can I Give My Dog Popcorn? Answer: Not Recommended

It’s not a very harmful type of human food for dogs but don’t make a habit of it.

Personally, we use a healthy dog treat called Pupcorn instead of popcorn for training. But giving your pooch a small amount of popcorn isn’t that bad. 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 make matters worse for anyone consuming it, including the family 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 harm. If you feel comfortable giving popcorn to your dog, it’s prudent to provide some that’s 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.

Popcorn’s Many Downsides

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. On the other hand, it isn’t a great way to treat them to a snack. If you do serve this popular food, be sure it’s without any additives like butter, salt, artificial flavors, etc. A canine weight problem is a clear sign to lay off foods which are salted and buttered. Also, prevent your dog from swallowing corn kernels. Consider a healthier alternative to popcorn!

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Big Dog February, 2016

I use popcorn as a reward when training my Lab. She only gets a few popped kernels during the training session. You may want to check the ingredients in the food that you feed your dog as most of the time the first item on the bag is corn.


Charlene October, 2015

I only give my dog, and cat, a little in their food bowl. I mix it up with their regular meals.


Lea June, 2015

Do you actually have to warn people about not giving junk food to their dogs? Give your dogs real food! Let’s raise up the discussion, please, on how human food is appreciated and how you can provide it.


Cade January, 2015

Someone left half a bag of popcorn out last night. My dog ate it all. He seems to be doing okay though. Should I be worried or just let it go and make sure it doesn’t happen again?


Danny October, 2014

I gave just a few kernels to my dog last evening. She seemed to like them!


Anna December, 2013

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


Brian November, 2013

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


Sandy Hall March, 2013

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


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.


Robert February, 2013

I gave my dog some popcorn on two occasions and each time she threw up her entire meal. I’m not sure if it’s the popcorn but I’m 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.

This may be the reason she threw up her meal, but I 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 dog 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.


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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