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Home > Dogs > Can Dogs Eat Popcorn? Vet-Reviewed Facts & FAQ

Can Dogs Eat Popcorn? Vet-Reviewed Facts & FAQ

Can Dogs Eat Popcorn

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Dr. Lauren Demos Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lauren Demos

Veterinarian, DVM

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Many dog lovers are eager to share everything they have with their furry friends: their beds, wallets, and meals! So, when it reaches that time of the weekend and you’re settling down for movie night, the impulse to share your bucket of popcorn with your pup can be strong. But can dogs eat popcorn? The answer is a bit more complicated than a simple yes or no.

Plain, air-popped popcorn is not harmful to dogs. It isn’t exactly healthy, but as an occasional snack, it shouldn’t hurt. However, outside of plain popcorn, almost all popcorn variations present a risk of adverse health effects for your dog. If the popcorn contains any flavoring, it is best to keep it out of your dog’s mouth.

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Popcorn That Is Unhealthy for Your Dog

Plain, air-popped popcorn is a fine occasional snack for your dog. However, practically any other form of popcorn is not healthy for dogs. The seasonings and flavors we include in our popcorn are not good for canines, so if your movie snack has added ingredients, keep it away from your pet.

popcorn
Image Credit: sentraldigital, Pixabay

Salt and Butter Flavored Popcorn

Even as simple a flavoring as salt and butter is potentially dangerous for your dog. While neither salt nor butter is technically toxic for dogs, an excess of either can lead to disastrous health consequences. For example, if your dog ingests too much salt, he may suffer from salt toxicity. Signs of salt toxicity include gastrointestinal distress (such as vomiting and diarrhea). In severe cases, your dog may suffer from seizures and even death. However, that is rare, and a dog must frequently consume a large portion of sodium to die from it.

While salt is an important part of your dog’s health, he requires a very strict amount that is likely already provided for in his regular commercial foods. Adding salty human snacks to his diet is unnecessary and unhealthy and may increase his risks of salt toxicity. If you suspect your dog is suffering from salt toxicity, do not delay reaching out to your vet.

Butter is also an unhealthy addition. It contains fats that are unhealthy for dogs, specifically saturated fats. There is very little nutritional value to make up for the high-fat content; plus, the lactose can cause digestive upset for your dog. If your dog eats too much butter, the risks of obesity and pancreatitis increase.

Kettle and Caramel Popcorn

Kettle and caramel popcorn are unhealthy for dogs. These types of popcorn typically contain salt and butter, which we have already established is bad for your dog’s health. In addition, kettle and caramel popcorn contain high amounts of sugar, which is very unhealthy for dogs. They can lead to short-term issues such as vomiting and diarrhea but may also contribute to long-term complications, including cavities, obesity, and diabetes.

Another factor to consider is the potential for toxic ingredients to be included in these types of popcorn. Chocolate and xylitol are commonly used ingredients to sweeten certain popcorn products, which are highly toxic for dogs.

sweet popcorn
Image Credit: Couleur, Pixabay

Garlic or Onion Popcorn

Popcorn with garlic or onion powder must be kept away from your dog at all costs. Garlic, onion, and other food members of the allium family are extremely toxic for dogs. Not only can they cause gastrointestinal upset, but they can also affect your dog’s red blood cells.

The red blood cells are responsible for transporting oxygen throughout the body. His red blood cells can suffer damage when your dog’s system is overloaded with garlic or onion. As the red blood cell levels drop, your dog may begin to experience anemia, a condition in which there are insufficient red blood cells in your dog’s body.

Other signs of garlic toxicity include:

  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of coordination
  • Paleness of the gums
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased breathing and heart rate

If you notice any of these signs and suspect your dog may have eaten garlic or onion popcorn, contact your vet immediately.

Depressed Sad Senior Havanese Dog Laying and Doesn't Want to Play with his Toys
Image Credit: Boryana Manzurova, Shutterstock

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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Below, we’ll answer some of the most common questions about feeding popcorn to dogs.

How Do You Safely Feed Popcorn to Your Dog?

Moderation is key when safely feeding human treats to your dog. Treats should only make up 10% or less of your dog’s diet, so don’t overload his meals with crunchy human snacks. Keep your dog’s size in mind when considering how much is too much. While each dog is different, you can use the table below to estimate how much popcorn your dog can eat at a time.

Breed Size Maximum Amount of Popcorn
Extra Small 2 pieces
Small 3 pieces
Medium 6 pieces
Large 1 small handful
Extra Large 1 regular handful

What Are Suitable Alternatives to Popcorn?

While popcorn can be safely fed to your dog, there are alternatives that are healthier and safer. You can find popcorn-like dog treats such as BIXBI Liberty Ruff Puffs Chicken-Free White Cheddar Flavor Dog Treats that your dog will love to snack on during movie nights.

plain pop corn
Image Credit: Alex Munsell, Unsplash

divider-dogFinal Thoughts

Popcorn can be fed safely to your dog; however, you must take great care in the types of popcorn you feed to your pup. Only plain, air-popped popcorn is safe for your dog, and all other types of popcorn are unhealthy at best and potentially life-threatening at worst. If trying to keep track of the popcorn you can and cannot feed your dog is too much of a headache, you can look for canine treat alternatives that still give your dog the tasty flavor and satisfying crunch!

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Featured Image Credit: stevepb, Pixabay

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