Can Dogs Eat Popcorn? Your Guide of Dos and Don’ts
The primary source of a dog’s nutrition should come from food formulated to suit their dietary needs, but while there are lots of great options on the market, giving your dog a bit of human food can be tempting for both you and definitely for your canine companion. With lots of foods, it can be difficult to know if you're doing the right thing. So, can dogs have popcorn?
We’ve put together this guide of dos and don’ts when it comes to feeding popcorn to your dog, so you can relax with your favorite movie snack without second-guessing yourself or hurting your pet.
Can Dogs Eat Popcorn?
Some dogs will eat pretty much anything put in front of them, but only because they don’t always know what their bodies are capable of (and deliciousness is hard to resist). When it comes to pure popcorn (that has fully popped) without any toppings or additions at all, there’s nothing intrinsically dangerous about it being ingested by dogs; however, the majority of us aren’t eating plain old air-popped corn when binging on the hot new crime miniseries on Netflix.
The popcorns that most of us enjoy might be covered in butter, sugar, salt, or even that ingenious sweet and salty flavoring that you can’t quite put your finger on. Still, while these will make popcorn far more enjoyable for us, they will also make it a less appropriate option as a doggy snack.
Is Popcorn Good for Dogs?
When it comes to plain, air-popped popcorn, there is actually some evidence that it makes for a reasonably healthy snack for dogs. Popcorn is a low-calorie snack, often used by people as a substitute for potato or tortilla chips, which can apply to your dog as well. While specially made dog treats are a great way to break up your dog’s diet and give them an occasional reward, many of them are quite calorie-dense, which can make some plain popcorn a good alternative option.
Popcorn is also a high-fiber snack, which can aid with digestion, along with being packed full of iron, protein, and B vitamins, meaning it could actually do your dog some good. However, it’s important to remember that dogs should never be filling up on snacks and treats, so to make sure their popcorn habit remains healthy it should never exceed 10% of their caloric intake.
Is Popcorn Bad for Dogs?
So we understand that the plain air-popped variety is suitable for dogs in moderation, but is popcorn okay for dogs if it’s been flavored? The answer to this is a resounding ‘no’. While excessive amounts of salt, sugar, and butter can be harsh on the human waistline, these sorts of additives can be truly harmful to a dog’s constitution.
The potential side-effects of these sorts of ingredients for dogs include:
- Digestive Issues: Salt, butter, and sugar can really disagree with doggy digestion, leading to vomiting or diarrhea.
- Dehydration: Too much salt will dehydrate a dog as it will a human, although the consequences could be more dangerous.
- Obesity & Weight Gain: Too much fat or sugar can cause your dog to gain weight, even to unhealthy levels.
- Kidney Damage: While dehydration can affect your dog’s mood and activity, too much salt can even lead to serious kidney problems.
Along with all of these potential dangers, it’s also important to remember that popcorn is notorious for getting stuck in teeth, which can be highly uncomfortable and frustrating for dogs. They can’t use toothpicks like us!
Can Puppies Eat Popcorn?
Now that we know the right and wrong ways to feed your dog popcorn, it’s also important to consider whether popcorn is a puppy-friendly option. You should probably wait until your dog has grown up a little bit, along with getting its adult teeth prior to getting them involved with your movie snacks. At a younger age, they might react a little worse to human food, while teething pups might also struggle with the bitty nature of popcorn kernels.
As is always a good practice in these cases, consult with your veterinarian if you’re unsure of what to do next. They’ll know what’s best for your dog.
The Dos and Don’ts
We’ve gone to the liberty of condensing this article into a simple list of dos and don’ts for you to refer to whenever your memory might fail you.
- Feed your dog plain, air-popped popcorn.
- Practice good portion control.
- Wait until your dog has grown somewhat from youth.
- Feed your dog popcorn with sugar, salt, butter, or other flavorings.
- Allow popcorn to replace real meals.
- Let your dog eat the unpopped kernels.
So when it comes to popcorn and dogs, there’s not a black and white answer on whether it’s a good or bad snack to provide them with. If used responsibly, it can be a great option as an alternative to typical doggy snacks and treats, but done wrong, it can cause problems.
Remember, flavorings are much harsher on the stomachs of dogs than they are for us, so keep things plain, and always practice moderation.
For all dog owners, consulting with your veterinarian when you have questions is always best. This is true of popcorn, zoomies, chew toys, or even other fun recipe ideas! The quality of your relationship with your veterinarian will determine many of your dog’s health outcomes.
Remember, regardless of your dog’s diet or behaviour, having a good pet insurance policy in case of emergencies, injuries and accidents can save a lot of heartache. If you're in Canada get a quote from PHI Direct pet insurance today to learn more.