Can Dogs Eat Popcorn?

Can Dogs Eat Popcorn?

Can dogs eat popcorn? Yes and no — you’ll need to stick with the kind you pop at home. Here’s how popcorn can fit into your dog’s diet.

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It’s Friday night. You’re sitting on the couch after a long day at work with a big bowl of popcorn, ready to press play on a movie. Your dog is cuddled up next to you, probably looking up at you with those big, puppy dog eyes. You love your dog, and they’re being so good, so it couldn’t hurt to give them just a few pieces of popcorn, right?

Having an awareness of what “human” snacks you can safely give your dog is a crucial part of pet ownership. Can dogs eat popcorn? Can it hurt them? Let’s find out.

Can I Feed My Dog Popcorn?

If you just watched your dog find and demolish the popcorn that you lost in the couch cushions, you may be searching for an answer in a panic. 

Let’s get the basics out of the way — a few pieces of home-popped popcorn are generally not going to be harmful to your dog. 

While popcorn may not make the best regular snack, giving your dog the occasional piece or two is safe. If you’ve been holding your breath, you can breathe easier now.

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Is Popcorn Healthy for My Dog?

Even though it’s safe to feed your dog popcorn occasionally, that doesn’t make it a healthy snack. 

That said, there are some nutritional properties to popcorn. For instance, it provides a few essential vitamins and nutrients — B vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc. Each of these nutrients is a crucial part of your dog’s well-balanced diet and performs a vital job in the body (supporting the immune system and bone health, for example). 

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However, there aren’t enough of those vitamins and minerals in the small amount of popcorn your dog should be getting as a treat, and the right dog food should have all of them covered. 

Popcorn is also a whole grain and is naturally higher in fiber than other snacks. While dogs don’t have the exact fiber requirements that we do, a diet high in fiber still has some health benefits for them. 

For one, fiber helps your dog feel full. Hunger often drives a dog to bad behavior, like begging or being destructive, so fiber-rich snacks can be a huge benefit to keep them satisfied until their next meal. In addition, fiber is an excellent way to help support their digestive system.

And, perhaps most importantly, air-popped popcorn is low in both calories and fat. 

Can Popcorn Be Unhealthy for My Dog?

Can dogs eat popcorn? Yes, in small amounts on an occasional basis. But should they? Only in certain circumstances. Popcorn also has the potential to be unhealthy for your dog as well.

Think of the difference between the air-popped popcorn you eat at home and the movie theater popcorn you enjoy when you see a film.

The latter is such a fun treat because we know it’s not that good for us, and we don’t get to enjoy it regularly. Movie theater popcorn is slathered in a buttery topping, full of saturated fats and sodium. Even though it is delicious, you probably leave the theater with your stomach hurting and feeling dehydrated.

Your eyes are bigger than your stomach if you're anything like us. After ordering the large popcorn, we find ourselves bringing home leftovers to enjoy later. When you have a dog, it is tempting to give them some.

Or, in a worst-case scenario, your curious dog may be able to snag the bag from the counter and help themselves before you can stop them. 

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This type of popcorn poses far more of a danger to your dog than the regular air-popped popcorn you enjoy at home. All of that fat and salt can trigger significant stomach upset (nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea) or an even worse health issue known as pancreatitis.

Pancreatitis and Oral Health Risks

If your dog develops pancreatitis (painful inflammation of the pancreas), it can lead to lethargy, a lack of appetite, and a dangerous amount of vomiting or diarrhea. Miniature schnauzers are just one breed that is already more prone to developing pancreatitis due to their unique metabolism, so you should especially avoid movie theater popcorn for them. 

Another consideration surrounding feeding popcorn to your dog is their teeth. We’re confident that you’ve experienced the frustration of trying to pick popcorn shells out of your teeth after enjoying a bag. Imagine your dog having the same issue, but without the ability to remove them by themselves. 

Popcorn that gets stuck in the teeth can become infected and even lead to systemic issues. That’s why you should stick with only the occasional piece of popcorn, combined with keeping up on your dog’s dental health. 

And finally, especially for smaller-breed dogs, popcorn can pose a choking hazard. If your dog tends to swallow snacks whole, there is a possibility that a piece can get lodged in their windpipe and block their ability to breathe. 

Can Dogs Be Allergic To Popcorn?

We think of popcorn as a reasonable snack that is pretty neutral and non-hazardous. While this snack is low-cal and low-fat, there is one additional factor to consider. 

Along with soy and wheat, corn is one of the top allergens dogs suffer from. So much so that most major dog foods have taken the ingredient off their ingredient list. Although corn doesn’t tend to be something that sets off an immediate anaphylactic reaction, it can be a slow burn problem that impacts your dog for the long haul. Dogs dealing with food allergies can be frequent paw chewers, ear itchers, or diarrhea sufferers. 

If your dog seems to be sensitive to certain foods, it’s best to avoid anything that is a well-known allergen, even if it does appear to be healthy on the surface. 

Healthier Snack Options for Your Dog

Choosing the right snacks for your dog, especially if they help support your dog’s optimal health, is more important than you know. If you’re worried about your dog having a potential reaction to popcorn, or if you’re looking for treats that have slightly more redeeming nutritional properties, we’ve got your back. 

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Here are just a few of our favorite, easy-to-treat snack options. Remember, regardless of what you choose, treats should make up less than 10% of your dog’s daily caloric intake. 

  • Apples (cut them into small, bite-sized pieces and feed them to your dog raw)
  • Bananas (cut into pieces and feed raw or frozen)
  • Blueberries (can be fed raw or frozen)
  • Carrots (try baby carrots or dice them into small pieces)
  • Chicken (cook in water without seasoning and feed in small amounts)
  • Sweet potato (only give your dog cooked sweet potato in small amounts)
  • Watermelon (feed your dog small pieces of raw, seedless watermelon)

Your dog may not like every option on the list, so it may take some trial and error to find a healthy snack that your dog will want to eat. However, it can also be an excellent way to motivate your dog while training or as a positive reinforcement tool when you find that treat. 

That doesn’t mean that you can’t give your dog an occasionally less than healthy treat. As long as you’re not feeding your dog something harmful, a small bite of hot dog or cheese isn’t the end of the world. 

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What Role Should Treats Play In a Dog’s Diet?

It’s fun to give your dog a treat, right? There’s something that feels exciting and wholesome about it, and who doesn’t love making their dog happy? 

There’s a reason that you feel like that. The time spent with your dog is a bonding experience, and it helps you feel closer to your dog (and vice versa). It is also a great time to teach them important commands and fun tricks, and it can even help distract them during times of stress, especially if they are food-driven. 

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Healthy treats, in particular, have an essential part to play in your dog’s life. Unfortunately, doggy obesity continues to be an epidemic. Although a chubby dog may look adorable, what’s going on in their body is anything but. 

Overweight dogs have a much higher risk of developing a wide range of health conditions, some of which can be dangerous. They may also have pain in their bones and joints from carrying extra weight. 

When you choose your treats wisely, you can help your dog slim down so they can enjoy their life running, playing, and being a dog. 

In Summary

Can dogs eat popcorn? If you’re popping a bag of plain popcorn at home and you want to give them a piece or two, absolutely. 

However, if you’re considering sharing your leftover movie theater popcorn, or worse, the boutique popcorn drizzled in chocolate and gooey goodness, you should look into other options. 

Your dog’s diet should be primarily quality dog food, with only 10% of their daily calories set aside for treats — which means you should make each treat count!

For more advice on how to make your dog’s life as long and happy as possible, stick with us here at Finn for more advice as well as supplements that can support your pup from their coat to their calm.


Benefits of High-Fiber Dog Foods | American Kennel Club 

What is pancreatitis? | AAHA 

Canine obesity: an overview | PubMed



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