Yes and no. Plain, air-popped popcorn is safe for dogs to eat in small quantities. Buttered popcorn or popcorn with other toppings is not safe for your dog on a regular basis, although eating a few dropped pieces here and there probably won’t hurt them.
As with any treat, too much popcorn is not good for your dog, and it is important to keep treats down to approximately 10% or less of a dog’s daily caloric intake.
Is Popcorn Bad for Dogs?
Popcorn itself isn’t toxic to dogs but there are certain ways we prepare it that can be very harmful to our pets. Completely plain, air-popped popcorn is safe for dogs to eat in small portions, but popcorn covered in butter and salt is very unhealthy for dogs.
Eating a piece or two isn’t the end of the world, but eating popcorn as a regular snack over time (or devouring a large amount at once) can hurt your dog’s health. The butter can cause serious problems, such as an upset stomach, obesity, or pancreatitis.
But it’s not just the butter too much salt can cause salt poisoning in dogs. And for very small dogs, such as Chihuahuas, any swallowed unpopped kernels could become a choking hazard or cause an intestinal blockage.
Which Popcorn is Best for Dogs?
“When feeding popcorn to your pet, it’s important that the popcorn is plain and preferably air popped. Popcorn that is covered in butter (even fake butter), salt, and seasonings can cause stomach issues for your furry friends,” Dr. Dimock says.
She adds that while pets can handle small amounts of “people food” as treats, for their health, it’s best to not feed your pet only human food.1
It’s good to note that microwave popcorn typically is high in salt (and fats), which can be a problem for some canine cardiac patients. But plain, air-popped corn in small amounts is a perfectly acceptable treat for your pooch.
How much popcorn can a dog eat?
It’s easy to polish off an entire bowl of buttery and salty popcorn (sometimes before you even get to the meet-cute in a rom-com), but our pups shouldn’t follow suit.
Remember: Only plain, air-popped, unsalted, and unbuttered popcorn is OK, and keep the portions small. “It is best to give dogs popcorn in small amounts at a time to reduce the chances of them eating too much or choking,” says Dr. Sheen.
Popcorn or any other treat should not make up more than 10% of a dog’s daily caloric intake. So just toss a kernel or two every so often while you’re eating yours to spread the fun.
How to Safely Give Your Dog Popcorn
If you plan to share popcorn with your dog, always do it safely. Since most people don’t like plain popcorn, you can set aside a small portion of plain popcorn for your dog and only add seasonings to your portion.
If this is your dog’s first-time eating popcorn, only give them a small amount and monitor them to see if they have a negative reaction.
If your dog doesn’t experience a negative reaction, you can assume the popcorn hasn’t upset their stomachs, and they’re not allergic to it. However, if your dog experiences any GI issues like gas, diarrhea, or vomiting, they should not have any amount of popcorn in the future.
Of course, never add seasonings to the popcorn you plan to share with your dog. Butter, salt, garlic, and popcorn seasonings are harmful to pets and can contribute to weight gain or cause GI issues.
Additionally, once you’ve finished air popping the kernels, remove unpopped or partially popped kernels and only offer your dog fully popped popcorn to avoid potential choking hazards.
How should I feed my dog popcorn?
If you want your dog to have a small amount of popcorn with you, always ensure that it’s plain and air-popped only. Air-popping is super simple, you can easily do it in a popcorn machine, microwave, or stove.
Once you’ve finished popping, make sure you remove the partially popped kernels and only offer them a few. Never give your dog popcorn with added toppings and if you want to add these to your portion, remove the small amount for your dog first, then add your chosen additions later.
That’s our answer to the question can dogs eat popcorn? Now you know whether popcorn is good for dogs, want to find out more information on feeding your dog? Read our guide on whether can dogs eat strawberries or can dogs eat coconut next.
What happens if my dog eats popcorn?
A few kernels are unlikely to cause stomach issues in your dog, but you definitely don’t want to let him have a whole serving. If your dog gets into a bag of popcorn, keep an eye on him for any discomfort, and contact your local vet if you have any concerns.