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Can my dog eat popcorn?

beagle with popcorn on sofa

Not all people foods are suitable for dogs, and some can even be toxic to our pets.

© Pixel-Shot - Shutterstock

A great film and popcorn go hand-in-hand, but is it safe to feed your dog this tasty treat? Here we take a look at what you can feed your canine companion.

By Greta Inglis

Published on the

The only thing better than settling in for a movie night, is settling in for a movie night with your dog by your side. Add to that a bowl of popcorn, and you’re on to a winning combination.

It can be hard to resist those big eyes looking up at you, yearning for a piece of popcorn as if life depended on it. Unfortunately, not all people foods are suitable for dogs, and some can even be toxic to our pets.

Is popcorn safe for my dog?

Whether or not popcorn is safe for your dog largely depends on the type of popcorn and the toppings used. Corn kernels do contain magnesium and phosphorous, and popcorn can offer high dietary fibre with low calories.

Before feeding human food to your dog, it's important to make sure they're not allergic. Some dogs are allergic to corn, in the same way they could be to wheat or soy.

While plain, air-popped corn shouldn’t harm your dog if fed occasionally and in small quantities, the toppings we choose can significantly alter the nutritional values of the popcorn itself.

Can dogs eat popcorn with salt?

Plain popcorn may not be bad for your dog, but salted popcorn raises a completely different concern.

An excess of sodium can lead to dehydration and salt toxicity, which can be very serious for your dog’s health. It’s always best to avoid salted snacks when it comes to our four-legged friends.

Can dogs eat buttered popcorn? 

Your dog’s food should contain all the nutrients your dog needs, including the right amount of fats and oils. Butter may not be toxic in itself, large amounts are not particularly healthy for your dog.

Buttered popcorn will contain saturated fat, and if consumed in large amounts, this can lead to obesity.

Can dogs eat microwave popcorn? 

Shop bought microwave popcorn comes with all kinds of seasoning that could be harmful to your dog. Butter, salt and caramel are common flavours, and microwave popcorn is filled with chemicals and fats. Avoid feeding pre-packaged options for your dog’s health and wellbeing.

Can dogs eat popcorn cooked in coconut oil?

Coconut oil has well-known health benefits for people, and many dog owners have had good results using this oil topically for the treatment of skin conditions such as eczema. Your dog’s fur may become shinier and healthier after a coconut oil application, but does this mean it’s safe for your dog to eat?

When it comes to eating the oil itself, it’s important to consider the risk of an allergic reaction and the possibility of weight gain. It’s thought that coconut oil can in fact cause high cholesterol in dogs, and it may even contribute to obesity in the long run.

Can dogs eat popcorn with cheese?

Cheese contains calcium and essential fatty acids, but it also has a high fat and calorie content. This can lead to weight gain and kidney problems if fed in large quantities.

Cheesy popcorn is usually mixed with additional oils and salt and milk products, which can all be bad for your dog. While cheesy popcorn may seem like a tempting snack to feed your dog, dairy may cause an upset stomach for lactose intolerant pups.

Can dogs eat sweet popcorn? 

Sweeteners, and in particular xylitol, can be toxic for your dog. Xylitol can cause low blood sugar, seizures, liver failure, and in some cases, it can even be life threatening. For this reason, it’s not a good idea to feed your dog sweet popcorn, however much they may seem to want to try it.

Can popcorn kill my dog?

Popcorn - if plain and unseasoned - shouldn’t cause harm to your dog if fed in very small quantities. That said, there are further considerations to be aware of, particularly if you suspect your dog may be allergic.

Un-popped kernels can harm gums and teeth and may even present a choking hazard. Ensure any hard pieces or whole kernels are removed before feeding.

With the added risk of allergy, it's best to find alternative options as cinema snacks for your pup.

What are some good alternatives to popcorn?

While your dog can eat popcorn under certain circumstances, there are plenty of exciting alternative dog treats to try.

Peanut butter

Pet-safe peanut butter can be a delicious snack for your dog. This should be as natural as possible, and fed in small quantities.

Ensure the peanut butter you choose for your dog is sugar free, with no additives and absolutely no xylitol, as this sweetener can be toxic for your dog.

Apple

Apple slices are low in protein and fat, and high in antioxidants, vitamins and fibre. This makes them an excellent choice of snack for your pup, with the added bonus of helping keep their breath fresh.

Remove the seeds and core when preparing the slices, as these can be harmful in large quantities.

Banana

When it comes to alternatives to popcorn, consider swapping to banana as a snack. This is a healthy treat your dog will love! Be sure to peel the banana first, as the high amount of fibre could lead to an upset stomach if digested.

While your dog can eat popcorn if prepared in the right way, it’s probably best avoided, and with great alternatives available, there are a lot of good options to choose from. With more natural snacks, there will be added health benefits and none of the associated risks of popcorn.

As much as the “puppy eyes” may be hard to resist, when it comes to movie night, your dog won’t mind whether they have popcorn or peanut butter. They’ll just be happy to be included!

Frequently asked questions

How much popcorn can I give my dog?

Can popcorn give dogs diarrhea?

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