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Can dogs eat popcorn?

Popcorn is a great snack we all enjoy from time to time. And anytime you're eating a snack, you can almost guarantee that your dog will be there, wondering if they can have some too. However, you might be unsure if popcorn is suitable for dogs, and whether it could make them ill or have any other negative consequences. It might be hard to resist those puppy-dog eyes, but it's always best to check before you feed your dog something new.

Popcorn and your dog's health

Keeping your dog healthy is essential if you want them to be happy, and their diet is a big part of their health. You might monitor their dog food carefully, but if you ruin it with snacks, all your hard work could be for nothing. The question of whether popcorn is a healthy snack for your dog doesn't exactly have a clear answer. In fact, the answer is: it depends. There are a few different factors that can affect how healthy popcorn is for your dog, including how its prepared and served.

At its core, popcorn can be a pretty healthy snack for humans and dogs alike. When it's air-popped and eaten plain, without salt, butter or sugar, it's nutritional and contains plenty of fiber, which is good for the digestive system. It also has protein and iron, as well as B vitamins. These things aren't going to give your dog's health a huge boost, but they won't harm your dog either.

Keeping it healthy

If you’re going to share popcorn, stick with air-popped. Air-popped popcorn is okay for you dog if you want to give them a light snack, but it's easy to turn popcorn into something that's incredibly unhealthy for your pet. Adding seasonings, butter, sugar, or other unhealthy toppings can be very bad for you dog and should be avoided.

Possible side effects and hazards

If you do feed your dog popcorn with unhealthy toppings or additives, it could have some side effects for your poor pooch. Some of the things that could be caused by excessive salt and butter or unhealthy cooking preservatives include:

  • Digestive issues that can lead to diarrhea
  • Dehydration from too much salt
  • Possible kidney damage too much salt is eaten regularly
  • Obesity in the long-term from eating high-fat popcorn

Popcorn pieces could potentially cause physical harm to your dog too. The kernels can hurt their teeth and gums (who hasn't had popcorn stuck in their teeth?), and they could present a choking hazard for your dog.

Alternatives to popcorn

Air-popped and unseasoned popcorn is a relatively safe choice for dogs, but it's unlikely you're going to be eating that often. Unless you're specially making your dog’s popcorn before you season the rest for yourself. You might want to consider some of these safe popcorn recipes for dog or puppy.

Safe popcorn recipes for dogs

Plain, air-popped popcorn is best for your dog, but you can also add some things to it if you think they would enjoy some more flavor. Firstly, you need to make sure you know how to cook your popcorn healthily. Air-popping is simple, and you can use either a pan on the stove, a popcorn machine, or your microwave.

Once you've popped your popcorn, remove any unpopped kernels, as they could be a choking hazard. Then try these toppings:

Cheesy bacon popcorn

Simply spread your popcorn on a lined baking sheet, and lightly cover with reduced-fat grated cheddar and bacon bits. Cook at 350 degrees until the cheese melts, then let it cool. Delicious for both you and your dog!

Peanut butter poppers

Mix half a cup of popcorn with 1 cup of low-salt and low-sugar peanut butter (homemade is best and you need to make sure it doesn’t contain Xylitol), as well as a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil. Form small balls and put them on wax/baking paper, then leave them to set.