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Can dogs eat popcorn? Dietary advice and feeding tips

can dogs eat popcorn?
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Can dogs eat popcorn? It’s safe to say that some dogs are like little vacuum cleaners, hoovering up any leftover snacks and crumbs from our own treats. As such, it’s important to know exactly what is safe for dogs to eat – so you may be wondering whether they can safely eat this tasty treat.

The good news is that popcorn is most certainly not toxic to dogs, though of course, should it be covered in something humans find delicious (such as butter, sugar or salt) then it’s not recommended for your dog to consume vast quantities of it. Simple, plain popped corn can be used as an occasional treat though. 

It can be quite fun sharing your own food with your beloved pooch, but make sure you spend some time researching what human food can dogs eat before stocking up on too many supplies – or letting them gorge on your leftovers. 

Of course, any treats you give your dog should be in conjunction with the best dog food, and if you’re worried about your dog’s wellbeing, you should look into choosing healthy dog treats too. 

Is popcorn good for dogs?

Plain, ungarnished popcorn is not inherently bad for dogs. In fact, there’s several nutrients that can be found in popped corn which is good for your dog. This includes manganese, magnesium, phosphorous, zinc, and fiber. 

As such, if you’re simply popping corn kernels that you add your own toppings on to later, you might consider siphoning some off to feed to your pup as an occasional treat. Just be sure to avoid giving them any unpopped kernels as these can represent a choking hazard, can get stuck in teeth, and are hard to digest.

can dogs eat popcorn?

(Image credit: Getty Images)

When is popcorn bad for dogs?

Essentially, as soon as you make your popcorn taste nice for humans, that’s when it becomes a problem for dogs.

Butter, salt, sugar, toffee, chocolate, and cheese are all common popcorn flavorings / toppings, all of which are bad for your dog – especially when eaten in large quantities. For this reason, you should try to avoid your dog consuming this type of popcorn, keeping it out of their reach as much as possible.

If your dog eats a large amount of garnished popcorn, or perhaps eats it regularly, you’re likely to find that your dog suffers with an upset stomach, with fats and oils being a contributor to obesity if consumed often.

can dogs eat popcorn?

(Image credit: Getty Images)

What to do if your dog eats popcorn 

First of all it’s important not to panic should your dog eat some popcorn, even if it’s of the less healthy variety. A few stray bits of popcorn is unlikely to cause any problems, especially if your dog is otherwise in good shape. 

If somehow your dog manages to eat a very large portion of popcorn, again it’s probably not cause for major alarm. However, you should be on the lookout for any of the symptoms mentioned above, particularly an upset tummy, excess wind and lethargy. 

If any of these symptoms are severe or worrying, speak to a vet as soon as possible. They may take action, such as inducing vomiting, especially if the popcorn was coated with something particularly dangerous for dogs (such as chocolate). 

Summary

Although most dogs are little scavengers, keen to get their chops around any tasty treats, it doesn’t always mean it’s a wise idea to let them do it. While popcorn – so long as it’s plain – makes for a perfectly acceptable treat for your dog, you should avoid giving them other common types. 

At the very least, they’re not usually healthy for your dog, while excessive amounts – or popcorn covered in something toxic for dogs – can even be dangerous. Again, always seek advice from your veterinarian if you’re ever unsure.

Amy Davies is a freelance writer and photographer with over 15 years experience. She has a degree in journalism from Cardiff University and has written about a huge variety of topics over the years. These days she mostly specialises in technology and pets, writing across a number of different titles including TechRadar, Stuff, Expert Reviews, T3, Digital Camera World, and of course PetsRadar. She lives in Cardiff with her dog, Lola, a rescue miniature dachshund.