You just placed a popcorn bag in the microwave, and your mouth begins to water at the prospect of munching on this savory snack. As you wait for the kernels to finish popping, you look over at your dog and wonder, “Can my dog eat popcorn?” It’s always more fun to enjoy a delicious snack with others, but we have to exercise more caution when it comes to our pets. Dogs can eat some human foods, while others can be hazardous to their health. Here we will discuss the pros, cons, and risks involved with feeding dogs popcorn.
Plain, air-popped popcorn without extra seasonings or toppings is okay for dogs to eat. Nutrition-wise, popcorn contains magnesium, phosphorous, manganese, zinc, fiber, and some vitamins, but not in high enough amounts that will significantly benefit your pet. Treat it as you would any snack by only feeding it to them occasionally and in moderate quantities under supervision. Avoid hard kernels and extra toppings or seasoning, as these can pose dangerous health hazards to your pet. However, it is best practice to consult with your veterinarian before introducing any new foods to your dog’s diet. They can advise you on the best course of action, give you a more comprehensive look at your dog’s health, and whether your dog is even able to consume popcorn as they could be prone to allergic reactions.
You have to admit that the seasoning and toppings on popcorn are what make it one of the most popular snacks, especially for movie nights. More likely than not, you have this type of popcorn on hand rather than just the plain ones. The truth is that any add-ons to plain popcorn, such as cheese, are unhealthy for your dog. The powdered cheese on popcorn often contains artificial flavoring, colors, salt, oil, and milk products that are not great for dogs to consume. No human has ever benefitted from this combination of additional ingredients in their diet, and dogs are no exception. While it is strongly recommended against feeding your dog this type of popcorn, it will not harm them if they ate a small amount. If you find that your dog has gotten into your stash of cheese popcorn, immediately remove the popcorn from its reach and call your vet. Because the cheese may have introduced high amounts of salt into your dog’s system in a short amount of time, they could be at risk for salt toxicity, a potentially fatal condition if not treated right away.
While popcorn in and of itself will not harm your dog in minimal amounts, it has the potential to pose a fatal hazard if not eaten under proper supervision. As noted, excessive salt intake after consuming large amounts of popcorn with extra toppings can lead to salt toxicity. This condition can cause an imbalance of the dog’s electrolytes and throw off much of their system. Initial signs of salt toxicity can include, but are not limited to, vomiting, weakness, muscle tremors, diarrhea, and seizures hours after ingestion. If you suspect that your dog could be suffering from this condition, contact your vet as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, many popcorn toppings can cause your dog to have a pretty bad stomach ache. The oils, butter, salt, and other additives in the toppings are not easily digestible for dogs. Eating these toppings in significant amounts can cause obesity and other more serious gastrointestinal issues down the line. It can be even more detrimental if your dog has underlying health issues that can be exacerbated by eating popcorn. To avoid complicating your dog’s health, try not to feed them popcorn.
While it can be tempting to give your dog some popcorn, the risks outweigh any potential benefits. Popcorn is better than many other types of human snacks, but still not the best choice of treat in the end. Below are some of the risks associated with feeding popcorn to dogs.
One of the biggest risks of feeding your dog popcorn is its potential to cause an allergic reaction. The snack contains corn, a common allergen for dogs. Even if it doesn’t cause a severe reaction, your dog may experience inflammation, diarrhea, and/or chronic gas as a result.
Toppings and seasonings are what drive the nail in the coffin when it comes to the risks of eating popcorn for dogs. They contribute to a whole host of potential problems including obesity, pancreatitis, digestive issues, dehydration, and kidney damage. In particular, sweetened popcorn can affect insulin levels and cause low blood sugar levels due to a chemical called xylitol. Only feed your dog plain air-popped popcorn without the added seasonings, butter, oil, salt, or sugar to keep them as healthy as possible.
The hard kernels in popcorn can easily get stuck in your dog’s teeth and cause trauma, gum disease, or even tooth decay. They are also small enough to present a choking hazard. If your dog is going to eat popcorn, remove the kernels as well as any hard pieces to prevent trauma to the teeth or choking. Before you give in to the puppy eyes and cries from your dog for popcorn, it is important to take a step back and truly evaluate whether this is a good decision. Plain, air-popped popcorn served in small amounts can be a delightful treat for your dog on occasion. This snack only gets problematic when we factor in the extra toppings and seasonings that popcorn is often served with. Your dog may be okay if they slip a bite or two. But if eaten in large amounts or even fed for long periods of time, they will have to deal with more complicated health issues such as obesity. In the short-term, watch out for possible allergic reactions or teeth damage. Consider reaching out to your veterinarian for sound advice on feeding popcorn to dogs and potentially looking for more dog-friendly alternative treats.