Can Dogs Eat Popcorn? Vet Weighs In

So you are snuggling with your furry paw friend under a cozy blanket with Netflix on and a bowl full of popcorn to munch. What would you do if your dog asked for a handful of popcorn with teary eyes? You must be confused and wonder if you should give him popcorn. Can dogs eat popcorn?

Dogs are immune to popcorn, but only if they are air-popped with no additional flavoring or sweetening. Popcorn can be a healthy snack for your dog if eaten in moderation. It’s a low-calorie snack full of magnesium, zinc, and vitamin B, so it is safe for your dog. 

Prevention is always a better solution than cure. Instead of giving your dog popcorn and regretting it, go through this article first and learn about how safe it is to give popcorn to your dog. 

Is Popcorn A Good Snack For Dogs?

Corn is a good source of healthy low-GI carbohydrates. In fact, you will find corn kernel powder in many dog food brands. But when it comes to popcorn, you should be aware of what type of popcorn are you feeding your pet.

There are grossly two types of popcorn. The first one is named butterfly popcorn which is mostly available in movie theaters and is microwaveable. The other one is called mushroom popcorn which comes in a tin can and is candied with fruit syrup. 

Dr. Michelle Burch, an acclaimed veterinarian, has commented that “Unflavored, air-popped popcorn is safe for dogs to eat in small quantities.” Plain, oil-free, sugarless fresh popcorn will suit the gastronomical condition of any pet dog. Butterfly popcorn is rich in minerals, fibers, and vitamins that will satiate hunger and fulfill the nutritional need of your pet.

When Should You Be Careful?

Just because you got a green signal about feeding your dog popcorn, don’t start stuffing his face with popcorn. Before you rush through the kitchen and start popping popcorn, be aware of these factors pointed out below. 


Popcorn is a basic carb like wheat or soy. Dogs are prone to allergens in such carbs. So, we can’t cross off the allergic reaction from the table. A corn intolerance, irritation, or allergy will show symptoms like diarrhea, stomach ache, and irresistible itching in the paw area. It is better to avoid popcorn if your dog has a wheat or corn allergy. 

Saturated Or Trans Fat And Oil 

Many of us prefer the old-fashioned method of popcorn, popped with butter and trans-fat. But for your dog, it can probably not be a good option. Excessive fat and oil will lead to obesity and cause stomach pain and digestion issue. If you must use oil, opt for healthier fats. 

Salted Popcorn 

Dogs can’t process sodium as humans do. Excessive salt in the diet can cause ion poisoning, toxicity, or dehydration. Hence, it is wise to avoid any salted or iodized popcorn for your dog. 

Artificial Sweetener 

Another red flag for dogs. Artificial sweeteners can lurk into other ingredients that you may not be aware of. Especially if the ingredients have Xylitol, you must avoid it at all costs. The most common ingredient containing Xylitol is peanut butter, even if it is made for dogs specifically. 

Caramel Or Chocolate 

Sweet treats can be a joyous moment for us, but our dogs can hardly process sugar, be it real or artificial. Added flavors in popcorn like caramel, chocolate, sugar, and spice will act like a slow poison for your dog’s digestive system. 

Loose Kernels Not Popped  

Normally, when we make popcorn, some kernels remain un-popped. Such kernels can get stuck in your dog’s teeth which can lead to toothache and gum bleeding. Even if the dog swallows them, they can be hard to digest for dogs. So, be careful to remove extra un-popped kernels. 

Microwave Popcorn 

No matter how convenient it is for us, microwave popcorns are not a great option for your dog and not for you. Microwave popcorn has a PFC packaging that deters the oil from drifting. But such PFC is toxic for your dog’s health and can expedite cancer. 

Too Much 

Popcorn is certainly a healthy snack option. But it will lose the healthy term if taken excessively. Even if the corn is plain, unflavored, and oil-free, you should be mindful of how much your dog is eating in one serving. 

How Much Popcorn Is Safe For A Dog?

Popcorn is an addictive snack that you can never stop eating until you finish the bowl. If you mindlessly pour popcorn into your dog’s bowl, he will devour it even if it gets excessive. So, You must be careful about how much popcorn you are giving him. 

Dr. Michelle Burch recommends that the amount should not exceed 10% of his daily calorie intake. For example, if your dog weighs 15 lbs., his daily calorie requirement is 530 kcal. So, you should give him 530 x 10% = 53 kcal popcorn. Roughly, your dog can eat 15 grams of plain popcorn daily. 

How To Cook Popcorn For Dogs?

The best option of popcorn for your dog is air-popped. You can do it on the stove or in a microwave, or the reliable and hassle-free option is an air fryer. If you prefer the microwave, make sure to use bio-degradable brown bags with no harmful PFC. If you have an air-fryer, spread an aluminum foil on the bottom and spread the kernels to pop. 

For the stove method, you have to preheat a non-stick pot with a tight lid. Add water to check the sizzling. If the water sizzles, immediately take the flame to low and add kernels when the water evaporates. Tightly close the lid until the kernels are popped. If you must use oil, you can add a drizzle of grapeseed oil. 

Final Words

A little bit of treat never hurt anyone. No vet will recommend including popcorn in your dog’s daily diet. But you sure can enjoy air-popped yummy popcorn with your favorite pup on special occasions and movie nights. 

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