Just because your dog has never been to the movie theater doesn’t mean they haven’t developed a taste for popcorn. If a big bowl of buttery goodness is your movie-night mainstay, they know the drill: you pop it in the microwave, the rich scent wafts through the house, and by the time the microwave beeps your pup is eagerly waiting for you to “accidentally” drop some on the floor.
But this “pops” the question…
Is Popcorn OK For Dogs?
It’s complicated. Yes and no.
- YES: Plain, air-popped popcorn WITHOUT butter or salt, served sparingly as a treat.
- NO: Buttered popcorn, salted popcorn, kettle corn, caramel corn (the popcorn you actually like).
Popcorn is high in fiber and contains multiple minerals such as magnesium, manganese, and zinc, but that doesn’t mean a bag of Orville Redenbacher’s should be your dog’s daily multi-vitamin. They should be consuming these important minerals through their regular diet already.
Too much butter, salt, artificial additives, or exotic toppings can be tough on your pup’s body, as modern popcorn was not designed for the four-legged consumer. Side effects of feeding your do too much popcorn on the reg can include:
- Kidney issues
- Weight gain
If your dog vacuums up a few pieces of buttered popcorn, they’re most likely going to be fine. Just don’t make a habit out of it. It’s hard to resist those puppy-dog eyes when you’re gobbling down handfuls of popcorn, but stay vigilant. Seasonings and added popcorn toppings don’t agree with dog tummies by default, and you don’t want to turn a relaxing night on the couch into a case of doggy diarrhea.
Related Article: Dog Diarrhea: Causes, Symptoms, & Treatment
How To Safely Feed Your Dog Popcorn
If your pup positively insists on eating popcorn, make sure it’s prepared using the oil-free air method. This ensures that your pooch won’t be inhaling any harmful chemicals and hydrogenated oils that our human stomachs can handle. Additionally, you’re going to need to remove all the un-popped kernels that didn’t pop—these pose a choking hazard for dogs can be hazardous.
When used in moderation (we’re talking just a few pieces per day), oil-free air-popped popcorn can be a fun low-calorie snack for your pup. One fun way to feed as a treat is to toss popcorn to your dog to play “catch,” but you can also feed in a bowl if you make sure to remove all the un-popped kernels first (these can be a choking or tooth-cracking hazard).
½ cup of air-popped popcorn (no oil, butter, salt, or other seasonings) contains approximately 16 calories.
Related Article: Can Dogs Eat Avocados?
Every dog is unique, and while certain dogs can seemingly handle anything, others have sensitive tummies and perhaps shouldn’t eat any popcorn whatsoever. It’s usually best to err on the side of caution, but enjoy the movie and don’t forget to silence your phone!
This article has been reviewed by Margo Hennett, DVM.