Is Popcorn Safe for Dogs? Everything You Need to Know

. 3 min read

It’s Friday night and the last thing you want to do is head back out after a long week of work. You slip into your favorite pajamas, turn on Netflix and pour a glass of wine. You’re hungry so you pop some popcorn and settle in for the evening.

Next thing you know your dog is making those eyes at you - you know the look. If your best friend could talk they’d be saying “your popcorn looks so delicious, can I please have a taste?”  (Okay, fine it might not be so polite but we can pretend.)

What do you do? Is sharing caring or is popcorn a forbidden food for your pet?

Can your dog eat popcorn?

Actually yes. In small quantities, popcorn can be a healthy snack for your pet.

Air-popped popcorn is low in calories and high in fiber, making it a good snack to share. Even if your pet is overweight popcorn could be a small part of your pet’s diet. The fiber might help your pet feel full longer. Like any other treat you don’t want more than 10% of your pet’s diet to be made up of treats - so moderation is key.

Just be sure to carefully monitor your pet as there is a small risk your dog could choke on a kernel or get them stuck in their teeth. Do not ever feed your dog popcorn unsupervised to minimize this risk further. If you are hanging out on the couch with your dog, passing him a few kernels should not be an issue - it might even be a great bonding experience for both of you.

If your pet is sensitive to or allergic to corn you may want to avoid feeding your pet popcorn as it can have the same effects as other forms of corn. Many pet foods are formulated to be free from common allergens like corn and wheat. If your vet has suggested your pet eat a corn-free food you may want to consult them before feeding your dog popped corn.

Loading up your popcorn with butter, oil, and salt may make it taste extra delicious but you do not want to share this with your pet. The fat and sodium are not good for him (or you for that matter).  The additional calories from the butter or oil can cause weight gain as they are high in calories. Some dogs also don’t digest dairy well so the butter on the popcorn can cause stomach upset.

You also want to avoid sharing the microwave bagged popcorn. The chemical flavoring, oils, and high sodium content can also cause stomach upset or diarrhea.

Health benefits of popcorn for dogs

Adding small amounts of plain, air-popped popcorn can also have health benefits for your pet. In addition to being low in calories and high in fiber, popcorn has some vitamins and minerals that can help keep your pet healthy. These include:

  • Magnesium
  • Copper
  • Zinc
  • Iron
  • Vitamin B

Types of popcorn you can feed your dog

While plain, air-popped popcorn is the best and healthiest for your pet, some dogs may enjoy a little variety.

If your dog tolerates cheese you could certainly offer some cheese flavored popcorn. Use cheddar, parmesan or another strong, low lactose cheese to add flavor. You could even add some lean crumbled bacon to the mix. First, be sure to squeeze out as much fat as possible and use a very small amount of bacon as it is very high in fat.

Another option would be to add some plain peanut butter to your popcorn as a special treat. Be sure the peanut butter is made only from peanuts and does not contain salt, sugar, additional oils or Xylitol (artificial sweetener).

These should be used as very special treats as the addition of flavoring will also add fat, calories and/or sugar. Cheese, peanut butter and bacon are high in fat and calories and should be used very sparingly.

The Ollie blog is devoted to helping pet parents lead healthier lives with their pups. If you want to learn more about our fresh, human-grade food, check out MyOllie.com.