How Your Dog Can Eat Popcorn Safely


If you’re wondering if dogs can have popcorn as you settle in for movie night, worry not. Our pups can snack on a few pieces that happen to “fall” onto the floor. Just keep the popcorn plain, free of additives.

While things like salt and butter likely won’t cause immediate health problems for your dog, it’s just best to keep them out of your dog’s diet when you can. Same goes for those pesky, un-popped kernels

We asked a veterinarian for some insights on popcorn for dogs.

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Can Dogs Have Popcorn Safely?

Broadly speaking, yes, popcorn is a human food you can safely share with your dog. If it is air-popped, unbuttered, and unsalted, there’s no reason your dog can’t eat a little bit as a treat as you supervise.

In fact, because popcorn kernels come from a type of corn that contains minerals like magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and zinc, some popcorn can be good for dogs if you slip them a snack now and then. The issue, however, is that few people make popcorn specifically with their dogs (or cats) in mind.

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When Is Popcorn Bad for Dogs?

Popcorn can become bad for dogs if it includes unhealthy ingredients—butter or seasoning—and your dog eats it consistently.

Your pet vacuuming up a dropped kernel or two of buttered, salted popcorn isn’t going to be any cause for alarm, but giving them buttered or salted popcorn as a regular treat can potentially lead to obesity, heart issues, and digestion problems.

“Butter has so much fat in it. That’s another thing that you can see diarrhea and vomiting from,” says Kaci Angelone, DVM. “If you’re going to offer your dog popcorn, give them a couple of pieces before you add the good stuff and always do so in small quantities.”

So if you’re going to toss some popcorn into your dog’s mouth as a fun treat for them, just make sure it’s as plain as possible. This is going to preclude giving them a handful of anything that comes pre-packaged with dehydrated or artificial butter flavoring added, as well as products that come packaged with tons of extra salt, spices, or flavorings. That means no caramel or cheesy popcorn for your dog. Keep that Chicago mix to yourself.

Keeping an eye out for all of those will go a long way to keeping your dog from getting an upset stomach or packing on pounds in the long term. Also, if you’re popping popcorn at home, make sure you’re filtering out any unpopped or partially popped kernels. The tough, unpopped husks can get caught in teeth or even be a choking hazard for smaller dogs. And when offering plain popcorn and other snacks, ensure that treats make up no more than 10 percent of your dog’s daily caloric intake.

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