Can Dogs Eat Popcorn? Effects of Popcorn for Dogs as a Dog Food

Can Dogs Eat Popcorn Effects of Popcorn for Dogs as a Dog Food

Popcorn is a treat and not a part of your furry friend’s diet; therefore, the 10% or less rule is the first question to consider. Limiting snacks and treats to less than 10% of your dog’s daily caloric intake makes it easier to maintain optimal health.

Oil-free air-popped popcorn has about 30 calories per cup. The next question is whether you and your canine companion cuddle on the couch, sharing popcorn from one bowl? Chances of your serving of popcorn being free of butter, salt, or other toppings are slim. 

In that case, the answer is NO. Your dog can safely eat small quantities of popcorn, air-popped and without butter or seasonings. Would popcorn have health benefits for your dog if you comply with these rules?

Plain popcorn’s high fiber content benefits digestion and contains healthy B vitamins, iron, and protein. So, while plain popcorn may be safe for your dog, it will not provide a health boost.

Can Dogs Eat Caramel Popcorn Safely?

No, dogs cannot eat caramel popcorn safely. Although it would not be toxic to your dog, it is really only caramelized sugar with added cream and butter, which is never good for any dog breed.

Is caramel popcorn unhealthy for dogs? It is not the caramel that is unhealthy; it is the high sugar content. Like people, sugar can cause dental problems and weight gain, ultimately leading to diabetes. Don’t be fooled by sugar-free labels. A closer look will likely show artificial sweeteners like xylitol, which is toxic for dogs.

Can puppies eat caramel popcorn? No puppies should not be given caramel popcorn. Along with the potential harm of sugar, a young puppy could choke if a popped kernel is swallowed whole and gets stuck in the puppy’s throat. 

Can Dogs Eat Microwave Popcorn Safely?

No, commercially packed microwave popcorn is not safe for dogs, and thinking that microwave popcorn is safe because it is not popped in hot oil might not be valid. The question is whether the popcorn was a commercial type packed ready for popping in the package.

Are all microwave popped popcorn unhealthy? No, popping ordinary popcorn in a container in the microwave is perfectly safe for your dog, in small quantities and without additives. However, ready-packed microwave popcorn packaging contains diacetyl and perfluorooctanoic acid, an unhealthy chemical that can harm people and their dogs.

Can popcorn ease my dog’s diarrhea? There is a misconception that the fiber content of popcorn can benefit gastrointestinal problems in a dog, and the truth is that popcorn can exacerbate GI problems. Popcorn could cause gas, diarrhea, and vomiting. Even minimal salt content could cause dehydration, salt toxicity, or ion poisoning, needing emergency vet care. 

Can Dogs Eat Cheese Popcorn Safely?

Yes, a few pieces of cheese popcorn will not likely have severe health consequences for a dog, but plain air-popped popcorn will be safer. Many dogs have perfected their begging-eye looks, and sadly too many dog owners cannot resist sharing human-safe snacks like white cheddar popcorn with their furry friends, regardless of the health effects.

Can old dogs eat cheese popcorn safely? White cheddar popcorn, especially ready-packed and sealed, is a popular snack for humans to pop into the microwave. It is certainly tasty, and sharing it with an old dog who is used to sharing just about anything with its owner can’t be bad, can it? Yes, it can, but some cheese types can safely be added to popcorn for an old dog.

Are all cheese popcorn types unhealthy for dogs? The cheese flavoring in commercially packed popcorn kernels is an unhealthy blend of oils, salt, milk, and dangerous preservatives, and the milk content could be harmful to lactose-intolerant dogs. Dog owners can treat their furry friends with safe cheese options, like adding small quantities of cottage cheese or grated mozzarella or swiss cheese over small portions of plain air-popped popcorn.

Can Dogs Eat Buttered Popcorn Safely?

No, even if you pop your doggy’s popcorn yourself to avoid commercial chemicals, colorants and preservatives, adding even a bit of butter or other additives is unwise. Therefore, instead of sharing your popcorn with your furry friend, pop a few kernels separately without any additives to feed your furry friend.

Can popcorn affect a dog’s mood? Yes, popcorn can affect a dog’s mood. Plain air-popped popcorn is rich in carbohydrates that will cause a boost in serotonin levels. Serotonin is a hormone that brings relaxed and happy feelings.

Is buttered popcorn unsafe for old dogs? Although older dogs can safely eat plain air-popped popcorn. In fact, popcorn is a low-calorie treat that could even benefit older dogs who are a bit overweight. However, add butter, and it becomes an unhealthy snack, especially for canine cardiac patients.

Can Dogs Eat Salted Popcorn Safely?

No, dogs cannot eat salt safely. However, up to 1g of salt in 100g of food is safe for most dogs. That is manageable when you are the one adding salt to your dog’s food or treats. Feeding your dog ready-popped shop-bought popcorn or bags of microwave popcorn will always have added seasonings.

How unhealthy is salted popcorn for dogs? Because you won’t know how much salt is in commercial popcorn, it is better to avoid feeding it to your dog. Too much salt can cause diarrhea, vomiting, incoordination, muscle tremors, and seizures in dogs.

What can you do to relieve diarrhea caused by too much salt? If your dog discovers your bowl of salted popcorn while you are out of the room, you can provide some relief before contacting your vet. Offer the puppy a bowl of fresh drinking water. If that is done promptly, it will reduce the risk of salt toxicity.

Can Dogs Eat Popcorn Kernels Safely?

No, dogs cannot eat unpopped popcorn kernels safely. The kernels are very hard and almost impossible to chew. Chewing them could harm your dog’s teeth or cut the pup’s gums. They might get stuck in the dog’s throat and cause suffocation, or if your furry friend swallows the kernels, they could cause obstructions or long-term digestive problems.

What Else can Dogs Eat Together with Popcorn?

Believe it or not, there are many ways to “spice up” your dog’s popcorn treats. Nutrient-rich spices and herbs can be a blessing in disguise, and you and your furry friend can both benefit. Learn about the safe herbs and spices brimming with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. 

These good herbs and spices will improve your dog’s digestion, elevate their mood, and even help with bad breath. Some spices and herbs are far more than just a treat for your Labrador or Dachshund. 

Note that a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil per pound of your dog’s weight is safe for tossing the popped corn before adding herbs or spices. Below is a list of safe to add herbs and spices.

One of the best herbs for your dog is aloe vera. Made up of anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, it’s a critical antioxidant that enhances your dog’s immune system.

  • Aloe Vera: Mix Aloe Vera Gel with a few drops of extra virgin olive oil in a bowl for tossing air-popped popcorn. Eat it as is, or add any of the safe herbs and spices, which will adhere to the popcorn coating of aloe vera.
  • Basil: Fresh or dried basil is packed with essential minerals and vitamins with antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. Basil helps with disease prevention and enhances your dog’s health. Basil is a mood booster, and it prevents certain diseases.
  • Cinnamon: More than delicious, it is loaded with a wide variety of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that benefit your dog. Cinnamon helps protect against sepsis and diabetes, and it fights bad breath.
  • Ginger root: Ginger root has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. It promotes an enhanced digestive system as the root helps with pet food absorption. It alleviates nausea, helps ease motion sickness, increases circulation. can dogs eat cinnamon safely?
  • Parsley: This herb is filled with antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals that improve your dog’s overall health and wellbeing. Parsley enhances organ functioning, flushes toxins and improves breath.
  • Rosemary: This is a high-fiber herb for overall health improvement. It contains essential vitamins and has anti-inflammatory properties to promote heart health and the prevention of certain diseases.

While the herbs and spices above promise many health benefits for both dog and owner, care must be taken to avoid others that could harm the dog’s health. 

Never add any of the following to your dog’s popcorn or any other food: Garlic, Cocoa powder, Nutmeg, Onion/chives, Salt, Paprika, Pepper, Mace, Tea tree oil, Yuca, Hops.

What are the Recipes for Popcorn Dog Treats?

The list of recipes for popcorn treats is endless. Along with the many options offered by safe herbs and spices, you could use various safe food ingredients to create popcorn treats.

  • Start with air-popping popcorn and separate the popped corn from the unpopped kernels.
  • Spread the popcorn on a baking sheet and add any of the following toppings – in moderation.
  • Grate mozzarella or Swiss cheese over the popcorn or crumble cottage cheese over. 
  • You could even add some bacon bits, but don’t overdo it; too much could cause weight problems.
  • Instead of bacon bits, sprinkle any safe herbs or spices over the cheese.
  • Warm it in the oven to melt the cheese. 
  • Roll the popcorn in balls and leave them to set.
  • Another option is to add some low-sodium peanut butter to the popcorn before rolling it into balls. However, make sure the peanut butter does not contain xylitol, which is toxic for dogs.

Every step must be done in moderation. Hold back with the cheese, bacon bits, olive oil, herbs, and spices. Also, never treat your pup with popcorn balls that exceed the 90/10% rule. 

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Michael Brady

Michael is an animal-lover who specializes in marketing. He started running Dog Food Care with his mother, Sarah, after leaving his office job. Michael gained enough flexibility in his schedule to be able to adopt a dog of his own and welcomed Emmie the dachshund into his home in 2020.