Can Dogs Eat Popcorn? A Simplified Guide To Canine Snacking

Popcorn is a delicious snack but it often finds itself on the ground by accident. And our dogs are quick to pick it up as a treat. But can dogs eat popcorn?

Dogs can eat plain, air-popped popcorn in small amounts. That said, using butter, salt, or other additional ingredients for a better taste is not recommended. So how can you ideally make these snacks work for your dog?

Is popcorn safe for dogs?

Popcorn is made by heating up corn kernels until they pop and become edible. Dogs can be attracted by the crunch of these snacks and ask to get some. You can give them to your dog as long as they are air-popped and do not contain any additional flavorings.

How much popcorn can a dog eat?

Following an average nutritional guideline for dogs, you should not feed more than 10% of its daily calories in treats. The guide by the National Research Council says that:

Scientific research has shown that an adult dog’s daily diet can contain up to 50% carbohydrates by weight, including 2.5–4.5% from fiber. A minimum of approximately 5.5% of the diet should come from fats and 10% from protein.

The amount you feed will depend on the size and breed of the dog. Really large breeds like the Mastiff Shar Pei mix, for example, can have a handful of these delicious snacks. Smaller breeds like Beagles and Pomeranians can have no more than three pieces. So you can only use them as training rewards.

Are there any nutritional benefits of popcorn for dogs?

Besides being delicious, these snacks can also be beneficial for dogs. For one, they are low in calories, so they are perfect as treats if you want your dog to lose some weight. They also contain a lot of fiber which can help with the dog’s digestion.

Popcorn contains antioxidants, which are substances that show many positive qualities, like improving immunity and fighting cancer. “In laboratory and animal studies, the presence of increased levels of exogenous antioxidants has been shown to prevent the types of free radical damage that have been associated with cancer development.”, according to the National Cancer Institute.

This food also contains minerals like iron, zinc, and copper among others. They help with keeping the dog’s coat and skin healthy. The vitamins present in the treat, like niacin, thiamine, and pyridoxine, improve the immune and neurological systems of dogs. Also, the crunch of the snack is satisfying and provides some needed mental stimulation.

What are the health risks of feeding dogs popcorn?

Even though they are really delicious and offer benefits, these little snacks can cause some problems for dogs.

Risk of choking

Being small and crunchy, these treats can undoubtedly find themselves in the windpipe of the dog. This risk is even higher considering that some kernels don’t pop, and stay small enough to go deep down the dog’s breathing tubes. This will cause serious breathing issues and even lead to the dog choking. In this situation, you will need to be ready to do the Heimlich maneuver on your dog. The little kernels are also bad because they can get stuck in your dog’s teeth, eventually leading to dental issues.


We can understand why dogs enjoy popcorn, but sometimes they can enjoy them too much. Some dogs don’t know when to stop eating and will continue doing so until stopped. Eating too much in a short amount of time will lead to the dog developing digestive issues. You may see it vomit after a while. Some dogs may also be allergic to the corn kernels and develop an allergic reaction. Eating too much for a long time will cause the dog to gain weight and even develop obesity.

What are the types of popcorn your dog can eat?

The only safe way your dog can enjoy these treats is if they have no additional ingredients added to them. But there are so many other versions of popcorn you may wonder about.

Can dogs eat salted popcorn?

One or two salted popcorn can be fine for dogs. However, dogs are very sensitive to salt and can develop sodium toxicity if they overindulge. If this does happen, you may see your dog become dehydrated and tired. Worse symptoms can appear over time.

Can dogs eat caramel corn?

Feeding caramel popcorn to your dog is not advised as it can cause serious health problems in dogs. Caramel is consisted of mostly sugar and this is an ingredient that is not recommended for dogs. It can lead to them developing obesity and diabetes, among other conditions.

Can dogs eat buttered popcorn?

Butter is very rich in fats, which are not healthy if consumed in large quantities. Dogs that eat a lot of fat in a short time can develop pancreatitis, a painful and life-threatening condition. Consuming high quantities of fats during a long period will also cause other problems like weight gain.

Can dogs eat cheese-flavored popcorn?

While some cheeses can be safe for dogs, cheese flavoring is not recommended. Manufacturers usually add additional spices like onion and garlic powder that are detrimental to a dog’s health. Other ingredients like preservatives can cause additional problems.

Can dogs eat microwave popcorn?

Feeding microwaved popcorn can trigger a lot of symptoms of popcorn toxicity in dogs. While microwaving foods is fine, the ones made specifically for the microwave contain a lot of unhealthy ingredients. Many spices and flavorings of microwaved popcorn can cause health problems for dogs.

Can dogs eat popcorn shrimp?

Despite its name, popcorn shrimp does not contain actual popcorn. While shrimp is fine for dogs if offered plain and cooked, any other types are not recommended. The breading and other ingredients of popcorn shrimp can cause severe problems for dogs.

Can dogs eat popcorn kernels?

Dogs should not eat kernels. They are small and hard enough to go through the whole respiratory system of dogs, getting stuck along the way and causing problems. They can also damage teeth or get stuck in between them. So try to protect your dog by removing them manually.

What to do if your dog eats a lot of popcorn?

Knowing the facts of popcorn safety for dogs, you might be panicked if you see your dog eating some by accident. But there is no need to be afraid, as most of the time, your dog will be fine. Eating a few pieces of popcorn should not cause any serious damage.

The first thing you have to do is to take the snacks away from your dog to stop it from eating more. Then, try to figure out how much it had to eat while monitoring the dog for any possible symptoms. The symptoms of choking appear immediately and you will have to react fast. Other symptoms will appear over time and will require you to take your dog to the vet for treatment.

Before feeding these snacks to your pup on purpose, you should carefully remove all the unpopped kernels to avoid complications. After eating, go and brush the dog’s teeth to remove any hulls that are stuck in its teeth.

What are some healthier and safer alternatives to popcorn for dogs?

There are many other pet-friendly human foods that can be healthy and satisfying for your pup to eat. Small, crunchy, baby carrots are some of the best snacks for dogs. Broccoli and cauliflower are also great options. You can give your dog green beans or some other veggie that provides benefits. Fruits like apple slices and bananas are also great. During the summer, you can freeze fruits like blueberries or strawberries and give them as crunchy cool treats.

What are some easy dog-friendly treat recipes with popcorn?

There is a way to prepare delicious homemade dog treats for your dog while keeping them healthy. To do this, you need to mix ¼ cup of peanut butter and a tablespoon of honey until smooth. Make sure the peanut butter is safe for dogs and doesn’t contain xylitol.

Then, get 1 cup of air-popped plain popcorn and mix it in the smooth concoction. Get small spoonfuls of the mix onto a parchment paper-lined tray and let it cool. Then, offer a few to your pup and keep the others in the fridge for future occasions.

Eating popcorn and watching a movie with dog

Conclusion – Can dogs eat popcorn?

Giving your dog popcorn can be a satisfying treat. They provide a nice crunch while tasting delicious. They also have many nutritional benefits for dogs. But these snacks can only be used in moderation and served properly.

Dogs can not eat salted popcorn, or any other type of popcorn that contains flavorings and oils. That’s why only air-popped and plain ones are safe for dogs. Being so small and often containing unpopped kernels, popcorn can pose a choking hazard for dogs. They can also get stuck in the dog’s teeth causing future dental problems.

If you do want to offer these snacks to your furry friend, ensure that you prepare them properly. Otherwise, it is best to choose safer alternatives that can provide similar benefits.


Can senior dogs have popcorn?

Seniors should be fine with eating some of these delicious snacks. But you have to give them in moderation and keep an eye on the dog if it shows any signs of health issues.

Is it safe to feed puppies popcorn?

While older dogs can eat popcorn, giving them to puppies is not very advised. This is because puppies have delicate digestive systems and can be more sensitive to these kinds of foods. That said, small amounts should be fine.

Can cats eat popcorn?

Yes, cats cat eat popcorn just like dogs can. The rules when feeding cats are similar in that you should offer small amounts and watch out for any unwanted reactions.

More dog nutrition resources

Here are a few other resources talking about giving certain foods to dogs and the effect they have on their health.

You can find a lot more information on the types of food you can feed your dog on our site Dogisa!

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