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Love is Sharing your Popcorn with your Dog - or is it? Can Dogs Eat Popcorn?

Table of Contents

Fluffy white dog waiting to get a piece of popcorn

It might be true that you and your doggy-friend sometimes enjoy a meal together. Hopefully, when that happens, you are eating the foods that are nutritious and healthy and fit for you as a human. Hopefully, your canine friend is eating his meal, carefully chosen and designed for his best health interests at heart; maybe it is the raw food diet. But now, its movie night at home and the popcorn is ready to come out. You are used to every now and then tossing a piece of popcorn up in the air for Fido to catch and enjoy with you. After all, he is part of the family, right?


Eating popcorn comes with some problems

It is actually not recommended for your dogs to eat popcorn when you speak to many veterinarians out there, but why? Because popcorn can actually cause a lot of issues in dogs when they consume it and this can include allergic reactions and an upset stomach.

To be frank, eating popcorn is not likely to cause any life-threatening reactions. But still, corn is one of the most common food allergies in dogs – it should be approached with caution.

It is true to say that many of the commercially produced dog foods today use corn as a filler and it’s because it is relatively cheap. Popped corn naturally is better for your dog to consume but the concern is that a dog should not be eating any “un-popped” popcorn. Unpopped popcorn can actually cause your dog dental problems and hurt your dog’s teeth and his gums. Even air popped corn can get stuck in the teeth (who hasn’t had that happen before?).

The worst thing that can happen to your dog eating popcorn is if the kernel gets stuck in his throat and he will try and cough it up until it is out. Don’t you try and help him get it out because you could push it further – if your dog is battling you need to take him to the vet.

It’s not that popcorn in itself is such a bad thing for dogs. Popped corn contains quite a lot of important minerals like phosphorous and zinc and magnesium, plus fiber and some vitamins. But it’s what is put over the popcorn to make it so more-ish that is a different story. Most of us want our popcorn covered with butter and salt and other delicious toppings – these can all lead to intestinal upsets in a dog. All the fats and oils and butter cause obesity too.

A cup of popcorn will provide around 30 calories which consist mainly of carbohydrates. A dog’s metabolism is designed to get his energy from fats and animal protein and as popcorn is mostly carbohydrates, it cannot provide your dog with the energy he needs. Not only that, corn products can have a negative impact on a dog’s blood sugar.

One upside though is that air-popped popcorn doesn’t contain any sugar. It does contain a bit of protein and fiber, but still, it is not really a wholesome option. It depends on how you make it of course. The typical popcorn sold at the movies is highly salted and has been cooked up in hydrogenated oils. If it is prepared right, it could be a ‘healthy’ treat. There are a lot of ways to make popcorn healthier. One is to drizzle it with healthy oils like olive oil.


What about Kettle Corn?

Kettle corn is a sweet-and-salty variety of popcorn. It is usually seasoned with either refined sugar or salt.

It used to traditionally be made in cast iron kettles; that’s where it got its name from, but these days it is just a certain pot or pan that creates the kettle corn.

The answer to whether you can give your dog kettle corn to eat is no. It is totally unwholesome for dogs, containing more sodium and calories than the plain air-popped type. Kettle corn can give your dog abdominal pain and diarrhea.

If you have to give your dog a treat every now and then in the form of popcorn, it should be the air popped type with no butter, sugar or oils in it – just a small treat.


Risks in giving popcorn to dogs

If you do give your dog popcorn, and he has a corn allergy, he will probably throw up or get sick after eating it. Corn allergies are quite rare in dogs though and in a study of over 200 cases of food allergies in dogs, 7 were from corn. If your dog is allergic to corn, he could show up with skin rashes and hot spots, diarrhea, bald patches, persistent ear infections, and excessive scratching.

He can also choke on un-popped kernels which is obviously a huge concern for our beloved pets.

Salted popcorn shouldn’t be given as it can cause your dog to become dehydrated which will lead to other severe health issues.


Popcorn for Dogs

You do find popcorn for dogs on the market. This is popcorn which is approved by the FDA, and they can be quite expensive. Want to make your own – here’s how:

Cauliflower Popcorn

  • Break up 1 head of cauliflower in small florets.
  • Toss the pieces in a mixing bowl – add 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, and2 tablespoons of your dog’s favorite dog gravy food enhancer.
  • Spread on a baking sheet.
  • Preheat oven to 400°F for 15 minutes of roasting.
Sold out

Cheesy-Bacon Popcorn

  • Neither cheese nor bacon is toxic for dogs, so these can be given just now and then. In the same way as popcorn, these foods should only be given as an occasional treat and not as a regular snack.
  • Spread 4 cups of plain dog-friendly popped popcorn on a baking tray that has been lined with parchment paper.
  • Cover over with ¼-cup of finely chopped bacon and 1 cup of shredded Cheddar cheese.
  • Bake in a preheated oven at 350°F for 8-10 minutes. The cheddar cheese should be slightly melting in the popcorn.
  • Allow cooling before serving to your dog.

Want a kernel of wisdom?

When the movie marathon starts, there is nothing really wrong in giving your dog a little popcorn, as long as it’s the plain, air-popped one. Don’t give him a huge tub to eat like we do when we are watching movies – dogs that are less than 20 lbs. shouldn’t get more than half a cup during your movie time and the bigger dogs no more than a cup. Your dog will thank you - and you can help yourself to your ‘flavourite’ ones.


Meet The Author 

Grant Withers

Canine Specialist & Writer

Grant is an award-winning writer for SitStay with a passion for pets and especially dogs! Grant loves writing about furry little goofballs and aims to educate pet parents about anything and everything regarding their dogs.



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