Popcorn is an all-time favorite snack. Even now, we still associate it with movies and good times. Well, it’s not just people who seem to delight in popcorn. Drop a few pieces on the floor and your dog will surely hoover them so fast you won’t even get a chance to pick them up.
However, is it safe to let the dog wolf down the popcorn? Several sources strongly disagree with giving this snack to dogs. On the other hand, some pet parents even use it as a reward when they play hide and seek with their dogs. If this is already confusing you, it’s best to keep reading.
Can Dogs Have Popcorn?
Popcorn is simply a variety of corn kernel that puffs up when heated. It is composed of the endosperm, germ, and the hull and is the only type of corn that actually pops up.
The corn kernel itself is safe for dogs and there is nothing in plain popcorn that can make your dog sick. In fact, many commercially produced dog foods are using corn as a filler because it is inexpensive.
Dogs can have some popcorn as long as it is in their purest form, meaning it should be plain and air-popped. If you wish to add some flavor to Fido’s popcorn, make sure all the ingredients used are definitely safe for him.
What Are The Things to Avoid?
It’s not advisable to give caramel, chocolate, and spicy curry popcorn to Fido. Likewise, spices like garlic powder and red pepper flakes will cause him digestive problems so it’s best to avoid them. If you are fond of adding such seasonings to your popcorns, better not share it with your dog.
Another cause of concern here is if a dog consumed “un-popped” popcorn. Those kernels that did not pop can cause dental issues as they can hurt your dog’s teeth and gums.
So far, the worst thing to happen is the kernel to get stuck in your dog’s throat. Usually, dogs can still eat and drink normally after having that lodged kernel in their throat but you will notice your pet trying to cough it up.
If this happens to your dog, be cautious in removing the stuck kernel yourself. There is a possibility for you to push it even further, making it more difficult to remove.
It’s best to bring him to a veterinarian even if you were successful in getting rid of it manually. There is a chance that the hull has damaged the inside of your dog’s throat.
There is nothing to panic about if dog accidentally ingested popcorn kernels. They are too small to cause intestinal obstruction and the whole kernel will pass through undigested.
Just to be sure, remove any un-popped kernels before serving the popcorn to your dog. As the adage goes, it is better to be safe than sorry.
Can Dogs Eat Kettle Corn?
No, kettle corn comes with refined sugar, salt, and oil. These ingredients are not wholesome for dogs. Kettle corn contains more calories and sodium than the plain, air-popped variety.
The sugar in kettle corn could give your dog diarrhea and abdominal pain. If your dog is suffering from diarrhea and vomiting, you could try giving him half of a Pepcid AC tablet to help soothe his stomach.
What if a dog accidentally ate a lot of kettle corn? After giving him an OTC med, put the dog on a very light diet. You can give him boiled chicken or chopped meat. It would also help to let him drink unflavored Pedialyte to keep his electrolytes levels normal.
Is Popcorn Bad for Dogs?
A cup of popcorn provides around 30 calories that are mostly carbohydrates. A dog’s metabolism is designed to derive energy from animal protein and fats. Since popcorn is mostly carbohydrates, it may not be enough to provide your dog with the energy he needs.
Popcorn’s glycemic index ranges from 55 to 60. If you want to avoid high GI foods for your dog, that number can be pretty high. Corn products can have a negative impact on the blood sugar.
On the upside, a cup of air-popped popcorns has no sugar, 1 gram of fiber, and 1 gram of protein. It’s a low-calorie treat that contains fiber and protein, but is it really a wholesome option? The answer depends on how it was prepared.
Take, for example, those large buckets of popcorn at the movies. They contain a whopping 1300 milligrams of sodium and 1200 calories.
Most of the popcorn sold at the movies is over-salted and has been cooked in hydrogenated oils so it is definitely not wholesome for either you or your dog.
When prepared right, popcorn can be a healthy treat not just for you but also for Fido. Did you know that it comes with more protein than any other cereal grain?
Not only that, but it also has more antioxidants than certain fruits and vegetables. The polyphenols can be found in the hulls of the popcorn. The hull is that part that gets stuck in our teeth.
There are a lot of ways to make popcorn healthier. One is to drizzle it with healthy oils, such as extra virgin olive oil.
Are There Any Risks In Giving Popcorn to Dogs?
We don’t recommend sharing popcorn with dog if he is extremely sensitive to corn proteins. It’s possible for your dog to have a corn allergy if he threw up or got sick after consuming popcorn.
Corn allergy, though, is rare in dogs. In a study of 278 cases of food allergies in dogs, there were only seven cases of hypersensitivity to corn.
It’s actually difficult to diagnose corn allergy. Sometimes, a standard skin or blood test may not be enough to tell if your dog is allergic to corn. Your vet will eventually put your dog on an exclusion trail diet for approximately three months. If you suspect dog is allergic to the protein in corns, keep an eye for these symptoms:
- Hotspots/skin rashes
- Bald patches
- Excessive scratching
- Persistent ear infections
Tips When Buying Popcorn
Do check labels when buying popcorn. Avoid the microwaveable varieties as much as possible, since most of them come with artificial butter flavoring.
Aside from that, their packaging releases perfluorooctanoic acid, a carcinogen that persists in the body. Watch for added sweeteners as well as chemicals.
Homemade Popcorn Recipes for Dogs
You can find popcorn for dogs on the market. Those doggy popcorns are approved by the FDA. They are quite expensive, though. If you have the time, it’s more convenient to make your own popcorn.
Cauliflower “Pup” Corn
Does your dog like cauliflowers? Why don’t you try to make a popcorn version of your dog’s favorite snack? This will be a nutritious, guilt-free snack for our fur babies!
- Break 1 head of cauliflower in small florets.
- Toss the pieces in a mixing bowl along with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, and 2 tablespoons of your dog’s favorite dog gravy food enhancer.
- Spread on a baking sheet.
- Roast in a preheated oven at 400°F for 15 minutes.
Peanut Butter Poppers
This popcorn treat for dogs uses extra-virgin olive oil. You can also use coconut oil if you don’t have virgin olive oil at home. When working with stovetop popcorn, start by putting a few kernels into the pan. Once those pieces popped up, cook the remaining popcorn. This is a foolproof way of knowing when the oil is hot enough for popping.
- Pop half a cup of natural stovetop popcorn in one teaspoon of extra-virgin olive oil.
- Transfer in a large bowl. Add in 1 cup of peanut butter. Mix until the popcorn is fully coated.
Cheesy Bacon Popcorn
Both cheese and bacon are not toxic for dogs, so they can be given once in a while. Like popcorn, these foods should only be given as an occasional treat and not as a regular snack.
- Spread 4 cups of plain popped popcorn on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
- Coat with ¼ cup of bacon bits 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.
- Allow to cool before serving to your dog.
There’s nothing wrong in giving our dog popcorn, especially if it’s plain and air-popped. Around five to 10 pieces of popcorn will not make your dog sick. Just a reminder, popcorn is just a snack that you can give to your pet only once in a while.
Giving your dog a lot of popcorn in one sitting is also not a good idea. It should not replace your pet’s regular healthy meals. When giving pup popcorn as a treat, make sure you give him only the plain, unsalted one and that there are no hard kernels in it.