Can Dogs Eat Popcorn?

Man feeding popcorn to his dog

You’ve likely seen your dog beg for popcorn while you watch movies. But is it okay to share this yummy snack with your furry friend?

Most dogs can eat small amounts of unsalted, air-popped popcorn as a treat. However, microwaved and heavily seasoned popcorn is generally unhealthy for your pet and should be avoided. Although, your dog will likely be fine if they happen to eat any pieces that you drop.

Below, this article dives into everything to consider before giving this delicious treat to dogs. Along the way, you’ll also learn how to make canine-friendly popcorn for your pet.

Is It Safe for Dogs To Eat Popcorn?

Generally, your dog can safely enjoy an occasional popcorn snack—but there are some important caveats.

Firstly, you should only give your pup completely plain popcorn.

The butter and salt we lather on our popcorn, while delicious, may give your pet an upset stomach. And regular consumption of it can even lead to serious health issues.

Additionally, it’s better to give your dog air-popped popcorn than microwaved varieties.

Microwaved popcorn tends to have tons of seasoning and oils, which are bad for your pup. Plus, the unpopped kernels in these bags can present a choking hazard. 

Still, it’s okay if your pet gets a piece that you accidentally drop. After all, it’s hard to avoid if your pup hides under the table waiting for scraps. You just don’t want to make a habit of feeding them salted, buttery food.

Finally, popcorn is best as a treat, not a meal. So try not to give your dog an entire bowl of it.

And if you give your pup plain, air-popped popcorn, ensure they have water. Munching on this snack can dehydrate dogs quickly.

Also, remove any unpopped kernels to reduce the risk of choking.

Is Popcorn Good for Dogs?

Funny enough, plain popcorn is somewhat healthy for dogs in moderation.

When air-popped and unsalted, this snack is a good source of fiber and minerals. And some of those nutrients, like zinc and magnesium, are crucial for your canine’s well-being.

However, the catch is that your pet should already have a balanced diet.

Most name-brand dog foods provide all the vitamins and minerals your pup needs. Meaning that ideally, popcorn isn’t something your pooch ought to rely on for nutrition.

Furthermore, popcorn is only okay for your dog in moderation.

The digestive system of canines struggles to handle large amounts of this treat. As a result, giving too much to your pet may make them feel sick or vomit.

So how much is too much? 

Most vets agree that treats should only take up to 10% of your pet’s diet. That means giving your pup a small handful of popcorn is usually okay. But any more than that starts becoming excessive.

Side Effects and Hazards of Popcorn

When correctly prepared, popcorn is generally a safe snack for your furry friend to enjoy. However, it can pose health hazards to dogs in specific situations.

Here are some of the risks to be aware of:

  • Choking: Dogs can get kernels stuck in their throat, just like humans do. To reduce the chances of this happening, only give your pup one piece at a time. And try to encourage them to drink water.
  • Digestive issues: Toppings such as caramel and butter may upset your dog’s stomach and cause vomiting. Some synthetic ingredients are also toxic to canines. So only feed them plain popcorn.
  • Obesity: Too much popcorn might lead to obesity in your canine—even if the snack is plain and air-popped. As a result, make sure it stays an occasional treat.
  • Dehydration: Ever get thirsty while munching on this snack at the theater? Well, it can make dogs feel parched too. Double-check that your pup has water in their bowl to help wash any kernels down.

To avoid some of these hazards, only feed your pet air-popped popcorn that is plain. Additionally, give them single pieces at a time and get them to drink water.

How To Make Popcorn for Dogs

Now that you know the benefits and risks, you might wonder how to make dog-friendly popcorn.

Here are the steps:

  1. Buy unflavored kernels: Buy only completely plain popcorn kernels. Extra seasonings and oils can be unhealthy for your pup—which is why you should avoid microwaved varieties.
  2. Use a hot air popper: Air poppers allow you to pop kernels without any oil. You can find a highly-rated one on Amazon here.
  3. Remove unpopped pieces: The chances are that some kernels won’t pop completely. After the popcorn cools, remove those unpopped pieces to reduce choking hazards for your pup.
  4. Don’t add toppings: Butter, salt, caramel, and other toppings are bad for your dog’s health. 
  5. Moderation is key: Treats should only make up a small portion of a dog’s diet. So don’t give yours an entire bowl filled with this snack, no matter how cutely they beg.

Always remember that your pet’s well-being comes first. If even small amounts make them seem sick, then don’t feed them more popcorn.

Why Do Dogs Love Popcorn?

It’s easy to understand why humans love the salty, buttery crunch of popcorn. But why do dogs, which are primarily carnivores, enjoy it too?

Well, as it turns out, your furry friend likes it for all the same reasons you do!

For one, popcorn is delicious. Although your furry friend can’t digest large amounts well, they still love the taste—especially when there’s fatty butter and salt.

However, keep in mind that toppings are still not good for them.

Additionally, the smell of this snack is downright appetizing. And dogs can smell it even better than you. So don’t be surprised if your pet comes sprinting when you pull a bag out of the microwave.

Finally, believe it or not, the loud crunch of popcorn is enjoyable for your canine.

Dogs get a lot of stimulation from munching on things. As a result, that crunchy feeling and sound are extra satisfying for them.

Alternatives to Popcorn for Dogs

After learning about popcorn, you may want to find a healthier alternative for your pet. And thankfully, there are plenty of other excellent treats you can give them.

Below is a list of snacks your dog may also love:

  • Apples: Like popcorn, this fruit has a satisfying crunch your dog will enjoy. Prepare this treat by cutting the apple into slices and removing the cores and seeds.
  • Peanut butter: Pooches go crazy for peanut butter. You can feed it to dogs on a spoon or add it as a topping on another treat. This snack is high in fat, so only give your pup a little at a time.
  • Carrots: Bunnies aren’t the only animals that love this healthy snack. According to the American Kennel Club, carrots are a super healthy dog treat. They’re also fun for your pet to munch on. 
  • Strawberries: These delicious little berries pack tons of fiber and Vitamin C. But even more amazingly, they can also help whiten your puppy’s teeth!
  • Broccoli: Canines can enjoy these crunchy veggies raw or cooked. Although, if you cook it for your pup, don’t use any oils or seasoning.
  • Celery: Celery is an excellent, fat-free treat for pups on a diet. It provides a healthy dose of Vitamins A, C, and K. 

Can Dogs Eat Microwave Popcorn?

Generally, you shouldn’t feed your dog microwaved varieties of popcorn.

The butter and salt on these snacks make them delectable to us. But those same things are bad for your pet’s health. As mentioned earlier, they can even cause your pup to develop obesity.

Beyond the toppings, microwave popcorn also has chemical additives and preservatives. And these things may lead to health issues for dogs, such as vomiting and digestive conditions.

So to be safe, avoid feeding your dog microwaved snacks.

It’s not the end of the world if they munch on a piece your kid drops. But don’t give them something this unhealthy regularly.

Popcorn Recipes for Dogs

Most toppings that usually come on popcorn are bad for our canines. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t get creative.

Below are a few excellent recipes for dogs that include popcorn. They’re a great way to spice things up while keeping your pet safe and healthy.

Peanut Butter Popcorn


  • Popcorn
  • Peanut butter


  1. Air pop plain popcorn and remove the kernels.
  2. Place the popcorn on a sheet and add peanut butter.
  3. Allow to cool and set.

Veggie popcorn poppers


  • Popcorn
  • Peanut butter
  • Celery (diced)


  1. Air pop plain popcorn and remove the kernels.
  2. Place the popcorn on a sheet and add peanut butter.
  3. Finely chop celery and add on top.

Cheesy bacon popcorn


  • Popcorn
  • Low-fat cheddar cheese (grated)
  • Bacon bits


  1. Air pop plain popcorn and remove the kernels.
  2. Place on a baking sheet and lightly add the cheese and bacon bits.
  3. Place in an oven at 300°F until the cheese starts to melt.
  4. Allow to cool and set.
  5. Enjoy a little for yourself!

Your pup will undoubtedly love these special snacks. 

However, keep in mind that these recipes are supposed to be a small treat. If you make a large batch, save some to surprise your dog later. And never use them to replace a balanced meal.

Final Thoughts

Generally, your dog can enjoy popcorn as long as you take certain precautions.

Only feed them popcorn that’s air-popped and contains no seasonings or butter. Furthermore, treat this food as a snack for your dog, not a meal.

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