I always look forward to week-end TV movie nights. It is that time of the week when I can relax in front of the television, on my Netflix and lose myself in a movie or two while munching on a bowl of delicious buttery popcorn.
When my dog looks up to me with his beautiful eyes pleading for his share of the popcorn, I can’t help but ask myself Can dogs eat popcorn? Dare I share my favorite salty, buttery snack with my dearly loved canine friend?
Corn is not toxic to dogs. Some people think of it as a quick and economical way to add calories and fiber to a dog’s diet. When popcorn is unseasoned and fully popped using the air popping process, it can be good for your dog when you feed it to him in small quantities.
Let us take a look at how we usually prepare popcorn for ourselves – popcorn that we feel moved to share with our dog, particularly when he has that adorably earnest and pleading look in his eyes.
Popcorn – What Is It Made Of?
Popcorn is just corn. And corn seems pretty safe for dogs. In fact, there are some commercial dog foods that include corn in their formulation. This makes you think that there is nothing wrong with feeding your dog some popcorn, right?
Popcorn is made by heating up dry and hardened corn kernels so that they expand, bloom, “pop” and transform into the fluffy white popcorn that almost everybody loves.
When we make popcorn for ourselves, we usually use gadgets like the microwave, campfire, stovetop, or the electric popper. We heat the kernels in butter, pop the corn, and add salt and seasonings. The calories and fat that we add to the popcorn make the popcorn enjoyable to eat. They also make the popcorn unsafe for our dogs.
Is Popcorn Bad for My Dog?
Corn is healthy whole grain. It has antioxidants and B vitamins like thiamine, niacin, and pyridoxine – nutrients that help the body produce healthy cells, fight stress, and support energy. Corn helps to strengthen the nervous system, control hormone levels, and reinforce immunity.
Corn contains copper, phosphorus, iron, zinc, magnesium, manganese, and potassium, trace minerals that fortify cellular function, enhance immunity, regulate the nervous system, and do wonders for your dog’s skin and coat.
Corn has high fiber content and minimal calories. It is good for digestion and weight control. All these nutrients make corn a good occasional snack for your dog.
Popcorn, however, is not just plain corn – and how you prepare it makes an essential difference in determining whether it is good or bad for your dog.
“An animal’s eyes have the power to speak a great language.”
[Related Article: Can Dogs Eat Peanut Butter?Which Brands Are Edible?]
How Much Popcorn Can I Give My dog?
If we plan to share popcorn with man’s best friend, we should take the following steps:
- Cook the corn kernels by airpopping them. This method ensures that we cook the popcorn without using oil or butter.
- Go through the popcorn to carefully take out all the hulls and the unpopped kernels.
- Do not add salt, butter, or any seasoning to the popcorn.
- Give just a small amount of popcorn to your dog.
- Always treat popcorn as a small occasional snack for your dog.
Are Dogs Allowed Sweet And Salty Popcorn?
Few of us prefer to have our popcorn plain or unseasoned. We usually pop it using oil or butter. We add salt and seasonings like garlic, cheddar cheese, barbecue, and even more butter to make the popcorn tastier. These extras make the popcorn more appetizing.
They also add fat, sodium, and calories that make the popcorn less healthy – for ourselves, as well as for our dogs. These additions can be bad for dogs in particular.
Too much butter is also associated with weight gain. It contributes to obesity which leads to other serious health problems like kidney disease, arthritis, and heart risk.
Some people prefer sweet popcorn to salty buttery ones. They like the sweetness of kettle corn, caramel corn, candied or coated popcorn.
Sweet popcorn presents a different set of health risks to your dog. This type of popcorn has tons of added sugar. Aside from being bad for your dog’s teeth, sugar can also lead to health problems like diabetes or obesity.
Some sweet popcorn has xylitol or a similar form of artificial sweetener that can be toxic for dogs. Chocolate, which is a popular coating for popcorn can also be toxic.
Does Popcorn Give Dogs Diarrhea?
Fats and oils can cause gastrointestinal problems. When you share your buttery popcorn with your dog, the butter in it can have ill effects on him.
It can cause diarrhea or vomiting. While these reactions are usually short-term, they may lead to dehydration.
Is Microwave Popcorn Bad For Dogs?
When we talk about microwave popcorn and movie popcorn, we usually refer to “butterfly popcorn,” the type that spreads out when cooked. There are people who prefer “mushroom popcorn,” the round, fluffy corn kernels that you usually find in candied popcorn mixes or in popcorn tins.
Microwave popcorn have garlic powder, chemical preservatives, trans fat and salt that are unhealthy and toxic for your dog. It can result in dehydration, sodium toxicity, iron poisoning, and kidney impairment – serious health problems that warrant the immediate attention of a veterinarian.
Moreover, corn, like soy and wheat, is recognized as an allergen. If your dog is allergic to corn and you feed him popcorn, he is likely to have allergic reactions.
Symptoms include skin irritation, rashes, vomiting, diarrhea, gas, stomach pain, and compulsive licking of his paws.
If your dog shows these reactions, stop giving him popcorn. If the symptoms persist, take your dog to a veterinarian.
It is not only the seasonings and fats in popcorn that can prove harmful to your dog.
Bad For Teeth And Gum
When you cook popcorn, some of the kernels remain partially popped; some do not pop at all. These kernels can cause injury to the teeth. They are also hard to digest. They can result in blockages in your dog’s stomach and cause problems in the digestive system.
Popcorn hulls are another source of problems. When I eat popcorn, I hate to have the hulls lodge between my teeth or in my gums causing me extreme discomfort. I immediately brush my teeth, use dental floss, and gargle and rinse to dislodge and get rid of the wedged hulls.
A dog, however, may not be able to speak of his discomfort when he experiences the same thing. The hulls remain lodged between his teeth or gums, causing irritation or even more serious problems like tooth decay or dental problems like gingivitis in the long run.
Similar to nuts like almonds, popcorn can choke your beloved dog. If you make it a habit to toss some popcorn to your dog, he may not be able to catch the kernels just right.
They may land the wrong way, making it difficult for your dog to swallow them and cause choking.