Health & Wellness
You and your dog are snuggled up on the couch for a movie marathon; you’ve got a fresh bowl of popcorn in your lap. Of course, your dog is going to beg for a bite. Who wouldn’t? For the record, you can feel good about sharing a few popped kernels with your best friend — just as long as you follow our tips.
(Even though popcorn is generally safe for your pet, always consult your vet before introducing a new food item to their diet.)
Popcorn is low in fat and calories — plus, it’s delicious. But don't expect popcorn to change your dog's health significantly. While the following benefits are great to incorporate into your pup's diet, occasional bites here and there aren't enough to drastically improve their well-being:
• Iron: promotes blood health
• Magnesium: supports bone, muscle and nerve health
• Potassium: boosts energy and maintains nerve and muscle health
• Zinc: promotes healthy skin and fur, supports the immune system and thyroid function
Unfortunately, all of the best additions to popcorn, like butter and salt, can cause dogs to have upset stomachs and gain weight. The extra calories in butter contribute to obesity, and the fat in butter can cause vomiting and diarrhea. Butter can also lead to pancreatitis (an inflamed pancreas), so only offer your dog small portions of plain popcorn.
You know those pesky unpopped kernels at the bottom of the bag? Well, those can get stuck in dogs’ teeth. It’s not only painful for dogs when kernels get stuck in their teeth, but it can lead to a tooth infection, too. Signs a kernel is messing with your pup’s oral health include bad breath, decreased appetite, bloody saliva, excessive drooling or dropping food.
Even though it’s rare, those tiny round kernels can travel down the wrong pipe, which can cause throat irritation and possibly a serious respiratory infection called aspiration pneumonia. They can also be a choking hazard. See your veterinarian if you notice coughing, gagging or difficulty breathing.
If you think your dog is choking, look out for pawing at their mouth, gagging or retching, coughing, turning blue, silence or collapsing. When a dog is choking, it’s important to act fast. Swipe their throat using your finger, perform the Heimlich maneuver or do cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Read our article to learn how to act fast in emergency choking situations.
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Treats, including popcorn, should not exceed 10% of your pet’s total daily calories. Your veterinarian can help you determine proper portions based on your pet’s specific needs.
If you are having a movie marathon and want to share some plain popcorn with your best friend, go ahead (with your vet’s OK). However, it should be an occasional treat rather than an everyday snack.
Knowing that the occasional popcorn treat is safe for pups (and your vet is on board, too), you both can indulge in the snack during your next screening — just keep a close eye on your pup to make sure they’re feeling good.
We’re confident that popcorn isn’t the only human food your dog would love to sink their teeth into (cue the drool). Check out our series “Can dogs eat ... ?” to learn more about which human foods are off-limits and what’s fair game.