Can Dogs Eat Popcorn Kernels? Risks & Safe Feeding Guide

A couple on the couch with a red blanket, a bowl of popcorn, and a hungry Dachshund.

When you’re sitting down for movie night with a big bowl of popcorn, most likely your dog will give you those irresistible puppy dog eyes, wanting to share the treat with you.

Is it safe to give your dog a bite or two?  What about the unpopped kernels?

Can dogs eat popcorn kernels? Eating plain, air-popped popcorn is generally safe for dogs in small quantities, but popcorn with flavorings or toppings is unhealthy for dogs to eat on a regular basis. Popcorn kernels, however, could get stuck in their teeth or pose a choking hazard.

Read on to know the ins and outs of feeding your pooch popcorn, whether you should or shouldn’t, and how to feed your pup popcorn safely. 

What Happens If Dogs Eat Popcorn Kernels?

Plain, air-popped popcorn can be a light and low-calorie snack for dogs, but before you give your pup popcorn kernels, it’s necessary to be aware of what could happen to them. 

May Become Stuck in Their Teeth

While dogs can eat popcorn safely when it’s properly prepared, it can be rough for their mouth.

Popcorn pieces, especially the kernels, can potentially result in physical harm to dogs as it can hurt their gums or get stuck in their teeth.

A brush, rinse, or dental floss are often enough to get the kernels out when that happens to you.

Unfortunately, your dog can’t do the same, which can cause discomfort and even gum disease when left unresolved.

Could Pose Choking Hazard

Because popcorn kernels are so hard and difficult to chew, dogs typically swallow them whole, which could cause them to choke, especially if they eat more than one at a time. 

Could Cause Digestive Issues

The safety of feeding popcorn to dogs mainly lies in the preparation. While plain, popped popcorn is generally safe for canines, the unpopped kernels are very difficult to digest.

When consumed whole, the kernels could lead to gastrointestinal distress, constipation, diarrhea, or intestinal blockage.

Additionally, there’s a danger in popcorn loaded with sodium and fats that can cause havoc in your pup’s digestive system.

Oils and fats in popcorn can result in gastrointestinal upsets in dogs, causing vomiting and diarrhea. 

May Not Cause Any Issues

Dogs love to eat what humans eat, although that’s not always a good idea.

There’s a good chance eating popcorn kernels will have no ill or lasting effects on your dogs, but it’s strongly advised to always check your dog’s teeth afterward to make sure nothing got stuck and is causing discomfort or pain.

Also, keep an eye on your dog’s stool to make sure that he is able to digest normally and is not suffering from any ill effects or blockages.

Generally, it’s a good idea to avoid giving popcorn kernels to your dog altogether. 

Quick Guide To Feeding Your Dog Popcorn

Whenever you’re giving your dog a new kind of food, it’s good to check first whether it’s safe for dogs or not.

When it comes to popcorn, it all depends on how you prepared it and how much you are giving your dog.

In the following, we’ll take a look at common concerns when it comes to feeding dogs popcorn. 

My Dog Ate Popcorn – Will He Be Okay?

If your dog happens to eat one or two pieces of popcorn that have been dropped on the floor, it shouldn’t cause any serious harm to your dog.

If your dog ate any popcorn kernels, keep an eye out for any signs of choking, vomiting, constipation, or diarrhea.

If your dog accidentally ate seasoned or flavored popcorn, contact a veterinarian for guidance.

How Much Popcorn Can a Dog Eat?

A black French bulldog sitting on a gray couch with a bowl of popcorn and the remote.

If you’re giving popcorn to your pooch as a snack or treat, ideally, you want to keep it less than 10% of your dog’s daily calorie needs.

It shouldn’t be part of your dog’s regular diet, but a handful of unseasoned popcorn occasionally is fine. 

Can Dogs Eat Microwave Popcorn?

It’s worth noting that microwave popcorn typically has a high salt and fat content, which is bad for dogs.

Sodium in popcorn can lead to serious issues like salt toxicity or ion poisoning in dogs. Fats can also upset their tummies and may cause vomiting, diarrhea, and gas.

Can Dogs Eat Popcorn With Butter?

Plain popped popcorn is a healthier choice. Popcorn with butter contains unhealthy amounts of fats and oils, resulting in obesity in dogs when consumed in large amounts or eaten often.

Obesity can lead to more issues, like arthritis and kidney disease. If your dog has eaten buttered popcorn, he may experience vomiting or gas.

Can Dogs Eat Caramel Popcorn?

Caramel popcorn contains added sugars, and that is not a very healthy food to give your dog.

Caramel popcorn is especially a bad choice for dogs that are overweight or those suffering from diabetes. It’s best to stick to plain, unflavored popcorn for dogs or no popcorn at all.

Can Dogs Eat Kettle Popcorn?

Kettle popcorn is just another name for sweet, coated, and candied popcorn that can pose health dangers to your dog.

Some coatings can include artificial sweeteners such as xylitol, which is highly toxic to dogs. Sweet-flavored popcorn treats can also lead to diabetes and obesity in dogs when fed regularly.

Can Dogs Eat Popcorn With Cheese?

Popcorn seasoned with cheese or any other flavorings might be tasty but is not a healthy choice for your dog.

The cheese seasoning is usually a mix of cheese or milk products, salt, and oil, all of which are not good for your pet. The high sodium can cause dehydration in dogs.

Can Popcorn Kill Your Dog?

Popcorn itself is not bad for dogs, nor is it likely to kill your pet, but seasoned and flavored popcorn may contain agents that are dangerous to your pup, like high levels of sodium and fat.

These ingredients can lead to dehydration and upset stomach in the short term and obesity in the long term.

Safety Tips When Giving Popcorn to a Dog

If you want to share your popcorn with your dog, follow these steps and tips to make popcorn that’s a safe and healthy treat for your furry friend.

  • Air pop the corn. You can use either a pan on the stove, a hot-air popper (I use this one all the time), or an oilless microwave method.
  • Remove the unpopped kernels before offering popcorn to your dog. 
  • Use hull-less popcorn (find it here) since they are usually smaller and more tender.
  • Feed only plain popcorn to your dog. That means no salt, butter, or any other flavor and seasoning added.
  • Go easy on the portion size. Factor it in your pup’s daily calories and adjust his meals accordingly. 

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Related Questions: 

Can Dogs Eat Popcorn Chicken?

A piece or two of popcorn chicken is probably fine for dogs to eat. However, it contains a considerable number of calories, which you should factor into your dog’s daily caloric intake.

Fried foods are not good for dogs, so avoid these when possible and opt for the oven-baked versions instead.

Can Dogs Eat Popcorn Shrimp?

Shrimp is generally safe for dogs, but popcorn shrimp, especially when fried, can be high in fat, making it an unhealthy food choice for them. 

Are Unpopped Popcorn Kernels Bad for Dogs?

Never give dogs unpopped popcorn kernels, as it can lead to issues such as choking, internal blockages, and mouth discomfort.

It’s best to stick to plain, air-popped popcorn with all the unpopped kernels removed.

Last update on 2022-05-18 at 10:50 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API