Can Dogs Eat Popcorn as a Treat?

Do you ever sneak your dog a little popcorn and then wonder… What happens when a dog eats popcorn? Read below to find out if popcorn is safe for your pup.

By Hungry Bark | August 31, 2021

It’s movie night with your favorite furry friend! Time to pick a flick, grab the blankets, and get out the snacks. But wait… what happens if you share your tasty snack with your little furbaby?

We all love spoiling our pups, but sometimes giving them “people food” isn't safe. The big question is—how do you know which foods are safe, and which aren’t? Click here to find more Hungry Bark articles about other safe and non-safe foods for dogs to eat. But for now, let’s talk about everyone’s favorite movie snack… popcorn!

What Happens When a Dog Eats Popcorn?

Plain, air-popped popcorn is not necessarily bad for dogs. In fact, the American Kennel Club tells us that “popped corn kernels actually contain several minerals important to canine nutrition, like magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and zinc, along with fiber and trace amounts of vitamins.” And we all know that fiber is a very important part of any diet. It helps with digestion, and reduces the risk of obesity. Both of which help to improve your pup’s overall health.

One of the big issues is that as humans, we’re usually not satisfied with plain, air-popped popcorn. But rather, we enjoy adding lots of butter, salt, oils, and possibly other toppings to our popcorn. Toppings that create intestinal issues for our dogs.

Can a Dog Eat Caramel Popcorn?

Sorry, but it’s not a good idea to feed your dog caramel popcorn, kettle corn, cheesy popcorn, or even popcorn with just butter and salt.

The fats, sodium, and sugars in these popcorn toppings will not only lead to stomach upset in your dog, but they could also cause dehydration from the salt, and diarrhea. And if eaten long-term, your dog could suffer from kidney damage from the salt, and problems with obesity—which leads to heart issues, immunity issues, hip and joint issues, and so much more.

And beware of peanut butter popcorn too! Even though peanut butter is commonly given to dogs, and is technically safe, a lot of peanut butters contain sugar. And even worse… some contain xylitol. You may not be aware, but xylitol is actually very toxic for dogs. So please be cautious about what snacks you share with your pup, and what ingredients they contain.

Can a Dog Eat Popcorn Kernels?

Popcorn kernels are the other problem to worry about when feeding your pup popcorn. Even if the popcorn is completely plain and air-popped, the kernels could hurt your dog’s teeth if they aren’t expecting to chomp on something that hard. Or they can get stuck in your dog’s teeth, and then become a choking hazard.

So if you’re hoping to safely feed your pooch some popcorn, make sure to sort out the unpopped kernels and partially popped pieces. You could even break apart the pieces you think are safe—just to be sure.

Is Microwave Popcorn Safe for Dogs?

The main problem with microwave popcorn is that it’s typically covered in salt and butter. Which is delicious, but not great for your pup’s health. So it’s best to stick with plain, air-popped popcorn.

How Much Popcorn Can a Dog Eat?

Ok, now that you’re ready to feed your furry companion some safe, healthy popcorn—how much is too much? Well, the main key with any food you give your pup is to remember… Everything in moderation!

WebMD recommends that treats of any kind shouldn’t make up more than 10% of your dog’s diet. To know for sure how much that would be per day, it’s best to consult your veterinarian.

Of course, the amount depends on the size of your dog. But a good rule of thumb is just a few pieces of popcorn for every 10 lbs. of your dog’s weight. Or just a small handful at the most. Again, this is just supposed to be a special treat, not an additional meal.

Can Popcorn Cause Diarrhea in Dogs?

Good question! If your dog does get a hold of some of your delicious, sugary popcorn, or popcorn covered in salt and butter… that can definitely cause some stomach upset, unfortunately leading to diarrhea.

If they just eat a piece or two, you may have nothing to worry about. But if they happen to scarf down a large amount while you’re out of the room—that could be more concerning.

One other factor that could lead to diarrhea is that corn is a common allergen for dogs. Just like how some dogs have bad reactions to dairy, soy, wheat, and even meat and animal byproducts, corn can cause allergic reactions too.

You might notice symptoms like gas, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach upset, inflammation, skin rashes or irritation, and excessive licking. For most dogs, this shouldn’t be a problem. But in the same way that every human is different—so is every dog! And you’ll want to keep an eye out for these allergic reactions.

So if you’d like to try giving your pooch some plain, air-popped popcorn as a treat… just start with a few pieces here and there to see if they have any kind of bad reaction. If they do, stop feeding them popcorn. And if the symptoms are severe, you should talk with your vet.

What Foods are Bad for Dogs?

As mentioned above, there are many foods we eat that are completely safe and even healthy for dogs. But there are also a lot of “people foods” that may seem completely harmless, but are actually bad or even toxic for dogs. You can click here to find more articles about safe and non-safe foods for dogs.

This is why at Hungry Bark, we use only high quality, natural ingredients in our dog food. And we pride ourselves on serving vet approved nutritious meals that exceed industry standards for dogs, while using the utmost safety and quality control.

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We understand how important your dog’s health and safety is to you because we’re pet parents too! And we believe that all dogs deserve food that is great tasting and good for them.

For more articles with helpful pet parenting advice, check out The Daily Bark blog on

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