A small dog jumping up to its owner’s hand to try and earn a popcorn treat.

Why Do Dogs Like Popcorn?

Popcorn is a delicious, salty, buttery treat that’s loved by almost everybody, whether as a special movie-time snack or simply because it’s easy to make and then eat on the go. But humans aren’t the only ones who love popcorn, dogs are also huge fans (much like they are with most other types of people food). But dogs don’t just like popcorn because it tastes great, they also love it for its satisfying crunch, which provides a type of stimulation that many dogs really enjoy. That said though, should we really be allowing our dogs to eat popcorn? Is it safe for them? Is it in any way nutritious? And if so, how much can they be given? Please keep reading to learn more about one of your dog’s favorite snacks and how to ensure you’re giving it to them as safely as possible.

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Dogs Like Popcorn, But Can They Eat it Safely?

A good dog gently accepting a popcorn treat from its owner’s hand.

In short, the answer to this question is both yes and no, and the distinction between the two is actually based on a wide range of different factors. For example, popcorn kernels contain a range of minerals that are important for good doggy nutrition, such as magnesium, zinc, manganese, along with fiber, and a small number of various vitamins. This can make plain popcorn an excellent occasional treat for your fuzzy buddy. However, the kind of popcorn people usually enjoy- covered in salt, oil, and melted butter- is another story entirely. Popcorn covered in these substances may taste delicious, but it can also cause a number of problems for your dog, such as intestinal upsets. Additionally, this kind of popcorn can contribute to dog obesity and obesity-related health problems if given to them on a regular basis.

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Ideally, any popcorn you feed to your dog should be air-popped, plain, and only given to them in small quantities as only an occasional treat. However, please be aware that there are also some potential drawbacks to this as well since small kernel fragments (you know, the ones that always seem to get stuck in your teeth if you so much as even look at a bowl of popcorn?) can also get stuck in your dog’s teeth as well, causing a lot of annoyance as well as a potential choking hazard. Also, please be sure to keep any and all unpopped and partially-popped popcorn kernels away from your dog. Just like how they’re hard for humans to eat, they’re also hard for dogs, and could potentially cause their teeth to chip if they accidentally bit down on them the wrong way. 

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How Much Popcorn Can Dogs Safely Have?

An adorable dog happily accepting a treat of popcorn from its owner.

When it comes to feeding your dog the proper amount of food, there are a lot of different factors to consider, such as their weight, age, activity level, and potential health conditions. In short, it’s important for responsible pet owners to actively keep the treat intake of their pets down to approximately 10% or less, in terms of their dog’s daily intake of calories. This is commonly referred to as the “10% rule” of treats, and it is widely agreed upon by veterinarians and other animal health experts.

When it comes to sharing your popcorn (unsalted and unbuttered) with your fuzzy friend, please remember to make it only an occasional treat. If it happens to be one of their favorite treats, you can use it as a training tool and reward to help instill good behavior. However, it’s essential that you only give it to them in moderation to ensure it doesn’t have any negative impacts on their overall health and safety.

If you’re looking for new treats to try and replace popcorn, consider trying some fresher, greener, more natural options that will help keep them happy, healthy, and full of energy. You can try feeding them a range of fruits and veggies, including banana, apple, strawberry, and watermelon slices, along with green beans, baby carrots, celery, peas, and even some broccoli. Just remember to always look up whether any new treat you’d like to try giving your dog is safe for them to consume. If they don’t have much of a taste for those but you still want to avoid giving them too many popcorn treats, you can also try giving them plain rice cakes after breaking them up into little pieces to prevent choking issues.

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Final Thoughts to Keep in Mind

At the end of the day, dogs love popcorn for exactly the same reason people do; it tastes great and has a delightful crunch that makes for an awesome sensory sensation. That said, it’s very important that you only give them popcorn in moderation (like all other types of dog treats) while also being sure that all of the pieces you give them are plain and fully popped. Doing otherwise could lead to doggy tummy upsets, a steady increase in weight, chipped teeth, as well as a range of other issues. So go ahead and share some of your movie-time snack with them, but also be sure to try out some healthier treat options in the form of fresh fruits and veggies.

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