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When you settle in to watch a movie and snack on popcorn, does your dog give you puppy eyes, begging you to share? You might be tempted to let them have some, too! But is popcorn safe for dogs? Let’s get to the bottom of the matter.

Why Can Dogs Have Popcorn?

Yes, dogs can eat some popcorn, but you should be very careful with it. Two important factors to keep in mind are how it’s prepared and any toppings you might want to include. Generally, plain, air-popped popcorn will be fine for your dog.  Like other treats, you want to make sure you give it to your pup in moderation.

Is popcorn good for dogs?

It can be! Popcorn has minerals that can be beneficial to your dog, such as magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc. All three of these minerals play an important role in your dog's health. They help keep the immune system strong, bones healthy, and cells running well.

Just like with anything, there are some exceptions.

When is popcorn bad for dogs?

Unpopped or partially popped popcorn can be a choking hazard, so it’s best to remove those kernels before serving popcorn to your pooch.  Corn may also be a food allergy for some dogs, so that’s something to consider when giving your dog popcorn. Common symptoms from food allergies include inflammation, chronic gas, and diarrhea.

On top of that, some toppings may be bad for your dog:

●      Buttered popcorn: Eating a couple of pieces of buttered popcorn shouldn't be too much of a problem for your dog. However, too much butter or oil could cause obesity and other related health problems, so it may be best to avoid giving them buttered popcorn altogether.

●      Caramel corn: Your dog should avoid caramel. Because caramel is made from sugar, it can lead to health problems in your dog. Too much sugar can cause your dog to gain too much weight and lead to dental problems, so better to skip the caramel corn.

●      Garlic and onions: Never let your dog eat any garlic or onions topping. They’re very toxic to dogs and could lead to death if your dog doesn’t get treatment immediately upon eating it.

●      Salt: Adding salt to your dog’s popcorn is also a no-go. While a small amount of salt might be fine, too much salt can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and worse.

Always talk to your dog's veterinarian before feeding popcorn to your dog.

How To Feed Popcorn to Your Dog

If you want to give your dog popcorn, make sure it is safe for your four-legged friend. If you have an air popper at home, you can make some freshly popped for your dog. Before adding your own toppings and flavors, set some aside for your dog to ensure it’s safe.

Popcorn can make a great training treat for your dog, too. Pop a few kernels and work on teaching your dog a new skill by rewarding them with popcorn when they complete the task.

How much popcorn is safe for my dog?

How much popcorn you give your dog depends on the size of your dog — a larger dog could have more popcorn than a smaller breed. In general, keep treats to 10% or less2 of your dog's daily diet. With popcorn, a medium-sized dog could have a handful.

You shouldn't give your dog popcorn every day, either. Some veterinarians suggest it should be only an occasional treat. As previously mentioned, check with your dog's vet to find out how much popcorn is right for your pup.

Alternatives to Popcorn

There are some dog-friendly popcorns available at your local pet store. Some of these prepared products have flavorings that dogs can eat, such as chicken or bacon.

Other options you can consider include some fresh fruits or vegetables, such as blueberries, strawberries, or carrots. Low-calorie, nutritious treats like these can make a good snack for your furry friend.

Be Careful Feeding Your Dog Popcorn

You can feed your dog popcorn as a snack occasionally, but your pup shouldn't expect it as a staple in their diet, though. As we mentioned, double-check to make sure the popcorn doesn’t have any additives or toppings, as most of them could be harmful or even toxic. Butter, oils, salt, and other toppings can be bad for your dog. Stick to plain, air-popped popcorn as a treat for Rover.

If you think your dog ate popcorn or any food that's not safe for them, call your veterinarian. They can tell you what to do. It's always good to be prepared for emergencies. A dog insurance policy with MetLife Pet Insurance1 might be a good way to protect your pets when something happens.

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Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances.

1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.

2 “Can Dogs Eat Popcorn Safely? A Vet Weighs In.” Esposito, D., The Dodo, 2022