Can dogs eat popcorn?
Popcorn is a favorite movie-time snack. It’s easy to make it at home, too. You simply put the ready-to-pop popcorn pack in the microwave and the smell of butter and popcorn soon fills the air. As your pet catches a whiff of the tantalizing smell of popcorn, you’ll soon find your canine buddy with those puppy-dog eyes by your side asking for a taste. But can dogs eat popcorn? Keep reading to find out!
Is popcorn safe for dogs?
It depends. There are a few factors that can affect how healthy popcorn is for your pet, such as how it’s prepared or if there are any added ingredients.
For starters, dogs can eat popcorn in moderation and preferably only when it’s air-popped, without the added salt, butter, sugar, or another seasoning. All these additives can easily make popcorn unhealthy for your pet. However, eating a few dropped pieces of salted, buttered popcorn now and then shouldn’t be a cause for concern.
Popcorn can be a tasty treat from time to time. It’s also important to follow the advice of pet nutritionists when it comes to giving treats to dogs - the treat must not exceed 10% of your pet’s daily calorie consumption.
Possible Hazards of Feeding Your Dog Popcorn
Too much fat, salt, or artificial food colors and flavorings can be too much for your pet and cause digestive upsets. Dehydration can develop after eating too much popcorn sprinkled with too much salt. Regular intake of too much salt can increase your dog’s risk of kidney damage. The extra calories could also cause your pet to pile on the pounds and increase their risks for certain health issues, such as obesity or pancreatitis.
Popcorn could also pose a physical danger to your dog. The corn kernels can get stuck in their teeth and may hurt their teeth and gums. Corn kernels may scrape the dog’s throat or become lodged in the airways.
Popcorn with large hulls could also be a potential choking hazard for puppies and small dogs. This is an important reason to remove unpopped or partially popped corn kernels before offering popcorn to your dog.
Some dogs are allergic to corn. Like wheat and soy, corn is a possible allergen for dogs. If your pet has a food sensitivity, avoid giving popcorn as it could trigger a hypersensitive reaction. While it’s unlikely that it will be a life-threatening reaction, the experience won’t be pleasant for your dog. Adverse reactions such as stomach upset, excessive gassiness, and diarrhea can develop and make your dog miserable.
Does popcorn have any nutrients?
Minerals such as phosphorus, manganese, potassium, and zinc are present in the corn kernels. Popcorn also contains fiber and traces of vitamins. Fiber can be good for your dog’s digestive system. These nutrients, however, are not nutritionally beneficial for dogs. The amount of these nutrients in popcorn is not enough to give your dog a huge health boost.
If your dog is on a life stage-appropriate, complete and balanced diet, there is no need for other sources of these nutrients because they’re already present in appropriate quantities in the diet.
Popcorn is more of a tasty snack instead of a healthy one.
How about “hulless” popcorn? Is it safe for dogs?
Have you heard of “hulless” popcorn? It’s often marketed as corn without the kernel. But the name is misleading.
“Hulless” or “kernel-less” popcorn still has a kernel that is smaller compared to most corn kernels. Smaller kernels make “hulless” popcorn more tender, making it a safer option for your pooch. However, the risks associated with regular popcorn are still present.
Recommendations for Safely Feeding Popcorn to Your Dog
If you want to share popcorn with your canine buddy, make sure to keep it healthy. Give popcorn that’s plain and air-popped, in small amounts, occasionally.
Air popping is pretty simple; it can be done in a microwave, stovetop, or popcorn machine. Once the popping has finished, remove kernels that are partially popped or those that haven’t popped at all.
Only offer a few pieces of popcorn and remember never to add any topping or seasoning. If you want yours sprinkled with cheese or salt, remove a small amount for your pet first before adding any seasoning.
There is also popcorn made especially for dogs. It’s available in several dog-safe flavors like cheese and peanut butter. Some have been added with prebiotics and probiotics which are beneficial to the digestive health of dogs. Many of these special popcorn variants for dogs are low in fat, sodium, and calories, which makes them a good alternative to conventional dog treats. As with all snacks, moderation is the key.
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