What Is Popcorn?
You are sitting on the couch eating popcorn and some kernels fall on the floor. Before you reach down to pick it up, your doggie picks it up and eats them.
Help, my dog ate popcorn kernels, is popcorn bad for a dog? First, let’s look at what is popcorn.
People believe that the maize growing in a farmyard field is the same corn kernels we use to make popcorn. No, it is not.
Zea mays everta (Zea) is a specific type of corn kernel that is designed just for popping corn.
The USA is the world’s largest producer of Zea mays everta popcorn kernels even though this variety of corn has its origination in Central America.
Popcorn kernels are grown, harvested, and produced differently than corn on the cob.
Zea popcorn is grown just to be a delicious snack.
Plain Popcorn Is Safe for Dogs
Okay, my dog swallowed popcorn kernels, so is it okay for a dog to eat popcorn? Yes and No!
The American Kennel Association states that plain popcorn kernels are a tasty treat for our best friend. Natural sweet corn kernels are a healthy grain.
When it is popped it contains healthy properties like zinc, magnesium, phosphorous, anti-oxidants, and manganese minerals that are helpful to a dog’s diet.
Granted, popcorn is not quite a nutritional supremacy, popcorn does contain many nutrients that are quite healthy for dogs and humans.
Plain popcorn also contains fiber, iron, and small amounts of vitamins that are beneficial to our dogs, like vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin E, and vitamin K.
The vitamin content in popcorn aid in our pet’s health with the following effects – helps the heart, skin, prevents urinary tract infections, and strengthens muscles and nerves.
When we read labels of dog food we can see ingredients that contain corn or cornmeal which are health supplements for our dogs.
What Type of Corn is Unsafe for our Doggie?
The inherent danger of popcorn is that many of its kernels don’t always pop and if your tail-wagging best friend takes one of these in their mouth and tries to chew it, the kernel can break a tooth.
Many dog owners ask the question can un-popped kernels hurt a dog? Dogs are scavengers, they will eat anything that catches their eye, including their own poop.
However, a couple of kernels will not normally hurt a dog unless the popcorn kernels cause a choking incident.
Also, if a dog grabs a piece of sweet corn on the cob off the table, quickly take it away from them.
The question to answer regarding corn on the cob is can dogs eat corn on the cob?
The main concern with traditional corn on the cob is its size, whether a dog takes hold of a whole ear of corn or a half of ear of corn.
Dogs can swallow a large part of the ear of corn and it may not pass through their digestive system easily.
Large pieces of an ear of corn can get stuck in their digestive tract causing an emergency surgery situation by a veterinarian.
Anything that gets caught in a dog’s digestive system causes them to vomit, choking ensues, causes pain, and they can not eat or sleep without whining a little.
Is Popcorn Toxic?
It is said that a few popped popcorn kernels are okay for a dog to eat, but is popcorn healthy or toxic for our bow-wow family friend? Limiting the amount of popcorn, a dog can eat is okay occasionally.
The biggest problem with the popcorn that humans consume is generally the microwaveable bag type.
Microwaveable popcorn in a manufactured bag carries a cautious consumer tag, no matter what brand you choose to consume.
The small amount of toxicity is attributable to the bag that the popcorn comes in and the chemicals involved in its popping process.
Popcorn which is microwaved is packaged in bags that are lined with a man-made chemical Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) that keeps the popcorn kernels fresh.
Other chemicals associated with popcorn in the bag is trans fat which we know is an enemy to the human arteries within our bodies because it can clog our arteries that can cause cancer and other diseases.
These two chemical additives in bags of microwaveable popcorn could be a toxic element which is not good for our pets and if it is somewhat toxic to us on a large scale, then our dogs should not be allowed to eat this microwaveable bagged snack on a consistent basis.
Just in case you like the flavored popcorn that comes in a bag, here is a popcorn bag tip. Place a few plain kernels into an ordinary brown bag.
Fold the bag over a couple of times sealing it. Microwave the bag for a few seconds but keep listening for the kernels to fast pop until the popping slows down, then voila, your instant snack is ready.
Plain Popcorn vs. Flavored Popcorn
Bags of popcorn come in a variety of flavors and then we add ingredients like salt and butter to our bowls filled with America’s favorite popcorn snack.
Once you have added these seasonings you don’t ask the question can dogs eat popcorn with butter, can dogs eat cheese popcorn, can dogs eat salty popcorn, or can my dog eat caramel popcorn?
The plain and simple answer is No! Plain popcorn for your dog is okay as a snack. But as soon as you top your popcorn with salt, butter, or other ingredients, your favorite snack just became dangerous to your dog’s health.
Salt, butter, and flavored popcorn contain high amounts of sodium and fat which will cause your dog’s stomach to become upset.
If you feed your dog flavored popcorn which is made up of oil and fat on a consistent basis, you increase your dog’s chances of gaining too much weight causing obesity problems, stomach problems, and possible diseases like diabetes.
What happens when you learn that my dog ate white cheddar popcorn, or your dog ate salted popcorn, or your dog ate caramel popcorn – what then? Salted popcorn is too high in sodium for our dogs to consume.
If they eat well-salted popcorn, they can become nauseous and the end result could cause high blood pressure and a high cholesterol count.
Cheddar is a safe cheese for dogs to eat because there are many dog treats that contain cheddar and in the right amount it is safe to eat.
Cheddar cheese also barely contains lactose which is good for your dog if they are lactose intolerant or has allergies. Caramel popcorn is mostly a sugary food product.
A lot of sugar for dogs can lead to diabetes, poor oral health, and a lot of weight gain.
If your dog eats a lot of cheddar, salted, or caramel popcorn just once, the only effect will possibly be an upset digestive tract, but dogs should not eat these products continually because it could endanger their health and well-being.
How Much Popcorn Should My Dog Eat?
But my dog ate too much popcorn what should I do? This brings us to additional questions of can dogs eat popcorn all the time as a snack and if so, how to feed popcorn to dogs.
Remember, plain popcorn is not dangerous to your pet but a lot of anything is not always good.
If you see any suggested signs of discomfort after your dog has been eating popcorn as much as you have, then it’s a good sign that you shouldn’t feed any more popcorn to your dog.
Very succinctly, there is a video on YouTube that is direct and to the point about feeding popcorn to dogs.
The operative word for feeding your dog popcorn is ‘occasionally.’ Veterinarians state that the calorie count for plain air-popped popcorn is around 30 calories or less per cup, so giving them a little snack each day will not put a lot of calories in their diet.
Also, remember that popcorn is a snack and it should not be a substitute for a meal.
Popcorn has nutritional value but not enough to give dogs all the nutrients they need.
No matter how much your best friend seems to enjoy popcorn, they still should not eat it every time you fill your popcorn bowl with this delicious snack.
Chances are your popcorn bowl contains salt, butter, etc., which is not healthy for your furry buddy.
Why not make some plain popcorn for your best friend if you feel your dog is being left out on popcorn deliciousness? Plain popcorn is much safer for your dog!
Alternative Popcorn Snacks and Recipes
What are some alternatives to popcorn as a healthy snack for your dog? Here a few suggestions and to throw in some fun ideas, here are safe popcorn recipes for dogs.
An alternative to popcorn for your dogs is popcorn. Whole grain air-popped popcorn is a low-calorie healthy snack for you and your dog.
You can slather safe and healthy food ingredients on your dog’s air popped popcorn like peanut butter because dogs love peanut butter.
There is also a homemade popcorn recipe that is too scrumptious just for your dog, but please note that not every snack recipe may taste as good to you as it will for your precious canine.
For example, eating pain air-popped popcorn probably tastes like cardboard to our palate but to a dog, they will gobble it up like it is the best snack they have ever eaten.
Safe air popping popcorn recipes for dogs is all about adding healthy ingredients to it.
Remember that you can pop your popcorn kernels on top of the stove in a pot with or without a top. You can also use a popcorn machine or safely microwave it.
After you have popped your kernels look for all un-popped kernels and remove them.
You can prepare your popcorn by adding cheesy bacon bits and spreading the popcorn onto a lined baking sheet, cover it with low-fat grated cheddar cheese and small amounts of bacon bits.
Cook until the cheese melts then let it cool. To keep your fingers, place these bite-size morsels into the doggie dish because they will go crazy for them.
I. Cheesy Bacon Popcorn Balls
- 4 c. plain popped popcorn
- 1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/4 c. bacon bits
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.
- Spread popcorn with removed un-popped kernels on a baking sheet and cover with cheese and bacon bits.
- Bake in 350ᵒ oven until the cheese melts (8 min.)
- Cool and give to doggie.
II. Blackberry Cheese Balls
- 1/4 c. chopped blackberries
- 1/2 c. shredded cheese
- 3 crushed basil Leaves
- 1 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
- 1/4 c. milk
- 1 c. spelt (whole wheat) flour
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
- Mix the ingredients until totally mixed
- Spoon 1/2 tsp. of dough balls onto a baking sheet
- Bake in an oven at 350ᵒ for 10 min. Cool and refrigerate.
III. Peanut Butter Poppers
- 1 c. peanut butter
- 1/2 c. plain stovetop popcorn
- 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tsp of natural honey or honey can be optional
- Pop the popcorn in olive oil on the stovetop.
- Mix ingredients until popcorn are fully coated.
- Gently roll mixture into small balls.
- Add more honey if the ingredients don’t hold together.
- Set at room temperature, then give snacks to doggie.
An Ending Tail
There are TV ads that discuss comparative ingredients in dog food brands. Dogs of varying ages require different nutritional values.
How much or how little depends on the size and age of your dog. Adult dogs are generally more active and thus their energy levels require more nutrients.
Keep an ongoing conversation with your veterinarian about your dog’s diet, but basically, the amount of snacks like popcorn that you feed your dogs depends on their energy levels.
For example, if your dog is very energetic or they are a working dog, naturally they require up to 40% more nutrients than a dog that is a lap dog or an aging dog.