If you have a dog, you’re probably familiar with the sight of your pooch hovering nearby whenever you eat. This is especially the case if you have popcorn while watching television. Your pet is ready to pounce on any stray kernels that might make their way to the floor. But can dogs eat popcorn?
Here’s some information that might surprise you.
Can Dogs Eat Popcorn Safely?
Can dogs eat popcorn? Yes, but in moderation. But just like popcorn drenched in butter and covered in salt is bad for you, it will be bad for your companion as well. Plain, air-popped popcorn, on the other hand, is a different situation. While not exactly a nutritional powerhouse, popcorn does contain many nutrients that are quite healthy for dogs and humans alike.1 These include vitamin B1, vitamin B3, choline and magnesium. Here’s some quick information on the benefits of each for your pet.
- Vitamin B1 – Also known as thiamine (or thiamin), vitamin B1 is essential to the health of your dog. A lack of this vitamin can lead to a loss of appetite and vomiting. In severe cases, a vitamin B1 deficiency can even lead to heart problems and, ultimately, death.2
- Vitamin B3 – Vitamin B3, or niacin, is essential to helping a dog’s blood circulate properly through his or her body. Dogs also need it in order to keep their skin as healthy as possible. Vitamin B3 also helps the body properly metabolize fats, carbohydrates and proteins, and plays a role in the production of estrogen and testosterone.3
- Choline – Choline is a nutrient that can help dogs avoid problems with cognition. It may also play a role in helping prevent urinary incontinence.4
- Magnesium – Magnesium is an incredibly important mineral, found in bones as well as soft tissues. It plays a vital role in metabolism, activating more than 300 enzymes in the body. Magnesium helps with muscle control and also helps provide stability to blood vessels. A lack of magnesium can lead to muscle and bone problems as well as heart rhythm issues.5
- Potassium – Potassium helps ensure the body’s nerves and muscles work correctly. A lack of this mineral can be extremely serious — possibly even life-threatening. It can, for example, result in substantial weakness, a loss of appetite and possibly even nerve and heart damage.6
Popcorn does contain some beneficial nutrients. But that doesn’t mean you can give your dog handfuls of the stuff during your next movie night at home. The best type of popcorn for your dog will be air-popped, and free of heavy amounts of salt, butter, and oil. You also need to make sure that you don’t give a dog any un-popped kernels — they could present a choking hazard! Plus, they could have disastrous effects on your dog’s teeth.
Remember that popcorn, like any treat, should be given only occasionally.
Can Dogs Eat Popcorn: A Concluding Note
So the next time you settle in with your family for a night of popcorn and television watching, don’t worry if your four-legged family member snags a couple of pieces that might have fallen out of your bowl. A little bit of popcorn won’t hurt. If your popcorn is free of oil, butter and salt, you might even want to give him a few pieces. If you simply can’t enjoy popcorn without loading it up with the stuff that’s bad for you, think about making a smaller, healthier batch for your pooch.
Just make sure you take the proper precautions, such as taking out all of the un-popped kernels. If your dog has any health issues, talk to your veterinarian first before giving him or her any popcorn.