It’s movie night.
As you mindlessly reach for another handful of buttery, crunchy popcorn you spot a shadowy, four-legged figure approaching quickly from the corner of your eye.
Before you even have time to scream in terror, light from the TV reveals the frightful figure’s furry coat.
It’s just your dog trying to get a bite of that delicious popcorn!
Relief washes over you.
As you reach into the bowl to grab a few pieces you have the thought “Huh…can dogs even eat popcorn?”
Can Dogs Eat Popcorn?
Yes, if prepared right! As long as the popcorn is fully popped and contains no additional salt, butter, or seasoning, plain popcorn can be a decent treat for your pup when given in moderation.
Is Popcorn Good for Dogs?
So long as Fido only eats unsalted, unbuttered, and unseasoned popcorn, he may actually be getting several vital minerals for proper canine nutrition including magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, or zinc.
Additionally, he may discover that digestion feels a tiny bit easier on account of popcorn’s fiber content.
However, while plain popcorn can provide small boosts to nutrition, your dog will likely get all of these essential nutritional components from their regular diet of dog food.
Are There Any Risks to Feeding Popcorn to Dogs?
Feeding fully popped, unbuttered, unsalted, and unseasoned popcorn should pose no serious health risks to your furry friend.
However, there are some things to remember when deciding to feed your dog popcorn.
First, you should watch out for kernels in your dog’s teeth.
Us humans can just pick those suckers out with a toothpick.
And, if we don’t, we can just floss them out later.
Dogs don’t have this luxury. It’s up to the owner to remove bits of kernel stuck in their teeth.
Leaving them in your dog’s mouth isn’t a wise idea, either. Corn kernel pieces can cause tooth decay and gum disease if not fully removed. Kernels can also pose a digestive problem for your pup. Their tough shell is hard for your dog’s gut to break down.
Additionally, things like salt, butter, oil, and other flavorings that make popcorn so scrumptious to eat can cause problems. Butter and oil add unwanted calories to your dog’s diet, while flavorings can cause tummy troubles including vomiting or diarrhea.
“Hey, wait a second” you might be thinking as you reach for the familiar white shaker, “Why is salt included? My dog already gets some salt in his diet! Surely one or two little shakes couldn’t hurt…” Unfortunately, adding salt to popcorn is not advised, even if it does make things delicious.
Not only can eating too much salt result in extreme thirst for your dog, but too much salt can even lead to a life-threatening case of sodium ion poisoning.
What is Sodium Ion Poisoning?
Sodium ion poisoning occurs when an animal has ingested too much salt. Too much salt can starve the body of water and lead to the disruption and damage of vital organs. In some cases, this may be fatal.
Symptoms often occur within just a few hours of a dog eating too much salt. The first symptoms typically include extreme thirst and vomiting. These can progress to include diarrhea and lethargy.
If severe enough, salt poisoning can result in tremors, shortness of breath, disorientation, seizures, and death. If you suspect that your dog has ingested enough salt to induce sodium ion poisoning, call your vet immediately and prepare to take your dog in for treatment.
So, here’s the deal with sodium (salt). You won’t need to worry about sodium ion poisoning if you remember and diligently abide by this simple rule: your dog should get between .25 grams and 1.5 grams of salt per day for each pound that they weigh. But, how much is a gram of salt? It’s about 1/6 of a teaspoon, that’s really a tiny amount, so when it comes to adding any salt to your dog’s diet (via popcorn or any other human food), extreme caution is advised.
How Much Salt Should I Give My Dog?
According to the Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources, dogs typically have a recommended daily allowance of no more than 200mg of sodium. However, the recommended daily allowance can increase slightly with your dog’s weight.
However, finding that your dog has only eaten a little more than the recommended amount should not make you fear sodium ion poisoning. A dog needs to eat significant amounts of salt, typically over 1.5 grams of salt per pound of body weight, in order to succumb to sodium ion poisoning. That being said, remember to keep treats to 10 percent or less of your dog’s daily caloric intake.
If you want more information on how to keep your dog happy and healthy, go to our dog page to begin pouring through our extensive list of resources on proper pet care!