Popcorn is a popular snack for humans. When you are at home watching a movie with your family, your furry friend can tempt you to share this salty snack. Is it safe for dogs? Is popcorn bad for them?
Most commercial dog foods contain corn, which is not toxic to dogs. It is an economical and easy way to add fiber to a dog’s balanced diet.
As a corn kernel variety, popcorn is a corn type that puffs up when exposed to heat. It appears as a hard seed that is unpleasant to eat when raw. The inside of the kernel contains 15-20% moisture.
The moisture evaporates to steam when exposed to heat to create the fluffy, crunchy texture that we are used to. Popcorn comes in different varieties, an example being the Zea mays. This kernel variety is the most common. It is flint corn that is what most of us associate with popcorn.
The snack is rich in multiple nutrients that can benefit your dog’s health.
Health Benefits of Popcorn
Plain air-popped popcorn is a good low-calorie snack you can offer your dog occasionally. While its dietary benefits may be minimal, they can be crucial to dogs with deficiencies. Some of the nutrients present in the snack include:
- 13g proteins
- 78g carbohydrates
- 56% manganese
- 18% iron
- 36% magnesium
These vitamins and minerals provide the following health benefits to dogs:
Improve Digestive Health
Popcorn has high levels of dietary fiber, making the dog feel full for longer, and reducing their food intake. This is especially beneficial in overweight dogs as it ensures they don’t overfeed.
Dietary fibers also promote digestive regularity. This is a bonus for dogs with stomach problems; the fiber helps them have healthier stool function. The fiber also promotes a healthy heart and prevents colon cancer.
Additionally, feeding your dog popcorn promotes the growth and thriving of healthy gut bacteria that help in boosting your pup’s immune and digestive systems.
Healthy Bone Function
Popcorn contains phosphorous, a crucial mineral in bone formation and bone growth. Dogs eating popcorn once in a while stand to benefit from healthy bone function and improved cell function in the body.
The manganese found in popcorn also supports healthy bones.
Popcorn works as an anti-aging agent by reducing the movement of free radicals. The roaming radicals are linked to wrinkling, muscle weakness, age spots, doggy dementia, and Alzheimer’s.
Can Popcorn be Bad for Dogs?
While popcorn can be safe for dogs, some varieties can harm their health. For popcorn to be safe for dogs to consume, the right preparation method should be applied. Using oil and flavors to prepare it makes it unsuitable for canine consumption.
Partially cooked or unpopped popcorns can also be dangerous to your pup as they can be a choking hazard, especially for smaller dog breeds. The corn kernel is also hard on the teeth and can damage them. Moreover, the unpopped hulls can wedge between your canine’s teeth, damaging their gums and causing irritation.
How to Feed Popcorn to Your Dog
If you want to share some popcorn with your dog, it will be best to prepare a separate bowl for them. While you might want your snack to be sweetened or flavored, simply air pop your dog’s popcorn in the microwave. Also, remove any partially popped kernels.
Skip the salt. Dogs can easily get dehydrated from eating salty popcorn or suffer extensive kidney damage from eating seasoned popcorn.
Also, avoid using fats. It is better to prepare un-buttered popcorn for your furry friend. Feeding them popcorn with too much salt or fat can result in diarrhea and vomiting.
To add on, only feed popcorn to your pup in moderation to ensure it doesn’t suffer from the dreadful side effects caused by over-consumption of popcorn.
Can Dogs Be Allergic to Popcorn?
As with other grains, corn can be an allergen to your dog. Your furry friend might show adverse reactions after eating it for the first time. Not giving your dog popcorn again after showing signs of intolerance is essential.
Some of the intolerance symptoms to the snack include:
- Skin rash
- Obsessive licking
- Stomach upset
Can Dogs Eat Sweetened Popcorn?
Like salted popcorn, you should also keep your pup away from sweetened popcorn. Caramel or candied popcorn and other sweetened varieties also threaten your dog. The artificial sweeteners used can be dangerous to them.
One such example is the sweetener xylitol found in most commercial foods. Xylitol is toxic to dogs and puts them at fatal risk. Other sweetened popcorns contain chocolate or high amounts of sugar that are also dangerous to dogs.
Sugar contributes to diabetes and obesity in dogs faster than in humans. It is also bad for your dog’s teeth.
Popcorn is a sweet snack that your dog can enjoy occasionally, but only under certain conditions. Ensure they don’t eat flavored popcorn that uses seasonings such as garlic. Your dog should also stay away from salted or sweetened popcorn as these pose a danger to their health.
Preparing popcorn for your dog in the right way exposes them to the many benefits they can get from the snack. Take your dog to the vet if you see any adverse reactions after eating popcorn.