Did you know that popcorn is just one of six different types of corn? Or that one particular type of corn is the most common foreign objects that have to be surgically removed from dogs.
Let’s navigate the confusing world of corn and answer the question, can my dog eat popcorn?
Types of corn
Not all corn is created equal. Of the six common corn varieties it’s only likely that you will come across three that are commercially available for human consumption in the UK and USA:
- Sweet corn
- Corn flour/corn meal
Despite corn being an added ingredient in some commercial dog foods, in our experience it’s actually popcorn and sweetcorn that most dog owners want to check on before feeding it to their dogs.
So what type of corn is safe for your dog to eat and what do you need to keep away from?
Can my dog eat popcorn? The benefits
Popcorn is a wholegrain, which means that the kernel contains the bran, germ and endosperm. It’s the only type of corn that pops when heated. This is due to its relatively high water content (around fourteen per cent).
Zea mays everta to give popcorn its proper name has been around for over 9,000 years and is argued to be the oldest form of corn known to man.
Popcorn is high in fibre, low in fat and contains reasonable amounts of vitamin C, B3 and manganese. It’s generally considered a healthy snack if it’s eaten plain.
Although there are healthier treats to give your dog, sharing a few pieces on movie night is ok… if the popcorn is natural.
Can my dog eat popcorn? The risks
Popcorn is not poisonous to dogs, but it’s not the most healthy treat. We would always recommend moderation, and if you’re really concerned to contact your Vet. As you may guess, there are much healthier alternatives available that have far better benefits for your dogs’ health and well-being. In fact, popcorn can pose some health risks to your dog.
Popcorn isn’t recommended for children under 4 years old due to the potentially high risk of choking. You should consider this if giving popcorn to your dog too.
Not only is there a possibility of the popped corn getting stuck in your dog’s throat, un-popped kernels can cause problems too.
With a hard exterior pop corn kernels can get lodged in or between your dog’s teeth causing infections and dental disease. Un-popped corn can also cause stomach upsets. It those big eyes succeed in giving you a guilt-trip, then only give a few pieces and monitor your dog for any adverse reactions.
Perhaps the biggest risk that popcorn presents to your dog is the way in which it is cooked and flavoured.
The majority of popcorn that is available pre-popped is heavily loaded with butter, sugar, oils and salt. We’ve all heard of the health risks of an unhealthy diet, and there’s no difference with dogs. If it’s not good for us, it’s definitely not good for dogs.
The trouble is, air popped pop-corn is not the most flavoursome snack; so it tends to have a lot of ‘extras’ added to it in order to make it more appealing. Butter is fattening and salt can be toxic to your dog. Bear this in mind if you like your popcorn flavoured. It’s probably best not to share with your four legged friend.
Can my dog eat sweet corn?
Although a few stolen kernels are nothing to worry about. Large amounts of sweet corn really shouldn’t be considered as a healthy, balanced dietary ingredient for dogs.
Sweet corn has a much higher natural sugar content that popcorn. You may be surprised to learn that some people consider it a good method for relieving constipation in dogs by adding it to their diet. Again, it’s ok as an occasional snack in moderation but there are much better choices out there other than corn if you want to be a fibre provider!
The key thing to bear in mind is that corn is relatively hard to digest for dogs, and offers limited nutritional value. If you’re considering what to feed your dog, then there are better options that sweet corn.
Despite being non toxic, it’s important never to give corn on the cob to your dogs. You may find people saying that their dogs love to chew on the cobs and that there’s never been an issue; but it’s really not worth the risk.
Corn cobs are very difficult to digest and can cause obstructions that only surgery can remove. If your dog has eaten a cob by mistake then look out for the following signs and if in doubt contact your vet immediately.
So, can my dog eat popcorn?
Yes, in moderation but there really isn’t anything in pop-corn that your dog needs nutritionally. If your dog happens to snaffle a few pieces while you are enjoying movie night, there’s no need for alarm.
But there really are healthier choices if you are looking for a training treat or something interesting for them to enjoy that supplements their diet.
Frequently asked questions
Can I give my dog sweet corn?
Although it may not do any harm, it won’t do your dog any good either. It has a high sugar content that isn’t good for your dog’s teeth. Despite it being classed as a vegetable because it is harvested when it is immature there are better vegetables to give your dog if you want to up their vegetable intake.
Can I give my dog corn on the cob?
No. Corn cobs are one of the most commonly found foreign objects that have to be surgically removed from dogs! Your dog’s digestive system really isn’t adapted to break down the cob. This means corn can get trapped in the dog’s intestines and cause a lot of trouble.
Is it safe for dogs to eat popcorn?
Yes, if we consider foods as falling into two groups, toxic and non toxic. Popcorn is a non toxic food, however it doesn’t really provide any value to your dog’s regular diet.