Everyone loves sitting down for a good snack, but not all of our human snacks are safe to share with our beloved canine companions. Luckily, popcorn is actually pup-safe, and we’ve found quite a few recipes using other dog-friendly ingredients so your fur baby can snack right along with you without missing out. Here are some of the yummiest-sounding and easy-to-make dog-friendly popcorn recipes you can throw together for your pup without having to worry about any more pouting because they smelled your popcorn and had FOMO.
Is Popcorn Safe for Dogs?
You may find yourself asking, “Can you make popcorn for dogs?” When it comes to our greasy, buttery, and salty popcorn from the theater or in those make-at-home microwaveable bags, these snacks typically aren’t very safe for our pups to consume due to the high sodium content, grease, and other non-dog-friendly ingredients. However, if your dog snags a few pieces that dropped onto the floor, don’t worry—they’ll be okay. It’s just not ideal for them to have more than a couple of pieces at once to avoid any stomach upset or other issues.
Plain, air-popped popcorn is the way to go when you want to make popcorn that’s safe for your dog to consume. The least amount of ingredients, the better! Also, no matter how the treat is prepared, you always want to be cautious about ensuring you don’t allow your pup any pieces containing partially popped or unpopped kernels nor any other overly hard pieces that can become choking hazards, especially if your furry companion is a smaller sized dog. Time to dust off that popcorn machine you got for the holidays!
Ingredients to Avoid When Making Homemade Snacks for Your Pup
Here at Space Coast Pet Services, we’ve already covered the issue of some of the usual as well as unfamiliar common human foods to avoid giving your pets. Here’s a quick rundown of the main food culprits:
- Macadamia nuts
- Milk/dairy products
- Salt and salty snacks
- Yeast dough
Regarding nuts, these tend to have a lot of oils that may upset your pup’s stomach, so use caution when including options such as almonds, pecans, or walnuts in any of your dog-friendly recipes. Most other nuts tend to be well-tolerated, and it’s common knowledge that peanut butter is a dog favorite.
Using Dog-Friendly Ingredients
When making healthy snacks for your pup, you actually have quite a few options when it comes to substitutes that will taste just as delicious for your furry companion but also accommodate their specific health concerns.
The common brands of peanut butter we often use are absolutely loaded with sugar, and sugar is something your dog definitely needs to avoid consuming. In addition to that, it also tends to be very high in fat as well, which can cause some serious problems for a canine. Luckily, there are quite a few options available in stores and online that have limited ingredients and are great alternatives to the sugary nut butters we’re usually used to eating. Check the labels on any jar you intend to buy for use with your dog (for snacks, in Kong toys, etc.) and find the simplest possible ingredients available to minimize any health risks.
The most concerning ingredient for any dog to consume is xylitol, which is found in some brands of peanut butter, among numerous other human foods. This artificial sweetener is highly toxic and can easily be fatal even without excessive amounts being consumed.
If your pup has pancreatitis or is a breed that is known to typically be at a high risk of developing the condition, you’ll need to avoid using peanut butter as a treat or in any fun, dog-friendly recipes whatsoever to be safe.
Carob: The Non-Caffeinated Chocolate
Carob is a great alternative to chocolate when trying to find a similar ingredient but also need to completely avoid including any theobromine or caffeine to keep your dog safe. It functions quite similarly to chocolate and even tastes similar—it simply lacks the canine-toxic chemicals that have given chocolate its bad reputation amongst our furry family members.
When choosing a carob-based product for making treats and other goodies for your fur baby, always be sure to check the labels and try to avoid brands that have added sugars or additional fats that may cause some unpleasant digestive symptoms if your dog were to eat too much. As always, going for the least amount of ingredients and getting the purest product possible is ideal.
Before Beginning: A Note About Oils
Most of these recipes, among others you will find when searching for dog-friendly popcorn recipes, include using extra virgin olive oil and other similar ingredients for the popping process. Although these dog-friendly oils have been proven to contain numerous healthy fats and antioxidants that are beneficial to most canines, be cautious if your pup tends to have a sensitive stomach or doesn’t typically digest oils very well. These ingredients may cause diarrhea or vomiting in dogs who have more sensitive digestive tracts.
Choosing Dog-Friendly Oils
Some of the recipes included below include dog-friendly oils, but this is an ingredient you need to use cautiously. Too much oil, regardless of health benefits, can cause quite a bit of digestive havoc in both canines as well as humans. When it comes to our pups, though, we need to be even more vigilant about using high-quality, dog-friendly, and minimal amounts of oils when called for.
Some safe options that also come along with health benefits are olive oil, grapeseed oil, and flaxseed oil. Coconut oil is also safe for use in dog treats but tends to have a slightly higher risk of digestive discomfort depending upon the quantity used.
3 Quick & Easy Dog-Friendly Popcorn Recipes
What’s better than a treat combined with a dog’s favorite toy shape? Here’s an easy (albeit messy) recipe for making peanut butter popcorn balls for dogs, also known as “poppers,” to share with your pup.
- ½ cup of stovetop popcorn kernels
- 1 cup of peanut butter (xylitol-free)
- 1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
- ½ tsp. of all-natural honey (optional)
Items You’ll Also Need:
- Wax paper
1) Using the olive oil, pop your stovetop popcorn as directed. Once the popcorn is cooked, combine all of the ingredients listed in the recipe until they are fully combined and evenly distributed.
2) Once your popcorn is cooked and fully coated, shape it into little balls of an appropriate size for your individual pup to consume. You can do this by using a spoon or simply using your hands if you don’t mind getting a bit messy. Form the popcorn balls and line them up along your nonstick wax paper.
3) Allow the popcorn balls to set up for a while, and serve once they’re ready. If you’re having trouble with the peanut butter not being sticky enough to hold everything together, feel free to add a little bit more honey.
Note: Although small quantities of honey can be beneficial for our furry companions, please keep in mind that it is still quite sweet and sugary, so exercise caution when adding honey to the treats as well as when feeding these particular popper treats to your dog. Don’t feed them too many and risk any unpleasant side effects from them eating too much sugar!
The second dog-friendly popcorn recipe we have for you involves peanut butter, carob chips (the dog-friendly substitute for chocolate), and everyone’s favorite: bacon. However, when preparing the bacon you intend to use for this dog-friendly recipe, try to use a brand or type with lower amounts of sodium compared to the usual bacon we humans always eat.
- 4 cups of unsalted popcorn
- 1 cup of xylitol-free peanut butter
- 10 oz. of carob chips
- 1 cup of cooked, crumbled bacon
Items You’ll Also Need:
- One small bowl
- One large bowl
- Using your small bowl, melt together your peanut butter and carob chips. You can use the stovetop double-boiler method (which can be difficult if you’re not familiar with it) or you can just microwave the ingredients in quick 20-30 second spurts, mixing between the heating sessions, until they are fully blended together.
- Dump all of your cooked, unsalted popcorn into the large bowl you have on hand, and add the bacon crumbles along with your melted peanut butter-carob mixture. Combine these and carefully stir them all together until the popcorn is fully coated and all ingredients are evenly distributed.
- Place your popcorn mix into the refrigerator for about 30 to 60 minutes until it sets up and becomes less messy to handle. Once it’s firmed up, serve it to your pup, and let them enjoy one heck of a yummy snack!
Our third pup-friendly recipe is less sweet and more savory instead. It’s also quite delicious for us pet parents to join in on, too! Try this yummy pupcorn recipe!
- ¾ cup of popcorn kernels
- ¼ cup of grapeseed oil
- 2 tbs. of nutritional yeast
- 2 tbs. of dried herbs (ideally, something like rosemary or thyme)
Items You’ll Also Need:
- A large pot or another means of popping your uncooked kernels
- A mixing bowl
- In your large pot or another popcorn-popping device, cover your kernels in the grapeseed oil and cook them on high heat with the lid on, making sure the kernels are fully popped.
- Once your popcorn is ready, pour it all into your mixing bowl and immediately add in the nutritional yeast and herbs of your choice. Carefully toss or fold these ingredients together until well distributed.
Note: When choosing herbs for your dog’s popcorn, we recommend using ones like rosemary or thyme. Be sure to research any other options as quite a few common herbs and seasonings we use on our own foods without a second thought pose numerous health risks for our beloved companions. Even something as mild as parsley can cause toxicity in dogs if they’re given the wrong variety or consume too much, so always be careful when using ingredients that you otherwise may assume would be harmless when making special meals for your fur baby.
Final Thoughts on Homemade Dog-Friendly Recipes
Everyone loves snacks, and everyone loves their canine best friends. When mixing the two, always be sure to take into account your dog’s health, size, and dietary needs before choosing to give them people food. There are plenty of safe alternatives for ingredients that your dog can consume when it’s time to graze on some human-level treats, especially those involving popcorn.
Always be sure to check all ingredient labels when selecting what you’ll be using when making a special snack for your best bud, and try to keep things as natural and simple as possible. Even when the treats are 100% dog-safe, still be careful to only spoil your pup in moderation to avoid any stomach problems as well as any weight gain from excess calories. Our #1 priority as pet parents is to take the best care possible of our furry kids, and maintaining a balance between fun snacks and a healthy diet is part of that!
If you’re feeling adventurous in the kitchen and want to make even more delicious foods for your pup (or other furry, scaly, or feathery companions), feel free to check out some of our other recipe ideas and let us know how it goes!
Happy snacking on these popcorn treats for dogs!
Melanie is the owner and founder of Brevard’s premier trusted in-home pet care company. With a Sociology & Criminal Justice degree from the University of Tennessee, she took her corporate security background and combined it with her lifelong passion for animals – that’s how Space Coast Pet Services was born in 2016! She is certified in Pet First Aid & CPR, insured, and proudly completed a full background check successfully. She is committed to ongoing training and education for herself and her team. To learn more, click here.
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