Your dog can eat corn. Corn is a common a common ingredient in human foods, as well as pet foods. Corn in dog foods can be controversial, and some people claim that “corn is bad.” However, corn is not a filler in dog food; corn provides nutrition including carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, antioxidants, and protein. So, why do people wonder if their dogs can eat corn? The main concerns with feeding corn to dogs are:
- Dietary sensitivity to corn. While it is possible for a dog to have a sensitivity to corn that might cause gut or skin problems, most food sensitivities involve a protein. Corn is a carbohydrate. The most common dietary sensitivities in dogs are beef and chicken.
- Concerns about a genetically modified organism (GMO) safety. Much of the corn grown today have tweaked DNA to give it better resistance against disease or environmental extremes. This results in a higher yield per acre. People fear GMOs because they are perceived as not natural, since the genetic modification occurs in a laboratory. While safety studies comparing GMO foods to “natural” foods are ongoing, none have clearly demonstrated a harmful trend.
- Corn is thought to be not digestible. Corn kernels can be spotted in dog poop, leading to the thought that corn is not digestible. If a dog eats whole corn kernels, the outer casing of the kernel keeps the corn from effectively being digested, so they can be seen largely undigested coming out the other end. The corn in dog foods is ground to make it easier for the dog to absorb its nutrients.
A note of caution: Dogs cannot eat corn cobs. Corn cobs are not digestible. When a dog eats a corn cob, he risks choking or intestinal blockage (symptoms include vomiting, decreased appetite, diarrhea). Don’t give your dog corn cobs to chew, and don’t let them get into the garbage that contain corn cobs. If you hike ear crop land, don’t let your dogs eat or chew any leftovers that didn’t get harvested. If you are concerned that your dog has eaten corn cobs, contact your dog’s veterinarian.
What about popcorn? If you want to share popcorn with your dog, you can, but in moderation. Air-popped is best, as too much salt, butter, or other flavoring agents can give your dog a tummy ache.