Can I Give My Dog Corn?
The mild, bland foods that we eat on a regular basis tend to be the ones we feel safest sharing with our kids and our dogs. While many of us are instinctively hesitant to give our precious pups exotic or strong-tasting foods like chili peppers, spicy Indian food, and complex cuisine laden with salt and sugar, we often assume that the simple fruits and vegetables we give our kids regularly are safe for pets. But once dog owners realize that seemingly harmless foods like grapes, garlic, and macadamia nuts are poisonous to pets, they become wary even of bland foods like potatoes and corn.
Corn in particular has become a cause for concern these days—some pet owners swear that dogs should never consume any amount of corn, while others find it to be a perfectly acceptable filler. But what does the science say? Can dogs have corn?
Technically, yes, dogs can eat corn. Though some on the Internet are extremely anti-corn, this food does not contain any chemicals that are in any way toxic to canines, so there is no reason to go to great lengths to keep this food away from your dog. It is also one of the least common allergens in canines. Corn is not, however, a health food—it offers little in the way of nutrition for most animals. So, while corn is safe to give to your dog as an occasional treat, it should not make up a large portion of your dog’s diet. Avoid giving them too much corn from the dinner table (whether it’s canned or fresh), and opt for brands of kibble that have lower amounts of this cheap grain.
Are there any benefits to giving your dog corn? Not really, if your biggest concern is helping your canine companion meet their daily dietary needs. Even in the human diet, corn is not praised for its high amount of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, or antioxidants—in a healthy diet, we eat corn as a natural source of carbohydrates. Because this food is so low in nutrition, many people do not even consider corn a valuable contribution to their five-a-day.
Fresh corn is healthier than canned corn, and there is nothing wrong with occasionally eating burritos or enchiladas containing corn, but this food is not a very valuable source of calories. That said, there may be some small benefits to giving your dog small amounts of corn.
Corn does contain some fiber. Dogs can’t digest dietary fiber—and, since they do not chew their food thoroughly, corn often goes through their body largely undigested—but fiber’s benefits are not nutritional in nature. Dietary fiber helps add bulk to stool, which accelerates the passage of waste products out of the body. Feeding your dog plant foods such as corn may help with small, loose, or runny stool. It probably should not be used to treat constipation.
However, if you are looking to add fiber to your dog’s diet, there are much more efficient ways to do this. Compared to many other vegetables, corn is rather high in sugar and calories. Other plant foods, such as carrots, cucumbers, and leafy greens, can provide your dog with larger amounts of fiber for much fewer calories—and, as an added benefit, these vegetables have higher levels of several vitamins and antioxidants that will support your dog’s immune system.
Corn’s low nutrient content makes it largely useless for dogs. Though it is not unhealthy the way that cookies, chips, or other highly refined snacks are, corn is little more than empty calories. Most dogs do not require many carbohydrates to stay healthy, so feeding your dog carb-rich, low-nutrition foods like corn on a regular basis can contribute to weight gain. This can very quickly lead your dog to become overweight or obese, which causes its own health problems. If your dog is already carrying too much extra weight, look to eliminate low-value foods like corn from their diet.
Things to Consider
Though corn on the cob may seem like an excellent treat for your dog (both food and a toy rolled into one!), in reality, it is not a good idea to give corn cobs to your pet. Corn cobs are made of indigestible materials that can easily form a blockage in your dog’s body. Intestinal blockages, if they are left untreated, can be fatal. The best way to give your dog corn is to buy fresh kernels, boil them without any flavoring, and feed it to them in small portions. Your dog does not need butter, salt, or spices.
In conclusion, corn is a cheap, high-calorie filler that should be kept to a minimum in the canine diet. It offers nothing in the way of nutrition, it is difficult to digest, and it may increase your dog’s risk of becoming overweight or obese. If you want to give your dog natural plant foods, opt for healthier choices such as carrots and apples.