Get Even More Visitors To Your Blog, Upgrade To A Business Listing >>

Corn for Dogs 101: Can Dogs Eat Corn? Science & Facts

Tags: corn

Corn for Dogs 101 and Can Dogs Eat CornCorn for dogs has been a controversial subject for years now. So can dogs eat corn or not, and is corn bad for dogs in any way?

Currently, there’s no research suggesting that corn may be bad for canines. So the short answer is yes, dogs can eat corn, but there’s more this.

Corn is one of the more contentious ingredients commonly used in dog food.

Due to an overwhelming amount of misinformation online, current trends in popular culture tend to frown upon feeding this common grain to dogs.

But how true are these negative accusations surrounding corn for dogs?

In this article we’ll answer common questions about corn and its use in dog food.

What is Corn?

Corn is one of the most popular cereal grains in the world.

Wholegrain corn is a completely healthy cereal grain. It contains minerals, vitamins, amino acids, antioxidants and fiber.

Corn is primarily a source of carbohydrates. It also contains a large amount of water, as well as medium and low amounts of protein and fats, respectively.

Carbs in corn are made up mostly of starch (up to 80%) and very small amounts of sugar (up to 3%) [1].

Corn contains up to 15% of fiber, most of which is insoluble [1].

Protein also makes up a good part of corn’s nutritional value, with numbers up to 15% [2]. However, the actual protein types found in corn are of low quality [3].

Corn is a low-fat food and has up to 6% of fats, which are derived to make corn oil [1].

Most of the fat in corn oil are saturated and monosaturated fats with a good amount of vitamin E and coenzyme Q10 [4, 5, 6]. However, while fats in corn are healthy, refined corn oil itself is not.

Why is Corn in Dog Food?

Why is corn in dog food

The main reason why corn is in dog food is because it’s inexpensive [7, 8].

Corn is subsidized by the Farm Bill every year, and therefore it allows pet food companies to be economical, often passing those savings onto the consumer.

When you combine this with the fact that most veterinary nutritionists agree that corn for dogs is not a problem at all, and can in fact be a part of a well balanced canine diet, this becomes a reasonable ingredient.

Can Dogs Digest Corn?

This is one of the most common myths about corn for dogs – its digestibility.

Owners are concerned that corn causes bloating in dogs, and that a canine body was not designed to digest corn. That is not true, however.

Most dogs can digest corn with no problems. There is no scientific evidence to suggest that the nutrients in corn are poorly digestible by canines.

In fact, the opposite is true [9].

Multiple studies with dogs have shown that in general, corn is easily assimilated by the GI tract with proper absorption of its nutrients [10, 11, 12].

Whole grain kernels contain quite a bit of non-digestible fiber, but after being ground into finer particles (for example, by chewing), or separated into its components, corn is very digestible.

Even veterinary prescription diets designed to be extremely gentle on the canine GI track and easy to digest for dogs utilize corn as an ingredient because there’s no reason not to.

How is Corn Digested by Dogs?

A dog’s body produces potent pancreatic amylase as well as brush border enzymes to digest carbohydrates, just like a human’s body does.

Most digestion of corn occurs in the first part of the small intestine [13].

It is true that like humans, dogs cannot digest cellulose – a single structural carbohydrate used by plants to form stalks and seed coats.

Only herbivores like cows can digest cellulose, turning it into some other vital nutrient.

However, fiber in the form of non-digestible cellulose has well-documented health benefits for dogs [14, 15, 16].

Canine digestive physiology closely resembles that of humans.

Therefore, cooking the corn or otherwise grinding or making particles smaller is necessary to derive the nutritional benefits contained in them.

Corn vs Corn Gluten vs Corn Gluten Meal

Corn vs Corn Gluten vs Corn Gluten MealThere is difference between corn, corn gluten and corn gluten meal.

Grains can be fractioned or divided into their components in order to concentrate and separate the nutrients.

This allows pet food manufacturers to add specific nutrients to the canine diet in order to make it balanced and more healthy for dogs.

Corn milling produces byproducts as well, such as corn oil, which isn’t as healthy as wholegrain corn.

In general, corn can be divided into:

  • Corn oil – a source of fat, which is not recommended for anybody;
  • Corn starch, which is considered a highly digestible carbohydrate source;
  • Corn bran – a source of fiber;
  • Corn gluten meal, which is a concentrated source of protein.

Neither is inferior to the other, they are just used for different nutritional purposes.

Corn gluten meal, which is often used in dog foods, has been compared with meat meals, and was found to be just as good in its nutritional value [17, 18, 19].

Are Dogs Allergic to Corn?

Another common myth about corn for dogs is that canines are inherently allergic to corn.

It is a false assumption that most dogs are allergic to corn, but some indeed are.

There have been noted corn allergies in dogs.

However, studies show that in general, most dogs with allergic skin disease are reacting to environmental allergens, such as pollen and mold, when food is presumed to be the cause [20, 21, 22].

In fact, further research suggests that few dogs are actually allergic to their food [23, 24, 25].

Of all the foods that dogs are allergic to, evidence shows that the most common are beef, dairy, and wheat; not corn [26].

Aren’t Dogs Carnivores?

Are dogs carnivores or omnivores

Not a myth, but a common reason among owners arguing against corn for dogs is that canines are carnivores and there’s no reason to feed them grains like corn.

Dogs are not obligate carnivores and instead are omnivores (like humans).

Canines need a little bit of everything for their diet to be nutritionally balanced.

Studies show that dogs fed an exclusively all-meat diet without supplementing with minerals and vitamins that the meat diet is lacking will develop health problems, such as secondary hyperparathyroidism [27].

What About Protein?

It is true that the amino acid profile (which comes from protein) of corn is not the same as that of animal-origin products.

In order for dogs to meet 100% of their daily protein requirements, corn alone cannot be used. It has to be combined with another food source that supplies appropriate amounts of amino acids.

But alternative non-animal sources of protein are nutritious and perfectly fine for dogs [28, 29].

Do Dogs Actually Need Corn?

It is true that dogs do not require dietary sources of carbohydrates found in grains like corn (they do require a cellular form of carbohydrates).

However, they can still benefit from carbohydrate source in the diet [30].

For example, fiber can be beneficial for the growth of probiotic bacteria in the gut.

Is Corn Considered a Filler?

Is corn in dog food a fillerThere’s currently no legal definition of “filler” in pet foods.

In general, it’s accepted that “filler” refers to something added to a canine diet to bulk it up without adding much in terms of nutritional value.

Corn does not fit that description. It actually contains a balance of nutrients not found in other grains.

Moreover, corn provides dogs with a highly available source of complex carbohydrates and substantial quantities of linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid important for canine’s healthy skin.

Corn for dogs also supplies essential amino acids and fiber.

Isn’t Corn Poorly Nutritious?

Protein quality is defined by the content of essential amino acids and the digestibility of the protein.

Corn gluten meal doesn’t contains 100% of all of the essential amino acids dogs need.

For example, corn protein has little lysine. So, if corn for dogs is used alone and without supplementation, the quality would be low.

However, when used with complementary proteins (proteins that are abundant in each other’s limiting amino acids), dog foods with corn can form complete canine diets with an excellent balance of amino acids for a highly digestible, high quality total protein source.

Take Home Message

Corn has been vilified in popular culture as a poor ingredient in dog food, which isn’t the case.

It can be nutritious when paired with complementary proteins and nutrients to be a balanced part of a canine diet. It has many essential nutrients and is easily digested.

Corn for dogs is mostly economical, allowing to purchase good quality dog food for cheaper.

Just like people, domesticated dogs have evolved to digest carbohydrates, and corn in particular. This discredits the theory that ancestral canine diets are best for modern dogs.

Of course a diet of just corn wouldn’t be healthy, but corn can be part of a healthy canine diet.

  1. Nuss, E. T. and Tanumihardjo, S. A. (2010), Maize: A Paramount Staple Crop in the Context of Global Nutrition. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, 9: 417–436. doi: 10.1111/j.1541-4337.2010.00117.x
  2. D. Panzeria, V. Cesarib, I. Toschib & R. Pilua. Seed Calorific Value in Different Maize Genotypes. Energy Sources, Part A: Recovery, Utilization, and Environmental Effects Volume 33, Issue 18, 2011. Preview Full text HTML PDF Access options DOI: 10.1080/15567030903452118
  3. Guo X1, Yuan L, Chen H, Sato SJ, Clemente TE, Holding DR. Nonredundant function of zeins and their correct stoichiometric ratio drive protein body formation in maize endosperm. Plant Physiol. 2013 Jul;162(3):1359-69. doi: 10.1104/pp.113.218941. Epub 2013 May 15.
  4. Jellum MD. Plant introductions of maize as a source of oil with unusual fatty acid composition. J Agric Food Chem. 1970 May-Jun;18(3):365-70.
  5. Maki KC1, Lawless AL2, Kelley KM2, Kaden VN2, Geiger CJ3, Dicklin MR2. Corn oil improves the plasma lipoprotein lipid profile compared with extra-virgin olive oil consumption in men and women with elevated cholesterol: results from a randomized controlled feeding trial. J Clin Lipidol. 2015 Jan-Feb;9(1):49-57. doi: 10.1016/j.jacl.2014.10.006. Epub 2014 Oct 23. 
  6. Dupont J1, White PJ, Carpenter MP, Schaefer EJ, Meydani SN, Elson CE, Woods M, Gorbach SL. Food uses and health effects of corn oil. J Am Coll Nutr. 1990 Oct;9(5):438-70.
  7. Meeker DL, Meisinger JL. COMPANION ANIMALS SYMPOSIUM: Rendered ingredients significantly influence sustainability, quality, and safety of pet food. J Anim Sci. 2015 Mar;93(3):835-47. doi: 10.2527/jas.2014-8524.
  8. Kelly S. Swanson, Rebecca A. Carter, Tracy P. Yount,4 Jan Aretz, Preston R. Buff. Nutritional Sustainability of Pet Foods. Adv Nutr. 2013 Mar; 4(2): 141–150. Published online 2013 Mar 6. doi: 10.3945/an.112.003335
  9. Maria R. C. de Godoy, Katherine R. Kerr, George C. Fahey, Jr. Alternative Dietary Fiber Sources in Companion Animal Nutrition. Nutrients. 2013 Aug; 5(8): 3099–3117. Published online 2013 Aug 6. doi: 10.3390/nu5083099
  10. Carciofi AC1, Takakura FS, de-Oliveira LD, Teshima E, Jeremias JT, Brunetto MA, Prada F. Effects of six carbohydrate sources on dog diet digestibility and post-prandial glucose and insulin response. J Anim Physiol Anim Nutr (Berl). 2008 Jun;92(3):326-36. doi: 10.1111/j.1439-0396.2007.00794.x.
  11. Flickinger EA1, Schreijen EM, Patil AR, Hussein HS, Grieshop CM, Merchen NR, Fahey GC Jr. Nutrient digestibilities, microbial populations, and protein catabolites as affected by fructan supplementation of dog diets. J Anim Sci. 2003 Aug;81(8):2008-18.
  12. Murray SM1, Fahey GC Jr, Merchen NR, Sunvold GD, Reinhart GA. Evaluation of selected high-starch flours as ingredients in canine diets. J Anim Sci. 1999 Aug;77(8):2180-6.
  13. Gray GM. Carbohydrate digestion and absorption. Role of the small intestine. N Engl J Med. 1975 Jun 5;292(23):1225-30.
  14. Burkhalter TM1, Merchen NR, Bauer LL, Murray SM, Patil AR, Brent JL Jr, Fahey GC Jr. The ratio of insoluble to soluble fiber components in soybean hulls affects ileal and total-tract nutrient digestibilities and fecal characteristics of dogs. J Nutr. 2001 Jul;131(7):1978-85.
  15. Kaczmarczyk MM1, Miller MJ, Freund GG. The health benefits of dietary fiber: beyond the usual suspects of type 2 diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease and colon cancer. Metabolism. 2012 Aug;61(8):1058-66. doi: 10.1016/j.metabol.2012.01.017. Epub 2012 Mar 7.
  16. Kimmel SE1, Michel KE, Hess RS, Ward CR. Effects of insoluble and soluble dietary fiber on glycemic control in dogs with naturally occurring insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2000 Apr 1;216(7):1076-81.
  17. Funaba M1, Tanak T, Kaneko M, Iriki T, Hatano Y, Abe M. Fish meal vs. corn gluten meal as a protein source for dry cat food. J Vet Med Sci. 2001 Dec;63(12):1355-7.
  18. Funaba M, Matsumoto C, Matsuki K, Gotoh K, Kaneko M, Iriki T, Hatano Y, Abe M. Comparison of corn gluten meal and meat meal as a protein source in dry foods formulated for cats. Am J Vet Res. 2002 Sep;63(9):1247-51.
  19. Masayuki Funaba, Yuko Oka, Shinji Kobayashi, Masahiro Kaneko, Hiromi Yamamoto, Kazuhiko Namikawa, Tsunenori Iriki, Yoshikazu Hatano, Matanobu Abe. Evaluation of meat meal, chicken meal, and corn gluten meal as dietary sources of protein in dry cat food. Can J Vet Res. 2005 Oct; 69(4): 299–304. 
  20. Picco F1, Zini E, Nett C, Naegeli C, Bigler B, Rüfenacht S, Roosje P, Gutzwiller ME, Wilhelm S, Pfister J, Meng E, Favrot C. A prospective study on canine atopic dermatitis and food-induced allergic dermatitis in Switzerland. Vet Dermatol. 2008 Jun;19(3):150-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3164.2008.00669.x.
  21. Masuda K1, Sakaguchi M, Fujiwara S, Kurata K, Yamashita K, Odagiri T, Nakao Y, Matsuki N, Ono K, Watari T, Hasegawa A, Tsujimoto H. Positive reactions to common allergens in 42 atopic dogs in Japan. Vet Immunol Immunopathol. 2000 Feb 25;73(2):193-204.
  22. Olivry T1, Sousa CA. The ACVD task force on canine atopic dermatitis (XIX): general principles of therapy. Vet Immunol Immunopathol. 2001 Sep 20;81(3-4):311-6.
  23. Wilhelm S1, Favrot C. [Food hypersensitivity dermatitis in the dog: diagnostic possibilities]. Schweiz Arch Tierheilkd. 2005 Apr;147(4):165-71.
  24. Chesney CJ. Food sensitivity in the dog: a quantitative study. J Small Anim Pract. 2002 May;43(5):203-7.
  25. Saridomichelakis MN1, Koutinas AF, Gioulekas D, Leontidis L. Canine atopic dermatitis in Greece: clinical observations and the prevalence of positive intradermal test reactions in 91 spontaneous cases. Vet Immunol Immunopathol. 1999 Jul 1;69(1):61-73.
  26. Wills J1, Harvey R. Diagnosis and management of food allergy and intolerance in dogs and cats. Aust Vet J. 1994 Oct;71(10):322-6.
  27. Bennett D. Nutrition and bone disease in the dog and cat. Vet Rec. 1976 Apr 17;98(16):313-21.
  28. Bednar GE1, Murray SM, Patil AR, Flickinger EA, Merchen NR, Fahey GC Jr. Selected animal and plant protein sources affect nutrient digestibility and fecal characteristics of ileally cannulated dogs. Arch Tierernahr. 2000;53(2):127-40.
  29. Dust JM1, Grieshop CM, Parsons CM, Karr-Lilienthal LK, Schasteen CS, Quigley JD 3rd, Merchen NR, Fahey GC Jr. Chemical composition, protein quality, palatability, and digestibility of alternative protein sources for dogs. J Anim Sci. 2005 Oct;83(10):2414-22.
  30. Leanne N. Twomey, David W. Pethick, James B. Rowe, Mingan Choct, John R. Pluske, Wendy Brown, Maria C. Laviste. The Use of Sorghum and Corn as Alternatives to Rice in Dog Foods. J. Nutr. June 1, 2002 vol. 132 no. 6 1704S-1705S

The post Corn for Dogs 101: Can Dogs Eat Corn? Science & Facts appeared first on NextGen Dog.

This post first appeared on NextGen Dog – Detailed Articles On Dog Nutrition, please read the originial post: here

Share the post

Corn for Dogs 101: Can Dogs Eat Corn? Science & Facts


Subscribe to Nextgen Dog – Detailed Articles On Dog Nutrition

Get updates delivered right to your inbox!

Thank you for your subscription