Can Dogs Eat Corn? The Answer Isn't As Simple As You Might Think

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You may have thought, “Can dogs eat corn?” According to veterinary nutritionists, it’s perfectly fine for dogs to eat corn in moderation. In fact, because corn is one of the most popular and inexpensive grains in the world, you’ll find it in a variety of dog foods. But there are some other things to consider when wondering, “Can dogs eat corn?” Let’s take a closer look here.

A dog looking at corn and burgers at a cookout.
Can dogs eat corn — and should they? There are a few things to keep in mind. Photography © vgajic | E+ / Getty Images.

Dogs, corn and food allergies

In recent years, some consumers have been led to believe that corn is an undesirable ingredient and part of the “food allergies maze” that can be hard to navigate.

“In truth, true food allergies are relatively uncommon in dogs (and cats),” says Cailin R. Heinze, VMD, DACVN, assistant professor of nutrition at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University. “Corn in and of itself is not a problem and can be part of a well-balanced and nutritious diet.”

Can dogs eat corn off your plate?

Corn is more than just filler; it is also a good source of protein, carbohydrates, fat, fiber, vitamins, linoleic acids and antioxidants. So, can dogs eat corn in the same forms as their human friends? If you want to share some corn off your own plate, feel free to do so, provided the corn you’re giving to your dog is free of unhealthy butter, sodium, oil and other seasonings.

Can dogs eat corn on the cob?

One important exception to avoid when thinking, “Can dogs eat corn?” is corn on the cob. It may seem like a good idea to keep your dog busy by allowing him to gnaw on a corn cob underneath a picnic table, but this can get dangerous if he bites off chunks of said cob and ingests them. Dogs run the risk of choking on the corn cob, and the cob could also cause a serious intestinal blockage.

While pieces of corn cob can sometimes pass uneventfully in large dogs, medium and small dogs especially are at a bigger risk for an obstruction. If you suspect your dog gobbled up a cob (or you caught him in the act), watch for signs of distress such as vomiting, straining during defecation, loss of appetite, stomach pain, whimpering and restlessness. Don’t delay in seeking veterinary advice.

Can dogs eat corn in popcorn form?

Popcorn can be a fun and occasional treat for your dog, but keep it unsalted and unbuttered. Plain, air-popped popcorn is high in fiber, and its carbohydrates can provide extra energy. If you make the popcorn yourself, make sure all of the kernels that you’re feeding to your dog are popped. In most batches of popcorn, there are going to be a handful of pieces that don’t completely pop. For a dog, those are the pieces that aren’t digestible and can cause gastrointestinal upset.

Popcorn that gets stuck between a dog’s teeth can cause problems, such as tooth decay and gum disease. Avoid feeding your dog the pre-packaged and flavored popcorns, which contain a lot of sodium, oils and artificial flavors that can wreak havoc on your dog’s digestive system.

Featured image: RobertoDavid / Getty Images. 

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