Corn is one of the most popular grains in the world, and it’s healthy enough that some varieties can even count towards one of your five a day.
These nutritious nibbles make a summertime staple whether the kernels are tossed in a salad, grilled on the BBQ, or you’re eating tortillas and corn chips! We humans love this versatile grain, but can dogs eat corn and is it healthy for them?
Yes, dogs can eat corn and it is considered safe to eat as long as it is cooked and served plain.
Cornmeal and cornflour are also safe for dogs to eat, and given it’s inexpensive and versatile, some dog food brands use it in their recipes. However, this is more to do with kibble needing starch to bind the dough for extrusion, and not because corn is a super healthy ingredient for your dog.
The one big caveat with corn is that you should never let your dog eat corn on the cob. This is because the hard cob is tough to chew and if your pup swallows it they could choke or suffer an intestinal blockage.
Yes and no! Sweetcorn, or corn on the cob, is safe for your dog to eat as long as they only eat the kernels. However, sweetcorn doesn’t digest easily so don’t be alarmed if you notice those golden nuggets coming out of your dog almost the same way as they went in!
There is one big BUT though. You shouldn’t give your dog corn on the cob to eat whole or unsupervised because the cob can be very dangerous if your dog eats it.
Corn cobs are tough and fibrous, making them hard to chew and they don’t break down in the stomach like most foods. If your pooch swallows part of a corn cob, or the whole cob, it can cause them to choke or create an intestinal obstruction that is not only very uncomfortable for your poor pooch, it can sadly kill them. If your dog swallows a corn cob you need to take them to your vet as soon as possible and they will probably require emergency surgery.
Cornflakes are perfectly safe for dogs to eat, and provided your pup isn’t allergic to corn, they can eat a few cornflakes. It isn’t the best treat in the world though, since they contain a lot of carbs and not much else, and those empty calories could lead to weight gain if your pooch isn’t eating a balanced diet and exercising enough.
Maize is what we would call corn, it’s just a variety with lower sugar content than sweetcorn and is often ground up into flour and used to make foods like tortilla chips.
Maize can be used in dog food to provide carbohydrates, which some companies use as a filler to bulk up the volume and energy value of food at a low cost. Kibble food also needs high levels of starchy carbohydrates like corn to bind the food together ready for processing and baking, meaning it’s important for the manufacturer and not necessarily for your dog.
Although maize or other varieties of corn are safe in dog food, they’re not the best ingredient out there. For starters, dogs don’t even have a strict requirement for carbohydrates and can thrive without them. (Although they do make a safe, easy to digest energy source.)
Secondly, there are simply more nutritious options out there to provide carbohydrates as part of a balanced diet. For instance, sweet potatoes have far more vitamins and minerals compared to corn and can provide your pup with healthy, complex carbohydrates and long-lasting energy.
Dogs can eat cornflour and it is safe for dogs as long as they are not allergic or intolerant to corn. Since cornflour contains the hull, germ, and endosperm of corn grains it is considered a wholegrain flour. Because it is finely ground, it is also far more digestible than whole corn kernels. Read our full post on how long it takes for a dog to digest food here.
However, cornflour is cheap to use and doesn’t have the greatest nutritional value when compared to other foods you could use for your pup’s snacks.
If you want to bake some homemade dog treats you can use cornflour and it makes a good alternative to use if your dog is allergic to wheat flour or rice flour. It does have more carbs and fat compared to oat flour, but it also has slightly higher mineral content.
A corn chip isn’t poisonous for your pooch, but they still shouldn’t eat it. These salty snacks are a treat for us humans and considered junk food for us because they are packed full of carbohydrates, fat, and salt. These components are also what makes them so unhealthy for dogs too so it’s safest not to feed them to Fido.
Corn is healthy for humans, and types like sweetcorn can count towards one of our five a day. As for dogs, there are some nifty nutrients in those golden kernels that are good for them.
Firstly, corn is a good source of linoleic acid, which is a type of omega-6 and considered essential in your dog’s diet. It helps to keep their skin healthy and makes their fur strong and shiny.
Corn also contains some vitamin E, several B vitamins, manganese, and beta carotene.
However, the nutritional value of corn is limited, particularly if you compare it to other ingredients, for example, potatoes. While we think of spuds as just a source of carbs, they actually have a far greater nutritional value on the completeness score compared to corn!
Corn isn’t strictly bad for dogs as it does provide a few nutrients and carbohydrates, so it can have a place in your dog’s diet. It also doesn’t have anything “bad” in like fat. However, it shouldn’t make up the bulk of your dog’s dinner.
The main problem with corn is the high amount of calories and carbohydrates. If your dog is eating healthy dog food and getting plenty of exercise, it shouldn’t cause any problems. However, eating too much carby food can quickly make your pooch overweight.
Typically, corn is safe for your pup to eat and isn’t “bad” as long as the corn is cooked, plain, and served in small amounts.
Generally, corn is perfectly safe for dogs to eat and shouldn’t make them sick. However, there is some potential for your pooch to become unwell.
As with many foods, eating too much corn can make your dog sick because it’s full of fibre. As you might know yourself, a bit of fibre is great for your gut, but too much can cause stomach ache and diarrhoea.
The extra seasonings and spices we humans use to make corn taste great can also upset a dog’s stomach. We might not think twice about slathering butter all over our corn, but it’s very fatty and salty which isn’t good for dogs, and eating a lot can cause stomach irritation or pancreatitis in our furry friends.
Meanwhile, many spices like paprika or chilli that you use to add oomph to your veggies are irritants to dogs and can cause breathing difficulties, irritation to their mouth and throat, and gastrointestinal upset.
Otherwise, eating the corn cob can make your pooch seriously ill. As mentioned above, corn cobs are tough to chew and digest and can become a choking hazard or obstruct your dogs gut, which can be life-threatening.
There is one way even plain, cooked corn can make a dog unwell and that’s if your pooch is allergic.
It is possible that your dog can be allergic to corn, and almost every food has the potential to trigger an allergy or intolerance in our furry friends. Corn allergies aren’t as common as those caused by proteins, like eggs, dairy, beef, or soya, but they are still a frequent trigger for doggy allergies.
If you find out your pup is allergic to corn, you’ll need to make sure they eat corn-free dog food.
The most common symptom of an allergy is itchy skin. Other symptoms can include runny nose and eyes, sneezing or breathing difficulties, as well as gastrointestinal upset resulting in vomiting and diarrhoea. If your pup becomes unwell with any of these symptoms after eating corn, or any new food, it’s possible that they have an allergy.
Dogs can eat corn, and both sweetcorn and maize are safe for pooches to eat and often used in many dog food recipes. However, it isn’t an ideal ingredient because the nutrition in corn is quite limited.
As a snack though, some sweetcorn kernels make a tasty treat for your pooch, just make sure they don’t eat the cob. Corn can contain way too much fibre for your dog, possibly causing a stomach upset.
Rather than letting your dog snaffle some sweetcorn and making themselves sick, it’s better to find a diet that includes all the fibre your dog needs to keep their tummy happy, such as Pure. It's complete, nutritionally balanced and wholesome, which will leave your dog feeling full, happy and healthy.
Written by: Dr Andrew Miller MRCVS
Andy graduated from Bristol University in 2010 and sees nutrition as a foundation for our pet's wellbeing and takes a common-sense approach. We are what we eat, and it shouldn't be any different for our pets.