If you like corn on the cob then you have probably had the experience of seeing your dog watch you with pleading eyes, maybe a little drool coming from his mouth, as you eat your corn. Your dog is likely convinced that you need to share your ear of corn with him. That doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. While corn is not necessarily a bad food for dogs (some people can get up in arms over corn in dog food), corn on the cob can be quite dangerous for dogs.
Learn more about corn on the cob and the risks for dogs as we discuss its nutritional value.
Corn on the cob is considered to be a vegetable. Corn kernels, off the cob, are considered to be a cereal grain. It’s one of the oldest cultivated grains and it’s used to make countless other foods. About 60-70 percent of the corn grown worldwide is used to feed animals. So, whether you or your dog eat corn, it’s hard to get away from it.
It’s high in carbohydrates and packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals. One cup of sweet yellow corn contains high amounts of vitamin C, thiamin, folate, magnesium, and potassium. Corn also contains important amino acid complexes (cysteine and methionine) that allow dogs to synthesize taurine. The protein content ranges from 10-15 percent in the kind of corn humans buy. (The protein percentage is lower in corn for forage for livestock.)
Corn also contains antioxidants and plant compounds which are beneficial such as lutein and zeaxanthin. These are carotenoids that may help prevent cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The linoleic acid in corn is good for your dog’s coat and skin.
The fiber in corn is also believed to help prevent some digestive problems.
Most of the carbs in corn are starches so it can raise the blood sugar level quickly. But the high fiber can help keep the sugar level balanced. People (or dogs) with diabetes may need to limit their corn consumption.
Eating corn frequently may also make it difficult to lose weight. An average ear of corn contains about 155 calories.
Corn is also naturally gluten-free. This may surprise people who see references to “corn gluten” on pet food web sites but this is pet food industry jargon. Corn gluten does not contain gluten the way that wheat and some other grains do.
Corn is also one of the crops that is most often genetically modified. In 2016 an estimated 92 percent of the corn crop was genetically modified. Some studies suggest that genetically-modified foods are not harmful while others have found toxic effects. This is still a controversial subject for many people. If this is an important issue for you, you can buy corn and other foods that are “non-GMO.”
Some dogs can be allergic to corn, though this is not as frequent as many dog lovers seem to believe. Food allergies, in general, are not as common as many owners seem to think. Even among dogs that have food allergies, one study found that only two percent of dogs were allergic to corn. Other food allergens can be the cause of allergies such as dairy products, beef, lamb, chicken, chicken eggs, and soy. Some dogs can be allergic to fish.
Can I Give My Dog Corn on the Cob?
While corn has many positive nutritional benefits, corn on the cob is not a safe way for your dog to enjoy corn. Cobs have very low nutritional value and they have the consistency of a tough plastic material.
Livestock can enjoy eating corn cobs as roughage and fiber but they are a serious choking hazard for dogs of all sizes. Even cobs that are chopped up cannot be digested properly by dogs. They can form dangerous blockages in a dog’s gastric intestinal system. A dog can die, either from choking or from the blockage, if he eats a corn cob. In the best case scenario, your dog will probably throw up the chewed corn cob a few hours after he swallows it. None of these things are positive.
Your dog can eat a small amount of cooked corn if you want to cut some off a roasted ear of corn but do not let him have the cob. Remember that dogs can go to great lengths to find the food that you throw away so when you toss out the cobs, don’t put them in a trash can or garbage bag that your dog can reach. He will happily retrieve the cob from the trash and wolf down the cob if you do. If that happens, you might find yourself making a midnight run to the emergency vet.
Signs that your dog might have eaten a corn cob include:
Small and medium dogs are at greatest risk of having a piece of corn cob as an obstruction but any dog can potentially choke on the cob.
How Much Corn Can You Give Your Dog?
If you decide to give your dog some corn cut from your ear of corn, go easy on the butter and salt. Plain corn is better for your dog.
If you cut the corn off the cob, you should be able to give a small or medium size dog a quarter cup of corn. A larger dog could eat a half cup.
How Often Can You Give Your Dog Corn?
As long as your dog is not allergic to corn and you do not add salt or butter to the corn, you could probably give your dog a little corn (cooked and cut off the cob) once or twice per week. Even if the corn is cooked and safe to eat, the corn is high in fiber and it can add weight to your dog. If you give your dog too much, too often, he could have loose stools.
Corn has many healthy nutrients, some of which are not fully appreciated by dog lovers. You can safely give your dog a small amount of corn once or twice per week as long as it is cooked and cut off the corn cob. Do not give your dog corn on the cob or let your dog chew on the cob. The cob itself poses a danger because your dog could choke on it or it could become lodged in your dog’s intestinal system and form a blockage. If you are concerned about your dog and a corn cob for any reason, contact your veterinarian immediately.