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Welcome to my blog post, where I jump straight to the point! Corn in dog food is not bad!

Corn has long been a contentious ingredient in dog food, with many pet owners opting for corn-free options believing it to be harmful, full of mold, undigestible, and devoid of nutrition. However, science paints a different picture.

Contrary to popular belief, corn can offer several nutritional benefits for our canine companions and may be one of the most nutritious ingredients in well-formulated dry kibble pet foods.

Don’t believe me? Read on…

Is corn in dog food bad?

Nutritional Composition of Corn in Dog Food

Corn is a rich source of carbohydrates, providing dogs with readily available energy to fuel their daily activities. Yes, domesticated dogs benefit from carbohydrates!

Additionally, corn contains protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals essential for overall canine health. Perhaps its best nutritional benefit is its high content of linoleic acid, an essential omega-6 fatty acid crucial for dogs’ health.

Linoleic acid supports skin and coat health, immune function, and growth and development. Corn provides a readily available source of this important nutrient, helping dogs maintain glossy coats, strong immune systems, and healthy growth.

Many people consider corn a “filler”, not realizing just how much nutrition is packed into it. Styrofoam is a filler, corn is not.

The alternatives to corn include tubers (such as sweet potatoes) and legumes (such as peas and lentils) which require more heat processing than corn to make them digestible and nutritious in pet food. 1

Pet food ingredients like ancient grains and pulses are not as extensively researched as common cereals such as corn, rice, and wheat. Marketing wants us to believe alternative ingredients are healthier, but there is no proof.

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Is Corn Digestible For Dogs?

One of the main concerns regarding corn in dog food is its digestibility.

Critics argue that dogs cannot efficiently digest corn, leading to gastrointestinal issues. Their argument is based purely on speculation, not science.

Humans often remark on how corn appears whole in their waste, overlooking the massive distinction between whole corn and ground corn.

After all, pioneers enjoyed cornmeal-based foods like johnnycakes and cornbread because ground corn is both shelf-stable and packed with nutrients, not to mention delicious.

Research indicates that when corn is processed correctly, it can be highly digestible for dogs.2 98% percent or more digestible, to be more exact, making it more digestible than beef!

Modern processing techniques have improved the digestibility of corn, making it an easily digestible source of nutrients for canines.

It’s time to put this myth about corn in dog food to bed.

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Does Corn Cause Allergies & Sensitivities in Dogs?

Another common misconception is that corn is a common allergen for dogs.

While food allergies do occur (rarely) in some dogs, studies have shown that corn is not a primary allergen for canines.

Proteins from animal sources are more frequently associated with food allergies in dogs than plant-based ingredients like corn. 3

For dogs without specific sensitivities, corn can be a safe and nutritious component of their diet.

Because it is so digestible, it may be a cleaner and safer option for sensitive dogs than less researched and more heavily processed starches such as “ancient grains”.

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Does Corn Contain Mycotoxins and Mold?

Yes, corn (and other ingredients) can contain mycotoxins and mold, which are produced by certain fungi that can grow on crops like corn, particularly if they are stored in warm, humid conditions.

Mycotoxins are toxic compounds that can pose health risks to both humans and animals if consumed in high amounts.

However, it’s important to note that reputable pet food manufacturers conduct rigorous testing and quality control measures to minimize and eliminate the presence of mycotoxins and mold in their products.

Additionally, processing methods such as cooking and extrusion can help reduce the risk of mycotoxin contamination in pet food. Mold is just one of many contaminants pet foods of all types might face if they are not manufactured, stored, tested, and handled correctly.

As a precaution, pet owners should store pet food properly in a cool, dry place and avoid feeding their pets any food that appears moldy or has an unusual odor. Steer clear of brands like Midwest Pet Foods, which have had warning letters from the FDA due to gross negligence resulting in aflatoxins and mold in their foods.

If you have concerns about mycotoxins in your pet’s food, consult with your veterinarian for guidance.

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Is GMO Corn Bad for Dogs?

GMO corn, like any other food ingredient, is subject to rigorous safety evaluations by regulatory authorities before it enters the market. Currently, there is no scientific evidence suggesting that GMO corn is inherently harmful to dogs. GMO crops undergo extensive testing to ensure they are safe for consumption by both humans and animals.

The nutritional composition of GMO corn is comparable to non-GMO varieties, and it can provide valuable nutrients such as carbohydrates, fiber, and essential fatty acids in pet food.

GMO crops often have traits engineered to resist pests or tolerate herbicides, which can lead to reduced pesticide use and lower environmental impact. Additionally, some GMO varieties are designed to be more resilient to adverse growing conditions, such as drought or disease, which can help ensure a more reliable food supply for both humans and animals.

Overall, GMO corn has been extensively researched and deemed safe for consumption by regulatory authorities worldwide. Concerns about GMOs often stem from misinformation or misconceptions, and understanding the scientific evidence behind their safety can help alleviate any unnecessary worries.

As with any food ingredient, it’s essential to focus on the overall nutritional quality and suitability for your pet’s specific dietary needs rather than solely on its GMO status.

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Is Corn a Cheap Filler in Dog Food?

We know that corn is highly nutritious and digestible, eliminating the possibility that it’s a “filler” devoid of value.

From a practical standpoint, corn offers a cost-effective source of nutrition for dog food manufacturers.

Its widespread availability and relatively low cost compared to other ingredients help keep the overall price of dog food affordable for pet owners without compromising on quality or nutritional value.

All dry pet foods require some kind of starch to bind the ingredients together, and the truth is that in many formulations, corn is the superior choice.

The vilification of corn in dog food is unfounded when considering scientific evidence. When properly processed and included in balanced formulations, corn can be a valuable source of energy and nutrients for dogs. Pet owners should focus on selecting high-quality dog foods that prioritize nutritional balance and digestibility, rather than simply avoiding specific ingredients like corn. By understanding the science behind canine nutrition, we can make informed decisions to promote the health and well-being of our beloved pets.

  1. Corsato Alvarenga, I., Aldrich, C. G., & Shi, Y. (2021). Factors affecting digestibility of starches and their implications on adult dog health. Animal Feed Science and Technology, 282, 115134. ↩︎
  2. Isabella Corsato Alvarenga, Amanda N. Dainton & Charles G. Aldrich (2022) A review: nutrition and process attributes of corn in pet foods, Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 62:31, 8567-8576, DOI: 10.1080/10408398.2021.1931020 ↩︎
  3. Food Allergies in Canines, a Review ↩︎

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational purposes only and should not be construed as a substitute for professional veterinary advice, diagnosis, or treatment. 

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