- Not a substitute for professional veterinary help.
If fresh or canned corn makes up a major part of your summer diet, you might wonder if it’s safe to give your dog a taste. Experts say yes, dogs can eat corn—as long as you cook it first and remove it from the cob.
“When properly cooked, corn provides a highly digestible source of carbohydrates, essential fatty acids, and protein that pets need,” says Dr. Jason W. Gagné, DVM, DACVIM, board certified veterinary nutritionist and director of veterinary technical marketing at Nestlé Purina PetCare.
He emphasizes that dogs should only eat corn occasionally, without any added seasonings or potentially harmful ingredients.
Read on to learn the nutritional benefits of corn for dogs. You’ll also find tips on safely serving corn to your dog, including which parts of corn to avoid sharing with your pet.
Which Types Of Corn Can Dogs Eat?
Corn isn’t toxic to dogs, but some types of corn aren’t safe for dogs to eat.
Canned corn can be safe for your dog to eat, but there are a few things to keep in mind, according to Dr. Sarah Ochoa, a veterinarian at The Animal Hospital of West Monroe.
“Typically, canned corn contains extra ingredients like salt, which can be risky for dogs in large quantities,” she says. Too much sodium can cause dehydration and kidney problems. Some canned corn products may also contain sugar or artificial sweeteners, like xylitol, which is toxic to dogs, Dr. Ochoa warns.
Before giving your dog canned corn, always check label for sodium and sugar content. It’s best to give your dog corn with no added sugar or salt. You can also drain and rinse canned corn to reduce the sodium levels before serving it.
Corn on the cob
“Always avoid giving your dog corn on the cob as it is difficult for them to swallow and digest, which can lead to bowel obstructions and other complications,” says Dr. Gagné.
In other words, save the corn on the cob for the humans at your barbecue.
Dogs can eat popcorn if it’s plain—that means no salt, butter, or other seasonings that can add sodium or fat to their diet.
As for preparation, Dr. Ochoa says that air-popped popcorn is the best choice, since it has fewer calories and no added ingredients. Microwave popcorn contains added ingredients, like artificial flavorings, preservatives, and chemicals that may harm your dog’s health.
It’s essential to remove any unpopped kernels, since they could cause choking and may lead to dental issues. The hard texture of the kernels can damage your dog’s teeth or gums, for instance.
Just know popcorn doesn’t really have any health benefits for dogs. So, while it won’t hurt your dog to gobble up a piece of popcorn that falls to the floor, you may want to offer them a more dog-friendly treat.
Corn syrup isn’t toxic to dogs, but its high sugar content makes it less than ideal for dogs to eat. As a general rule, it’s best to avoid giving dogs corn syrup.
If your dog has diabetes, however, your vet may advise giving them corn syrup if they experience low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).
Did your dog clean up a spill of cornflakes before you could break out the broom? Rest assured, a bite or two of cornflakes won’t hurt your dog.
Still, you may want to avoid sharing your cereal on a regular basis. Cornflakes are fairly high in carbohydrates and sugar, and they don’t have much nutritional value for dogs.
Plenty of dog foods use cornmeal, or ground corn kernels, as a filler ingredient, but many dogs have trouble digesting it. It also doesn’t provide much in the way of nutrition, so you may want to opt for dog foods without this ingredient.
This southern staple is made from dent corn, which is softer than other types of corn. Dogs can eat small portions of plain, unseasoned grits safely.
That said, grits are high in carbs and low in protein and don’t provide many nutritional benefits to dogs. So, you may want to avoid sharing grits with your dog on a regular basis.
Which Parts Of Corn Can Dogs Eat?
Dogs can only eat cooked (or popped!) corn kernels safely. Other parts of corn can be dangerous for your dog.
- Kernels: Always cook corn kernels—the yellow pieces lining the cob and unpopped popcorn—before you give corn to your dog. Raw corn isn’t easy for dogs to digest, and cooking corn improves its safety and digestibility, Dr. Gagné says.
- Husks: Dogs shouldn’t eat or chew corn husks. If swallowed, husks can cause digestive issues like intestinal blockage, stomach upset, diarrhea, or constipation. They can also pose a choking hazard, especially for dogs who gulp their food quickly, Dr. Ochoa says, adding that sharp edges can also lead to painful cuts or abrasions. When disposing of husks, make sure your dog can’t get to them, especially if they have a habit of digging in the trash!
- Cob: The cob, or central core of an ear of corn, isn’t safe for dogs to eat. They can cause choking, as well as irritation and damage to your dog’s stomach lining. Additionally, your dog’s stomach can’t break the cob down, so they could experience a blockage or bowel obstruction, Dr. Ochoa says. “Gastrointestinal blockage can be a life-threatening situation and may require immediate surgical intervention, she explains. Signs of a blockage include vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, lethargy, and straining during defecation.
Important: “If your dog eats a corn cob, contact your veterinarian right away,” advises Dr. Gagné.
How Much Corn Can A Dog Eat?
It’s important to consider the portion size of corn and other treats to help your dog maintain a balanced diet. “Treats, rewards, or snacks of any kind should account for no more than 10% of your dog’s daily caloric intake,” says Dr. Gagné.
One cup of raw sweet corn contains about 125 calories. So, once you’ve established how many calories your dog needs, you can calculate their treat allowance.
For instance, a dog who weighs six pounds needs approximately 208 calories per day, so their treat allotment is about 21 calories. They could eat about 2 tablespoons of corn as a treat.
A dog who weighs 22 pounds consume a little over half a cup of corn as a treat, while a dog who weighs 70 pounds could eat about a cup.
Just take care to only offer corn in moderation. Giving your dog too much corn can contribute to excess body weight, which can lead to joint issues, heart concerns, and other health issues.
Tip: If your dog has eaten too much produce, Dr. Gagné says a probiotic supplement like FortiFlora may help regulate their digestive system.
Can dogs eat corn every day?
Dr. Ochoa says you can offer corn as an occasional treat or incorporate it into a balanced diet that includes a variety of proteins, carbohydrates, fruits, and vegetables, but corn should never be your dog’s main source of food.
If you’d like to offer your dog a nutritional boost, consider other pup-safe fruits and vegetables, like Brussels sprouts, apples, or spinach.
Does Corn Have Benefits For Dogs?
Corn is a source of carbohydrates. As dogs are omnivores, they get some important nutritional benefits from carbs.
“Grains, like corn, provide fiber which is key for helping pets digest other nutrients they need for a long, healthy life,” says Dr. Gagné. He adds that corn provides protein, linoleic acid (an essential fatty acid), and antioxidants like vitamin E and beta-carotene. “In fact, corn has among the highest level of antioxidants of any grain,” he says.
|Nutrient in corn||Amount provided (in ½ cup)||Benefit for your dog|
|Protein||2.37 grams (g)||Important for strong muscles and healthy hair|
|Carbohydrates||13.55 g||Provides energy|
|Fiber||1.45 g||Promotes digestion|
|Magnesium||26.8 mg||Benefits bones and muscles|
|Phosphorus||64.5 mg||Promotes healthy bones, metabolism, and kidney function|
Can Eating Corn Be Risky For Dogs?
Although it’s rare, some dogs may have sensitivities or allergies to corn. “This can manifest as digestive issues, like vomiting or diarrhea, or skin problems, like itching or redness,” says Dr. Ochoa. If your dog has an adverse reaction after eating corn, you’ll want to avoid giving it to them in the future.
Identifying a food allergy in dogs can be tricky. If you think your dog may have an allergy to corn—a common ingredient in many commercial dog foods—consult your vet.
A vet can help rule out any health issues contributing to your dog’s symptoms. They may start your dog on an elimination diet to make a diagnosis and recommend a different diet to prevent reactions in the future.
How To Prepare Corn For Your Dog
When sharing corn with your dog, keep these tips in mind:
- Only offer fresh corn: Husked corn stays fresh for up to 3 days, but you can extend this by storing unshucked corn in the fridge. Alternatively, you can remove the kernels from the cob and freeze them for later.
- Only give dogs plain corn: Added ingredients like salt and other seasonings can be harmful to dogs, Dr. Ochoa says, while extra fat in their diet from butter may play a role in health issues like obesity and pancreatitis.
- Cook the corn first: Cooking corn will make it more digestible. Dr. Ochoa recommends steaming or boiling to break down the starches and help dogs absorb the nutrients more easily.
- Combine corn with other ingredients: For a nutritious treat, Dr. Ochoa suggests mixing a small amount of cooked corn with diced vegetables, like carrots or green beans, or small pieces of cooked chicken.
Cheesy Corn Dog Treats
Veterinarian Dr. Kathryn Dench shares a recipe for some tasty corn treats.
- 1 cup cooked and cooled corn kernels (fresh, canned, or frozen without added salt)
- 1 cup whole wheat flour (or an alternative dog-friendly flour like oat or rice flour)
- 1/2 cup grated low-fat cheddar cheese
- 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 tablespoons water (as needed)
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked corn kernels, whole wheat flour, and grated cheddar cheese and mix well.
- Add the unsweetened applesauce and beaten egg to the dry ingredients. Stir until the mixture forms a dough-like consistency. If the dough seems too dry, you can add a little water, one tablespoon at a time, until it holds together.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to about ¼-inch thickness. You can use a rolling pin or simply press the dough down with your hands.
- Using cookie cutters or a knife, cut the dough into bite-sized pieces.
- Place the treats on the prepared baking sheet, leaving a little space between each piece.
- Bake the treats in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, until they’re golden brown and firm to the touch.
- Once the treats are baked, remove them from the oven and let them cool completely on a wire rack.
- Store the cooled treats in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. You can also freeze them for a longer shelf life.