Corn on the Cob Risks for Dogs

Dangers of Intestinal Obstruction

Dog climbing on picnic table with potato chips and corn on the cob

Tod Warnock / Getty Images

Corn on the cob might seem like a healthy low-fat table scrap treat for your pet, but it is not recommended for dogs. Unlike some other foods, corn itself is not toxic to dogs as long as they do not have an allergy to it. It is the cob that is the primary danger. However, that doesn't mean that it's OK to regularly feed your dog corn.

Warning

Corn on the cob causes a risk of intestinal obstruction from chewing up the cob, especially for medium-sized and small dogs.

Dogs and Corn on the Cob

Many dogs love to chew on corn on the cob. They like the taste of salt, butter, and bits of corn. The cobs are also fun to chew. Some dogs chew up the cobs, while others don't, treating them more as a chew toy than a snack. However, corn cobs pose a real and serious danger.

The problem is that dogs can eat either the entire cob or large pieces of it. This can cause intestinal obstruction, a serious and potentially fatal medical condition. The severity depends on the size of the dog as well as the size of the cob they eat. Dogs can eat and pass some amazing things, but corn cobs are not that easy. While larger breeds may be able to pass a cob through their digestive system, it is nearly impossible for medium and small breeds.

Additionally, some dogs are sensitive to corn. Though corn allergies are rare, they can suffer intestinal effects from their sensitivity in addition to the physical obstruction.

Keeping Cobs Away From Dogs

It is smart to keep all corn cobs away from your dog. Make sure they're out of reach on the table and safely secured in the trash as soon as possible. Dogs can be creative when they want something in the trash, so make sure that the garbage is emptied or otherwise protected from your pet.

If your dog does sneak a corn cob, take it from your dog right away. As soon as you notice it, use your training techniques to get the dog to drop the cob.

Even the best-trained dog may not want to give it up, though, and some can get very protective over their catch. Big and small dogs—including those voracious terriers—may snap if you try to take their stolen treat. Take the necessary steps in a safe manner. That may mean luring your dog away with a dog treat or its favorite ball, anything that's more tempting than the corn cob.

Signs of Obstruction

If you suspect your dog has eaten a cob or any other food or foreign material it shouldn't have, call your vet right away. This is can be an emergency situation, so the sooner you act, the better.

If you aren't sure whether your dog has eaten a corn cob, watch out for these symptoms:

Contact your vet if you see any of these symptoms. Your veterinarian will be able to advise you on the best course of action, be it to watch and wait or to schedule an immediate examination.

Can Dogs Eat Corn?

Corn that is not slathered in salt and butter is nutritious, filled with carbs for energy, healthy fats, and protein. It is often added to many commercial and homemade dog foods. Yet, it's best if dogs eat only a minimum amount of corn. This coincides with the debate over the amount of corn and other grain fillers in popular dog foods.

Sharing Corn With Your Dog

It's hard to look down at those sad eyes while you're enjoying a juicy bite of corn on the cob. Dogs smell it and they know they want it, so they will beg for scraps. Feeding your furry family members table scraps that are high in fat can lead to pancreatitis and other health issues. While table scraps should generally be avoided, if you're going to do it on occasion, be smart.

Keep in mind that dogs learn quickly, so they will discover that corn cobs are the source of some delicious food. While some people hold onto a corn cob and let their dog munch on the leftover kernels, this encourages bad behavior. Besides, a crafty pup can quickly steal the cob away from you.

Instead of eating off the cob, cut the kernels off with a knife and place them in your dog's food dish. This teaches your pet that it cannot eat straight off the table, but only where it is supposed to. Remember to keep the portion small as well so you don't disrupt your dog's diet and potentially disturb its digestive system.