Can Dogs Be Fed Corn Gluten?

Diets centered around meat proteins can often help minimize canine digestion woes.
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If you carefully examine all the ingredients on your pooch's commercial food labeling, you might notice corn gluten meal listed. Corn gluten is commonly used in dog foods to provide protein. Corn gluten is just one way in which the cereal plant is used in pet foods. It's also frequently seen as corn bran and ground corn, too.

Identifying Corn Gluten

Corn gluten meal, in short, is what remains when all of the fat and starch is extracted from corn protein. It's frequently used for protein content in dog foods. Since corn gluten meal is a byproduct, however, its levels of amino acids, which are absolutely essential to dogs, are minimal. Because of this, ground corn makes a more suitable ingredient for your pet's food, according to veterinarian Shawn Messonnier, author of "The Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats." Ground corn consists of full kernels of corn. Since corn gluten is a binding agent, it also functions to keep dog food together. When planning your dog's diet, always get the advice of your veterinarian first.

Versus Animal Proteins

Corn gluten meal serves as a source of vegetable protein to dogs. Animal proteins such as meat, for the most part, however, are superior in biological value to vegetable proteins, according to the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. Biological value in protein simply refers to its effectiveness in offering vital amino acids to canines -- and in appropriate amounts. Corn gluten meal and flour, for another example, aren't as good providers of protein for doggie diets. Meat protein is a stronger component to a healthy and well-rounded canine meal plan, according to dog expert Liz Palika, author of "The Pocket Idiot's Guide to Housetraining Your Dog."

Corn Gluten and Digestibility

Apart from the issue of proteins and amino acids, digestibility is an important issue to consider, too. While some canines indeed digest plant proteins well, not all of them do. It isn't at all uncommon for dogs to have intolerances to gluten, according to Palika. This also includes both rice gluten and wheat gluten. Palika advises pet owners to refrain from offering their dogs corn gluten. Dogs occasionally are allergic to corn gluten meal, reports Deborah Mitchell, author of "The Complete Book of Home Remedies for Your Dog."

Silica Stones and Corn Gluten

Corn gluten is associated with another health problem in dogs -- the development of silica stones. Dogs can develop these stones when they consume foods with significant amounts of corn gluten, says veterinarian Betsy Brevitz, author of "The Complete Healthy Dog Handbook." Canine consumption of dirt can also lead to the development of silica stones. Male dogs experience silica stones more often than do females.