Dogs eat meat. There exists some debate, however, on whether it is important for them to eat vegetables, fruits and grains in their daily diet. Science has proven evidence that dogs are incapable of digesting these food items when they are raw, but there remains some question as to whether yellow corn or any grain has food value for dogs when it has been cooked or processed.
No, it’s Not
Corn is not essential to a dog’s diet. Lower quality dog foods use corn as the first ingredient in their products because it is less expensive than meat. The corn, in this case, acts as a filler rather than as a nutrient because whole corn only contains 8 percent protein. The term “corn” or even “yellow corn” is not descriptive of an actual food ingredient. Corn must be described as corn bran, corn gluten, or corn gluten meal to meet the standards of the Association of American Feed Control Officials.
Corn and Food Allergies
Processed corn is a common culprit in food allergies that affect dogs. Dogs with a sensitivity to corn may gnaw at their paws or scratch excessively at themselves. Skin infections and hot spots -- moist sores with hair loss -- may develop. Dogs with food allergies may even cause a dog to defecate twice as much as dogs that do not have allergies. Dogs may even experience ear infections and yeast infections.
Dogs with a corn allergy can be diagnosed using food elimination diets. Elimination diets consist of feeding specialized allergen-free diets with unique protein forms. Over time, foods are added to these specialized diets until the dog responds to an allergen. If a dog develops allergy symptoms when corn is reintroduced to his diet, then he can be diagnosed with a corn allergy. This allergy is treated by removing corn from the dog’s diet.
Corn Starch and Gluten
A yellow corn kernel consists of four parts: the hull, the starch, the gluten and the germ. The starch provides the carbohydrates for the dog food. Because the starch and the gluten are combined inside the kernel, the corn that has been soaked and ground is centrifuged inside a “starch separator” to divide the components. The wet gluten is dried to make the highly digestible corn gluten meal, which is the source of corn protein. The starch, which provides the carbohydrates, is further washed after the protein is divided, can either be used as it is (unmodified corn starch) or it can be converted into other types of different sources of starch.
Yes, it Is
To some extent, dog food requires a certain amount of “filler” products because fats, proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals are all required parts of a dog’s diet. Corn is a source of carbohydrates. Protein is needed to repair the body, although they also may be used to provide energy. Carbohydrates are used for quick energy and the energy used for running and other vigorous exercise. The energy provided by the carbohydrates in corn also has what is called a “protein-sparing effect,” preventing the body from using protein for its energy needs. This effect is a positive one, given that when protein is used for energy instead of repair, muscle mass is lost in favor of keeping the body running.
- Nutrition for Veterinary Technicians and Nurses
- Royal Canin: Understanding Corn and Corn Gluten Meal in Pet Food
- AAFCO: Against the Grain: Pet Nutrition, With Wellness in mind
- PetMD: The Science of Pet Food Labels