Can Dogs Eat Corn Cobs?

Can Dogs Eat Corn Cobs

Corn Cobs, Corn on the cob, pole corn, butter pop, long maize, corn stick, sweet pole corn, whatever you call it, it's often regarded as a safe, yummy and chewy snack for dogs. However, recent stories of dogs being severely injured and even killed by eating them whole, have hit local and national news and caused panic among dog owners worldwide. So can dogs eat corn cobs?

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Is Corn Toxic To My Dog?

Corn itself is non-toxic to dogs, and you may be surprised to discover that it is often used as a "filler" in dog food. Dogs can, and will, eat corn plentifully with no ill effect. It is only the cob or hard internal core of the plant, that can cause injury and even death to your pet.

What Are The Dangers Of Corn On The Cob?

In March 2017, Saffy, a small breed dog from Chester, England, ingested a corn cob while on her daily walk with her owner. Within less than a week she had died, after the corn cob caused perforations in her intestines which led to septicemia.

Obstructions leading to secondary complications are the main dangers of corn on the cob, with smaller dogs and puppies most at risk. Small dogs are particularly at risk due to their size, but large dogs who gobble down their food instead of chewing it well are also susceptible to swallowing more than their intestines can handle.

What is an Obstruction?

When the corn cob causes an obstruction in the digestive system, anything the dog eats or drinks after the obstruction has occurred will "back up" behind the foreign body. This means the corn cob is unable to move down the digestive system, usually stuck at the entrance to the small intestine. Blood flow becomes restricted and the surrounding tissues start to die.

A dog with an obstruction will show signs of discomfort several days after eating the corn cob and may start to refuse food or water. The only treatment at this stage is surgery to save the dog's life. A dog in Glasgow, Scotland, who had a corn cob obstructing his intestines had to have half of his intestines surgically removed after the obstruction restricted the blood flow to his intestines, but with early medical intervention he survived!

First Aid

If you suspect your dog has eaten a corn cob within the last few hours, then you can try to induce vomiting. Dogs who are listless, vomiting liquid or refusing food and water already are a veterinary emergency, and you should see your vet now rather than later, who will offer a variety of diagnostic scans or surgery to determine if your dog has an obstruction.

To make your dog vomit

  • 2 cups of cooked squash puree
  • 1/3 cup of whole flax seed steeped by the same volume of hot water
  • ½ cup of hydrogen peroxide
  • small amount of cooked or uncooked mince (to make it palatable)

Mix all these ingredients into a paste and feed this mixture to your dog. Encourage your dog to walk around as much as possible, and you should see vomiting within 30 minutes. If your dog does not vomit despite retching or vomits, but you are unable to see the corn cob, then an emergency vet visit is necessary for the well-being of your pet.

Veterinary Intervention

Your vet will first conduct a range of diagnostic scans and may offer exploratory surgery to examine if your dog has an obstruction caused by the corn on the cob.

After the obstruction has been identified and located, the vet will decide wherever to administer a strong medicine to make your dog vomit (such as apomorphine) or to operate immediately to remove the corn cob.

Surgery is invasive and can be costly, and older animals may find it hard to recover quickly from the anesthetic. Therefore, prevention is better than cure.

Preventative Steps

It's best to keep anything that could harm your dog out of where he can reach it. However, your dog will always find an opportunity to get into places and items that he shouldn't. There are, however, some smart products on the market that can help you protect your dog.

Dog proof bin

It is often when dogs get into the rubbish that they eat the things that can make them sickest. Rotten food and plastic wrappers can quickly make your dog sick when eaten, so if your dog is problematic, then a dog proof bin may just be the solution.​

Strong dog crate

Some dogs are particularly destructive and determined to eat things that they shouldn't. With a good quality and strong crate, you can acclimatize your dog to the crate, and he can then be left in a safe and secured environment when you cannot supervise him.

Kong toys

It's true that distraction can be the key to curing destruction! If you think your dog may be getting into places he shouldn't because he is bored, then try filling a Kong toy with his favorite wet dog food and freezing overnight. It should keep him busy for hours!

Supplements

It's possible your dog may be eating things he shouldn't because his diet is missing in vital nutrients. The best diet for your dog is a raw food diet. However, this is not financially viable for everyone so you can add a good quality nutritional supplement to your dog's food to ensure he is getting everything he needs from his diet.

Has your dog become ill after eating something that he shouldn't have? Let us know your story in the comments, so we can all learn from each others experiences!

    Helena Foster

    Hi there, I'm Helena, founder of PawsomeWorld. I'm a Veterinary Nurse and I love to share my knowledge to all dog owners. Together we'll make a better world for our dogs.

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