Can Dogs Eat Canned Corn?

Canned food is the most convenient thing there is. My favorite? Canned corn. Never mind if I can’t find fresh corn in the vegetable section of my grocery during certain times of the year;  I can always find canned corn in the other aisle! Best of all, canned corn will keep for a long time in my cupboard.

There are lots of dishes you can make with canned corn. But what about… homemade dog food? Can dogs eat canned corn?

can dogs eat canned corn
Canned sweet corn is a delicious and nutritious treat to add to your dog’s diet — in moderation. (Photo: Wikipedia Creative Commons, by HitroMilanese.)

It depends on the canned corn

Yes, canned corn is generally safe for dogs to eat. But it can also pose a problem for them if it’s improperly made or consumed too often. Here’s why.

High sodium

Commercially-made canned food tends to use a lot of salt and other additives. That includes some brands of canned corn.

This means it’s high in sodium. If your dog diet becomes too high in sodium, he can suffer first from dehydration — displaying excessive thirst and urination — before eventually developing high blood pressure or hypertension. This will put him at risk for heart disease.

Botulinum

If canning is done improperly, the corn kernels won’t be stored away in enough acid to kill off bacteria and other dangerous microorganisms. One microorganism that commonly shows up in improperly canned corn is C. botulinum.

Clostridium botulinum is an anaerobic bacterium that produces a neurotoxin so strong that it causes a severe flaccid paralytic disease called botulism. If you or your dog eat contaminated canned food (including corn), it can be lethal.

This is where commercially-produced canned corn has the advantage. The best and most trusted brands can guarantee their products are made safely.

Too much sugar (carbohydrates)

Unless you’re using homemade canned corn with produce you’ve picked yourself, you can bet that the canned corn you pick up from the grocery is made of sweet corn.

We’re talking about the sweetest corn varieties here. “Sweetcorn” or sweet corn is different from the “field corn” varieties  used to make products like corn oil, corn syrup, cornstarch, etc. Sweet corn tends to be eaten as is or canned, as it has more natural sugars in it — over twice that of field corn varieties) and can store better and longer.

But some brands gild the lily and have the already-sweet corn kernels swimming in sugar syrup! (Much like how canned peaches tend to be stored.) this means if your dog eats that sort of canned corn too often, it’s going to cause terrible spikes in his blood sugar. It might eventually lead to him getting obese and diabetic.

It depends on the dog

You also need to think of your dog’s size, breed, and genetic makeup.

can dogs eat canned corn
Now and then, you can mix in a small serving of canned sweet corn with your dog’s usual dog food.

Dog size and breed

If your dog belongs to a large breed, the occasional snack  or serving of canned sweet corn won’t be harmful. But if your dog  is one of the smaller breeds, or if he comes from a lineage that suffers from hypertension or diabetes, you’ll have to hold back a lot more on the sweet corn.

Genetic problems

Then there’s corn allergy and corn sensitivity.  Some dogs have problems with digesting corn. Some of them even have immune systems that overreact to the presence of corn.

If your dog is unfortunate enough to suffer from either one, that means that he should never be allowed to eat canned corn (or nearly anything made or mixed with corn.) or popcorn.

Symptoms of corn sensitivity

Food sensitivity isn’t the same as a food allergy. It’s simply the inability to digest a particular type of food. If your dog exhibits the following symptoms after eating canned corn, he could very well be unable to digest it:

  • upset stomach and temporary diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • nausea

Symptoms of corn allergy

But if your dog has an allergy to corn, the list of symptoms will be more extensive:

  • Skin rashes and hives
  • Shabby or thinning fur
  • Frequent scratching, biting (to scratch), and licking due to itchy skin
  • Itchy or inflamed rear end
  • Ear inflammations
  • Frequent diarrhea and farting
  • Nausea and vomiting

Corn nutrition

So why bother with occasionally feeding your dog with canned sweet corn?

Contrary to the popular myth, canned sweet corn is delicious and nutritious. It’s the reason why dog food manufacturers like to use it as an ingredient in many of their products.

Even after they’re canned, corn kernels retain their nutrients. They’re rich in carbohydrates (including natural sugars), proteins, dietary fiber, linoleic acid, vitamins (A, B vitamins, and C), and minerals (iron, magnesium, potassium,  and selenium).

Corn also has phytochemicals (like carotenoids, which give it that yellow color). Phytochemicals are originally meant to protect the plants that produce them from diseases. Animals or people that eat phytochemical-rich plant-based food (like corn) can then gain the same health benefits, lowering their risk of catching certain illnesses.

General reminders

  • Before you rush to certain conclusions about canned corn, know that corn is the least allergenic of the grains and vegetables that dogs can eat. The incidence of corn allergy among dogs is no higher than 14%. So if you see your dog exhibiting any of the symptoms mentioned above, it may be from something else other than canned corn.
  • Before you rush to conclusions, have your vet examine your dog and confirm what he’s suffering from, whether it’s a food sensitivity or allergy.
  • If you’re planning to use commercially-made canned corn, be careful about which brand you use. Always check the back labels of each can for the list of ingredients and the salt or sodium levels, and don’t purchase the ones that have too much sodium or sugar per serving.
  • Avoiding commercially-made canned corn might be a better alternative. You can make safe, homemade canned sweet corn which both you and your dog can enjoy — and control the amount of salt and sugar in it. Note: If you’re making your own canned corn, don’t rely solely on boiling water to clean and disinfect the container won’t do. You must use a pressure canner. (Scroll down this article to know a bit more about homemade canned corn.)
  • If you’re making your own canned corn, use sweet corn. Again, “sweet corn” varieties are different from “field corn.” While sweet corn contains more natural sugars than field corn, it’s still the safer corn for your dog to eat. Field corn tends to have more mycotoxins or fungi-produced toxins present (e.g., fumonisin), which does pose an occasional threat to livestock and other corn-fed animals. According to the U.S. FDA, sweet corn only has minimal traces of fumonisins and should be safe for both humans and animals.
  • Don’t overfeed your dog with canned corn, homemade or otherwise. Moderation is key! Remember that your dog is mainly carnivorous, and replacing most of his diet with vegetables and grains isn’t healthy in the long run.
  • Got doubts? Then just avoid feeding your dog canned corn altogether and give him freshly-cooked sweet corn instead. (Again, in moderation.) However, don’t give him the whole corn cob. (Some dogs tend to think they can eat the corn cob itself and get into trouble trying to bite or swallow it!) Shuck the corn cob, discard it, and feed your dog just the corn kernels instead.

How to safely make your own canned corn

Want to make your own canned corn? You can look up the detailed process from these sites (just click on these links):

1. How to Prepare Canned Corn For Dummies (Dummies.com)

2. National Center for Home Food Preservation: Selecting, Preparing, and Canning Vegetables (Corn)

3. Better Homes & Gardens: How to Can Corn In A Pressure Canner

Before you click on any of these sites, here are the most important safety tips to remember:

  • Read through all three sites carefully. (Each one gives details that I think you shouldn’t miss!)  Follow their instructions to the letter.
  • You will need a pressure canner. You can’t do this just by boiling the corn and cans alone. Otherwise, you risk bacterial contamination, which can be lethal!
  • You will need a sharp, serrated knife to cut the boiled corn kernels off the corn cob. You must cut only about 3/4 of the kernels off. Don’t try scraping them off to the very root. This not only helps keep the kernel’s shape; it avoids adding bitterness to the final product and  lowers the chance of adding mold-based mycotoxins or bacteria which may still be at the kernel roots.

A recipe your dog will love

OK, so you have got delicious, nutritious, safely-canned sweet corn in your pantry. What else can you do with it, aside from plunking a few servings straight into your dog’s feeding bowl?

Easy! Bake a healthy snack for your dog. What I like to do is mix canned sweet corn with some pumpkin or squash, and make that into a sweet, healthy treat.

Sweet Corn-Pumpkin Treats

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup canned pumpkin puree or boiled/baked squash
  • 1/4 cup canned sweet corn, rinsed
  • 3 tablespoons  molasses
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 cups whole wheat or bread flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (176-177 degrees C).

In a large bowl, mash and mix the pumpkin/squash, corn, molasses, water, and vegetable oil. Once blended, add the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Mix well until you have a soft, homogenous dough.

Prepare a baking tray lined with baking paper/parchment or a silicone baking mat.

With wet, clean hands, start scooping spoonfuls of the dough and roll each one into little balls. Lay them on the baking tray, equally spaced. Then take a fork and flatten each ball slightly into a small, thick disc-like shape.

Bake these in the oven for about 25 minutes or until each of the treats harden. Let cool before serving to your dog. (You can store these in a glass jar, in the driest part of your refrigerator. These will last about a week.)

Bottom line

So unless your dog suffers from a corn sensitivity or allergy, don’t be scared! It’s safe to feed your dog some canned corn now and then. It’s a delicious and cost-effective way of adding more variety and nutrition to your dog’s diet.

Also Read: Can Dogs Eat Carob?

Becky

Becky

4+ cats and 2 dogs over the past decade, loves to write, not a huge fan of coffee... but LOVES her pets! Read More
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