The Corn Myth!…..

February 26th, 2007 by Joy

My dog is itchy!! Must be a food allergy,Right?……Wrong! Most people will automatically assume itching is due to a food allergy. When in fact it could be a number of things. It is very rare for a dog to have food allergies. Not impossible, just rare. There are very few reported cases have been confirmed. Ithiness was the number one pet complaint that I would see when I was working at the vet offices. About 99% of them would say its a food allergy, and that they tried changing foods. They would also say, I even checked the label to make sure there was no corn in it!


The CORN myth…..

Corn has become the most misunderstood ingredient in dog food. The two most common myths is that corn is not digestible and that its an allergen. These are not true! Corn is actually 91% digestible. Dont go by what you see!!! If you look at the dog food label it should list ground corn instead of corn. That is because whole corn is ground before it’s added to dog food. So, this makes it digestible,a great source of linoleic acid, omega 6 fatty acid, amino acids as well as fiber.

So is it a food allergy…..?

Your dog is showing signs of an “allergy” The classic signs of a canine food allergy includes signs of facial itching, foot or limb chewing, belly itching, and recurrent ear infections. The signs would be pretty obviouse they usually have these areas pretty bald, red, and even oozing. Before we jump the gun and spend lots of $$$$ money on exspensive testing, lets look at the other possibilities first…

  1. Fleas- Fleas bites are actually one of the most common allergies an “allergy dog” will have. So having this condition under control is a Must. If we are gonna properly identify the main source. Here are tips on natural flea prevention.
  2. Sarcoptic mange- a skin mite that burrows itself under the skin. Is tested by doing a skin scraping.
  3. Inahlent allergies- seasonal allergies such as pollen and so on.

Your vet will more than likely run through a list like this before saying its a food allergy. If he/she has done so and has also tried a round of cortisone-type medications. The next step would be doing a diet test. Most vets will go the Hydrolyzed Protein Method which Hills(tm) Science Diet has created calld Z/D. This means that the protein source is still used but the protein itself is broken down into molecules to small for the immune system to detect and cause a reaction. Now it will usually take about 8-10 weeks sometimes longer depending on the breed, for the trial to be deemed successful or not. No other sources can be introduced when testing. This means no chewies, snacks or anything, just the special diet. At the end of the trial if you were to reintroduce the old food and ithiness resumes about 14 days later you have a food allergy. But most clients do not want to chance this if the patient is doing well. You can then continue feeding the special diet and if you do want to give treats, your vet should also carry these. If it is not successful than this indicates a stong chance it is an inhalent allergy and there is a special blood test that can be done and series of allergy shots that can be made from the results of this blood test.

I hope this helped explain the corn myth and you give it a second thought before assuming it’s a food allergy. After all CORN can be our friend!

Sources used other than Personal expierence is

13 Responses to “The Corn Myth!…..”

  1. Saydrah Says:

    Corn is not the friend of any carnivore I know. Eliminating corn from a diet does not solve most allergy problems, because most dogs are not allergic solely to corn. Itchy dogs can have dozens of separate allergies, just like humans can. A client of mine recently ran a blood test on her dog for allergies. He was allergic to nearly every food item tested, including such things as green peas, flaxseed oil, and lamb, in addition to the usual suspects: corn, wheat, and soy.

    Did you know that cattle fed corn need 12 or more pounds of corn to gain a pound of weight? Cattle eating grass have a far different ratio, about three pounds eaten to one pound gained, depending upon the type of grass. Corn is a low quality grain, easy to farm and mass produced with government funding, but that doesn’t mean we should shovel it down the throats of carnivores who wouldn’t bother with it in the wild.

    Science Diet is a company that produces fancy labeled McDonalds for dogs, and vets graduate with little or no nutrition training unless they choose electives in that area. No nutrition training is required of graduating DVMs. I invite you to meet my mother’s dog, Steiner- a year ago, he was nearly bald, with bloody patches from scratching. Today, after a process of elimination in which corn, chicken, beef, wheat, and soy were removed completely from his diet, and raw meat and fish oil were added as supplements to a high quality lamb and venison based diet, he has a full shiny coat and tons of energy- which he doesn’t spend scratching all day.

    Corn is not my friend- and if you own a carnivore, it shouldn’t be yours, either.

  2. Kat Says:

    Corn was never a part of a carnivore’s diet, and as such they do not digest it well, no matter how it’s prepared. Even omnivores and herbivores do not properly digest it.

    While a dog with skin problems should definitely be checked out for any other problems, such as inhalant allergies and fleas, there are several byproducts used as filler in the majority of dog foods that can be eliminated in order to determine the allergy. Several websites and articles on dog nutrition have cited beef, dairy products, chicken, wheat, chicken eggs, corn, and soy to all be the culprits of multiple symptoms of allergies.

    My own dog developed allergies around 3 years old. Her vet at the time performed thousands of dollars worth of tests as well as several very expensive diets [including the Science Diet you mentioned] all to absolutely no avail. After finally consulting with another vet, who immediately removed all of said culprits from her diet, all symptoms lessened within a few weeks. After a year on this diet, her fur has grown back, her skin is healthy, and her weight has leveled off to a much more normal level. My other two dogs, along with my two cats, have all benefited from this as well. After removing corn, wheat, beef, and chicken from their diets they all have beautiful coats, healthy skin, improved weight and all around health.

    If corn is our friend, it’s a very bad one indeed.

  3. Lin Says:

    I can’t believe this. Corn isn’t even that digestible for humans, where the hell did you pull that number?! Dogs are CARNIVORES. Look at the digestive system. Look at the teeth. They are designed to digest and get their protein from MEAT. Corn and wheat are the TOP allergens in our pets. But in a pet food you need to avoid more than just corn. READ the labels people, learn about what your feeding. Avoid corn, wheat, soy, yeast, BHT, BHA, and ethoxyquin. look for the first ingredient listed to be MEAT. And a specific muscle meat at that. Poultry bad, chicken good. Byproducts are not evil. In fact, they are very healthy and have many good nutrients (especially heart and liver). BUT, they should not be the primary ingredient. So again, a specific meat source, and a muscle meat source, should be the first ingredient. Stay away from pet foods containing icky preservatives (some which have been proven to cause cancer, including ones used by Hills Science Diet like BHA, BHT), and stay away from artificial colouring. There is NO need for dog food to look “pretty”. Dogs and cats are meant to eat raw meat, it has the most beneficial nutrients and enzymes. After raw meat, is canned food. Enzymes are lost during cooking, but its still meat and its still correct moisture content. Prey is 75% water, canned food is 78%, kibble is 10% and just not natural. Kibble is like overcooking your vegetables. Its cooked at VERY high temperatures for VERY long periods of time. Most nutrition is lost. Buy the best you can afford, and make your decision based on the long run, not price per bag. Low quality foods are full of undigestible fillers (like corn!) and you have to feed more than nutritionally dense foods. Something like purina recommends 4-5 cups for a large breed. While say Innova Evo would require 2 cups. Plus, when your feeding a dense food, theres less waste! If you want to see how undigestible corn is, just watch the poop! The health of the pet is greatly increased when feeding proper nutrition. My stepdads cat needed a 500 dollar surgery, which the vet said was caused by feeding purina kit’n'kaboodle which is full of corn. It took 500 dollars, for him to start buying a better quality food. Anyone reading this, I just ask that you educate yourself. Make an educated opinion on the food you feed your pets! Don’t choose a food based on the pretty bag, or the cute commercials. Oh, and one last comment on the subject of commercials. Both purina and pedigree have recently used a study to promote their foods. In the commercials, they ask you to feed their foods saying you can add 2 years to your pets life. Go look up the study, the original study merely showed that over feeding and feeding incorrect amounts can take off 2 years of your dogs life. Nothing about purina or pedigree foods, and nothing about ADDING years. Educate yourselves, PLEASE!

  4. Kathleen Says:

    When a carnivore, such as a dog, eats vegetation in the wild it is out of the stomach of the animal it has just killed. This mean that the vegetation is pre-digested. Sounds gross but it is the only way a carnivorus animal can digest vegetation. Their digestive systems are not designed to process it. That is one reason that grass eating will make a dog throw up. He doesn’t eat it because he likes it, he eats it because he needs to throw up.

    My dogs do enjoy some vegetables now and then. But rarely do they eat them raw. Canned or cooked and added to meat or dog food is the best way to go. My dogs never eat corn.

  5. Meg Says:

    Here are the first ingredients of Hill’s Prescription WD, which one veterinarian, aggressively, tried pushing on us:
    Ground Whole Grain Corn, Powdered Cellulose, Peanut Hulls, Chicken by-product Meal, Chicken Liver Flavor, Soybean Meal, Soybean Mill Run, Dried Egg Product, Soybean Oil, Corn Gluten Meal, Iron Oxide, Choline Chloride, L-Lysine…

    I ask you, what creature/ailment on earth could possibly require a “prescription” of that?

    These are proven culprits for various irritatons and ailments, and right up there with flea bites in this regard.
    Somebody also needs to inform these “doctors” that felines are true Carnivores when they “prescribe” this “food” for them as well.

    I wonder how a class action lawyer would feel about this conflict of interest? These people are supposed to be under oath for the well-being of our pets — not pushing allergents on them strictly for profit. These people are supposed to be doctors, and they are not nutritionalists, yet ADVISE us to feed Peanut Hulls and Soy Meal Run (just what is that anyway?!) to our animals? Talk about deceit — on top of the conflict of interest!

    There are veterinarians in practice who are there to just diagnose and treat — nothing more. That is what a doctor’s supposed (and trained) to do.
    Do yourselves, and your pets, a favor and find a veterinarian who does NOT practice a conflict of interest selling things they should not be selling! Or find a Holistic Vet for nutrition issues. They have studied, trained and actually have knowledge in this regard.

  6. Leigh Says:

    I have never seen so many people in one place make the same mistake. DOGS ARE OMNIVORES. I feed a wheat free CHICKEN AND CORN KIBBLE, where ground corn is the number one ingredient, and chicken meal is the number two ingredient, and the dogs look fabulous, produce small stools, require less food than the other kibbles I tested, and even the fussy animals tuck in with enthusiasm. I do supplement with 10% wet food added to their meals, either tinned, raw or pet loaf( we have a great dog roll available locally), but the diet is based on kibble.

    In any dog kibble the only way to be sure that the protein and fat levels quoted are at least mostly derived from the meat ingredient is if the meat is dried before it goes into the kibble, where it will otherwise lose 70% of it’s weight as water and is therefore lower on the actual ingredient list than it is on the published ingredient list. I own a boarding kennel, and a pet supply company, and have road tested lots of foods on lots of dogs (including my own), and I think that everyone who replied to Joy is a reactionary, ignorant moron. “My stepdads cat (Joy never mentioned cats)” stories, second hand information from a couple of isolated cases, and then no real effort to find the dietary cause of the skin issues(“After finally consulting with another vet, who immediately removed all of said culprits from her diet”), but we’ll blame it on corn anyway. I’m not claiming it’s a wonder product, or ingredient, but it isn’t the great evil you lot made it out to be, and my dogs (and my clients dogs) are thriving on it. So if anyone bothered to read this to the end (and I hope the first five repliers do), then please do read the labels, and make INFORMED decisions for your dogs diet based on these labels.

  7. Jennifer Says:

    I think you all that believe corn can be digested by dogs need to do a little more research!!!
    You are very naive.
    Conventional Vets….they are taught one way and unless they give there head a shake and allow the truth to sink in with regards to the harmful effect in todays commercial food, vaccines and medications.
    It’s unfortunate that these poor dogs are at your mercy.

  8. Choosing Dog Food: Part One | Dog Reflections Says:

    [...] Corn is one of the most common fillers in dog foods, but it’s also one of the most common allergens in pets. While carbohydrates are [...]

  9. Leigh Says:

    If dogs are unable to digest GROUND corn, (as stated by “Dan” on another part of this website Choosing Dog Food), I can only say again that my dogs would be starving, and yet they have never looked better. And I doubt anyone of the nay sayers on this page have field tested any food on more than a handful of dogs, whereas my own tests and observations are very extensive, as are the repeat business from the breeders and boarding kennel operators who are rapidly making this particular corn based biscuit my best seller as word of the results spreads.

    p.s. How did Jennifer go from corn to vaccines and medications? Harmful effects of what in commercial foods? Anyone else want to argue with observable fact, please stick to the topic.

  10. Michelle Says:

    Let the dog decide what it wants to eat. Imagine what a pack of the dog in front of you would chase and take down as prey. I’ve never seen a pack of wolves hungrily focus on a row of corn stalks. Venison should be farmed as an ideal dog (and people) protein source. Nothing brings out the beast in my black lab like seeing bambi in the back yard.

  11. Meg Says:

    To the Corn Fan:

    You keep pushing Disease in a Bag for profit, go ahead. But renown specialists, such as Doctors Michael Fox, Lisa Pierson, Elizabeth Hodgkins — who have actually dedicated their lives studying and TREATING and HEALING sick animals — have sufficient evidence regarding pet nutrition. Oh,and they don’t hawk foods which make veterinarians with a conflict of interest more profitable than they should be, either!

    Glad your animals are doing “just fine” now.
    Renal Failure will be the next epidemic, due to those manufacturers “adjusting” their ingredients.
    Hope you have plenty $$$ for subsequent medical issues! Pity your pets (and any heartbroken children who may be attached to them!)

    Want FACTS? Just go to their websites.
    Yeah, right, with your conflict of interest, you wouldn’t want to see the facts. Just keep right on Ca-Chinging $$$!! You’ll need it for the vet bills later on!

  12. Lee C Says:

    There is a lot of confusion about a species appropriate diet for dogs. The “why” is that we have crossed the line between science and prolific industry propaganda. Since the 1950s vast sums of money have been poured into shaping public perception because the profits are enormous. Not to mention that “we the people” have a tendency towards anthropomorphism, and convenience is a driving force.

    For unbiased scientific information see the article:

  13. Carol Crawford Says:

    The biggest problem with corn in the US is that close to 90% of the crop is GMO modified. GMO products caused birth defects and eventually killed the rats the products were tested on. GMO does not belong in our food supply nor should GMO products be fed to our pets or live stocks.

    In fact it may not be the corn itself that is causing skin problems in dogs it could in fact be that the corn used is GMO.

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