What Should You Do If Your Dog Ate a Corn Cob?

Corn on the cob is a delicious snack that you may be tempted to share with your pet — after all, it’s a vegetable, which means it’s surely healthier than many other human foods you might want to share with your dog.

Many dog parents make the same assumption about this food, but unfortunately, corn cob is extremely dangerous for dogs and should never be fed to them, in fact, if your dog ate a corn cob, you should call your veterinarian immediately.

What should you do if your dog eats a corn cob? 

After checking that your dog has indeed eaten a corn cob, remove all remaining corn cobs around and call your vet.

If it’s after hours or holidays, do not wait until the next morning and call the nearest emergency clinic or 24-hour animal hospital in your area. It’s easier to remove a corn cob from the stomach than it is to remove it from the intestines, so timing is essential.

Your veterinarian will most likely suggest that you bring your dog in, but they may also decide to guide you through it from home if the situation doesn’t seem too dangerous.

Is corn on the cob bad for dogs? 

When eating corn on the cob, the corn isn’t dangerous for your dog, but its core is. Dogs eating corn cob are at risk of developing several medical conditions that if left untreated could be lethal.

Corn cob for dogs is a triple threat because of its characteristics:

– It’s indigestible: corn cob is made of lignin, cellulose, and hemicellulose, which are fibers that consumed in the right amount can be healthy, but the amount found is corn cob is enough to overwhelm your dog’s digestive system and cause blockage;

– It’s abrasive, so much that it’s used in some industrial cleaning products for walls. Inside your dog, corn cob can open internal wounds or even cause the rupture of the intestines, with painful and often deadly consequences for your pet;

– It’s a great absorbent, and it’s in fact used in several cleaning products and also as rat poison because it makes them die of dehydration. Dogs are certainly bigger than rats, but it could still cause suffocation, blockage, or dehydrate your dog down to dangerous levels if not removed in time.

Can dogs chew on corn cobs? 

Corn cob may indeed appear like the ideal chew toy for dogs because it has a somehow spongy consistency but it’s solid enough to make for an interesting chewing time and not to mention, dogs seem to love the taste of it.

However, no matter how long your dog chews on it beforehand, if your dog swallowed corn cob, it’s going to cause problems even if it’s in small chewed pieces.

The only good thing to come out of a chewed corn cob is that it may be easier to get it out or your veterinarian may suggest just wait for it to pass through on its own if your dog ate only a small amount of it.

If your dog is a big chewer, rather than feeding them random leftovers from your meals that could potentially hurt them, consider safer and tastier alternatives like raw ham bones. Of course, always consult your veterinarian first.

Can dogs eat corn kernels? 

Corn kernels are safe for your dogs to eat, as long as you remove them from the cob and you don’t give them kernels covered in salt, butter, or other seasonings.

Corn is actually a good source of fibers, minerals, and other nutritional components, but not enough to be actually beneficial for your dog.

It is still a food that should only be eaten in small or moderate amounts, and only if your dog isn’t allergic to corn. As a general rule, treats shouldn’t make up more than 10% of your dog’s diet, and this percentage includes corn as well.

As for other parts of the corn cob, they’re not any safer for your dog to eat than cob is. For example, if your dog ate corn husk, chances are they may develop GI obstruction, all the same, so do not feed your dog anything but plain kernels.

What happens when a dog eats a corn cob? 

Corn cob always causes trouble for your pet but depending on the amount of corn cob and on the size of your dog, sometimes your dog can go days or weeks without symptoms.

This would be a very dangerous situation because, in the meantime, the corn cob is wreaking havoc in your dog’s stomach or intestines (yes, corn cob may lodge in the stomach without passing through and stay there for a very long time).

The longest the corn cob stays inside your dog’s system, the higher the chance of the gastrointestinal tract becoming wounded or starting to rot, putting your pet in a life-threatening situation.

If your small dog ate a corn cob, even a little amount of it is enough to cause symptoms. Some dogs may risk suffocation upon eating the cob, which may require your knowledge of the Heimlich Maneuver or a very quick ride to the animal hospital.

When at the veterinarian, the issue can sometimes be resolved by inducing vomiting in your dog, but it’s not common practice with corn cob ingestion because when coming up, the cob might get stuck in the esophagus.

In any case, you shouldn’t try to induce vomiting in your dog without consulting your veterinarian and it is recommended to let them handle the procedure.

Corn cob ingestion most often results in having to remove the corn cob from the body, which in some cases means abdominal surgery and removal of part of the intestines, if found damaged.

GI obstruction 

The most common consequence of ingestion of corn cob is gastrointestinal obstruction.

Most dogs are usually no strangers to this condition because their curiosity pushes them to eat weird things like cotton balls or even diapers, with sometimes unpredictable consequences.

While many foods that cause GI blockage may end up passing on their own without medical intervention, it is difficult for corn cob to pass on its own, given its size and its cylindrical form.

In fact, dogs will most likely eat the corn cob whole or in big pieces rather than chewing it, especially if the kernels are seasoned and therefore tastier to them.

If your dog ate corn cob and is vomiting, this is a clear sign of GI blockage and you should contact your veterinarian immediately.

Other symptoms of gastrointestinal obstruction in dogs include:

Diarrhea

Dehydration

Abdominal pain

Lethargy

Lack of appetite

Unusual whining

Lying in awkward positions to avoid lying on their belly

Panic or restlessness

Other signs of pain or discomfort

Please note that symptoms might not show up for a couple of days after your dog ingested corn cob. They may still pass the stools and eat normally, but you shouldn’t underestimate the situation and contact your veterinarian as quickly as possible.

Peritonitis

Peritonitis is the inflammation of the peritoneum, which is the membrane that lines the abdominal cavity.

This dangerous condition is often caused by an external abdominal wound, a stomach ulcer, or a foreign object that cuts the abdominal cavity from the inside.

Sometimes, if something gets stuck in the intestines and provokes their rupture, it leads to a bacterial infection that not only causes peritonitis but spreads through the bloodstream as well.

Being corn cob particularly abrasive, it’s not uncommon for it to open wounds in the stomach or intestines, causing them to rot or provoking severe infections and inflammations.

Dogs affected by peritonitis may appear alright, then suddenly start showing important symptoms, so it’s fundamental to recognize them in order to get them treated as quickly as possible.

Symptoms of peritonitis in dogs include:

Fever

Vomiting

Diarrhea

Blood in the stools (black/dark brown)

Weight loss

Lethargy

Pale gums

Yellow skin

Swelling in the abdomen

Painful abdomen

Increased heart rate

Treatments for peritonitis usually include hospitalization, but the prognosis depends on the conditions of the dog and how quickly they were diagnosed.

Sometimes, surgery to remove part of the intestines may be necessary if the infections have caused rotting. Unfortunately, peritonitis is an extremely severe condition that has a mortality rate between 50% and 70% for dogs.

Pancreatitis 

Corn on the cob is often seasoned with salt, butter, or other ingredients, which surely makes it more delicious but also less healthy both for us and especially for our dogs.

The reason why dogs should only eat plain corn is that salt and butter in large quantities can easily make your dog sick, and butter especially is full of fats that could make your dog overweight or cause inflammation of the pancreas.

The pancreas produces enzymes that travel to the small intestine, where they act to help the digestion. When the pancreas is inflamed, these enzymes activate too soon and may start eating the pancreas itself.

Pancreatitis can be very dangerous because if the pancreas loses its functionality, it can lead to metabolic diseases like diabetes, which is a life-long sentence for your dog and may greatly reduce the length and quality of their life.

Some other foods that our dogs often find tasty, but are really fatty and therefore not good for them are pizza, cookies, and Nutella. It’s important to remember that our dogs do not digest fats the same way that we do and their diet shouldn’t contain too much fat.

Common signs of pancreatitis in dogs include:

Nausea

Vomiting

Fever

Diarrhea

Lack of appetite

Lethargy

Abdominal pain

Often when they feel pain in the abdominal area, dogs tend to lower the upper half of their body to the floor while sticking their rear up in the air.

Severe cases of pancreatitis may induce shock and even cause death, so it’s important to get your dog diagnosed as soon as possible.

Corn allergy 

If you have a sensitive dog, a dog that gets sick easily, or is allergic to other foods, you may want to avoid feeding corn to your dog.

Although not common, some dogs may develop intolerance to corn, so it doesn’t hurt to stay on the safe side.

Common symptoms of corn allergy include:

Vomiting

Itchiness

Diarrhea

Hives

Intestinal discomfort

Given that most of these symptoms are shared by other conditions, if your dog happens to feel sick after eating plain corn it’s important to have him examined by your veterinarian.

How to prevent your dog from eating a corn cob again.

If you haven’t given your dog any corn cob and they “magically” get sick on corn cob anyway, then you should consider the possibility that your dog has suddenly turned (or has always been) a dumpster pirate.

Many dogs are attracted by the smell of food in the trash bin and some of them are unable to resist that temptation. However, they shouldn’t be allowed to do so, because there are many human foods that are dangerous to them.

Follow these tips to keep your dog away from corn cobs:

– Take out the trash as soon as you throw the corn cobs in;

Put the corn cobs in a plastic bag before throwing them into the trash. This way, the plastic will cover the smell of corn and will also make it harder for your dog to access the food;

Store the corn cobs in a plastic bag in the freezer until you can throw them out;

– Do not allow your guests to feed the dog or at least make sure they know which foods are off-limits for your pooch;

The ultimate dog-proof trick is buying a trash can with a locking lid.

Can dogs eat corn cob?

Corn cob is dangerous for your dog because it’s indigestible and very abrasive, which means it may get stuck in the stomach or intestines and may open wounds or provoke the rupture of the abdominal cavity.

While corn is safe for your dog to eat, it should only be fed to them as a seldom snack and only when it has been separated from the core. Avoid giving your dog seasoned corn because dogs can be very sensitive to foods that contain too much salt or fats.

Seeing your dog grow an interest in corn cob might not be as odd as seeing them eat a crayon or a condom, but it’s actually more harmful than many other odd snacks our furry friends may have, so keep it far away from them and avoid giving your dog too many snacks altogether.