Can Dogs Eat Corn On The Cob?

The answer's kind of complicated.

dog with corn on the cob

What’s a summer cookout without a dog hanging out under the table? While you might want to let your dog in on some of your meals, not all of your favorite summer foods are safe for dogs to eat.

The Dodo spoke to Lenore Harrison, practice manager at Lake Austin Blvd. Animal Hospital, to answer the important question: “Can my dog eat corn on the cob?”

Can dogs eat corn on the cob?

Dogs should definitely stay away from the actual cob part of the corn.

Corn cobs are indigestible and can swell once eaten,” Harrison told The Dodo.

Corn cobs create a choking hazard for dogs, who may bite off pieces of the cob that can get lodged in their throats. “[The corn cob] can cause an obstruction in the GI tract, which would require emergency surgery and can be fatal,” Harrison said.

If your pup does manage to swallow a piece, corn cobs are absorbent and can drain the moisture out of your dog’s intestine. They’re also hard and pointy. “Corn [cobs are] coarse, causing it to scrape or block the GI tract and also cause dehydration,” Harrison said.

Be sure to look out for any signs that your dog isn’t feeling well — especially if your dog happens to snatch a cob while you’re not watching.

What symptoms should I watch out for if my dog eats corn on the cob, and what should I do?

If you notice your dog showing any of the below signs, call your vet immediately:

  • Not eating
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Not having a bowel movement
  • Lethargy

So what will your vet do to help your pup if he accidentally gets a hold of a corn cob?

Your vet will perform a physical exam and, according to Harrison, “They would take radiographs to confirm the location of the corn cob and come up with an appropriate plan from there … This could require emergency surgery.”

Can dogs eat corn off the cob?

“Corn is made of hemicellulose, lignin and cellulose, which your dogs eat all the time in small amounts,” Harrison said.

Corn is often included as an ingredient in many types of dog food and has nutritional benefits — it’s a source of protein, carbohydrates and antioxidants. However, some dogs may be allergic to corn, so you should watch out for any reactions if you do feed him some.

But if your dog gets a little bit of corn after you’ve cut it off the cob, he should be fine.

Can my dog eat popcorn?

Plain, air-popped popcorn is OK for your dog in small amounts, and even has fiber. It’s the heavily buttered or salted popcorn that’s unhealthy for dogs.

“Buttered popcorn or [popcorn] with other toppings is not safe for dogs,” Harrison said. “My dad sneaks the dog a few [pieces], but it is plain popcorn cooked on the stove top. If your pet gets a few by accident, they should be OK.”

Also make sure that your dog doesn’t get a hold of any unpopped kernels, which are indigestible and can cause choking. These can get stuck in your dog’s teeth as well, which can cause discomfort and gum disease.

Long story short, don’t give your dog corn on the cob, but a few cooked or popped kernels should be OK. If you want your dog to partake in a safer way, try out this scented rubber corn on the cob chew toy instead!