The Truth About Corn in Dog Food

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Some insist corn is a nutritious dog food ingredient — while others denounce it as nothing more than a problematic cereal grain.

Dog Food CornSo, what should you believe? What’s the truth about corn in dog food?

Is it good? Or is it bad?

Well, that depends on whom you ask.

In general, anxieties expressed over the use of corn in dog food seem to come from consumers — pet owners, breeders and the like.

Whereas the “Corn is Great” crowd appears to include those who have something to gain from making or selling products made with this controversial grain.

Myths About Corn Promoted
by the Pet Food Industry

Makers and sellers of corn-based foods insist the negative stories about corn are simply unsubstantiated myths and rumors spread around the Internet by simple-minded consumers.

The truth is, the pet food industry itself is guilty of disseminating its own self-serving and myth-based distortions, too.

In fact, most of the exaggerated claims extolling the virtues of corn actually originate within the pet food industry and are unwittingly propagated by naive and well-meaning pet owners.

Here are some of the most enduring myths about corn promoted by makers and sellers of corn-based dog foods.

Myth #1
Corn Has a Low Glycemic Index

The glycemic index is a way of measuring the tendency of a specific food to raise the blood sugar level of an animal. The higher the index, the greater the risk of an unhealthy rise in blood sugar.

Here are the actual glycemic index figures1 for a few common dog food ingredients…2

  • Corn meal (69)
  • Brown rice (55)
  • Corn (53)
  • Oatmeal (49)
  • Wheat (41)
  • Barley (25)
  • Chicken (0)
  • Beef (0)

Compared to most other ingredients used in making dog food, corn does not have a low glycemic index.

Myth #2
Corn Does Not Cause Allergies

Cheerleaders for corn-based products like to point out that corn is one of the least allergenic ingredients in dog food.

And according to some studies, that is probably true. One report found the incidence of corn allergy to be only 14%.3 And another places corn at just 3% of all allergies.4

Yet to be fair, other reports caution readers not to place excessive value on the accuracy of these studies due to the notable difficulty in confirming the precise incidence of food allergies in dogs.5

In any case, although it may not be a common food allergen, corn still cannot be completely excused as a potential cause.

When searching the Internet for these studies, it’s hard not to notice the thousands of legitimate reports by owners, breeders, forums and veterinary sites reporting corn and other cereal grains as a likely cause of their dogs’ allergies.

And then there’s the (very real) issue of cereal grain quality.

In many cases, problems aren’t so much a matter of allergies to the corn itself but rather to undetected contaminants within that grain.

It’s not unusual to find storage mites, their droppings and expired carcasses in bulk lots of feed grains6. And all of these are known to be notable canine allergens.

So, for these reasons (and until proven otherwise), we believe corn should still be considered a reasonable suspect when investigating the cause of any food-related canine allergy.

Myth #3
Corn Is Highly Digestible

As a whole grain, corn is not easily digestible. Unless the kernel is first refined into a meal or a flour (and then cooked), corn can be very difficult for a dog to digest.

As a matter of fact, corn (and other grains) are only digestible to the extent to which they’re processed.

That’s why even though the grain may be listed as “whole” on a pet food label, it’s nearly always first ground before being cooked into kibble.

And the finer it’s ground, the more digestible corn will be. But also, the higher its glycemic index.

However, to the uninformed, the pet food industry’s claim that corn is “99% digestible” can be misleading. It’s easy to innocently take that statement to mean corn has a high nutritional value, too.

Unfortunately, as you’ll see, that is simply not the case.

Myth #4
Corn Has a High Biological Value

There’s nothing unique enough about corn’s content that makes it a nutritional standout — nothing that can’t be found in, or converted from, some other ingredient. Not even protein.

And to those who insist the protein content of a corn kernel has some important biological value we present the following table…7

Dog Food Ingredients and Their Biological Value

When it comes to its protein usability, corn has a measurably lower biological value.

Myth #5
Corn Is Rich in Vitamins and Minerals

Fans of corn also like to claim the grain is high in anti-oxidants and minerals.

High in anti-oxidants and minerals? Compared to what?

Aside from its energy content, corn’s nutritional completeness is certainly not exceptional.

The Nutrient Balance Completeness Score is a measure of how complete a food is with respect to vitamin, mineral and dietary fiber content. The higher the score of a food, the more complete its nutrients.

According to information gathered by NutritionData.com8 from the USDA’s National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, the Completeness Score for corn and a number of other common ingredients are listed here in increasing nutritional value

  • Brown rice (33)
  • Corn (34)
  • Barley (36)
  • Oats (43)
  • Quinoa (45)
  • Wheat (48)
  • Potato (51)
  • Peas (53)
  • Sweet potato (55)
  • Spinach (91)

So, when it comes to judging its vitamin and mineral content, corn is mostly unremarkable.

Myth #6
Corn Is a Superior Source of Energy

Some pet food manufacturers like to point out that corn is a better source of energy – especially for working animals – than meat.

However, science proves this to be yet another myth.

Consumers shouldn’t favor a dog food because “protein” is the first ingredient. They should choose a dog food because meat is the first ingredient.

That’s because meat doesn’t just contain protein – it also contains fat.

Corn is mostly fat free. It’s a carbohydrate.

From a scientific standpoint (and not marketing hype), here’s the actual energy scorecard for each of the 3 macronutrients9 found in all food:

Nutrient Calories per Gram

The following caloric information is based upon the USDA’s National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference and published by NutritionData.com10:

Dog Food Ingredient Calories per Gram

Ounce-for-ounce, science proves meat contains significantly more energy than corn.

The Truth About Corn

So, why is corn used so abundantly in the manufacture of today’s commercial dog foods?

Well, as you’ve just seen, surely not because it could be considered more nutritious.

Then, could corn be “more natural”?

When you study a dog’s natural ancestral history, you won’t find any mention of corn. That is, until the year 1956. For that was the year indelibly marked by the invention of kibble.

So, why did the introduction of kibble bring with it such a dramatic rise in the use of corn in making dog food? What suddenly made carbohydrates (like corn, grains and potatoes) so popular with the pet food industry?

The truth is…

  • Carbohydrates are cheap
  • Carbohydrates are vital to the kibbling process

You won’t find corn in commercial dog food because it contributes some unique nutritional property. No, it’s there simply because it supplies cheap calories to the product.

And starchy carbohydrates play a critical role in a process known as gelatinization — a process which is absolutely crucial to the workings of kibble machinery.

As proof, how often do you find corn in a raw or canned dog food?

The Bottom Line

In a nutshell, corn makes any pet food you find it in less expensive to produce. And it does this by diluting a recipe’s more costly meat ingredients.

Kibble is simply inexpensive fast food for dogs. And that’s OK. Because corn doesn’t just save money for manufacturers. It also makes dog food more affordable for pet owners, too.

However, to advertise that corn is included in commercial dog food primarily for its nutritional benefits is misleading — and a gross misrepresentation of the facts.

It may be OK for a dog food to contain corn. However, it’s not OK for a manufacturer to make such outrageous claims about this rather ordinary cereal grain in a deceptive attempt to mislead consumers and to exaggerate its true nutritional value.

Footnotes

  1. Based upon human studies, canine values unavailable
  2. Brand-Miller J et al, The Glycemic Index Foundation, “The New Glucose Revolution”, New York (2003), pp.291-296
  3. Fadok V (1994), “Diagnosing and Managing the Food Allergic Dog”, The Compendium 16:12, 1541-1544
  4. Roudebush P, “Ingredients associated with adverse food reactions in dogs and cats”, Adv Small Anim Med Surg 2002;15(9):1-3
  5. Chesney, C.J., 2001, “Systematic review of evidence for the prevalence of food sensitivity in dogs”, Veterinary Record, 148:445–448
  6. Extension Entomologists, North Central States, Federal Extension Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture
  7. Palika, Liz, The Consumers Guide to Dog Food, New York, Howell Book House, 1996
  8. NutritionData.com
  9. Per Modified Atwater Method
  10. NutritionData.com
  • theBCnut

    Yes, but they still have the digestive system to eat like a wolf, and we would be healthier if we ate more like a chimpanzee too.

  • Tobias C

    dogs aren’t wolves anymore than you are a chimpanzee.

  • Tobias C

    True but corn is prone to aflatoxins.

  • Tracy Mckee

    lets face it its not the corn its the gmos in the corn.round up ready pesticides.Seeds produced by Monsanto.causeing these alery type syptoms and csyts in dogs ears. It causes sterilsation tumors and autiusm in humans. Coca cola,kellogs and nestles a few users of gmo corn.

  • Lindsey Masewicz

    Well it is thought to contribute to allergies and I have a dog who is specifically allergic to both wheat and corn.

  • Bradley

    I am not taking sides one way or the other on the corn debate. All that I can say is that we had two dogs, a full blooded golden retriever and a 3/4 lab that were fed cheap dog food all of their lives. In fact, probably 80% to 90% of their total diet over the years was Ol’ Roy. To just about everyone on this board, it would be considered one of the worst dog foods made. But the proof is in the pudding, the golden retriever lived to be right at 19 years old and the lab 15 years old. The only reason that the lab only lived 15 years is because he broke his hip coming out of the dog house at the same time as the golden retriever and got pinned in the dog way. We had to put him down because of his age. I seriously doubt that many bigger dogs live as long or any longer even when fed the best of dog foods. Plus, we never had to carry dogs to the vet for any problem related to foods, allergies, or infections. All that I am saying is that a lot of the corn debate may be made by the expensive dog food companies to try and convince you to buy their much more expensive product.

  • nwno

    Over 90 % of corn in U.S is gm, in part to the wonderful company of Monsatin(monsanto). So one should assume all dog food corn is gm unless otherwise noted. If its in human consumer products, it is gonna be in dog food.

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  • Kristine Johnston

    because corn doesnt have gluten

  • Lesleigh

    feed Raw food (raw meat diet) it will fix everything and the moister content will prevent your dog from getting stones ever again. i work at an all natural pet store, i highly recommend it. maybe do some research and decide for yourself but i even feed my cat raw meat and he usto have a urinary tract problem and now he is not on vet food or meds and he is full of energy and is like a kitten again.

  • Pattyvaughn

    But corn is GMO, and dogs were not made to eat corn and a lot of dogs have allergies to corn.

  • Leslie Goudy

    Corn is not like rice where there is a problem with arsenic nor is it like wheat where there is a problem with gluten and the dog not thriiving and having skin problems and hair falling out nor is it like soy where it causes renal failure and the enzymes will be unable to digest proteins properly and the minerals will be blocked. And estrogens are blocked causing inhibitions in reproduction

    According to research at Cornell University, slow cooking corn releases more nutrients and up to 900% more antioxidants. – See more at: http://www.biljac.com/faq.php#sthash.Wg6yhGe1.dpuf

  • Wyowind

    Regarding the corn debate: how does one know whether the corn used id GM (genetically modified) or not? Since more and more humans avoid GM corn, and since many countries actually forbid its use, one might think more of this scary corn is being used n pet food. Proven to negatively affect reproduction in mice and rats, causes stomach and digestive problems in lab animals and now proven to wreck the stomachs of pigs and calves.. What about it, corn proponents?

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  • TJ

    Well, I’m with you on the raw diet thing as that’s what my pup gets. But do wolfs eat corn – sure they do, they eat anything that eats corn dead or alive, that corn would be in the animals gut. Wolfey eats gut = wolfey wolfs down corn.

  • Audishere

    If my dog needs to be on a gluten free diet, why did my vet suggest Hills Prescription diet canned food W/D? The third ingredient listed is whole grain corn. What IS the best food for a gluten-free diet AND low calcium diet? My dog just had stones removed from his bladder.

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  • Shawna

    Interesting theory!! I’m not sure I can agree with that though.. If Champion or others took on corn they would have agribusiness, Monsanto, large Pet food, corn growers industry, food industry and who knows who else gunning for them. That would be corporate suicide in my opinion. Food is politics and upsetting the status quo can have significant consequences. It’s been demonstrated over and over again in other industries.

    rBGH and GMO’s are two more examples. Big industry gets what they want for the most part.

    Example — different entities have been trying to get MSG etc out of the market for quite some time. Any that try is attacked and made to look a quack. They only one that hasn’t, to my knowledge, is Dr. Russell Blaylock. Industry just puts out more bogus studies to refute his work and MSG remains on the market. It may not be that way in New Zealand but I’m from the US and it is that way here (and Canada too).

    I am familiar with Dr. Lonsdale and have read some of his work. I also agree with him but don’t think his way is the only way — or in some cases, like my 16 year old 4 pound Chihuahua with only four teeth, is the best way. For some dogs it is, for others it isn’t.

  • Kenneth

    Thats not true. Dr Tom Lonsdale is a world famous vet advocating a dog diet of raw meaty bone, organs and table scraps whos got the balls and he confronts all those big commercial pet food comapanies fearlessly but he cant just fund studies like that. He isnt mega rich like those fibbing comnpanies to fund expensive long term studies. So my pint is that companies like Champion could take on the status quo and fund such studies but dont coz down the track they want the option to use corn when they may get in financnial trouble and when they have bed partners inside prctor and gamble and mars and the sort. Dr Lonsdale is the best!

  • Shawna

    I don’t see how that would “benefit” them aimee.. Their research could be buried, and if anything it would simply make them a target. Those that go against the grain are deemed quacks etc.. There has been ample data suggesting the pitfalls of GMO crops but look where that got the researchers. I’ve read that scientists at the FDA have even lost their jobs for going against the grain…

    Plus they would have to fork out lots of funds to prove something mother nature has been demonstrating for centuries. Consumer dollars can be a very effective influencer of change.. Something we’re seeing in the dog food industry right now.

  • aimee

    Shawna,

    In regards to “What incentive would researchers have to do research against corn?”.

    Wouldn’t it benefit those companies that promote corn free diets? For example if Champion pet foods, a multinational company funded research that provided data that corn has detrimental effects on dogs/cats wouldn’t that benefit them?

    Why haven’t any companies either independently or jointly funded that research?

  • Kenneth

    Corn rhas nothing toi be gained from except fibre. Dogs have shorter digestive tracts and not enough proper enzymes to break em down. theres nothign good about corn for dogs. Your dogs would find it hard now to get accustomed to raw meatyu bones but could be eased into it. who to believe? Believe one Dr Tom Lonsdale. rawmeatybones.com. Thats all you need to believe. I love sticking it up to Aussies being from New Zealand but when it comes to the dog diet message. the aussie vet has my vote! Believe that dogs came from wolves. That’s a fact. Do wolves eat corn? If you say please tell me when and where? My dogs never looked better on raw meaty bones orgns and table scraps. Thanks you.

  • Shawna

    What incentive would researchers have to do research against corn? Research is VERY expensive to do.. Who’s going to fund the research that says corn isn’t healthful.. And if they do and don’t come up with the right conclusion they are silenced by the corporate entity, in some cases, that is funding the research.

    Example – In the book “Seeds of Deception” the author Jeffrey Smith discusses how the researcher was issued a gag order to prevent him from disclosing the research discovered (cause that research wouldn’t have suited industry).

    It’s often more about politics and money than it is about health. Take aspartame (the sweetener in soda) as an example. JD Searle, the company that first discovered aspartame, tried for 10 years to get the FDA to pass it.. Then Searle hired Donald Rumsfeld and miraculously the FDA had a change of heart.. Hmmm?? Then there’s fluoride and PFOA and and and…. Money talks.. If you don’t believe me read the book “Confessions of an Economic Hitman” by John Perkins or any number of other insider books/accounts…

  • Frank J. Casella

    I like how you said that, I too have the same question. My dog’s have been on a food with no corn, wheat, or soy. Last two bags we had, one walked away from the bowl, the other barfed it up half way through the last bag. No they are on a food with corn and are doing better than ever. More active, white eyes, shinny coats, no bad breath or odors, and their droppings are more solid, to name a few. Below is an interesting link

    http://gomestic.com/pets/dogs-and-corn-myths-and-half-truths/

  • Hound Dog Mom

    I frequently eat almond butter, pumpkin seed butter and sunflower seed butter myself and I’ve given my dogs sprouted pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and almonds in their meals so I’m sure these types of nut butters would be good alternatives for those who don’t want to feed their dogs peanut butter.

  • wantthebest4myk9

    Excellent warning by Dr. Becker we should all heed. I’ve just written about cooking for my mini-Aussie Shepherd with U-Stew; I do add organic, human-grade quinoa which dogs love (all of 2 tablespoons per meal). I never would give a dog peanut butter because of the aflatoxin contaminants, yet so many dog treats (even Kong fillers) say “peanut butter flavor” (I shudder to think what’s in them – corn syrup, I’m thinking?). I have read that Almond Butter is okay for dogs – anyone trying it???

  • Melissa Narvaez-Myers

    @ Mike Sagman,

    Excellent response. Extremely professional, it is no wonder why I rely on your website for information about pet nutrition.

  • Melissa Narvaez-Myers

    You can’t possibly be that stupid..can you?

  • Pattyvaughn

    Believe whoever you want. I can’t give you a study because one wasn’t done on my dog, but he does much better without corn. Many dogs can handle corn, many can’t. The biggest problem, as I see it, is that vets don’t recognize when an issue may be because of food and then fail to educate their clients. They just give steroid shot after steroid shot and shorten the life of the animal that they are treating instead of going after the root cause of the problem. If your dog doesn’t have a problem, lucky you. I hope the new one enjoys a long healthy life.

  • happy corn fed Brittany owner

    As a dog owner who fed his Brittany corn based dog foods for 15 years of healthy, active life, I have recently become interested in the corn debate since acquiring another Brittany. In researching this issue, I have noticed that those who argue against corn rely almost universally on popular literature for references or they give no references all. Those who argue for corn or are at least neutral toward it use peer reviewed journal articles as references. Who to believe?…now let me see…

  • Shawna

    Hi TX-K9,

    Quackwatch is not a place I would go for reliable information as anything alternative is targeted.

    By the way, my dad is a Naturopathic Doctor and Master Herbalist and my mom is trained in Iridology and Applied Kinesiology. I come from “quacks” :)..

    I also don’t “assume” when it comes to canine nutrition. I like data from veterinary nutritionists Monica Segal and Meg Smart to name just two. I also know, thanks to vets quoting Waltham etc, that dogs have NO nutritional requirement for carbohydrates… They surely don’t need corn for health reasons.

  • TX-K9

    As far as Dr. Osborne’s credentials go, you really need to look at them. doctor of chiropractic means nothing for Veterinary Nutrition. For a reasonably informed person it is of course a red flag. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiropractic
    The founder, Palmer was a magnetic healer among other quackery he practised

    http://www.csicop.org/si/show/skeptical_consumers_look_at_chiropractic_claims/

    Next his board certified functional nutrition thing sounded sketchy. The board is ACBN http://www.acbn.org
    From Quackwatch here is a list of credible nutrition certification organizations.

    Finally. Human nutrition is not canine nutrition. Many things are the similar. Many are different. Don’t assume.

    For Veterinary Medicine Info:
    American Veterinary Medicine Assoc.
    https://www.avma.org/News/Pages/default.aspx

    Top Veterinary Colleges:
    http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-health-schools/veterinarian-rankings

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  • Guest

    Personally, I don’t think many readers would have read this far down. I think high cereal pet foods are just an ever losing battle now for your…I mean Hills company and Nestle etc etc.

    You…I mean they will just have to accept one day, that the common customer, is getting smarter, and you and your…I mean them and their scientists, are just going to have to advise your….I mean their corporate employers that we’re…I mean they will just start having to wind down your,,,I mean their businesses, much like cigarette companies will have to, too.

    I hope I made sense there. Some may get it, some may not.

  • Guest

    I would also like to add, Dr. Tom Lonsdale.

  • Sellustraps

    Vets spend very little time on dietary science while they are attending veterinary school. Science diet is a poor choice in feed. I would assume that “they” or you, may have sold yourself on a name when you went to choose a food, and if the vet did tell you that SciDie was the best food… I begin to think of them less a Veterinarian, but more close to a Pimp.

  • Hound Dog Mom

    Most of the 4 and 5 star foods are free of corn – just read the ingredients. Also, being that you have a senior I would recommend picking a food with at least 30% protein. The need for protein increases in senior dogs.

  • help with vitamins

    looking for a good dog food for my senior. allergic to corn

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  • Shawna

    Thanks for that info! Greatly appreciated!

  • beaglemom

    True that! Mike rocks. Btw Labs I love your avatar pic. What a sweet face! :)

  • LabsRawesome

    By Dr. Karen Becker

    In an article
    last November, I reported on the very real danger of future widespread
    aflatoxin contamination of commercial pet food, primarily dry dog food.
    Thanks to the very hot, dry summer of 2012, experts predicted U.S.
    corn crops would be heavily infested with two types of mold — Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus.

    These molds produce metabolites called aflatoxins.
    Aflatoxins cause acute lethal illness and cancer in animals and
    humans, and are among the most carcinogenic substances on earth.
    Aflatoxins poison the liver, and their carcinogenic properties can lead
    to tumor formation. How to Avoid Aflatoxin-Contaminated Pet Food

    Aflatoxin-related illness is seen much more often in dogs than cats because more commercial dog foods than cat foods contain corn products.

    To be very safe, I recommend you transition your pet away from all dry food. Replace it with a high quality canned food, a commercially prepared raw diet, dehydrated raw, a balanced home cooked diet, or a combination.

    If you want to continue to offer dry food to your dog, I recommend you study the ingredients carefully and avoid products containing corn in any form, including corn gluten meal, whole grain corn, corn flour, etc. Corn is not only highly susceptible to aflatoxin contamination, it is also allergenic and difficult for most pets to digest.

  • LabsRawesome

    We need more options when it comes to “voting” comments. There is only vote up or vote down. We need a HELL YEAH vote as well! :)

  • Red

    I would also like to add Dr. Meg Smart, who teaches veterinary nutrition at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine.

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com/ Mike Sagman

    Dr. C…

    I’m so sorry you feel the glycemic index figures mentioned in my article were “laughable”. However, if you had taken the time to read my footnotes, you would have noted my values were “based upon human studies, canine values unavailable”.

    Since you did not take the time to reveal the source of your own corrected figures, please be sure to share a link to your cited reference.

    Also, after reading your comment, it appears you mistakenly believe the purpose of my article was to compare corn with all the other grains. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    Please note the real purpose of this article was to show the nutritional inferiority of all grains (not just corn) when they’re “honestly” compared to meat.

    Since you have now introduced linoleic and linolenic acids (both omega-6 fats) to this discussion, let’s compare the linoleic and linolenic content of corn with (say) chicken.

    According to the United States Department of Agriculture (as reported by nutritiondata.com), the dry matter omega-6 fatty acid content for these two raw ingredients is:

    Corn (frozen kernels) = 14 mg/gm
    Chicken (broilers, whole) = 133 mg/gm

    There may be more linoleic and linolenic acid in corn than in other cereal grains.

    However, there’s a whopping 9.5 times as much of these two omega-6 fatty acids in chicken as there are in corn!

    In your closing remarks, you said “with a little more honest research, you will soon change your mind about corn”.

    Actually, “Dr. C”, I kinda doubt that. In fact, the more research about cereal grains I do, the more I’m convinced of their nutritional inferiority (to meat) – when it comes to feeding dogs.

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  • Dr.C

    Corn is a superior grain in all regards period. However it is also twice as expensive as about every other grain listed here. Corn happens to be a rich source of the essential fatty acids linoleic and linolenic for which other grains are severely deficient.
    When balanced with soy, the result is a perfect combination of aminoacids and nutrients for pet food as researched by doctors and professors for over 50 Years at the Morris Foundation.

    The real truth is that only pet food companies whom can not afford it use corn in their formulations choose not to use it – and likewise try to give other less expensive grains a better name.

    Your glycemic values are laughable:
    Rice as used in pet food has a glycemic index of 91, brown rice up to 87.
    Corn as used in pet food has a glycemic index of 69.

    I could go on and on at correcting your “research” but suffice it to say that with a little more honest research, you will soon change your mind about corn…

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=620546630 Carole Bartolotto

    Plus most corn is genetically engineered. Do you really want to feed your pet an ingredient that has not been proven safe?

  • aimee

    That is really really interesting!! Thanks for sharing that!

  • Shawna

    I found this interesting —- a cholesterol drug caused gluten enteropathy in rats. I wonder if drugs aren’t part of the issue we are seeing in humans..

    “Treatment with triparanol induces sensitivity in rats to wheat, rye, barley, oats, and maize but not to rice or soybean. These cereals caused a similar response in niacin-deficient rats. Mucosal damage produced by methotrexate or cetrimide, however, did not sensitise the intestinal mucosa to dietary cereals. Gluten, zein, and pepsin/trypsin digests of gluten all induced the permeability defect in triparanol-treated rats. It is concluded that although gross disruption of the mucosal structure may not sensitise rats to cereals, various causes of mucosal cell damage can produce a susceptibility to gluten toxicity that resembles gluten-sensitivity in man.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1420099/

  • aimee

    It would have been more accurate for me to have said tryptophan in place of the word protein as in the paper you reported from pellagrins showed resolution with tryptophan.

    From NRC “casein would reverse pellagra in rats”

    So maybe a dose responsive condition?? I
    I haven’t teased out the particulars.

    “Pellagra is a systemic disturbance caused by a cellular deficiency of niacin, resulting from inadequate dietary nicotinic acid and/or its
    precursors, the essential amino-acid tryptophan.”

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16207585

    From that it seems to me if you got enough dietary tryptophan from protein that you could be spared pellagra

  • Shawna

    We must have been reading different histories. I didn’t realize my link didn’t work. For anyone interested in reading the article I am quoting from — google “Pallegra in the United States: A Historical Perspective” and look for the Medscape link (it was the 5th down when I searched).

    “Goldberger and Tanner[30] speculated that pellagra was due to amino acid deficiency. They showed resolution of skin lesions in pellagrins treated with cysteine and tryptophan. However, supplementation of good-quality proteins such as soy and casein failed to cure pellagra; but a diet supplemented with dried yeast and poor in protein was dramatically effective in achieving cure.[31,32] They concluded that a dietary factor independent of protein was effective in prevention of pellagra.”

  • aimee

    Shawna,
    I read a lot of it and went through and read the references he is using to support his argument. I don’t see how he is drawing the conclusions he does based on those references. For example the corn used in one of the studies when tested found to be contaminated with wheat.

  • aimee

    Hi Shawna,

    Wasn’t reading about the history of Pellagra interesting?!! I’m so glad you posted about it because I really enjoyed the history of the ailment and the solving of the medical mystery.

    I don’t know that I’d say corn caused it ( you could eat all the corn you wanted provided you had a source of niacin in your diet or enough protein to synthesize it) but yes it did contribute to the epidemic as did any plant based material. A high plant based low protein diet was the problem.

  • Shawna

    Did you get a chance to read the material from the Chiropractor/Dr of Nutrition I posted?

  • Shawna

    I concede defeat on the pellegra front.. :) I was lead down the wrong path.. I read a really interesting and detailed article last night on the history of pallegra. However, I will say that you are wrong too based on the article.

    Pallegra was “caused” by corn but not because of villous atrophy but rather because of imporper processing. Much the way we imporoperly prepare grains today.

    “Corn had been the staple diet among the natives of Mexico and Central America for several centuries without causing pellagra. Why had corn suddenly become pellagragenic in United States and Europe? The answer to the problem lay in the methodology of corn processing, cooking, and milling.[36] The natives of Mexico and Central America had always soaked the corn in alkali before cooking. The alkali treatment liberates the bound niacin in corn, thereby enhancing the niacin content of the diet to the point of being protective against pellagra.” http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/410505_4

  • aimee

    Actually, I read it through just fine the first time. Yes it does technically say corn causes pellagra. But…… remember the literature you are citing is 40-100 years old!!! Lots has been learned since then ; ). I’ll bet you won’t find that written in the current literature.

    I think you are interpreting these papers as corn caused villlous atrophy, which caused a niacin deficiency. But upon close reading you see this is not what happened, in fact the clues are printed right there in the papers you are citing.

    “Gillman and Gillman (9) reported that changes in the intestinal wall of adult pella-grins were usually minimal.”

    You see it is the niacin deficient diet that drives the intestinal changes not the other way around. NRC 2006 lists shortening and clubbing of villa as a result of a niacin deficient diet.

    I haven’t read Goldberger’s original work. He was the epidemiologist who was instrumental in solving the cause of pellegra. But Rajakumar 2000 reported it was Goldberger who determined “There was no association with consumption of corn or sanitary conditions to development of pellagra.”

  • aimee

    Sigh…No I am not saying that.

  • Shawna

    So you are saying that because science has reported Irish Setters have gluten enteropathy that it is impossible for other breeds to have it because there’s no documentation that you or I can find? That is very closed minded aimee..

    An awful lot of dogs have idiopathic autoimmune issues, IBD/IBS etc.. And an awful lot of them get better when eliminating certain foods. So, should we tell those owners that a food intolerance/allergy could simply not be the issue because we can’t find the science to validate their findings? I’ve NEVER heard of a dog being allergic to cow bone but my Audrey sure is… Sometimes things aren’t explained until they are.

    One final question, you are suggesting then that Dr. Symes, Dr. Cordain and others like them are fabricating their findings?

  • Shawna

    Might want to try re-reading all the material. They state that corn causes pallegra. Just like the casein I have an issue with caused pernicious anemia.

    Actually, some doctors think that inappropriate types of calcium in exess amounts causes bone fractures. I’m drawing a blank on the name of the doctor and book I’m trying to recall (I posted here once when commenting to KaliberKennel and another poster). I know you won’t accept this site but they discuss it here http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/how-too-much-calcium-can-break-your-bones
    Maybe I’ll remember the doctor and book info here before long.

  • aimee

    Shawna I agree I do think it is very important to be cautious in how statements such as the one you made are worded

    Readers can come away thinking that this happens in all dogs that eat corn, or in a significant percentage of dogs who eat corn. In reality if it occurs it may be that it occurs at a frequency not that different from any other ingredient used in pet food.

    While there are published studies documenting villous atrophy in the very small percentage of Irish Setters with wheat gluten enteropathy, I can’t find any documentation that this occurs in dogs with corn protein. Apparently you can not find it either.

  • aimee

    Shawna,

    Honestly I’m not sure what to say. Pellagra is due to a niacin deficiency. That wasn’t known in 1913 when the article you are quoting was written.

    Corn didn’t cause villous atrophy… a niacin deficient diet did. Similarly meat doesn’t cause bone fractures… a diet deficient in calcium does.

  • Shawna

    Morning aimee,

    Couldn’t sleep at all last night so spent a little time googling.. I looked up the specific prolamin in corn called zein — bust for the most part. So refined search to corn prolamin villous atrophy and several things popped up.

    History on the author of the data I’m posting — “Dr. Peter Osborne is both a doctor of chiropractic as well as a Board Certified doctor of clinical nutrition” http://towncenterwellness.com/

    (I read the research sited by Dr. Osborne but my brain was not and is not in a state that I could comprehend much so….)

    “Corn is a grain. Corn has gluten. Many believe that corn gluten does not induce damage the same way that wheat, barley, and rye do. The fact of the matter is, gluten has not been studied adequately. Most of what we know about celiac disease and gluten have to do with gliadin (the gluten found in wheat only). As a physician with 10 years of experience treating gluten sensitivity, I have seen corn be a severe problem for the majority of gluten intolerant patients.

    A Study published in the journal Gut identified that corn gluten caused an inflammatory reaction in patients with celiac disease.” (link to “Gut” is provided on following link) http://www.glutenfreesociety.org/gluten-free-society-blog/corn-gluten-damages-celiac-patients/

    Here’s two more pages with links to research
    http://www.glutenfreesociety.org/gluten-free-society-blog/corn-antibodies-in-celiac-crohns-and-ulcerative-colitis/

    http://www.glutenfreesociety.org/gluten-free-society-blog/corn-maize-gluten-causes-antibody-response-in-celiac-patients/

  • Shawna

    Had a few free minutes—you’ve said before that you accept books — page 28, paragragh about pallegra

    http://books.google.com/books?id=DMAnJl1ckmwC&pg=PA28&lpg=PA28&dq=corn+lectins+villous+atrophy&source=bl&ots=nBTxCEmbR2&sig=bGmqGZP5uJsHMTxI6jvaDsWN5Y0&hl=en&sa=X&ei=Hk86UfzOOZSo8gTy14DwAg&ved=0CGkQ6AEwBjgK#v=onepage&q=corn%20lectins%20villous%20atrophy&f=false

    Corn may be “recommended” for celiacs but if you read a celiac forum many have issues with foods other than wheat/rye/barley. Foods high in lectins like dairy, corn, soy etc http://www.celiac.com/gluten-free/topic/98491-3-weeks-in-will-it-ever-get-better/

    Cambridge Journal of Nutrition – written by Cordain whom has been sited here on DFA before. http://journals.cambridge.org/download.php?file=%2FBJN%2FBJN83_03%2FS0007114500000271a.pdf&code=78805e89cf96c52a329e7a33e0a9df0e

    This quote was taken from the google link — once on the page the data here is not in the part that can be read
    “SMALL INTESTINAL DEFICIT IN PELLAGRA 547 Depending upon their staple food, maize or wheat, the subjects were classified into two groups of primary and secondary pellagra” http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/25/6/545.short

    “The Pathological Changes in Pellagra and the Production of the Disease in Lower Animals

    Probably the most neglected side of the disease is its morbid anatomy and histology; and the effects of feeding animals on preparations of maize are but scantily described.” http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=4635632
    There was quite a lot more but I don’t have time to look at each one and many that I looked at required a paid subscription..

  • Shawna

    You know full well that I agree that lectins are not problematic for all!! I should have worded that better but a simple correction is all that is needed.
    You also know that I lost all my research when my work PC had a mental breakdown.. However, you can go back through my posts and look for it if you’ld like — it’s there somewhere. You can also try looking using the terms maize or zea mays as I think that was my google search terms when I found it. And try enteropathy as well as villous atrophy.
    Dogtor J got it right with wheat and dairy (and I believe there is evidence for soy as well) so I have no reason to doubt him on corn. He lectures all over on this stuff — to other professionals.
    Lastly, I have mentioned over and over again that these foods can cause damage LONG before that damage is ever, if ever, diagnosed. As in my dairy issue causing malnutrtion (which in turn cause hypothyroid, pernicious anemia, iron anemia — those are just the ones diagnosed) before I saw the RIGHT doctor and was put on a food elimination diet. That over 15 years I lived with symptoms before a accurate diagnosis. Many dogs may not live long enough if the veterinary community is anything like the human medical community. Oh, my girlfriend had her colon removed but her symptoms persisted until she gave up wheat. Now she is on disability without a colon and that may not have been totally unnecessary if her barrage of doctors had considered food as a potential cause..??

  • LabsRawesome

    I think it is you that needs to get their facts straight….dogs eat what is put in their bowl. I don’t know what kind of dogs you have, but my dogs do not go out into the “wild” and kill and eat anything. They do lick kittens to death sometimes though. lol If you want to discuss wolves, then I would pretty much tell you the same thing HoundDogMom did. Great post HDM! :)

  • Pattyvaughn

    What Shawna isn’t telling you is that dogs with kidney disease aren’t expected to live very long on those veterinary recommended diets, maybe a year to a year and a half, which maybe the best reason to stay away from them.

  • Shawna

    PS — I’m a raw feeder and have 8 dogs that have eaten raw for many years. Including the one in my avatar that was born with kidney disease and was weaned on to a high protein raw diet. She’ll be 7 years old the end of this coming June and is VERY healthy. She is not medicated. She has NEVER required or been given sub-q fluids. Her symptoms have not changed in 7 years etc etc etc..

    By the way, here is a list of vets and nutritionists that can be found online that are raw feeders.

    Lew Olsen
    Mary Straus
    Kymythy Schultz
    Dr. Martin Goldstein
    Dr. Karen Becker
    Dr. Ian Billinghurst
    Dr. Pitcairn
    Dr. Amy Nesselrodt
    Dr. Christina Chambreau
    Dr. Peter Dobias

    I could go on if you’ld like.

  • Hound Dog Mom

    Jenessa –

    You’re the one that needs to get their facts straight.

    Wild candids do not typically eat the stomach contents of their prey (unless it is a very small animal that they consume whole). This is an excerpt from “The Wolf as a Carnivore”:

    “Wolves usually tear into the body cavity of
    large prey and…consume the larger internal organs, such as lungs,
    heart, and liver. The large rumen [, which is one of the main stomach
    chambers in large ruminant herbivores,]…is usually punctured during removal and its contents spilled. The vegetation in the intestinal
    tract is of no interest to the wolves
    , but the stomach lining and
    intestinal wall are consumed, and their contents further strewn about
    the kill site.”

    Also, even if a wild candid were to eat the stomach contents of a wild animal – why would you say they’re eating grains? Wild animals don’t typically eat grains. Where would they get grains? Do you think deer and rabbits are ravaging corn fields on a daily basis? Wild herbivores eat plant material. Grains aren’t part of a natural diet for any species – even herbivores.