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  1. #1
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    Default Why does Corn get a Bad Rep?

    I know that many lower quality foods heavily rely on corn instead of meat. However, with rare exception, all kibble contains some sort of carb (unless its one of the newer raw kibble choices or one of the dehydrated lines).

    If we are just looking at carb additives such as wheat, rice, potato, tapioca, peas, etc. what makes corn an inferior choice?

    I recently came to the realization that I heavily jumped on the anti corn bandwagon without having an educated reason behind my decision. Lately I've heard people extoll tapioca, green peas, etc. but they struggle with explaining why these are better additives.

    I know that most of the research about dog food is done by Science Diet, Purina, Eukanuba, etc. and there is an inherent bias in the type of research done. Do any studies exist comparing the digestibility of different carbs?



  2. #2
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  3. #3
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    I think a few reasons.
    1) Pure snobbery. Corn is common and therefore cheap in North America.
    2) Allergies. Some animals are really and truly allergic to it. Since corn is ubiquitous, chances are that an allergy prone animal has been exposed and will react adversely to lots of foods.
    3) Weird contaminants. Corn, when stressed while growing or if stored improperly after harvest, can get infested with fungi. Some of these fungi produce nasty toxins. There's some concern that corn rejected for human consumption gets redirected into pet foods.

    Personally, I don't lose sleep over the issue, as none of my current animals are allergic. (Been there, done that in the past; royal PITA.)


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  4. #4
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    Not snobbery or allergies at all. All nutrients are not created equal and corn is hardly bio-available to carnivores. For me I won't spend money on corn -I want more bang for my buck.

    Paula
    He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).


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  5. #5
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    I like a lot of things about dog food advisor but I find this article intentionally misleading and unhelpful. Rather than discuss the true pros and cons they pick the most extreme "myths" none of which I have ever heard and then end up saying it is sort of right. Nearly the entire article could apply to any carb source. I don't see how the article explains why corn is worse than other grain sources.

    Carp: I think the allergy point is a great one. Compared to other allergens, corn is relatively uncommon but common enough that it affects a fair percent of the population. My parents wheaten terriers definitely show an increased likelihood of getting ear infections and general itching when on corn and wheat. My current guy seems unaffected.

    I've also heard about the contaminants concerns but I would think that a reputable plant would test corn upon receiving it and then test the final product for any contaminants. Does anyone know if such testing is mandatory or is it up to the individual companies?


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  6. #6
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    All I can tell you is based on a lot of years raising, training, and showing a lot of dogs: corn gives dogs great big loose light-colored stools. Which makes me think it's not very digestible.

    When I run out of dog food, I cook rice for them and mix it with fish (I live near the coast). Rice does not give them great big loose light-colored stools.

    The plural of anecdote is not data. But based on my experience, corn is junk. I won't pay money for it.

    Besides, we pay agri-business enough money for the corn we have to put in our gas tank. They don't need to get more money for corn we put in our pets.
    Analytical thinking is the first casualty when opposing sides polarize, and that shows lack of common sense on both sides.
    Denny Emerson


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  7. #7
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    Exactly -I won't pay money for corn.

    Paula
    He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).


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  8. #8
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    A couple of times my dogs have been given leftovers where there has been some corn (kernels, not on the cob.) The next day those kernals got pooped out, intact. Absolutely not digestible nutrition for dogs!
    I realize that I'm generalizing here, but as is often the case when I generalize, I don't care. ~ Dave Barry



  9. #9
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    Default

    For nearly any creature corn has a lot of empty bulk to it. That little germ of carb and sugar comes in a big fiber wrapper. Dog food manufacturers started using it because it was cheap, not because of any nutritional analysis that indicated it was good for dogs.


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  10. #10
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    You got it! The pet food industry is more interested in what your dog could eat than what your dog should eat. As a consequence they re-purpose alot of waste streams to feed your dog. For example, brewer's rice and animal by-products. I swear if they could figure out how to render the protein out of tire treads you'd find it in your kibble.

    Paula
    He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).


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  11. #11
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    its not digestible for anyone. I pass whole kernels of corn and I have molars. Dogs dont have molars to grind up and process food.


    Quote Originally Posted by Guin View Post
    A couple of times my dogs have been given leftovers where there has been some corn (kernels, not on the cob.) The next day those kernals got pooped out, intact. Absolutely not digestible nutrition for dogs!


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  12. #12
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    It is inflammatory. It has toxins. It is almost always GMO. It is grown using roundup as a weed killer (gMO).

    Here is an article:

    http://www.texasgrassfedbeef.com/cor...ad_for_you.htm

    Also, watch th documentary "king Corn".
    Where in this wide world can man find nobility without pride,
    friendship without envy or beauty without vanity?
    Ode to the Horse. ~ Ronald Duncan


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  13. #13
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    These responses are what I expected but I don't really feel like the shed light on why Corn specifically is worse than other grains.

    I feel like arguments about digestibility, availability, cost savings, etc. could also be used for kibble that use other carb sources such a wheat, rice, potato, etc. Why is tapioca or green peas laudable but corn is dangerous and a cheap filler? If meat is the primary ingredient (or even better, the first 3-4 ingredients) then why is corn a bad additive further down the line?

    Kelliope: I don't mean to be rude but I don't feel like that is necessarily the most unbiased and factual article to be quoting. The website "grassfed beef" clearly has an agenda. The omega 6-3 levels are concerning if thats all your feeding but wouldn't fish or flax added to kibble balance out these levels? Shouldn't any reputable company test for aflatoxin or other toxins before adding it to kibble? Why use the example of Rickets in cows due to a farmer feeding straight corn as an example of why corn is bad to feed to cows in any amount? The "data" about omega 3s and inflammatory response is a link to a man's personal experience and has no cited references that I could find.


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  14. #14
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    RE: I feel like arguments about digestibility, availability, cost savings, etc. could also be used for kibble that use other carb sources such a wheat, rice, potato, etc. Why is tapioca or green peas laudable but corn is dangerous and a cheap filler? If meat is the primary ingredient (or even better, the first 3-4 ingredients) then why is corn a bad additive further down the line?

    All carbs are not created equal. It is about bio-availability. Here's a made up protein example: pork hide versus chicken breast. They are not equally digestible, but are both protein.

    For me if meat is 1-4 on the list and corn is 12 I don't care. The corn is marginal. I have no corn allergies in my house so it's not a big deal. Tell you what though; you'll be challenged I bet to find a kibble so good as to have meat, meat, meat, meat (not by-product) and still have corn in it.

    Paula
    He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).


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  15. #15
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    Just food for thought - few animals really lives on straight meat alone. Wasn't there a study on the healthy cat diet -and the healthiest diet for cats was mice, which, by the way, is not just meat. - it's brain (full of lipids), liver (lots of nutrients and not just meat), bone, hide, etc. Animals actually will selectively eat carcasses - including the entrails of grazing/herbivore prey. Our old basset would catch and selectively eat the heads of rabbits. Our cat would leave headless rats. Eeww..

    So, meat alone is not the answer. I personally feel a well balanced dog food, regardless of the ingredients serve my (non-allergy) dogs just fine. Let's just say the corn in their kibble balances out nicely with all the horse and cat poo the ol' scavengers eat....



  16. #16
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    I don't believe anyone posting so far believes the ideal diet is meat alone. The question was why not corn.

    Paula
    He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).



  17. #17
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    corn is usually suggested as an ingredient to avoid because in most cases when a dog food company chooses to use corn, they are using the corn to substitute for meat in the formula- thus, by avoiding formulas with corn in them, you automatically avoid most of the really low-quality foods. Many foods that have practically no meat content use corn/soy as the protein source; other low-quality foods use corn gluten to pretend the food has protein in it. Corn protein is a low quality incomplete substance that should not be used as the source of protein for a dog. Dogs need meat.

    we can discuss whether corn has any value at all to the dog if used correctly, below:

    I recently came to the realization that I heavily jumped on the anti corn bandwagon without having an educated reason behind my decision. Lately I've heard people extoll tapioca, green peas, etc. but they struggle with explaining why these are better additives.
    well, first of all, dogs are carnivores and their diets should be composed of meat, bones, and organs, not plants. If we choose to feed kibble, though, we do have to feed some kind of carbohydrate source, because you can't get kibble to stick together without a starch component. Also feeding the dog SOME of its calories from plant sources vs. meat sources saves on costs, and some very active dogs do seem to benefit from the addition of some calories from grain/potatoes to their diet. So there are some valid reasons to add a limited amount of grain/carb source to the dog's diet. This carb source should never be the base of the diet; the diet should be based on meat, not grain, not potatoes.

    So if we want to select a carb source to add, which to choose? what factors to consider?
    well, first we consider: can the dog digest it? then we consider: does it have a high glycemic index/glycemic load- because if it does, it can promote damage to the dog's body and promote the development of diabetes. We might also want to consider whether it is inflammatory or not.

    Dogs can't chew grains up, but they are ground up into fine flours and cooked before being put into kibble, thus dogs should be able to at least partially digest most carb sources in kibble form. Rice is often said to be the easiest of grains for dogs to digest; most dogs also seem fine with oats. Many people report dogs fed kibbles with corn or legumes (peas) in them get very gassy, suggesting they have difficulty digesting these products. Some dogs also seem to struggle to digest potatoes. I haven't heard anything about difficulty digesting tapioca or sweet potatoes.
    So corn doesn't seem to be a highly digestible carb, but in this respect it doesn't seem to be any better than peas or potatoes. Rice is far superior on this factor.

    glycemic index, corn is sort of "up there" with all the other carb options- tapioca has a much higher glycemic index, and peas a lower glycemic index, but on this factor, rice/corn/potatoes are all about the same. Glycemic load, corn/potatoes are better than rice, peas are even better, and tapioca is the worst by far.

    Inflammatory index, sweet potatoes are the clear winner, being highly anti-inflammatory. Tapioca is the clear loser, being highly inflammatory, with corn also being highly inflammatory; rice and white potatoes are both moderately inflammatory, and peas are almost neutral.

    So if you had to pick between kibbles, lets say they were all meat-based, high in protein from meat sources, and otherwise the same except carb source, which carb would you select? assuming your dog doesn't have any obvious allergies to any particular foods. I personally like sweet potatoes, for their anti-inflammatory properties, and rice, which is a good basic easily digested carb. But there is little reason to prefer say white potatoes vs. corn (unless your dog tells you by his gassiness that he would rather not eat corn). Tapioca does not look like a good ingredient, overall, but most of the products that have tapioca in them have remarkably little tapioca- it's a minor component that seems to be added mostly to bind the kibbles together. If a product appeared to have a fairly high tapioca content I'd avoid it.
    Aside from the difficulty in digesting them (which your dog may tell you in no uncertain terms that he cannot), peas look very good on paper, but I avoid products with peas high up on the ingredient list- I think peas are becoming "the new corn", with many companies using the low-quality protein in peas to substitute for more expensive meat.


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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by millerra View Post
    Let's just say the corn in their kibble balances out nicely with all the horse and cat poo the ol' scavengers eat....
    I agree that the typical wild carnivore gets more than just meat and that's well and dandy. But using your scavenger example, if barn rat nibbled on some kernel corn then met his untimely demise by barn cat, what's the quantity of corn kitty would actually get? Probably a pretty small portion and by a ratio of what else is in the rat, minimal to insignificant (ie, I'm in agreement with Paulaedwina's statement above).

    Corn filler is super cheap which is why it's added to bulk up the caloric content to cut down on how much digestible protein and fat have to be added to the kibble mix. The amount of corn barn cat would get from eating a barn rat every now and again is significantly less in ratio than what barn cat gets in eating corn-filled kibble.


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  19. #19
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    OP, people are telling you why corn isn't a good source of nutrition and you're choosing not to believe them.

    Please, take a basic biology class. One that will cover trophic levels and explain what paulaedwina is saying about bio-availability.

    Carnivores are not able to digest corn. They just aren't. This is why they must consume herbivores/ruminants who have the ability to absorb the nutrition available in corn. Herbivores/ruminants digest the corn and make that energy (well, some of it) bio-available to the carnivores that in turn consume them.

    It isn't a matter of opinion - it's biology.
    "Are you yawning? You don't ride well enough to yawn. I can yawn, because I ride better than you. Meredith Michael Beerbaum can yawn. But you? Not so much..."
    -George Morris


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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by GraceLikeRain View Post
    These responses are what I expected but I don't really feel like the shed light on why Corn specifically is worse than other grains.
    .
    *shrugs* I don't know that grain in moderation is "bad" or "worse"; dogs are after all omnivores. I'm just telling you that in my experience, corn gives dogs big loose stinky stools. Whereas rice gives one a more compact dry stool. Since I have multiple dogs, low stool volume is a convenience for me, plus I think it means the corn is less digestible.

    But if corn works for your dogs, great.
    Analytical thinking is the first casualty when opposing sides polarize, and that shows lack of common sense on both sides.
    Denny Emerson



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