Can dogs eat corn cobs?

Unlike most vegetables, corn on the cobs don’t digest in a dog’s stomach. That means they are likely to cause a blockage, and possible perforation, if they’re left to make their way through the intestines.

Is sweetcorn dangerous for dogs?

Sweetcorn is, in actual fact, a healthy option for dogs — as long as it’s been taken off the cob. The kernels contain protein, natural antioxidants and essential fatty acids and are a great source of energy.

What are the symptoms of corn on the cob ingestion?

Dogs who have eaten a corn cob may show some of these clinical signs:

  • Sickness
  • Diarrhoea
  • Tiredness
  • Difficulty pooing or producing small amounts of poo
  • Poor appetite
  • Abdominal tenderness or pain
Image for Vets Now article on can dogs eat corn on the cobs
Unlike most vegetables, corn on the cobs don’t digest in a dog’s stomach, meaning they are likely to cause a blockage

What to do if your dog eats a corn cob?

Most dogs swallow things they shouldn’t from time to time. These so-called foreign objects usually pass through their system without causing any problems. However, some are just too big and can get stuck. This may be the case with corn cobs. If you fear your dog has eaten something — such as a corn on the cob — that may cause a blockage you should contact your vet or, out of hours, your nearest Vets Now pet emergency clinic or Vets Now 24/7 hospital straight away.

Dog ate corn cob treatment

Corn cobs are treated as ‘foreign bodies’ so your vet will perform a full physical examination and may also carry out blood tests, x-rays and an ultrasound. Your dog may have to go under general anaesthetic to have the foreign object removed. The health of your dog’s intestine will be assessed and in the most serious cases, it may also be necessary to remove a portion of the damaged intestine.

Dog needs surgery to remove corn on the cob

A black Labrador had to have emergency surgery at Vets Now after eating corn on the cob. Two-year-old Henry’s owner didn’t think twice when she gave him the leftover vegetables. She believed corn cobs were a healthy alternative to other more fat-laden human foods. But the reality is they can cause serious blockages in a dog’s intestines — as Henry discovered to his cost.

Taking up the story his owner explained: “We’re always very careful about what we feed Henry because we don’t want him to put on too much weight. “We thought all vegetables were fine and didn’t think twice when he crunched up leftover sweetcorn cobs.”

Image of Henry the dog who needed surgery at Vets Now after eating corn on the cob
Henry the Labrador needed emergency treatment after swallowing a corn on the cob

However, the following day Henry became ill, so his owner called Vets Now for advice. She added: “Luckily, Jenny at Vets Now knew all about the dangers of corn cobs. After a consultation and x-ray, Jenny discovered the corn cobs in his stomach. By 11 pm, Henry was in the operating theatre having them removed.”

His owner said: “We were very lucky that we had noticed Henry was unwell before the cobs left his stomach, so Jenny was able to take them all out in one go. When Jenny phoned us the following morning to tell us how Henry was doing, she was delighted with his progress. You’d never know now that anything had been wrong. Henry’s fur has grown back and covered his scar.

“It goes without saying that if it wasn’t for Vets Now, things could have been much worse and we’re very grateful that they were able to help Henry as quickly as they did.”

Vets Now has a network of 58 clinics and pet emergency hospitals across the UK.

All have a vet and vet nurse on site at all times and are open through the night, seven-days-a-week, and day and night on weekends and bank holidays, to treat any pet emergencies that may occur.