If you want to get away from serving corn to Max for his daily supper, you have lots of choices. There's a good variety of corn-free commercial food options available. You can also dust off your apron and cook for your pup yourself, giving you ultimate control over his diet.
Corn as Carbs and Protein
Carbohydrates aren't all bad and are a good source of energy for dogs. Corn is a valid source for Max's carbs, and it's okay if he has it in small amounts. Some pet food manufacturers turn to corn as a primary protein source, which is cheaper than using animal-based proteins. If corn germ meal is on the food label, you're getting corn germ and other parts of the corn kernel. It's a cheap by-product from human food processing that's high in protein and used as a booster in lower quality foods. It's not harmful, but it shouldn't be high in the list of ingredients in a high quality food. The same is true of corn gluten meal, which mainly acts as a food binder. If you can afford it, avoid foods that rely on corn meal as the main source of protein.
Problems With Corn Meal
Compared to other carbohydrate sources, corn meal has a high glycemic index, which can lead to an unhealthy rise in Max's blood sugar. If you're looking to get a greater nutritional bang for your buck in Max's food, look at other veggies or grains; corn has a low nutritional value, compared to other options such as peas, sweet potatoes and oats. Though corn itself isn't a significant culprit when it comes to allergens for dogs, it often contains undetected contaminants that cause food-related allergies.
Genetically Modified Corn
There's increasing reluctance to use genetically modified food, which is food with foreign genes introduced into its genetic code. Dr. Michael Fox notes that genetically modified corn is increasingly finding its way into pet food, with potentially harmful effects. He links intestinal disorders, allergies and liver, kidney and immune system ailments to the presence of genetically modified corn in pet food food.
Foods Without Corn Meal
There's a wide variety of kibble that does not contain corn meal. Blue Buffalo Wilderness, Innova, Avoderm Natural, Newman’s Own Organics, Solid Gold, Fromm, Wellness Core, Evanger’s, Kirkland, Halo, and Nature’s Select are just a few brands to choose from. They're available in a variety of outlets, from supermarkets, to local pet stores to large chain pet stores. Don't assume that all canned food is free of corn meal; a few brands rated as lower quality by Dog Food Advisor contain corn gluten meal.
Substitutes for Corn Meal
There are other choices beyond corn. Grain substitutes include rice, oats and barley. Popular vegetables include peas, potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots and beans. If you plan to cook for Max yourself, all of the above can be worked into his menu plan. Pumpkin, spinach and broccoli are also good choices. Make sure you avoid onions, which are toxic to dogs.
Reading the Label
Understanding how to decipher a dog food label will help you in your quest to feed Max a healthy, affordable diet. The Dog Food Project advises that you look for the first source of fat or oil on the ingredient list. Anything before that is the main ingredients of the food and will tell you what will represent the bulk of your pup's diet. If corn, ground or otherwise, is a first ingredient in the food, it's best to keep looking. The same is true if corn gluten meal is a main ingredient. Whatever brand of food you choose, the primary ingredient should be a specific meat protein source, such as chicken or lamb meal. "Meat" is not a good choice.
- The Whole Dog Journal: Editorial Febuary 2012 Issue Story Tools E-Mail to a friend E-Mail to the editor Post a Reader comment Printer Friendly By Nancy Kerns “No” Power - Interpreting a Dry Dog Food Product Label
- The Dog Food Project: Ingredients to Avoid
- Dog Food Advisor: The Truth About Corn in Dog Food
- The Dog Food Project: Identifying Better Products
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Genetically Engineered Foods