Being a company that is headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska, corn is (literally) EVERYWHERE! In my opinion the rolling fields of corn this time of year, are really quite beautiful to look at. It seems that corn has found its way into almost every aspect of our lives. From foods (both human and animal) we eat, the fuel in our cars, to even some of the biodegradable plastics that we use. You would be hard pressed to go a day without using at least some form of this popular yellow plant.
When it comes to the food that your pets eat however, there is a huge debate on whether or not corn is actually a nutritious ingredient or just a cheap filler product used by pet food manufactures to add calories while cutting costs. It makes sense that in the first part of this series we dive into this debate to answer the question, is corn bad for your pet?
Corn is Corn… is Corn… is Corn…Right?
While it may seem that all corn is created equal, in reality there many different types of corn out there, most of which have been genetically modified to meet certain needs. For example, the corn that we buy in the grocery store and enjoy (covered in butter) at our cook outs, is not the same type of corn that is found in ethanol fuel, or animal feed (including dog and cat food).
The corn found in pet food, is specific type of corn that is hard and dried right on the stalk. This makes this grain much easier to harvest and store for longer periods of time. It can also be ground up and included in just about any type of pet food without it even being noticeable.
Unfortunately, this presents possible serious health risks to our pets that eat the foods that contain it.
Hidden in This Corn
Because corn, like other cereal grains is harvested and stored in big silos (sometimes for long periods of time) it is next too impossible to keep contaminates out of it. So what contaminates are possible? Well the most common things that are found in feed corn include:
Now, that does not mean that all pet foods that contain corn are contaminated, but keep this in mind, some pet food companies, have been known to purchase the cheapest grains available for use in their pet foods (essentially the bottom of the barrel… or in this case the silo). In some cases, the grains that are used are often labeled as “Not for Human Consumption”. That fact alone makes me cringe, I mean if I cannot eat it, why should I feed it to my pets?
Itching & Scratching? Allergies are Not Cool!
Allergies, especially skin allergies are very common in pets and often times are overlooked until the symptoms become really noticeable. So how does this relate to corn? Well some research studies have shown that grains (including corn) put pets at a greater risk for skin allergies as, we mentioned above, these grains are often contaminated with mites. Just like dust mites effect humans, pets are sensitive to them and thus all the itching, scratching and over licking.
“Back in my Day” – Something Your Pet’s Grandparents Would Say
I am sure that it is no surprise to you that the diet of your pet’s ancestors was quite different. Though cute and cuddly now, your pet’s forbearers were predatory animals whose diet consisted almost entirely of raw meats. It is safe to assume that corn was NOT a part of their diet. Of course our pets have adapted and evolved from the time of their “grandparents”, but their bodies still require high quality a nutritious diet to ensure a long and healthy life.
So All Pet Food with Corn is Bad?
So why do pet food manufactures include corn in their foods? There are a couple of reasons, for one, corn provides a calorie and carbohydrate rich food source that can be easily mixed with just about any other ingredients. This allows pet food manufactures to pack as many calories into their food as possible. Perhaps the single biggest reason that corn is included however, is simply because it is cheap. Naturally nutritious food sources like protein, fruits and vegetables cost these companies more money and they erode their margins.
BUT, that does not mean that there is not a place for foods that include corn in them. Like all things, it is impossible to create a blanket statement against the use of corn in pet foods as there are situations that the use of corn can be a good thing. However, corn should definitely NOT be listed as one of the top 5 ingredients in your pet’s food as that is an indication that the vast majority of that food is not made from high quality proteins that your pet needs.
Premium Pet foods, like the ones sold right here on K9Cuisine.com are made from these more premium and nutritious food sources, and thus they cost more than the average bag of food that you can find in your local grocery story. Many pet owners however, either do not understand the importance of what they are feeding their pets, or they cannot afford the cost of the more premium food lines. As such, right or wrong, these less than ideal foods do make an affordable option for those pet owners.
Our Question Today?
What are your thoughts on corn as an ingredient in pet foods? I hope that you enjoyed this first part in our series on understanding your pet’s food. Be sure to keep reading through our remaining parts and by all means join in on the conversation by leaving a comment below!