carnivores or cornivores?

Lately, corn has been getting a bad rap — but is it justified? When it comes to corn as an ingredient in pet food, the answer is complicated.

Corn is an inexpensive source of amino acids, so it is often included as a key ingredient in commercial dog foods. Because it is such a common ingredient, it is targeted by people who regard dogs as pure carnivores. Others claim that corn is difficult for dogs to digest, and cite its inclusion on lists of common allergens in dogs with skin and intestinal issues.

However, corn does have a place in dog food, not only because dogs are not obligate carnivores (have you ever noticed your dog “snacking” on grass?), but also because dry dog food needs at least one starch.

Corn is a whole grain, and whole grains are good for both you and your dog. Now, if your dog eats a diet based mostly on whole grains, not only would he be eating an unbalanced diet, he’d probably be overweight. So with corn, as with many things, moderation is key.

There is no scientific evidence that a “corn-free” or “grain-free” diet is better for your dog than average food, but to make sure your pet’s diet is balanced, try looking for a food that doesn’t list corn in the first three or four ingredients.

Corn and other grains are also commonly used in both dry and wet cat foods. But unlike dogs, cats are obligate carnivores, so it is best to avoid foods with high carbohydrate content. For cats, it makes sense to consider an entirely grain-free diet.