With corn, corn gluten meal, ground corn, corn grits, corn bran, and corn meal so prevalent in commercial pet foods for dogs and cats, one does have to ask… Is corn really all that bad for your pet?
“When you read the label on a bag of cat food and the first ingredient is ground yellow corn, it should make you stop and think,” says Dr. Jean Hofve, DVM, a holistic veterinarian in Jamestown, Colorado. Even some premium pet foods list corn or corn-gluten meal among the top ingredients, but these foods do little other than keep costs down. They do help to form the kibble, and corn-gluten meal is a cheap source of protein, but too much can contribute to health problems, especially in cats.
As a holistic pet parent who lost not one but two kitties within a few weeks of switching them to a so-called holistic brand (at the time, I wasn’t tuned into to “corn” as a problem for pets), and the vet blamed the corn, I avoid corn in pet food even more that I avoid by-products.
Catkins or Carbs?
The November/December 2007 issue of Animal Wellness Magazine has a very simple reason to avoid high-carbohydrate diets in pet foods… and since most of the carbs in pet foods come from corn, I read this article as strong counsel to avoid it in your pet food.
There are medical conditions such as obesity, pancreatisis, diabetes, and liver disease which are being seen with greater frequency, especially in cats. The culprit, according to Dr. Elizabeth Hodgkins, DVM, Esq., is a high-carb diet. “These high carb diets assault the sugar-controlling functions of both the liver and the pancreas, causing obesity and predisposing the cat to hepatic lipidosis (liver function impairment). Liver disease, in particular, is “invariably linked to the carbohydrate-rich commercial diets, especially the dry ones, so commonly fed to felines”.
Mere diabetes, obesity, and liver problems are just the most common thing that can happen to your pet. I was shocked to find out that corn is highly subject to the aflatoxin fungus. Aflatoxin is a fungus common on legumes, corn, and other grains, and it’s as deadly to humans as it is to dogs and cats. It attacks the liver and causes death. Notice I didn’t say, “frequently”. More like, “almost all the time”.
Steve Shrum, president of the South Carolina Association of Veterinarians, a state hit pretty hard by dog deaths, said, “It takes such a small amount, and there’s pretty much nothing you can do with the process that will inactivate that toxin once it gets in the food supply.”
Aflatoxin is a well-known fungus and when pet food companies tell you they have strict quality controls, one thing they are constantly testing for is aflatoxin fungus.
Of the many major pet food recalls over the last thirteen years, aflatoxin features prominently. Just two years ago, Diamond Pet Foods recalled 19 brands made over a four-month period because of documented dog deaths from liver toxicity.
Food intolerance and allergies
According to Dr. John Syme, a holistic veterinarian who preaches that food intolerance, allergies, celiac disease, and even epilepsy are all related to certain grains in pet foods:
“The most serious food intolerances are those to the gluten grains (wheat, barley, and rye), casein (dairy products), soy and corn, with the first three being the most common… Gluten, dairy products, soy and corn are doing an incredible amount of harm to a phenomenal number of people and animals”.
Commercial and even some so-called holistic pet food companies don’t want you to know this
One prominent, extremely high-priced, so-called holistic pet food manufacturer claims that the “they have corn and we don’t” premise is merely a marketing technique. They call it “cornophobia”, the “demonization of corn” in pet foods, and proudly list “corn meal” as the Number One ingredient in their top-selling K-9 dog food.
A quick check of high-profile manufacturers such as Iams, Purina, Science Diet, Diamond, and Flint River shows that they all find a way to distance themselves from the growing public awareness of corn as a potentially harmful ingredient in their pet’s food. One manufacturer states that all corn is grown within the U.S. Another declares that it’s not genetically modified. Others promote the “corn as a top nutritional ingredient” myth.
To be sure, cats and dogs can live well into their teens on a corn-based, dry commercial diet. We’ve gotten used to it, think it’s normal… but our pets are now dying in what used to be their prime years.
Do you know what the natural lifespan of a cat or dog really is? 27-30 years. True. Cat Fancy ran a feature during the summer of 2007 on their readers’ oldest cats. The oldest was 36 and many runner-ups were in their 30′s. This is no accident. This is good nutrition.
Learn for yourself
The reality was something that I learned for myself. I do animal rescue and feed $600 worth of pet food per month. The very first time I fed a truly holistic brand, not one touting “organic corn” but one that had NO corn… my cats stopped throwing up. All of them. Their eating and their litterbox habits changed for the better. Their coats became glossy and their chronic illnesses improved.
It was absolutely unbelievable. So much for “sensitive stomach” foods. All I needed to do was get them away from the corn.
If you consider your cat or dog to be your child and are an “adopt for life” pet parent, one of the 85% of pet parents who would risk their life for their pets, start reading the label on your pet’s food. Take the time to seek out and try safe, holistic pet foods that DO NOT CONTAIN corn.
My favorite pet food has a short video that is the best thing you can do for your pet. Titled, “Do You Know What’s In Your Pet’s Food“, it will tell you how to read the label.
That video is an eye popper and is the only thing like it on the web. Let it educate you so that you, too, can choose the healthiest food for your pet.