The Myths and Misinformation Surrounding Corn

Corn has had a long and controversial history in the world of dog food. While some of those concerns are credible, others come from some level of misunderstanding. Here’s a quick look at what’s real and what’s not:


What does corn actually do?

Whole Grain Corn, when finely ground, (as used in Inukshuk Professional Dog Food) is a source of highly digestible carbohydrate. In this form, it also contains more fibre, more protein and less starch than many other corn derived products.

The benefits of corn and why we use it.

The benefits of corn and why we use it.

When is corn bad?

Corn’s poor reputation derives from too many large-scale manufacturers using corn as a primary protein source. The reason for doing this is because corn is much cheaper than meat - as such, manufacturers were able inflate the percentage of protein in their dog food.

Dogs may be omnivores, but for optimum nutrition, the majority of ingested protein must come from an animal source. When feeding plant-based protein, you risk creating a deficiency in many of the essential amino acids (proteins), vitamins and other nutrients that dogs require.

This is exactly what happened to the dogs being fed vegetable protein heavy diets. These concerns are valid and consumers should definitely avoid pet food products that use corn as a primary protein source.


When used appropriately, corn’s high digestibility can be a powerful asset in a performance diet. Corn also has a very low glycemic index which provides a steady rise in blood sugar levels. It also provides dogs with energy before their metabolism turns to burning fat for stamina and endurance.


The reality is that corn isn’t bad for your dogs as long as it is used in limited quantities and included as a source of carbohydrate, not protein. In such cases, it is a highly nutritious ingredient in dog food.


  • Emily Corey (PhD. Candidate), VP of Pet Foods at Corey Nutrition Company

  • Case, L. P. Daristotle, L., Hayek, M. G. and Raash, M. F. 2011. Canine and Feline Nutrition: A Resource for Companion Animal Professionals. Third ed. N.p. Mosby Elesvier, 2011. Print.

FDA Investigating Potential Connection Between Diet and Cases of Canine Heart Disease


July 12, 2018

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is alerting pet owners and veterinary professionals about reports of canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs eating certain pet foods containing peas, lentils, other legume seeds, or potatoes as main ingredients. These reports are unusual because DCM is occurring in breeds not typically genetically prone to the disease. The FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine and the Veterinary Laboratory Investigation and Response Network, a collaboration of government and veterinary diagnostic laboratories, are investigating this potential association.

Canine DCM is a disease of a dog’s heart muscle and results in an enlarged heart. As the heart and its chambers become dilated, it becomes harder for the heart to pump, and heart valves may leak, leading to a buildup of fluids in the chest and abdomen. DCM often results in congestive heart failure. Heart function may improve in cases that are not linked to genetics with appropriate veterinary treatment and dietary modification, if caught early.

The underlying cause of DCM is not truly known, but is thought to have a genetic component. Breeds that are typically more frequently affected by DCM include large and giant breed dogs, such as Great Danes, Boxers, Newfoundlands, Irish Wolfhounds, Saint Bernards and Doberman Pinschers. It is less common in small and medium breed dogs, except American and English Cocker Spaniels. However, the cases that have been reported to the FDA have included Golden and Labrador Retrievers, Whippets, a Shih Tzu, a Bulldog and Miniature Schnauzers, as well as mixed breeds.

Diets in cases reported to the FDA frequently list potatoes or multiple legumes such as peas, lentils, other “pulses” (seeds of legumes), and their protein, starch and fiber derivatives early in the ingredient list, indicating that they are main ingredients. Early reports from the veterinary cardiology community indicate that the dogs consistently ate these foods as their primary source of nutrition for time periods ranging from months to years. High levels of legumes or potatoes appear to be more common in diets labeled as “grain-free,” but it is not yet known how these ingredients are linked to cases of DCM. Changes in diet, especially for dogs with DCM, should be made in consultation with a licensed veterinarian.

In the reports the FDA has received, some of the dogs showed signs of heart disease, including decreased energy, cough, difficulty breathing and episodes of collapse. Medical records for four atypical DCM cases, three Golden Retrievers and one Labrador Retriever, show that these dogs had low whole blood levels of the amino acid taurine. Taurine deficiency is well-documented as potentially leading to DCM. The Labrador Retriever with low whole blood taurine levels is recovering with veterinary treatment, including taurine supplementation, and a diet change. Four other cases of DCM in atypical dog breeds, a Miniature Schnauzer, Shih Tzu and two Labrador Retrievers, had normal blood taurine levels. The FDA continues to work with board certified veterinary cardiologists and veterinary nutritionists to better understand the clinical presentation of these dogs. The agency has also been in contact with pet food manufacturers to discuss these reports and to help further the investigation.

The FDA encourages pet owners and veterinary professionals to report cases of DCM in dogs suspected of having a link to diet by using the electronic Safety Reporting Portal or calling their state’s FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinators. Please see the link below about “How to Report a Pet Food Complaint" for additional instructions.