Did your dog just gobble up a whole corn cob straight from the grill or table? If so, you should contact a veterinarian immediately.
While the corn taken off the cob can be a healthy treat for pups, corn cobs cannot be digested by canines. They are also abrasive and have high absorbency, which means that they can swell up in your pup’s digestive tract, causing life-threatening blockage or perforation.
The situation may be even worse if your pet has swallowed a whole large piece of corn on the cob without chewing it.
In many cases, it can be a life-threatening choking hazard too.
So, you should keep all corn cobs away from your furbaby and take quick action if you suspect or see that it has swallowed a large bit of it.
Read on to find out can dogs eat corn cobs and what to do if your pup has ingested some.
We have added detailed information about bowel obstruction or perforation symptoms, as well as advice for dog parents on how to act if there is such an incident with their furry companion.
Can Dogs Eat Corn Cobs?
Yes, they can, and it is, in fact, a pretty common occurrence. But they shouldn’t.
The corn off the cob itself is a safe treat for pups. But the solid cob itself is highly fibrous and absorbent and will easily swell up if swallowed. It cannot be digested properly by the dog’s digestive system. Also, due to its hardness and texture, it can be abrasive and cause punctures in the pup’s gastrointestinal tract.
Choking, bowel obstruction, and intestinal puncturing can be life-threatening if immediate veterinary care isn’t provided.
A blockage can cause your pup to become very ill, as it can cause the contents of the gut to become stuck and lead to inflammation and block off the blood circulation to that part of the GI tract.
Once the gut is left without a sufficient blood supply, it will start dying. It can rupture, leading to massive internal bleeding and infection of the abdominal cavity, known as peritonitis.
In many cases, with a timely diagnosis and treatment, a bowel obstruction can be treated with a pretty good prognosis for the pup.
But overall, since obstructions and punctures of the intestines due to ingested corn cobs are common, veterinarians caution all dog parents to make sure to keep their dogs safely away from corn on the cobs at all times.
My Dog At A Corn Cob – What Should I Expect?
At first, if the dog has managed to swallow the corn cob without problems, it may show no adverse symptoms at all. But, dog parents should be warned that the side effects of a potential blockage may start appearing about 6 to 24 hours after the pup ingests the corn cob.
The first symptoms of obstruction are usually vomiting, loss of appetite, retching, abdominal pain and distension, lethargy, inability to poop, and overall sickness.
Here are the steps you should take if your dog eats a corn cob:
- Take away any remaining pieces or corn cobs from your pup
- Try to make an estimate of the amount and size of the corn cob your dog has ingested
- If possible, try to determine when it was ingested
- Call your veterinarian or an emergency veterinary clinic as soon as possible.
- Try to answer all of the questions regarding your dog’s weight, age, and health, the estimated quantity and size of the corn cob, when it was ingested, and the symptoms it is displaying.
- Follow the instructions given by your vet closely.
- Usually, you will be asked to go to the clinic as soon as possible
- Head off to the vet with your dog immediately for diagnosis and treatment
What Is The Treatment?
Veterinarians treat ingested corn cobs as foreign bodies. So, you can expect your vet to perform a physical examination and discuss the details, including the dog’s symptoms, age, health, and others, with you.
Usually, an X-Ray and ultrasound will be done to visualize the position and size of the corn cob. Some blood tests may be run as well.
In rare cases, when the piece is small enough to be vomited safely, the veterinarian may induce vomiting.
If you and your pet are lucky, the veterinarian may determine that the corn cob will pass on its own safely through the GI tract of the dog or give it a laxative to promote its passing.
Never attempt to induce vomiting of your pup yourself if it has eaten a corn cob. This can lead to more damage and even fatal consequences. Instead, we strongly recommend that you rely on professionals to diagnose and appoint the best treatment for your pup.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Bowel Obstruction?
Suppose four and more hours after the ingestion of the corn cob, your dog starts displaying symptoms such as abdominal pain and tenderness, vomiting and retching, appetite loss, inability to poop, and others. In that case, your veterinarian may need to perform further tests to determine whether the foreign object has moved and whether gas is moving or is stuck in the dog’s stomach.
Since smaller corn cob pieces may be hard to see on x-rays, your veterinarian may rely on their experience and check for other blockage symptoms to diagnose the dog with obstruction.
An ultrasound and multiple x-rays may be required to diagnose a potential bowel obstruction.
What If the Corn Cob Is Stuck?
If the corn cob is stuck or is too large to be passed safely by the dog, surgery under general anesthetic may be required for the foreign object to be removed.
In some cases, if the corn cob is stuck in the pup’s stomach, gastroscopic surgery may be performed.
But in most cases, your dog will need abdominal surgery to remove the corn cob completely. During the surgery, the veterinarian will also remove any damaged tissue and repair the gut if necessary.
The good news is that such surgeries for removing foreign objects are pretty common in most veterinary clinics, so it may be considered a routine surgery.
Still, it requires anesthesia and proper gut healing, so your vet will discuss the potential risks of the surgery with you before undertaking it.
The truth is that if the corn cob is stuck, surgery is really the only way to go. The sooner it is performed, the lower the risk of complications, the better the prognosis, and the higher the recovery rate for your pet.
In most cases, your dog will need to remain in the clinic for a few days after the surgery, where it will be monitored, and where it will receive medication such as pain relief.
What Is The Cost Of Bowel Obstruction Surgery For Dogs?
The cost for this type of intervention depends on your specific clinic and where it is located. It may also be affected by the qualifications, equipment, and medications needed for the surgery.
In general, you can expect a bill of $1,500 or more for a bowel obstruction surgery for your pup.
Of course, you can discuss the options and ask for estimates for the price of the surgery with your veterinarian and with other clinics.
You may be able to get a deal for a payment plan or credit if you are on a tight budget. If you have pet insurance, then it may cover the cost of this medically necessary surgery partially or wholly!
Here are the brief answers to some of the most common questions regarding dogs eating corn cobs and bowel obstructions.
How Long Does It Take For An Ingested Corn Cob To Pass?
If your veterinarian has determined that the corn cob is small enough or your dog is large enough for it to pass naturally, you will be asked to monitor your pet closely.
Keep in mind that waiting for a corn cob to pass on its own is a decision that needs to be made by your veterinarian after a close examination of your pup. It does have risks, so you will need to watch your pet for any telltale symptoms of potential obstruction.
Usually, the corn cob will take up to 72 hours to pass through your dog’s digestive tract. In the meantime, make sure to monitor it for any symptoms of obstruction such as lethargy, retching, vomiting, difficulty pooping, abdominal pain, or others, and if they appear, contact your veterinarian immediately.
What Is The Life Expectancy Of A Dog With A Bowel Obstruction?
If the corn cob or any other object has already caused an obstruction, you should act as quickly as possible.
The more you wait, the more complications may arise, and its condition may worsen. This can lead to the need for more complex and expensive surgery and to a longer recovery time.
Unfortunately, if left without treatment for too long, an obstruction can lead to death in dogs.
Can I Give Corn Cobs To My Dog?
No, you should never deliberately give your pup corn on the cob, regardless of size or form.
Dogs cannot digest corn cobs, as they are hard and will swell even more in the pup’s gut. This can lead to blockage and perforation, causing peritonitis and death if not treated in time. They can also cause choking.
So, make sure to keep any corn on the cob away from your furry companion.
Corn off the cob itself is a healthy treat for dogs when given in moderation and if your pet is not allergic to it.
It is a great source of protein, fiber, fat, and certain vitamins.
If you want to treat your pet with some corn, give it a few pieces of corn off the cob or some plain popcorn instead.
Even though corn cobs are not technically toxic for canines, they can cause serious health issues if swallowed. Corn cobs cannot be properly digested by dogs and can easily cause blockage or damage to the pup’s gastrointestinal tract.
So, never give your furbaby some corn on the cob with the idea that it is a fun and healthy chewy treat for it.
Unfortunately, eating corn cobs is one of the most common causes of bowel obstruction in dogs. You should always keep the corn on the cob safely away from your pup.
If your pet has already swallowed some, make sure to contact your veterinarian or a nearby veterinary clinic as soon as possible.
The sooner the dog is examined, and the proper treatment is appointed, the better its chances for recovery are, and the lower your veterinary bills will be.
If you are determined to add some corn to your pet’s diet, add some sweet corn off the cob to its food instead.