Is Your Pet Allergic To Corn?

by Karin Krisher

pet allergic to cornA strong collective opinion about companion animals’ corn consumption has been forming for many decades, and today, corn is a constant glint in the public eye. Corn isn’t always good for you, and there are some real reasons its reputation is less than savory.

Your clients are likely to wonder: “Is my pet allergic to corn? What is their relationship anyway?” By helping them be aware about what their pets’ food and supplements really contain, you can help create a positive mindset that encourages education.

For our part, we’d like to tell you about our ingredients and the ingredients in other formulas that concern that most controversial of all native grains: corn. Why the controversy? First, there’s a historical and evolutionary argument. There are differences between the teeth and bodies of humans who consume corn and the bodies of those who do not. Dogs generally only consume grains through eating other animals…who have already eaten grains. Cats are meat eaters—completely.

So why do so many food manufacturers include corn in their products? Unfortunately, the answer is as simple and disappointing as you’ve probably imagined: Most companies are trying to find a cheap filler, and corn is ubiquitous, especially in the United States food market.

But for some companies using corn in products, that isn’t the case. Example: Vetri-Science.

We would never tell you that our chew products contain no corn. But we’ll also expain ourselves, because the confusion and fear about corn is generally a justifiable experience, and we know your clients deserve answers. Our chews’ inactive ingredients require a humectant blend in order to achieve a moist, edible consistency.

Humectants are designed to regulate moisture content, so that a chew isn’t hard as a rock. There is a minimal maltodextrin component to the humectant blend. Maltodextrin is derived from corn. The formula is about 2.5% humectant, and the maltodextrin is about one third of that 2.5%.

One concern for many pet owners is whether they are the proud parents of a pet allergic to corn. That’s reasonable: the proteins in corn can be the cause of allergies. In the instance of Vetri-Science chews, of 17 mg of maltodextrin derived from corn, a negligible percentage would include corn protein.

Further, allergies to corn are less common than most pet owners believe. Often, poor nutrition can cause skin concerns and other health problems that present in similar manners to allergies. If a food features high corn content and a dog or cat experiences skin and coat issues, it is possible (and likely), that another nutritional component is being replaced with corn (hence the term “filler”), causing the issue.

Chelsea Tomat, animal product developer at Vetri-Science, says that there’s a human analogy to help explain this concept. “It’s like saying that if I ate French fries for every meal, every day, and that made my skin greasy and gross, I therefore am allergic to French fries. That’s not true. I can eat some French fries with no adverse effects.”

All that said, there are some dogs that do have true allergies to corn and cannot tolerate even a small amount. However, the humectant blend includes a minimal amount of corn-derived maltodextrin—so little, in fact, and so for the right reasons, that we feel happy to tell you all about it.

If a client approaches you about corn content in supplements, give him or her the truth. Sometimes, corn content in food or supplements is an aggressive filler—sometimes, it’s a minimal and necessary addition. Encourage them to ask questions. Staying informed is the best way to ensure pets’ health.

Have you ever had a corn concern? What provoked it? Tell us in a comment!