The Facts About Corn in Pet Food

Corn has come under scrutiny lately in discussions around its digestibility and nutritional value. These misconceptions could not be further from the truth. Because of our decades of nutrition research, we’ve seen evidence that nutritious grains like corn produce positive outcomes in dogs. Pound for pound, nutritious grains like corn deliver more complete nutrition than the ingredients that brands typically use as a substitute for grains, like potatoes.While we do provide corn-free foods for pet owners that don’t want to feed their dog corn either for health reasons or simply personal preference, we stand behind our decision to include corn and other grains in the majority of our dog foods. We believe the responsible thing to do is provide your dog with the best formuation of ingredients to provide the nutrients he needs – and this includes nutrious grains like corn.

When it comes to the nutrients dogs need, grains deliver. They provide antioxidants, energy-rich carbohydrate and fiber to promote digestion.

Grains are team players. Our long-term research has shown that grains like corn are key for helping dogs digest other nutrients in their foods.

The Facts

Corn provides a good source of carbohydrates, proteins, essential fatty acids and antioxidants in the diets of dogs and cats.


  • Corn can be found in many forms, all of which can contribute to nutritious diets.
  • Whole corn or corn meal provide highly digestible carbohydrate. Carbohydrates can serve as an energy source for your dog that allow his body to maximize the use of proteins for important funcitons like muscles and the immune system.
  • Corn provides proteins. For example, corn gluten meal contains 60% to 70% protein and is an excellent source of essential amino acids.
  • Corn is a good source of linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid required by both dogs and cats.
  • Ounce for ounce, corn has twice the level of antioxidants as an apple. Antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin have been recently shown to be beneficial for eye health. Corn oil is a major source of vitamin E, which acts as an antioxidant as well.


Corn is not a common cause of allergies.

  • Food is not a common cause of allergic reactions in dogs and cats and flea bites and environmental allergens (e.g., pollens, molds and dust mites) are the most common causes of allergies in cats and dogs.
  • Dogs and cats, with a genetic predisposition, can develop allergies to any protein in food, including those in meats and grains. However, it is estimated that only 10% of allergic skin conditions in dogs and cats are caused by food.1
  • The ‘food’ bucket is very broad and corn does not appear on the list of most common food allergies in dogs or cats.


Corn is a high quality ingredient.

  • The quality of corn in pet foods can vary greatly.
  • According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), there are five grades of corn quality: grades 1 and 2 are traditionally used in human food products.
  • Purina’s standard for all of its pet foods is to source and use only grades 1 and 2 corn, thus ensuring it is a high quality ingredient.


Corn gluten meal is highly digestible.

  • Corn gluten meal is easy to digest, making its nutrients readily available to your pet.
  • Corn gluten meal contains many essential amino acids, so when it is properly combined with other protein sources, it can contribute to highly digestible and nutritious diets.


  1. Outerbridge CA. Nutritional management of skin diseases. In: Fascetti AJ, Delaney SJ, eds. Applied Veterinary Clinical Nutrition. Danvers, MA: Wiley-Blackwell; 2012:157—174.
  2. Roudebush P, et al. Adverse reactions to food. In: Hand MS, et al., eds. Small Animal Clinical Nutrition. 4th ed. Topeka, KS: Mark Morris Institute; 2000:431—453.