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Help! My Dog Ate A Corn Cob!

Ingesting Foreign Objects By Ben Team 6 min read August 13, 2021 33 Comments

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Of all the strange things dogs eat, a few strike me as somewhat understandable. And believe it or not, I think that corn cobs actually fall into this category.

After all, there are usually plenty of corn bits left on your standard issue corn cob, they’re usually soaked with salt and butter, and they have a spongey-yet-rigid texture that dogs probably find intriguing.

But just because the desire to eat corn cobs is understandable doesn’t mean we should let our four-footers indulge. Read on to learn what to do if your dog eats a corn cob and what some of the most likely ramifications are if your pooch does.

Help! My Dog Ate a Corn Cob: Key Takeaways

  • Corn cobs can be very dangerous for dogs. Because they’re indigestible, absorbent, and abrasive, they can cause a number of serious health problems for four-footers.
  • You’ll want to contact your vet ASAP if your pooch eats a corn cob. It is possible that your dog will pass the cob without difficulty, but she may also need immediate veterinary attention.
  • Take care to prevent your dog from getting her muzzle on cobs in the future. This means disposing of corn cobs properly and using a dog-proof trashcan if need be.

Can Dogs Eat Corn Cobs?

In short — no!

Unfortunately, corn cobs can be very dangerous for dogs due to their absorbency (which can make them swell), abrasiveness (which hurts your dog’s insides), and the fact that they’re largely indigestible (which can result in blockages).

Below, we’ll explain in more detail some of the potential problems that can occur if your dog gets her muzzle on one and what you’ll need to do in response.

are corn cobs dangerous for dogs

Corn Cobs: Surprisingly Dangerous For Dogs

At first glance, corn cobs don’t seem particularly dangerous.

Few people would consider eating them (and for the record, you shouldn’t), but they certainly don’t seem like something that could threaten your dog’s life.

It’s true that there’s nothing toxic about corn cobs.

They’re mostly made of cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin – the primary substances found in the cell walls of plants. Your dog eats these substances all the time, as they’re some of the constituents of dietary fiber.

But these substances are also (largely) indigestible. This isn’t a problem when they’re eaten in small to moderate amounts – they actually help keep everything moving smoothly through your dog’s intestines. But too much, such as the amount found in a corn cob, can overwhelm your dog’s digestive tract and cause an obstruction.

Corn cobs are also remarkably absorbent. In fact, ground corn cob is so absorbent that it is used in a variety of industrial applications, including the cleanup of oil spills. It’s even used as an environmentally friendly rat poison – it doesn’t poison the rats, it causes them to die of acute dehydration, as it sucks the moisture right out of their digestive tracts.

This can also cause problems for your pooch, and it can make blockages more likely.

Corn cob is also a very abrasive material — some industrial cleansers used to clean the sides of buildings are even made with it.

This all means that corn cobs can block your dog’s intestines, dehydrate her, and scrape up her insides in the process.

What Do You Do If Your Dog Eats a Corn Cob?

As you can see, corn cobs can be very dangerous for your pup. So, if you determine that your dog has helped herself to one (or even a portion of one), you need to contact your vet immediately.

Your vet will likely instruct you to bring your pup into the office. He or she will perform a physical examination, ask about your dog’s behavior and any symptoms she’s exhibited since eating the corn cob, and probably order X rays.

Treatment will depend on the location of the cob and the amount contained in her gut.

In some cases, your vet may instruct you to try to let the chewed-up cob pass through your dog’s intestines naturally. But if an obstruction is present (or your vet feels that the cob may cause an obstruction soon), it’ll usually be necessary to go in and pull it out.

This will often require surgery, but it may sometimes be possible to remove it with special instruments inserted into your dog’s mouth or rectum.

In some cases, such as if you’re positive that your dog only swallowed a very small piece of the cob, your vet may not feel it is necessary that you bring your dog in. He or she may simply tell you to watch your dog for signs of obstruction.

Some of the most common signs of intestinal obstruction include:

  • Vomiting – particularly recurrent vomiting accompanied by strong abdominal contractions.
  • Obvious signs of pain or discomfort
  • Inability to get comfortable
  • Panic or anxiety
  • Weakness, lethargy, or depression
  • Lack of defecation

If you note any of these problems, put your pup in the car and head to the vet.

Need Veterinary Help Fast?

Don’t have easy access to a vet? You may want to consider getting help from JustAnswer — a service that provides instant virtual-chat access to a certified vet online.

You can discuss the issue with them, and even share video or photos if need be. The online vet can help you determine what your next steps should be.

While talking with your own vet — who understands the ins and outs of your dog’s history — is probably ideal, JustAnswer is a good backup option.

Preventing the Problem: Dispose of Corn Cobs Carefully

Dogs eat corn cobs in one of two basic scenarios:

  • An owner deliberately gives a pooch a corn cob.
  • A dog gets into the trash and helps herself to a cob or two.

You probably realize by now that it is clearly a very bad idea to give your dog a corn cob, so we’ll focus on the second scenario for a minute.

It is always irritating when your dog gets into the trash, but it can also be dangerous – especially if you have corn cobs lurking around in there. Accordingly, you’ll want to make sure that you dispose of corn cobs (or any other potentially dangerous items you put in your trash can) in a safe manner.

If your dog isn’t usually interested in investigating the trash can, you can probably avoid most accidents by simply putting the corn cobs in a plastic bag before you put them in the trash. This will help contain most of their smell, which will reduce your dog’s curiosity.

On the other hand, if you have a confirmed garbage can bandit, you’ll likely want to use a dog-proof trash can with a locking lid to completely prevent your dog from accessing the cobs.

For that matter, the best solution is to simply toss the cobs in the trash can and go ahead and take the bag out to the dumpster or the curb right away.

     

There are a number of surprisingly dangerous things that dogs sometimes eat (we’ve also covered what to do when your dog eats a crayon, ingests tinfoil, or even devours a diaper), and corn cobs definitely belong on that list of odd foods dogs sometimes go after.

I’ve never had an issue with any of my dogs eating corn cobs, but I have seen it cause fatal impactions in a number of lizards and other exotic pets, as ground corn cob is often marketed as an animal bedding (although it isn’t terribly common anymore because of the danger it presents).

So be sure to take corn cob ingestion seriously and contact your vet if you suspect your pup has eaten some – her life may depend on it.

Has your dog ever gone after a corn cob? What ended up happening? Share your story in the comments!

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Ben Team

Ben is the senior content editor for K9 of Mine and has spent most of his adult life working as a wildlife educator and animal-care professional. Ben’s had the chance to work with hundreds of different species, but his favorite animals have always been dogs. He currently lives in Atlanta, GA with his spoiled-rotten Rottweiler named J.B. Chances are, she’s currently giving him the eyes and begging to go to the park.

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33 Comments

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Merlin

Merlin is obsessed with food. Any food. I had finished two large cobs for lunch, left the room and both were gone in minutes he chewed em up in a few seconds. I caught him outside There was one 2 inch piece left. I didn’t know whether it was bad or not. Within minutes of reading, I knew it wasn’t good. I immediately grabbed a bottle of hydrogen peroxide and got a tablespoon down him. Elapsed time , about seven minutes. Another five minutes and he threw it all up, along with a fair amount of his breakfast from two hours previous. I’ll watch over him. He’s my best friend, but from the amounts I tossed away, I’d say I got most, if not all of it. He has been drinking a good amount of water since then. I think we dodged the bullet.

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Ben Team

Glad you caught Merlin’s mischief quickly! It’d still probably be a good idea to give your vet a call, just to be safe.
Best of luck!

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Jeanne Johnson

My pit is killing me financially. First item she ate about 3 years ago was underwear, which required removal of 12” of intestines, $2,000. A few months ago, not sure what she ate but more surgery, another $2,300. Now I think she may have eaten a corn cob. I love this dog more then anything. I’m broke but she is all that matters. She threw up once today with a little corn. I’m watching to see if she eats and drinks. I’m praying she didn’t eat the cob! Could use some prayers!

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Ben Team

Hey there, Jeanne. We’ve got our fingers crossed for you both!

It may be worth dog-proofing your home a bit — especially as it sounds like you’ve got quite a little chewer/eater on your hands.
Things like a dog-proof trashcan may help, and you may want to give her some nearly indestructible chew toys so she has something (relatively) safe to nom!

Best of luck!

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Gloria Calo

My dog is 6 years old. He’s a 16lb terrier mix. He managed to get on the trash and grabbed a 3″ corn cob. I didn’t noticed until I saw him chewing something. By the time I got close to him, he was finishing. I looked on internet to find out if it was safe for dogs to eat the cob. Unfortunately, all I read was terrible news. I’ll call the vet tomorrow morning, and I’ll keep an eye on him. I’m terrified for all the things I read. Haven’t found one single good news.

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Ben Team

Sorry about your pooch, Gloria! Good luck with the vet and keep us updated!

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Gloria Calo

Spike its doing great. This is what I did, and I’m sharing so hopefully can help others. Now, keep on mind that I’m NOT a vet, or have any medical knowledge! But I love to read, and learn about dogs. Also, remember that what it works for one dog doesn’t necessarily will work in another. First of all call the vet!!!! Spike’s vet said to keep an eye on him. Didn’t gave me any other advise. So, I decided to put him in a special diet. I usually feed him with dry food for sensitive stomach. But instead, I started to feed him twice a day with 2 tablespoon of chicken dog’s can food mixed with 1 1/2 tablespoon of pumpkin, 2 teaspoon of olive oil, and 2oz of water in order to make his stools more soft. To make shure that he was getting rid of the corn cob, I squished the bags that used to pick his stools (don’t forget to was your hands if you do it even if there’s not leak in the bag) . I noticed that the cob felt like rocks. Yes, that can really hurt your dogs guts. I bought greek plain yogurt NOT SUGARS added to help him keep his guts healthy, and gave him 1 teaspoon dayly. The 3rd day, he pewk big chonks of the corn cob! I was in chock. Full digestion take 10 to 24 hrs for a dog. After that, I haven’t feel more hard pieces on his poop. But I still keeping an eye on him!!

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Ben Team

Thanks for the update, Gloria!
Glad things seem to be working out OK. Our fingers are crossed that you can put this whole ordeal behind you!

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Carol

So it’s day 4 and today he keeps looking as though he wants to be sick then stops , the morning after he ate it he ate some grass was sick and brought back I’d say about half of the cob in inch pieces and smaller , took him to the vets for a check even though they said just to keep an eye on him , unfortunately being a rescue he is very nervous without me and with the currant situation I wasn’t allowed in with him and he wouldn’t let them examine him , bouncing around , so she gave me a probiotic and said if he didn’t eat after 10 pm and he hadn’t got rid of anymore I could take him in next morning and they would sedate him to examine , the next morning he had a normal poo , when I picked it up I gave the bag a squeeze and there were quite a few more bits in there but I’d still say not all , he ate grass again was sick but not corn just bile and grass , that night his poo had one piece in , then last night there was a large piece passed at the end on its own , we must be nearly there and I was starting to feel more at ease but for the nearly being sick today , will ring vet again tomorrow for more advice , he seems fine otherwise very energetic eating pooing well

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Ben Team

Thanks for sharing more details, Carol!
We’re so sorry this happened to your pooch, but we sincerely appreciate you chronicling your experiences — it may help other owners realize just how dangerous corn cobs can be for our canines.
Our fingers remain crossed for your little guy!

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Gloria Calo

Please Carol, keep us updated!! My dog it’s about 16lb and just stoled from the trash a 3″ cob and ate it. I’m sooo worry, and scare now . Hope your furbaby gets well soon!!

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Elizabeth

Thank you for this! We stupidly let our dog have an ear of corn two days ago, not thinking he would eat the whole thing (and not having done our job and researched it) but he did, cob and all. Luckily for us he is okay – pooped out a ton of corn all day yesterday but hasn’t missed a beat. He never stopped eating or drinking normally and his energy level never changed. One thing I think that helped him is we tried to keep him active to keep his digestion going. We took him for a long walk right away and walked him several times more than usual the following day.

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Ben Team

Glad everything turned out OK, Elizabeth! Thanks for sharing.
🙂

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Jesse

My Male Doberman Who Is 2 And A Half, Ate A Boiled Corn On The Cob. A Little Less Than Half The Cob. He Didn’t Really Chew It. Called The Vet And They Said To Look At Him And Watch Him. I’m Worried Though. What Should I Do

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Ben Team

Hey, Jesse.
We’d just recommend following your vet’s advice. Keep an eye on your pooch and watch for signs that he’s in pain or distress.
Hopefully, he’ll pass it soon enough and be just fine.
Best of luck! Let us know how it goes.

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JV

My dog ate a corn cob 2 days ago. Started acting really weird about 24 hours later. Lethargic, limping around. We took him to the vet, who put him on fluids and gave him an xray. We were told to take him home and monitor him. Later that night, we found corn cob in his stools. He was eating normally and had 2 normal bowel movements so we thought that was a good sign. On Monday around midday he vomitted up some big pieces of corn cob. Back to the vet, who said that his stomach was empty which meant that it likely would be passing the corn cob, but his energy is still really low. He is still sleeping all day and limping around. I’m worried about how lethargic he is. It doesnt seem right. Does this sound normal for passing a corn cob, or am I missing something?

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Ben Team

Hey, JV.
That would probably concern me too. 🙁
There’s not really any advice we can provide aside from working closely with your vet and hoping for the best. It doesn’t sound like you’re missing anything, but it may not be a bad idea to speak with another vet and get a second opinion.
Best of luck. Our fingers are crossed for your pooch!

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Carol

I’m really worried my 2 yr old pointer hound x ate 2 halves of cooked corn on the cob about 2 hrs ago , I rang the emergency vet and said to keep an eye on him but I’ve also read that they could induce vomiting before the problem gets worse which they didn’t want to do Incase he didn’t chew it much , so it’s just a waiting game , he has a sensitive stomach so he’d had the runs this afternoon before this , I’m really worried

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Ben Team

Hey, Carol.
Sorry you and your pooch are going through this! But, it sounds like you’ve done everything right so far, so just keep following your vet’s advice and keep your fingers crossed.
Let us know how it turns out!

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AP

My 7month lab snatched about 4″ of a corn cob on May 24. He seemed a little off that night and pooped a lot of corn the next day, and he had diminished appetite. Then seemed fine: active, playing and swimming. He was eating normally. Then last night didn’t eat much and this morning threw up three 2″ halved pieces of corn cob (it looks like most if not all that he ate). He seems a little tired today but he had a very active day yesterday with a long walk and obedience class. The vet just said monitor him ??

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Ben Team

Hey, AP.
That certainly sounds troubling, but it sounds like your vet doesn’t think it warrants a visit.
If you are still worried, you may want to consider calling another vet for a second opinion.
Best of luck with your pooch! Our fingers are crossed for him!

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julia

I have the same story with my puppy! Shes a lab mix 50lbs, ate most of a cob and now pooping and throwing it up over the last couple days. I feel like since the bowl movements are fine, her energy is fine, and she still wants to eat and drink it might be ok. But after reading this I’m going to call the vet and at least have a discussion.

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mia

My dog ate a very small piece of corn on the cob from the trash. He already threw up the piece, however he keeps on throwing up. It’s been happening for the past 2 days, and right after he throws up, he goes back to his usual self, happy and playful. He doesn’t scream, have diarrhea or any of the other symptoms. Should I be worried, will he eventually stop throwing up? and I don’t think Vets around me are open because of quarantine.

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Ben Team

Hey, Mia.
That sounds pretty concerning, and we’d encourage you to at least have a conversation with a vet about your pooch.
The status of vet offices surely varies across the country/world, but don’t automatically assume the vets in your area are closed — most of the ones around me are still open.
But you can also check out Ask a Vet. You can see details by following that link, but it is essentially a way to speak with a vet over the phone in exchange for a small fee.
Best of luck!

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Paula

Our 10 year old M/N 100 lb mutt grabbed a corn cob from the garbage tonight. When I tried to grab it from him, he chomped off and swallowed half of the cob. Thanks for the advice. I’m at the emergency vet now … just waiting, and waiting.

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Ben Team

Sorry about your pooch, Paula. Our fingers are crossed for him!
Let us know how it turns out.

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KM Decker

My sweet mischievous Beagle Jack Russell mix got into the trash today and snuck a cob out. He got snarly with us when we tried to take it from him. He had eaten half of it by the time we figured out what he had. He ran to the basement and hid from us and finished the rest of it. We are so worried about him. Do smaller dogs have Harder times than larger dogs or is it the same? It is after hours but we plan to call the vet in the morning.

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Susan Entwisle

I’m so grateful for finding you today,This site is great & full of information we all need…………I was thinking of a healthy treat for our 4 month old GSP/shepherd mix that we rescued when he was 8 weeks old.Anyway,I thought about corn on the cob,about to microwave, then a lightbulb went off in my head saying that I should check & here I am.I ended up taking the corn off the cob,hes finicky but likes most veggies. It’s just not worth the risk to my boy! Thank you so much, big help to us.Nice to be here & say “woof”to JB from Susan & Patience (boy)!!

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Ben Team

J.B. wanted me to relay “bark, woof, woof, bark” to Patience.
🙂
Glad you found the article, Susan! That could’ve been trouble!
Incidentally, giant carrots are a great treat (but they make a mess).

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Cheryl Thomas

Is there anything I can feed my dog that would help it pass? It was a tiny piece.

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Ben Team

Hey, Cheryl.
We wouldn’t recommend giving your dog anything without first checking with your vet. Just be sure your pooch has plenty of water and don’t hesitate to go to the vet if he or she starts exhibiting any troubling signs.
Our fingers are crossed for you and your pupper!

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robin klein

I .have a 6 yr. old n/m, Westie. A little over a week ago. Felix took a piece of a corn cob. He hid under the bed. Because I have health and can’t push, etc. , I couldn’t reach him. Then i heard a crunch. I freaked out. I was going through the net and found your site. It was the (it’s 2 am and here) I don’t drive etc…… So he was acting fine. He was eating and drinking… He was showing signs of pain. He was screaming. . I did give him canned food. He pooped during the night, it was diarhea. And he peed also. He”s also has a little blood in his stool. . I am scared and feel guilty. but he isn’t screaming, as he was. Nice to meet you!

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Ben Team

Hey, Robin.
Sorry about your pooch! I would strongly recommend giving your vet a call if you haven’t already done so. Pained vocalizations are not a good sign.
Let us know how it goes. Best of luck!

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