Help! My Dog Just Ate a Corn Cob – What Do I Do?

There’s many things that our dogs like to chew, and some of them are just fine while others can potentially cause major harm. You may want to take your dog out to get lost in a corn maze this fall, and while it’s a great way to get out and get exercise for you and your dog, you have to be sure that your dog does not eat any of the corn cobs. Cooked corn is safe for dogs (in moderation), but uncooked corn can cause some stomach distress and the cob itself can be catastrophic. Learn more here about what can happen and what to watch out for if your dog eats a corn cob. 

Call Your Veterinarian Immediately if Your Dog Ate a Corn Cob

There are lots of things that if your dog eats it, your vet will recommend vomiting but with corn cobs this is not the case. Corn cobs can potentially cause more damage by vomiting them because it could cause an obstruction in the esophagus and potentially even choking to death. You should call your veterinarian as soon as your pet eats the cob, or as soon as you find the ‘evidence’ that makes you think they ate it. Time is of the essence here – you should call asap. The vet will instruct you what to do from there. (It could be to bring the pet in for x-rays to check to see where the cob is, emergency hospitalization for IV fluids and round the clock care, or even the possibility of needing an exploratory surgery.) 

Why Can’t Dogs Digest Corn Cobs?

The answer is simple – their stomachs cannot break them down, and because of the corn’s cylindrical shape, they are the perfect size to get stuck in their intestines. Once lodged in the intestines it completely blocks the digestive tract and food and water can no longer pass through. Even if your dog chews the cob up, there is still potential that the pieces can cause a blockage. Your veterinarian will determine the best route to assist your pet, and occasionally the end result is an exploratory surgery to find the cob and remove it. Check out this article from 2016 with an annual radiograph (xray) contest that shows not only a corn cob but a few other items that dogs have eaten.

Signs Your Dog May Have An Obstruction

Some of the signs of an obstruction can also be mistaken as general GI upset. Things like vomiting, lethargy, weakness, abdominal pain, and loss of appetite are common signs of an obstruction – but they can also be common symptoms of other issues. The best way to find out what is happening with your dog is to make an appointment with the veterinarian as soon as you start to see symptoms. The faster you can get your pet in to be seen the better as time is of the essence. If your dog does have a blockage and it is left untreated for too long, it can cause the intestines to become necrotic and then need to have sections removed. This is a difficult surgery for your dog, so if it can be avoided then they should have an easier time recovering. 

All in all, corn cobs are definitely something you want to keep out of your dog’s reach. Whether it’s some decorative corn stalks with colorful cobs, or buttered corn on a picnic table – make sure you always keep it out of reach from your pets. We are open and available for appointments and emergencies, take a look at our contact us section to learn more. You can also learn more in our Caring Vets blog, including a helpful list of the emergency clinics in the area.

Our Certifications

AAHA: The Animal Hospital of Sussex County is a certified hospital in the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). To achieve this distinction, our hospital has passed regular comprehensive inspections of our facilities, medical equipment, veterinary practice methods and management. If you are traveling or relocating anywhere, finding an AAHA hospital will ensure the best medical care for your pet. The AAHA is recognized as the world’s leading association of small animal practitioners.

AAFP: We are also a cat friendly practice, certified by the American Association of Feline Practitioners. This means that the Animal Hospital of Sussex County is specifically set up to decrease stress and provide a more calming environment for your cat. Our staff has also been trained in feline-friendly handling and understanding cat behavior in order to increase the quality of care for your cat.

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