In case you are curious about the title of tonight’s episode, please allow me to elaborate. The definition of Cornphobia (my definition, that is, as you will not find it in Websters Dictionary or Wikipedia) is:
The general fear among certain pet owners that the feeding of corn as an integral component to most pet foods is the root of most diseases in dogs and cats. This assertion in most cases comes, not from a veterinarian, but from correspondence with groomers, breeders, and “homeopathic” gurus either in person or, most commonly, through internet forums. This notion often takes precedence in the minds of affected pet owners to the opinion of licensed veterinarians, even in circumstances where disease specific nutrition is medically necessary to maintain the health and quality of life of a patient, and stated prescription diet is shunned or even dismissed because it contains corn.
You may note that my definition carries a bit of a facetious tone to it because, as you may have guessed my position as a doctor is that, for the lion’s share of pets, cornphobia has no medical relevance and is often engaged in to the detriment of the patient. This detriment is clearly evident when aforementioned disease specific nutrition is ignored over corn based ingredients, but also from a general standpoint when owners would be willing to choose any diet out there simply because of its lack of corn, not taking into account that the nutrient breakdown may not be species appropriate, and that such diets often do not come with the AFCO, a certification attainable only for diets that meet the minimum standards of pet nutrition and all claims have been substantiated by actual feeding trials.
This all stated, however, it would be wrong to completely dismiss cornphobia, as most urban myths/legends have some root in reality. As such, I will discuss how cornphobia likely originated, how it so effectively permeated pet owner culture, and how this all realistically pertains to you pets. So please tune in and feel free to offer your comments/concerns by e-mail or live call in (listener/viewer e-mail address is email@example.com).
Thanks as always, for caring about what I have to say. J
Roger Welton, DVM
Episode talking points:
1) There is a growing number of pet owners that feel corn is not good for dogs and cats to eat as a nutrient source that is present in most pet foods.
2.) Many pet owners go so far as to link the root of many major diseases in dogs and cats, to the feeding of pet food with corn ingredients.
3.) Many pet owners will go so far as to dismiss disease specific nutrition because a prescription disease specific diet may have corn in its ingredients.
4.) The truth is that corn is a very valuable and inexpensive source of nutrients, such as amino acids, beta carotene, B complex vitamins, fiber, and carbohydrates.
5.) We will be celebrating an upcoming holiday commemorating Native Americans coming to the aid of sick and starving European settlers, by offering them the means to grow and harvest corn, a crop that was the staple of Native American nutrition and a key to their health and ability to feed their people.
6.) Bonafide corn allergies do exist in dogs and cats, but they are rare, with corn rating higher than 25 on most food allergy statistics.
7.) Many of the corn free diets are not properly nutrient balanced for species and life stages.
8.) Many corn free diets do not have the AAFCO seal of approval, an organization that provides its seal only by a diet meeting minimum standards of pet nutrition and evidence of label claims being substantiated by actual feeding trials.
Dr. Roger Welton is the President and chief veterinarian at Maybeck Animal Hospital in West Melbourne Florida, as well as CEO of the veterinary advice and health management website Web-DVM.net.