It’s that time of year again! The days are long, the grills are fired up, and corn on the cob is in season. Unfortunately, many dog owners do not know that corn cobs are actually EXTREMELY dangerous for their pets to ingest.
Corn cobs seem innocent enough, right? They are all-natural, they LOOK like a chew toy, and dogs often relish the offer of a cob from the picnic table.
However, corn cobs break apart easily when chewed and can be swallowed in large chunks. Since they are hard to digest, the cobs often pass out of the stomach into the intestines intact. These chunks, made of a tough core and covered in rough kernel hulls, are the perfect shape and texture to cause an intestinal obstruction. Even more worrisome is the risk of intestinal perforation as the tissues struggle to move the indigestible cob.
Signs of intestinal obstruction can include vomiting, abdominal pain, lethargy, weakness, and appetite loss. If you suspect your dog has consumed corn cobs (or any other foreign body), please call us immediately and come to the clinic (if it is overnight or after-hours, please proceed straight to an emergency clinic).
It is very important to try and remove the cob before it causes an obstruction. It is also urgent to remove the cob surgically if it is causing an obstruction, before it causes an intestinal perforation and life-threatening infection called septic peritonitis.
You can spot the corn cob in the above radiograph (red arrow). It is still in this dog’s stomach and shows the classic “honeycomb” texture associated with the kernel hulls. This corn cob was successfully removed before it passed into the intestines.
Dogs can be sneaky when they spot an unattended corn cob on the counter, or smell them in the trash. They can also ingest other dangerous objects often present in the summer such as peach pits, pinecones, or discarded bones from a barbecue. When you have finished enjoying your ear of corn or rack of ribs, please discard of the leftovers in a sealed garbage container that is inaccessible to your pet.
As always, do not hesitate to give us a call if you have any questions about your pet’s health and safety. Wishing you and your dog a safe and joyful summer!