Is Corn Bad For My Pet?

When you think of carbs, lab science may not be the first thing that comes to mind. Often, the first thing that comes to mind is “bad.” Or worse — “filler.” You may even think of them in the same way you think of fats or sugar. And with so many conflicting sources of information — both in the worlds of human and pet nutrition — it can be difficult to know what your pet really needs without first understanding the science behind your pet’s nutritional needs.


Although carbs get a bad rap, the scientific truth is that they have a purpose and nutritional value, and are an important part of a complete and balanced pet food. Healthy whole grains like oats, rice, barley, wheat, sorghum, corn, potatoes and peas provide pets with the energy they need so that body proteins (like muscles) don’t have to be broken down and used for their energy. Plus, when corn is ground and cooked, it’s easily digestible for both dogs and cats.1

And the fiber from your pet’s carbs? Well, it’s not a filler at all. It supports a healthy digestive tract, helps maintain a healthy balance of gut microbes and aids in the management of obesity, diabetes, diarrhea, constipation and hairballs (cats).2

Despite all this, there are lots of misconceptions that carbs make pets fat. In fact, there are several more likely reasons4 why a pet may become overweight:

  • Sedentary lifestyles
  • Neutering
  • Over-feeding or over-treating
  • High-fat foods or consuming too many calories

At Hill’s, we trust the expertise and research of our more than 200 food scientists, veterinarians and PhD nutritionists — research that shows carbohydrates are important for helping pets with a range of needs like energy, muscle maintenance, a healthy gut and more.

So how can carbs support your pet’s nutritional needs?

  • They are a valuable source of energy
  • They can provide fiber, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids and even protein
  • They help protect the muscles in the body — especially for cats
  1. Meyer H, Kienzle E. Dietary protein and carbohydrates: Relationship to clinical disease. In: Proceedings. Purina International Nutrition Symposium, Orlando, FL, 1991: 13-26.
  2. SACN 5, Periodontal Disease, Chapter 47
  3. Slingerland LI, Fazilova VV, Plantinga EA, et al. Indoor confinement and physical inactivity rather than the proportion of dry food are risk factors in the development of feline type 2 diabetes mellitus. Vet J 2009;179:247-253.