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Can Dogs Eat Cornbread? Is Cornbread Safe for Dogs?

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By Nicole Cosgrove

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Cornbread is a simple bread that is made primarily from cornmeal. It is common in Southern USA, although there are variants found across the world, and was eaten by the Native Americans long before the settlers arrived. It may be considered a reasonably healthy food for humans. After all, it contains magnesium, iron, potassium, folic acid, and vitamins B-6 and B-12, among others.

While it is technically non-toxic for dogs, cornbread should not be fed regularly to your pooch. Some of the nutrients in cornbread are considered healthy for canine consumption,  so it could mistakenly be considered a healthy addition to their diet. However, while the bread product may be safely fed in small amounts and infrequently, it is high in sugar and should not be a regular dietary staple.

Processed and store-bought variants may also contain additional ingredients, additives, and preservatives that are not considered safe for your dog. This combination means that we do not recommend feeding it to dogs, although it should be safe if they steal a small amount of homemade cornbread from your plate.

Cornbread on a table
Image Credit: Shutterbug75, Pixabay

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What Is Cornmeal / Cornbread?

Cornbread is a Native American cuisine. It is made from cornmeal, which is corn that has been finely ground down to the consistency of flour. It is usually unleavened or prepared with baking powder, which helps the bread rise. It is crumbly in texture and does not usually keep well, except where preservatives and other ingredients have been added.

The simplest cornbread consists of nothing more than cornmeal, water, and salt. The mixture is then prepared over a wood fire. Other recipes incorporate additional ingredients such as fat or wheat flour added to Johnnycakes, or the fried onions that are added to hush puppies.

Vitamins and Nutrients

Cornbread’s primary ingredient is corn, which is high in fiber.

Fiber keeps us regular and can also absorb cholesterol while reducing blood sugar levels. It is also considered good for weight loss because fiber passes through the body without being digested: it fills us up without adding calories to our daily intake.

As well as fiber, cornbread also includes phosphorus, potassium calcium, magnesium, folic acid, iron,  folates, and a host of vitamins including A, B-6, and B-12.

You will also find that cornbread contains all essential amino acids. These act as antioxidants that protect cells against damage, help build protein in the body, and control organ function.

This list of vitamins and minerals looks incredible, at first glance. After all, many of them are considered just as important for dogs as they are for humans. However, underneath the relatively plain but pleasant flavor of cornbread lurk a few hidden truths.

High in Sugar

Cornbread is surprisingly high in sugar. A standard recipe will contain 20 grams of sugar in a single slice. That’s 5 teaspoons of sugar. The high sugar content means that you can only safely feed a small amount of the food to your dog in a single sitting. Because you are feeding such a small amount, your dog will not get any of the benefits of the vitamins and nutrients that the cornbread offers. Other foods contain similar beneficial ingredients without the high sugar content.

If you have store-bought cornbread, the sugar content is likely even higher. Despite being high in sugar, plain cornbread doesn’t taste all that sweet. Manufacturers include extra sugar to essentially turn it into a sweetened cake, and this means that while your dog might enjoy the flavor of the food, he will only be able to eat an even smaller amount.

a sick beagle dog lying on the floor
Image Credit: Elena Loza, Shutterstock

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Allergies and Sensitivities

It should go without saying that the primary ingredient in cornbread is corn. Corn is a grain and many dogs suffer from grain allergies or sensitivity to this type of ingredient. Mild symptoms can include gastric distress or stomach pain. It may also cause diarrhea and vomiting. Other symptoms of grain allergies include itchy and flaking skin as well as a deterioration in coat condition. Even a small amount of grain-based foods can lead to these problems.

While most dogs are safe to eat grain, if you have determined that your dog is allergic, you should not feed him any of this type of food. Grain-free dog food recipes are prevalent in today’s market, and there are numerous grain-free treats and other foods that you can feed instead of cornbread.

Avoid Store-Bought Cornbread & Corn Muffins

If your dog does not suffer from a grain allergy, there is no need to panic if he steals a small piece of cornbread from your plate, assuming that it is a plain recipe. This usually means making a basic version at home and avoiding store-bought alternatives.

Even where store-bought cornbread states it is made to a “traditional recipe”, it is common for it to include additives and preservatives, and you should avoid feeding these to your dog. Preservatives like sulfur dioxide and potassium sulfite, which are even included in some dog foods, are toxic when fed in large quantities. Preservatives are typically found in higher quantities in human foods.

Another problem with store-bought versions of this food is that they can contain additional ingredients. Sweet variants of the food include extra sugar or other ingredients to sweeten it, while savory cornbread commonly includes ingredients like onion or garlic. Both of these ingredients are toxic for dogs and should not be fed in any quantity or at any time.

freshly baked cornbread
Image Credit: Pikrepo

Feed in Moderation

Very plain, unsweetened cornbread is safe for your dog, when fed in moderation. Remember that a single slice can contain 200 calories, roughly equivalent to 5 teaspoons of sugar. As such, you should feed only a small portion of a slice. Fortunately, cornbread is quite crumbly so it is easy to break down. Feed as a tiny tidbit or avoid feeding it altogether, to be on the safe side.

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Is Cornbread Safe for Dogs?

Cornbread can be considered a safe food for dogs, but only when fed in small amounts and infrequently. Also, you should avoid feeding cornbread that has any preservatives, additives, or additional ingredients. What’s more, if your dog has a grain allergy, it should be avoided at all costs because it is made primarily from corn.

Featured Image: Pixabay, Wikimedia Commons

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