What is Corn Gluten Meal in Dog Food?

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Corn kernels being turned into corn gluten meal

Uncover the truth behind one of the most widely used ingredients in dog food: corn gluten meal.

From its potential to cause food allergies to its nutritional value, this article delves into the facts about this protein-rich byproduct of the corn milling process.

But is it safe for dogs?

Don’t just blindly trust the ingredients in your dog’s food, read on to make an informed decision about what you’re feeding your furry friend.

What is Corn Gluten Meal?

What is Corn Gluten Meal?

Although it’s named “corn gluten meal,” it’s actually gluten-free and only contains corn proteins.

Often confused for a filler, it is a great source of protein and amino acids for dogs.

After taking out the germ, starch, and bran from kernels of corn, the leftover is grounded into a meal that has highly-concentrated amounts of protein.

Corn gluten meal represents a by-product of processed corn (sweeteners and corn syrup).

There’s a lot of controversy surrounding this by-product, especially in the pet industry.

It’s utilized as a kibble binder as well as a cheap protein source for pet foods.

It’s also gluten-free, despite being called a “corn gluten meal.”

The term “corn gluten” is just an everyday jargon that characterizes corn proteins which is what it is actually made of.

Only barley, wheat, oat, and rye contain actual gluten. However, because corn gluten meal has a similar protein-boosting capacity as them, it’s labeled as such.

Overall, the higher the amount of protein in a dog’s food, the better it is, but this ingredient only tells half the story.

The protein’s nutritional value and digestibility matter the most!

And because of the high concentration of corn gluten meal, feeding your dog with this food can cause severe allergies over a long period.

Corn is the most common allergen for both dogs and cats.

If your pet is allergic to it, consumption can cause different digestive issues, such as vomiting, stomach upset, diarrhea, weight loss, nutritional deficiencies, and even severe problems such as IBD (inflammatory bowel disease).

Corn allergies can also cause different skin and coat problems such as severe itching and scratching, hair loss, scabs, sores, and secondary infections such as yeast pyoderma or staph.

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Why is it in Dog Food?

Why is corn gluten meal in Dog Food?

Pet food companies add corn gluten meal (plant-based protein concentrate) as a meat replacement that binds the kibble together.

The texture of gluten helps keep all the ingredients together in a specific form, ensuring nutritious dog food.

However, it’s not harmful to pets. On the contrary, corn gluten meal makes a great source of energy, protein, and pigments for livestock, and it’s utilized in pet foods for digestibility.

Still, it can cause allergies over time in some dogs.

Is Corn Gluten Meal Good for Dogs?

Is Corn Gluten Meal Good for Dogs?

Corn gluten meal has a bad reputation because people assume it’s not gluten-free.

However, it’s not only gluten-free but also contains approximately 60-70% of protein as well as some necessary amino acids. Therefore, it’s suitable for dogs.

Other advantages of corn gluten meal include binding and holding the food together for easier digestion of the food.

In addition, it has a high content of methionine, cysteine, and sulfur, which help acidify the urine that further helps with the dietary management of urinary calculi and improve vision.

Further analysis proves that corn gluten meal helps with reproduction and bone growth in pets.

It’s also great for pets suffering from kidney problems due to the low levels of phosphorus and ash. It can also make for a great source of linoleic acid.

Overall, it’s a great addition to dog food.

As I already established, it’s a cheap source of protein for dog foods.

Therefore, it doesn’t offer your pet the same protein that animal protein provides.

Nevertheless, it’s still good for dogs. However, it can cause allergies over a long period in some dogs, so keep that in mind.

Is Corn Gluten Meal Bad for Dogs?

In some cases, corn gluten meal1 can trigger serious allergies to corn over a long time.

This can result in skin issues and severe GI (gastrointestinal disorders or diseases).

Furthermore, it isn’t as nutritionally complete as meat-based proteins.

In fact, it’s much lower in certain essential amino acids your pet needs to sustain life than egg-based and meat-based proteins.

According to dog food labels, corn gluten meal can increase the protein, so brands add it to their formula to make food appear better than it actually is.

Sources of Corn Gluten Meal in Dog Food

Sources of Corn Gluten Meal in Dog Food

Corn gluten meal is one product of wet-milling corn, germ oil meal, starch, steep liquor, and corn gluten feed.

It’s actually the main protein of corn endosperm, consisting mainly of glutelin and zein.

In the dog food industry, corn gluten meal binds and keeps the food together and increases the protein content.

How Much Corn Gluten Meal Do Dogs Need?

Food allergies, including grain allergies in pets, aren’t very common, says the Clinical Nutrition Team at Tufts University2. In fact, less than 1% of dogs can have sensitivity to corn.

However, if your pet falls in that 1%, of course, you should choose a corn-free diet. The other 99% of dogs can consume food with corn gluten meal regularly.

NOTE: You can diagnose a food allergy through a diet elimination trial issued by a veterinarian only.

Dog Foods with Corn Gluten Meal

At the end of the day, it’s your choice whether or not to feed your dog corn.

If you have already determined that your dog doesn’t have a corn allergy, you can freely select one of the following dog foods with corn gluten meal.

Rachael Ray Nutrish Dry Dog Food

Rachael Ray Nutrish Dry Dog Food

If you’re looking for a natural food loaded with vitamins and minerals, look no further than this recipe by Rachel Ray.

It’s made of farm-raised beef and natural probiotics that ensure healthy digestion. It doesn’t contain artificial flavors and preservatives.

Hill’s Science Diet Dry Dog Food (Adult, Small Breed Dogs)

The Hill’s Science diet dry dog food makes a perfect choice for small breed dogs.

It’s loaded with omega-6 fatty acids, vitamin E for a healthy coat and skin, and other natural ingredients.

It’s a USA product with a delicious lamb flavor that will make your furry friend happy!

Hill’s Science Diet Dry Dog Food (Adult, Senior Dogs)

If you’re searching for dry dog food made of easily digestible ingredients, then Hill’s Science Diet has the ideal solution for you.

It’s their dog food for adult dogs that will increase their energy and activity levels.

It’s loaded with omega-6 fatty acids, vitamin E, and a balanced set of minerals.

Dog Foods without Corn Gluten Meal

Feeding corn gluten meal-loaded dog food can cause allergies in dogs over a long time.

Therefore, if you don’t want to expose your pet to any danger or your pet has already been diagnosed with a corn allergy, choose one of the following dog foods without a corn gluten meal.

Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin & Stomach, High Protein Dry Dog Food

Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin & Stomach, High Protein Dry Dog Food

The Purina Pro Plan makes a perfect choice for dogs with sensitive skin and stomachs.

It’s a high-protein dry food with probiotics, salmon, and rice formula. The oatmeal is also easily digestible.

There’s no corn, soy, wheat, artificial colors or flavors, and poultry by-product meal in the recipe.

TOTW Premium Dry Dog Food

If you’re looking for dry dog food made of real meat, look no further than Taste of the Wild. It consists of roasted bison and venison.

Meaning it’s a high-protein food to help support lean, strong muscles, joints, and bones.

It’s also rich in vitamins and minerals as well as omega fatty acids.

Purina Beneful Adult Dry Dog Food

This grain-free formula ensures abundant nutrition without compromising the taste.

It’s not made with fillers, corn, wheat, gluten, and animal by-products. Instead, the main ingredient is real farm-raised chicken.

It’s also loaded with 23 essential vitamins and minerals. Check it out here.


Corn gluten meal is a gluten-free, digestible, and plant-based protein with high nutritional value.

But it’s not as nutritious as meat or egg-based protein ingredients.

So, it’s only suitable for dogs when mixed with other protein sources.

Finally, considering the side effects of CGM, I would recommend that you give it in monitored proportion.


We hope you found this article helpful. Here are a few other common questions that people ask about cornmeal.

Is Cornmeal Ok in Dog Food?

Cornmeal has been a filler in dog foods for many years, but that doesn’t make it necessary. In fact, corn isn’t part of the canine diet, so some dogs have a hard time digesting it. Since cornmeal is mass-produced, nutritionally poor corn nowadays, I wouldn’t recommend it for dogs

Why Should You Avoid Corn in Dog Food?

Aside from causing allergies, corn in dog food can also attack the sugar-controlling functions of both the pancreas and liver, resulting in pancreatitis, obesity, diabetes, and liver disease. However, if your dog isn’t allergic to corn, I would suggest that you give it in monitored proportions and mixed with other protein sources. 

Is Gluten Harmful to Dogs?

Gluten isn’t harmful to most dogs3. However, for the small percentage of dogs suffering from celiac disease or gluten intolerance, it can cause long-lasting and, in some cases, irreversible damage.


  1. https://www.thedogpress.com/DogSense/Corn-Gluten-Meal_Beaulieu138.asp
  2. https://vetnutrition.tufts.edu/2016/06/grain-free-diets-big-on-marketing-small-on-truth/
  3. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/342436279_Beynen_AC_2020_Gluten_proteins_for_dogs
  4. https://ecommons.cornell.edu/bitstream/handle/1813/56121/corn-gluten-meal-MRP-NYSIPM.pdf?sequence=1

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