Like humans, some dogs have gluten allergies or gluten intolerance, which manifests when the dog ingests food made with gluten products. The protein gluten is most often found in wheat products and is actually a combination of the proteins gliadin and glutenin. In addition to wheat products, gluten can also be present in products using rye, barley, buckwheat and oat. Some dog food brands use gluten as a protein substitute.
Identifying Gluten Allergy
If your dog has a gluten allergy, you may be able to identify it through various digestive problems. Digestive symptoms of gluten allergies or intolerance include diarrhea, vomiting, constipation, weight loss and in some cases lethargy and constant scratching. If you suspect your dog has a gluten allergy based on these symptoms, a veterinarian can diagnose your dog through blood, fecal or urine tests. Relapse tests can also occur by taking the dog off a gluten diet for a number of weeks, looking for improvement during this time period, then reintroducing gluten in his diet and looking for a relapse of symptoms.
What is Gluten Allergy?
If your dog has a gluten allergy, his immune system attacks his digestive tract when it senses gluten is present, damaging the villi in his small intestine that usually aid in absorption of nutrients. Dogs with damaged villi can become malnourished from lack of nutrient absorption and therefore fall victim to other illnesses as well. Symptoms of gluten allergy, such as diarrhea, not only increase potential for malnourishment, but also cause your dog great discomfort. If gluten intolerance persists without treatment, he can develop inflammatory disease in his small intestine.
Gluten Allergy Treatment
Treating and controlling your dog's gluten allergy can be accomplished by removing foods that include gluten from your dog's diet. While attempting to determine whether your dog is gluten intolerant, a veterinarian may also be able to prescribe him medication for his symptoms. To best control your dog's allergies, be sure to read the ingredients in different dog food brands before purchasing and feeding the food to him.
Several brands of gluten-free dog food exist, and these food usually replace gluten products with more meat-based protein and animal products. Gluten-free dog food is available in both wet and dry food forms, and due to recent overall trends in gluten-free diets, is sold at major pet supply stores. In addition to keeping your dog's basic diet gluten-free, be sure to read the ingredients on any treats you feed him, and avoid giving him bread, chips, crackers or other human foods containing gluten.
By Jillian Bliss
About the Author
Jillian Bliss is a University of Texas alumnae who wrote for several different publications during her undergraduate career. She majored in journalism, a passion rivaled only by her love of horses. Jillian has ridden English since age six and currently owns two miniature horses, Ollie and Dare.