What is gluten listed in some dog treats and foods?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat and many other flours that’s often added as a binder to commercial pet food. Pet food manufacturers often use the wheat gluten because it’s a relatively inexpensive way to increase protein content. Sometimes the dog food label will even omit in because it’s assumed that it is present in other ingredients such as wheat or cereal.
Dogs can develop a sensitivity or allergy to gluten gradually through repeat exposure, or as an acute reaction to a single exposure. Gluten allergy, sometimes referred to as Celiac, causes the inflammation and destruction of the interior of the small intestine, thus preventing nutrients and vitamins from being properly absorbed.
Moreover, gluten irritates the large intestine, causing colitis, which results in bowel problems. Food issues account for about 10 percent of dog allergies. Other common food allergies in dogs include corn, soya, preservatives, beef, pork, chicken, milk, eggs and fish.
A Celiac dog might present other symptoms as well as bowel upsets such as itchy, flaky, and irritated skin. Sometimes, depending on the severity of the allergy, your dog might also have hypertension, weight loss, lack of energy and changes in behavior. In the past, the only way to diagnose a food allergy was to replace the existing diet with one containing none of the same ingredients.
Today, a simple blood test can indicate an allergy, although the exclusion diet is still widely employed.
Diet for the Celiac Dog
A true allergy cannot be cured, but the allergen must be eliminated from the dog’s diet. Foods explicitly labeled gluten free, or homemade meals (you’ll always know exactly what’s in it) are the best option for dogs with gluten allergy. If you do prepare home-cooked meals for your dog, just be sure to consult with a veterinarian to be sure it’s balanced. Obviously, you’ll only want to use gluten-free flours and other ingredients.