Gluten Intolerance: Your Dog Can Have It Too
If there’s one good thing to come out of all the fad diets in recent years it’s that millions of people are now realizing they suffer from actual allergies. Gluten intolerance has been a big one lately. It turns out that it’s not just a human problem, but your dog can have it, too!
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in primarily in wheat, but also in other grains like oats, rye and barley. For most it’s pretty harmless, but for dogs and humans suffering from gluten intolerance or celiac disease the proteins in gluten actually break down the lining of the stomach, causing long-lasting and sometimes irreparable damage.
Dogs suffering from gluten intolerance actually have a condition called gluten-induced enteropathy. Upon eating wheat or any other gluten-containing protein they develop an inflammation in the small intestine that displays itself in multiple ways.
Signs of Gluten Intolerance
Dogs with a gluten intolerance will shows signs fairly quickly after consuming something containing wheat or any other gluten protein. They’ll often develop diarrhea, begin to lose their coat and lose weight at an abnormal and unhealthy rate, as well as experience rashes and itchiness.
The digestive issues caused by gluten occur due to the dog’s immune system viewing the gluten as harmful. It attacks the gastrointestinal tract of the dog, which in turn damages the finger-like projections that line the intestine wall, called villi. Villi work by processing nutrients in the intestine like vitamins, minerals, water and proteins and when damaged, they cause the dog to become malnourished.
How is it Diagnosed?
The simplest answer is ask your vet. If you begin to notice signs of an intestinal issue with your dog, such as weight loss or diarrhea, discuss with your vet about potential problems immediately. She’ll be able to run different blood, urine and fecal tests that will determine if your dog has a gluten intolerance or any other food allergy.
She may also place your dog on a diet designed to weed out specific food allergies.
Cures for Gluten Intolerances
It is not currently possible to cure gluten intolerance, but you can avoid the problem with a proper diet. By placing your dog on an entirely grain-free diet, you’ll be able to cure the symptoms and help repair his digestive system. Of course, that isn’t quite as simple as it sounds.
You’ll need to heavily monitor what goes in your dog’s mouth, from feedings to treats to when he’s being kenneled or staying with a friend. It’s also important to be careful of what kinds of toys you buy for your furry friend as many of them are often packed with traces of food to make them more enticing.
Be wary of taking your dog off of grains before speaking with your vet, as any abrupt change in a dog’s diet can occasionally cause problems with digestion.
People with dogs on a grain-free diet often report that their pet has more energy, healthier fur and better overall health. Who knows, once you get your pup going on a gluten free diet you might be inspired to try it yourself.