Most people know at least one individual who suffers from an allergy to gluten, or lives with a gluten allergy themselves. Learning to adjust one’s lifestyle to a gluten-free diet can be a challenge, but most people say that the relief that they gain after making the switch is well worth the effort. The prevalence of these allergies has left many people wondering if their pets might also have a sensitivity to it, which is a common ingredient in commercially prepared dog foods. The following information is offered in the hopes of educating pet owners on this topic, and providing guidance for those who believe that their dog may be allergic to gluten.
What is Gluten?
It is a blend of two different proteins, glutenin and gliaden. This protein combination is found in many types of grain, including wheat, barley, farro rye and several others. Simply put, it acts as a sort of glue that allows food to hold its shape. Those sticky properties make gluten-rich foods an attractive addition to many prepared food, due to the ability to “stick” food together and give it a degree of bulk. That is why it is found in so many different food products, and often ones that consumers would not expect to contain it.
How Does Gluten Affect Dogs?
Most dogs (like most people) can tolerate it with no problems. However, for a select portion of the population, it creates digestive issues. In people, celiac disease is the condition that leads to most of these allergies. In dogs, the condition that inhibits the animal’s ability to process it is known as gluten-induced enteropathy. Researchers believe that dogs who are intolerant to it experience an immune system reaction to the proteins. Their small intestine becomes inflamed, which can lead to a number of problems.
How Can I Tell if My Dog Has a Gluten Allergy?
Pet owners should always keep a close eye on how their dog reacts to different food options. A dog who has this issue may experience diarrhea, which could be intermittent or chronic. They might lose weight, and may simply seem less energetic or resilient than normal. A common sign is when a dog is eating the proper amount of food, yet fails to thrive or experiences weight loss.
What Can be Done About a Pet’s Gluten Allergy?
Any time that a pet owner notices a significant change in their dog’s health, the first step is to schedule an appointment with East El Paso Animal Hospital. Your vet will complete a thorough physical examination, and run a number of different tests to screen for general health issues. Once other problems such as parasites are ruled out, the vet will begin to look more closely at the animal’s diet. Just as with humans, the only way to truly know if it is a problem is to place the pet on a strict gluten-free diet for a period of time, and watch carefully to see how the animal responds. If the issues clear up, then it can be assumed that gluten was a contributing factor to the digestive distress. Fortunately, there are a number of good gluten-free dog foods currently on the market, and it should be easy to find a brand that your dog likes.