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What is Guar Gum Allergy?

Guar gum is a fiber source found in pet foods that helps keeps the ingredients in its kibble form.  Many animals are not affected by this ingredient at all, but others can be found allergic to it.  If your cat is one that is sensitive to it, he can experience constipation, bloating, and even inflammatory bowel disease.  Treatment is symptomatic only; there is no cure for a food allergy other than to remove it from the diet completely.  If you do not remove the guar gum from your cat’s diet, his symptoms will continue and may even worsen.  If you are able to remove it from his diet, his prognosis of recovery is good.

Guar gum can be found in many pet foods as a source of fiber.  If your cat is allergic to it, he can develop symptoms related to gastrointestinal upset.  If this sounds like your cat, consult with your veterinarian.

Symptoms of Guar Gum Allergy in Cats

Symptoms of Guar Gum Allergy in Cats

  • Bloating 
  • Flatulence 
  • Constipation 
  • Slow mobility of gastrointestinal tract 
  • Inflammatory bowel syndrome

Types

Guar gum is a rapidly fermentable purified fiber source.  It is a soluble fiber that forms a type of gel when added to a solution.  This delays gastric emptying, inhibits absorption of some nutrients, is highly fermentable in the colon, is a poor bulking agent, and slows intestinal transit.

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Causes of Guar Gum Allergy in Cats

A guar gum allergy is considered a food allergy and is caused by a hypersensitivity reaction to a food ingredient or additive.  If your cat is allergic to a type of food or ingredient, it is his immune system thinking something is a threat to his body when in reality it is something harmless.  In cases of a guar gum allergy it can exacerbate signs of colitis and lead to secondary gastrointestinal conditions developing.

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Diagnosis of Guar Gum Allergy in Cats

When you arrive at the veterinarian’s, she will begin her assessment of your feline’s symptoms by performing a full physical exam.  This will allow her to take a proper look at the symptoms and rule out possible causes of his condition.  In addition to the exam, your veterinarian will also collect a verbal history from you.  She will want to know when your cat’s symptoms started, if they have been progressing, if you have been trying to treat the condition at home with over the counter products and so on.  All of these details can help the veterinarian with her diagnosis.  

Naturally, the veterinarian will need to rule out other possible causes of your cat’s symptoms such as gastrointestinal parasites, intestinal blockage, or other conditions that can cause similar symptoms.   She may collect a fecal sample in order to test for a parasitic infection.  She may want to take radiographs of his abdomen to check for a blockage or to ensure the intestinal tract is still indeed moving.  If this is unhelpful, she may want to use an ultrasound to check his digestive tract health.

Unfortunately for a food allergy, the only way to diagnose it is a trial and error dietary study; it is known as an elimination diet trial.  In this situation, you remove guar gum from your cat’s diet for a minimum of 12 weeks.  This gives his system time to rid itself of gluten and symptoms will begin to resolve; gastrointestinal signs typically resolve between 1 to 3 weeks.  If his symptoms have resolved during this time, you need to reintroduce guar gum to his diet to get a confirmation.  If his symptoms reappear once your reintroduce guar gum, you have your confirmation.

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Treatment of Guar Gum Allergy in Cats

There is no specific or exact treatment for a guar gum allergy.  Instead, the veterinarian can offer supportive treatments and therapies in response to the symptoms your cat is suffering.  For example, if he is experiencing any gastrointestinal upset from the guar gum, your veterinarian can offer medications and therapies for it as well.  She may offer medications to encourage flow of his digestive tract.  She may also need to perform an enema to get everything moving again.  Your cat’s specific condition will determine his treatment plan.

Finding the source of your cat’s allergy is ideal.  If you are able to confirm it is, in fact, a guar gum allergy, you can remove it from his diet and prevent his symptoms from continuing and even worsening.  Without removing guar gum, your cat will continue to suffer from the allergy since you will only be treating his symptoms, not the cause.  This can lead to chronic issues or possibly an emergency type of situation if he becomes constipated or bloated for an extended period of time.

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Recovery of Guar Gum Allergy in Cats

If you are unable to determine the source of the allergy, you will continuously be fighting to control your cat’s symptoms.  You will also have to make repetitive visits to the veterinarian for medications and therapies to ease his symptoms.  You will constantly have to check and monitor his bowel movements and assess if things are flowing normally or not.  However, if you are able to determine guar gum as the source of the allergy and remove it from your cat’s diet, his prognosis of recovery is good.

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Guar Gum Allergy Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Ciaran and Sierra

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domestic short hair

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1 Year

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea
Loss Of Appetite
Loose Bowel Movements
Dry Skin
Foul Smelling Bowel Movements

When I first got my cat Ciaran from the Humane Society, I was determined to feed only the best foods. I started with Natures Variety Instinct and Tiki Cat as they had no questionable additives. I tried Ziwi Peak and Natures logic for the same reason, but my cat was not a fan of the taste. As he got older, I decided to relax my stance on a few ingredients in order to provide more variety and more protein sources. I decided to allow Guar Gum back into his diet in particular. I added a few new varieties of foods including Weruva, Tiki Cat pouches, Purina Beyond, Nutro Kitten and a few other high quality foods. He started having very soft stools the were horribly smelly. He also started to eat less, lose weight, his coat started looking ragged and he was constantly eating cat grass. I did not, at the time link the symptoms to the guar gum. He had multiple vet visits and his fecal sample came back normal. The vet could not figure out the cause. My female kitten, Sierra, was also having issues. She had horribly dry paw pads, but the vet was not terribly concerned about them, so I just put a bit of coconut oil on them. Fast forward to just after the fecal exam came back normal, I decided to take a look at the foods again. I noticed that all their current foods contained guar gum, xantham gum or other thickener like agar-agar, locust bean gum, etc. I did not feed them any foods with carageenan or cassia gum ever because I knew that both had studies that linked them to harmful side effects. Once I noticed this, I IMMEDIATELY went back to my original food choices of Natures Variety Instinct, Tiki Cat and Ziwi Peak. It took LESS THAN 24 HOURS for their stools to go back to normal with very little odor. Within 2 weeks, my female kittens paws returned to normal, even without any coconut oil being placed on them. My once nearly emaciated cat was eating regularly again and gaining weight and his fur went back to its sleek and shiny appearance. Upon further research, I found out the that reason that the gums, carageenan and agar-agar work as thickeners is because they draw liquid from their surrounding environment. I also found out that the gums can be used at laxatives in larger quantities. Looser stools mean that there is less time in the digestive tract to be digested, which is why their stools were also so smelly. I also found out that these gums can hamper nutrient and protein absorption. Because they draw liquid out of the intestine, I fear the long term effects on cats and I wonder if it is causing a rise in CKD (Kidney disease/failure). I think much more research needs to be done.

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