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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.