What are Gluten Allergies?
While it is rare for a dog to be allergic to gluten, it can happen. Not only does a gluten allergy make your dog miserable from all the itchy side effects, it can also lead to him having nutritional deficiencies. For example, you may be feeding your dog more than what is recommended, but for some unexplainable reason, he is still losing weight. This may be an indicator of a gluten allergy. If you discover your dog has a gluten allergy, the fix is simple, remove it from his diet. Once gluten is no longer being fed to your dog, he should regain the lost weight in no time and begin to thrive.
Gluten can be found in many human and dog food products. Just like in people, some dog’s have an allergy to gluten. If you believe your dog is having trouble with the nutrition in his life, consult with your veterinarian.
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Symptoms of Gluten Allergies in Dogs
While some dogs are able to tolerate gluten just fine, others can have a severe reaction to it. Symptoms of a gluten allergy may include
- Poor hair coat
- Poor skin conditions
- Obsessive chewing/licking of feet
- Red, inflamed paw pads
- Chronic ear infections
- Poor body condition
- Inability to thrive
- Inflammation of the intestines
Gluten is a protein found in wheat and other cereal grains and classified into two groups known as prolamins and glutelins. Cereal grains include oats, rye, barley, and buckwheat. Grains that are gluten free include corn, quinoa, rice, amaranth, and millet. There are natural sources of gluten as well as genetically modified (GMO) sources. It is believed the GMO glutens can cause more health problems and long term genetic mutations than the natural glutens.
Causes of Gluten Allergies in Dogs
If your dog is allergic to gluten, it is possible he may suffer a delayed allergic reaction instead of an immediate reaction. If your dog cannot tolerate gluten but eats a diet or treat containing it, your dog’s immune system attacks his gastrointestinal tract and can damage it. If damage to the gastrointestinal tract occurs, your dog will not be able to absorb nutrients like he needs to. This can lead to malnourishment in a dog even though he is eating plenty of a good quality food.
Diagnosis of Gluten Allergies in Dogs
The first thing the veterinarian will do upon your arrival is perform a physical examination on your dog. This will allow her to note any abnormalities and symptoms your dog is experiencing. If your dog is having diarrhea, a fecal sample will be collected and tested to rule out internal parasites or a bacterial overgrowth. A radiograph may be taken to give the veterinarian a proper look at your dog’s internal organs.
Blood work may also be performed to rule out other illnesses and to provide information on how your dog’s internal organs are functioning. A complete blood count (CBC) and chemistry panel are the two basic tests that will provide the veterinarian with relevant information. Depending on the results, more blood work tests may need to be done. For further evaluation of the kidneys, your veterinarian may also perform a urinalysis.
If your dog is experiencing itchy, dirty ears, an ear cytology will be performed. The veterinarian takes a sample of the buildup in your dog’s ears and looks at it under the microscope. This will allow the veterinarian to identify what bacteria or yeast is growing in the ears, if any. If your dog has a skin condition, a skin scraping may be taken to rule out bacteria or external parasites.
The best way to diagnose a gluten allergy in your dog is an elimination trial for several weeks. You remove gluten from his diet meaning it cannot be in his food, treats, or flavored medications. If the symptoms stop, you reintroduce gluten to his diet. If symptoms return with the introduction of the gluten, then it is safe to say your dog has a gluten allergy.
Treatment of Gluten Allergies in Dogs
The symptoms your dog is experiencing will determine his course of treatment. If your dog is experiencing any type of dehydration due to the diarrhea and poor body condition, fluids will be started. If your dog has itchy skin, the veterinarian may recommend a bath with mild shampoo to offer him some relief. If your dog has an ear infection, the veterinarian may prescribe an ear cleaner and medication to be used per her instructions.
In regards to the poor body condition and diarrhea, as soon as you remove gluten from your dog’s diet, he should begin to gain weight and his stools should return to normal. The veterinarian may recommend a specific food to start with to get his nutrient levels and vitamin levels up to a healthy range. She may also put him on diet supplementation for a while to give his body the extra help and nutrients it needs.
Recovery of Gluten Allergies in Dogs
As long as you remove gluten from your dog’s diet, he should recover without a problem. Since it was the gluten causing all the problems, once it is gone from his system, his symptoms should subside. However, if you continue to feed him something with gluten, he will not be able to get the nutrients from his diet he desperately needs and it may cause him to slowly waste away. If you notice your dog is losing weight without you changing anything in his diet, or he is not thriving like he should be, it is time to talk to your veterinarian. The sooner you figure out the problem and remove it from his diet, the healthier he will be.
Gluten Allergies Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
My dog has an intolerance against gluten and grains. We have found a gluten and grain free dog food that she tolrrates but still seems to have a flare up of chronic pancreatitis every few weeks. My vet prescribed metacam for this but as soon as I give her it she is sick. Does the metacam contain gluten? I also buy her precooked chicken from the supermarket freezer, could this contain gluten ?
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My dog suffers very bad urinary incontinance. We adopted him about a year ago and he has had bladder problems on and off. He is known to have a gluten allergy and we have been giving him food with gluten in it and he has been peeing around the house more since we switched him over. I was curious if there was a connection between urinary incontanace and gluten. From what I have read there is but I was wondering if you had any suggestions as to what it is. We need help because we are on our last straw and my parents said if something doesn't change then we are getting rid of him.
I don't get it ... Roscoe's owner claims that he has been known to have gotten allergies in the past, but thinks feeding a duet that includes gluten is ok?? Maybe we misunderstood the owner?
Wondering .... WTHeck...
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My dog is 2 years old and has often and had issues with her stomach and this results in diarrhea sometimes vomiting. We are starting to wonder if maybe she has an allergy to gluten or something along these lines. She will be sick for a few days every couple months and we just can't seem to figure out why we have changed her food and then she's fine and then a couple months later she sick again. When she's sick though, she never acts sick, continues to play and just sleeps more often. So we would just like some answers.
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