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Can Dogs Be Allergic To Gluten – Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, And Treatment

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
Did you know that it's extremely rare for dogs to be allergic to gluten? How to know if your dog is gluten intolerant? Or gluten-sensitive? Read on and discover.

Dogs are known for not being picky when it comes to food. Sure, they could eat anything, but should they?

As a pet owner you know that you are directly responsible for one of the biggest health-related issues in dogs – obesity, the number of dogs who suffer from this vicious condition is higher from day to day.

Just like humans, dogs can gain weight due to numerous reasons: poor nutrition, lack of physical activity, allergies, and countless underlying medical issues.

People care about their diets much more than that it was the case just a few decades ago.

Today, we know that some diets are wrong and that we eat matters much more than we have originally thought. This is something that people with allergies know a lot about.

You have heard about gluten intolerance, right?

You might even know some people who have problems with it, and how it affects their routine, and overall quality of life.

It turns out that gluten intolerance isn’t just a human problem… In fact, it turns out that your dog might be suffering from gluten intolerance, too.

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat and some other cereal grains, including rye, and barley. For the majority of people, gluten is harmless, but for some, it’s a real source of trouble.

Something similar applies to dogs also. Those who suffer from gluten intolerance, both humans and dogs, or celiac disease know how much gluten can destroy their day and mess up with their health.

Dogs suffering from gluten intolerance actually have a condition called gluten-induced enteropathy. This means that dogs who are allergic to gluten develop an inflammation in the small intestine that displays itself in multiple ways.

Signs of Gluten Intolerance

The good thing about gluten intolerance in dogs is that you can easily recognize symptoms.

When a dog with gluten intolerance consumes something that contains wheat or any other gluten protein, you will notice the following symptoms:

  • Diarrhea
  • Dull coat
  • Weight lost
  • Rashes
  • Itchiness
  • Chronic ear infections
  • Itchy and red paws
  • Heavy chewing or licking of paws

The digestive issues caused by gluten may occur when the dog’s immune system sees gluten as harmful.

It attacks the gastrointestinal tract of the dog, which in turn damages villi, finger-like projections that line the intestine wall.

Villi works very simply, by processing nutrients in the intestine like minerals, vitamins, and water, so when damaged they cause the dog to become malnourished.

It’s not a normal thing for a dog to be allergic in any form to gluten, but it does happen.

If you feel that something is not right with your dog especially when it comes to digestive issues – then your dog just might be allergic to gluten.

How Is It Diagnosed?

The simplest solutions are usually the best ones. If you are not sure what might be wrong with your canine, ask your veterinarian.

If you begin to notice any signs of an intestinal issue with your dog, such as diarrhea or weight loss, discuss with your veterinarian about potential problems.

Veterinarians will run different blood, urine, and fecal tests that will determine if your dog has any food allergy or gluten intolerance. Veterinarians may also place your dog on a specific diet.

How To Diagnose Gluten Intolerance In Your Dog

Whenever you have any doubts about a dog’s health it’s crucial to talk with your veterinarian first. Therefore, if you suspect that your dog is intolerant to gluten speak honestly with your veterinarian about your dog’s habits and health condition.

Here is what you can expect at the vet’s office:

  • Your veterinarian will ask you questions to understand your dog’s habits and overall health better
  • Your veterinarian will inspect your dog for signs of allergies or intolerance
  • Your vet will try to rule out other common medical conditions that may be causing symptoms
  • Your veterinarian may run a blood test or even ask for a fecal sample to eliminate other problems, such as internal parasites
  • Allergy tests will probably be performed, including a food allergy test

Finally, your veterinarian will perform an intolerance test. It’s important to note that intolerance tests do not test the interactions with your dog’s immune system.

Truth be told: an allergy can cause real harm to your dog and may be severe to life-threatening, while intolerance is less serious and often limited to digestive issues.

Also, you can test your dog through a DIY test for gluten intolerance. As a first step, you can try an elimination diet by removing common gluten-containing ingredients and see how Fido reacts.

Start with minimal ingredients and monitor your dog.

Slowly, over time, start adding gluten back to your Fido’s diet and monitor closely. Sometimes it can take days (or even a week) before symptoms occur, so be patient.

Treating A Gluten Intolerant Dog

There is no one-stop solution that can cure gluten intolerance, but there are ways to do so.

The most common way is to feel your dog a gluten-free diet (your veterinarian may suggest a specific brand).

This simple solution brings bring massive changes over time, and you may expect for weeks to pass by before you notice any significant improvement in your dog’s energy, coat, and overall health.

Luckily, gluten isn’t in all grains and it will be easy for you to find grain-free dog foods that can be a great alternative to gluten-containing products.

You may still mix wet and dry foods and keep the allergies away.

Always double-check the ingredients on the dog’s food and favorite treats. These could also contain gluten and cause an upset stomach.

You should also be careful about which human foods you give your dog bites.

Be careful about table scraps, specially around theThanksgiving and holiday season.

What may work for you and keep your stomach in balance, could seriously disturb your dog – some foods such as garlic and chocolate can even put your dog into a life-threatening behavior.

You can also try avoiding dairy, becasue this type of food is extremely sensitive to dogs.

When it comes to gluten allergies in dogs, you need to be honest. There is no, so far, cure that can treat gluten intolerance.

Luckily, you can treat it with a proper diet and monitor it better. Always try with the most simple steps. Starting small can take you a long way.

Try placing your dog on an entirely grain-free diet. This way you will be able to cure the symptoms and help repair his digestive system. Sounds simple?

It only sounds simple, because, in reality, it’s much more complicated. You will need to heavily monitor what goes in your dog’s mouth, from feeding regular food to treats.

It’s also important to be careful what kind of toys you buy for your Fido as many of them are often packed with traces of food to make them more appealing.

Make sure that you include your veterinarian in the process.

So far, dog owners with dogs on a grain-free diet often report that their pet has more energy, healthier fur, and better overall health.

Recovery Of Gluten Allergies In Dogs

As mentioned earlier, as soon as you remove the gluten from the dog’s food, your Fido should be fine. He should recover in a matter of days and have no serious consequences.

Still, you should take him to the veterinarian for a fast check-up. If you continue feeding him with gluten or with something that holds gluten in even minimum amounts, he will not be able to get the nutrients from his diet that he needs.

If you notice your dog losing weight without any change in his diet, or he isn’t thriving as he should be, it’s time for your veterinarian. The sooner you react, the healthier your Fido will be.

Is It Likely That My Dog Could Develop Other Food Allergies?

Dogs are prone to allergies, just like humans are. Dogs that have developed an allergy to one particular food may develop other food-related allergies in the future.

Plus, many dogs with food allergies have other allergies, such as flea allergy.

If you think that your dog may have a food allergy, you should discuss with your veterinarian, who can help your dog have a healthier and allergy-free life.

The Bottom Line

It’s rare for dogs to express allergy to gluten, but it still happens.

Some dogs have gluten sensitivity, which is the reason for dog owners to change and monitor their dog’s diets.

If your dog is sensitive to gluten, you should start implementing new eating habits into his life, like those listed above.

After only a few days you should notice a change in your dog. Only a couple of days should be enough to show you if a gluten-free diet is a better option for your canine.

If you are still unsure about your dog’s health condition, contact your veterinarian.