Gluten in Dog Food - an everyman's guide

Gluten in Dog Food - what you should know.

The whole subject of gluten and gluten free diets is highly complicated and controversial.

Gluten ( a latin word meaning glue as it binds particles together) is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, spelt, and kamut.

In commerce, the term gluten-free generally is used to indicate a tolerable level of gluten rather than a complete absence. It is therefore probable that no dog food is totally gluten free, but the amounts found are so small as to merit a gluten-free  description. International standards vary, but a ratio of 20 parts per million is often used in human food certification.

Gluten is not naturally occurring in corn, rice, or oats, and whilst oats themselves are free of gluten, there is always a tiny possibility that the ground in which they are grown was once used to grow, say, wheat, so a possibility of cross contamination may occur. It is also possible that the oats can be contaminated in the actual production of the food, but in a high class product this is avoided by using dedicated silos and highly controlled production techniques.

Therefore for gluten sensitive dogs, a food containing oatmeal is usually no problem, but if your dog is on an oatmeal diet and still shows allergy type symptoms, your vet may wish to go through an elimination diet with you. This will determine the problems surrounding a particular animal and future diet can be constructed around that.

Quite often the possible digestive disorders attributed to gluten have nothing to do with gluten, so our approach is nutritional. Gluten may be more of a human problem than an animal problem, but we would advocate that you approach this by working with your vet on elimination diets - eliminating single ingredients first, and then process to widen the nutritional base.

As the symptoms mimic allergies, then a good food which combats allergies and allergy type reactions may well offer the solution. (see separate article on allergies).

To repeat our opening sentence - the whole subject of gluten and gluten free diets is highly complicated and controversial, but it is probably wise that you treat with caution any food advertising itself as 100% gluten free.

We believe that the foods shown on this site are equal to or better than many foods available, but as always,  check with your vet and be prepared for long patience-testing elimination diets.

Diet and Digestion.

A strong, healthy digestive system is essential for any dog, but more so in one experiencing problems with gluten type symptoms.

We should try to get the digestive tract in order, especially the stomach and intestine. This is helped by the introduction of pre biotics and pro biotics  (the ‘pre’ acts as a starter kit for the ‘pro’).  These additives are available on this site and a teaspoon of each sprinkled over the food at the start of treatment is advised.

It is usually best to begin treatment with a hypo allergenic food such as salmon and potato or duck and potato which should be continued for a period of about two months. This is often enough to reduce or eliminate gluten type problems, after which a food such as Holistic Chicken formula may be used as it contains maintenance doses of digestive enhancing ingredients.