How Does Gluten Affect Your Dog?


By Steve Kotowske

We’ve all heard about the mysteries of gluten allergies over the last decade. It seems there are more and more people with gluten sensitivities and allergies than ever before. There are now special menu designations at our favorite restaurants that are “Gluten-Free” and disclaimers on nearly every menu.


Did you know your dog can be sensitive to gluten as well? It can cause a myriad of issues that can easily be cleared up with a change in dietary routine. For instance, Itchy skin, Irritable bowel syndrome are just a few of the problems that are presented in dogs.

They are often generalized by veterinarians as a “food sensitivity.” Often, as a remedy, people are instructed to change proteins, but that is rarely the root cause of the issue.

Gluten is being discovered to be the larger offender. It may be due to the genetic modification of the grains being used. Wheat, Rye, Barley, and Brewer’s Yeast are commonly found in dog foods and treats. When you recognize your dog’s body (from teeth to intestine) was not designed for grain consumption in large amounts, it begins to make sense.

A deeper look at gluten will open another door into an even more mysterious issue called “leaky gut.” This is where the intestines become permeable and toxins leak into your dog’s bloodstream. This creates an immune response in the system that sends things spiraling. Stomach issues, skin issues, joint pain, and even behavioral issues can arise.

Brain fog is reported by humans with gluten sensitivity and leaky gut, so we must consider that this could be an issue for dogs that are unable to convey to us how they are feeling. So remember, If  your dog isn’t feeling well – it is feeling compromised.

Just as we humans tend to get irritable when we don’t feel 100%, the same applies to your dog! So, let’s get them healthy by fixing the problem.

So, how do we fix it? Leaky gut is best resolved by cutting out gluten and all dairy, including eggs. Eggs are a great protein source for dogs, but not while they are having secondary issues. Find a clean diet, free of glutenous grains – there are some great gluten-free grains to use instead. Among those are millet, sorghum, quinoa, and rice.

We must also remember that gluten sensitivity or leaky gut syndrome doesn’t start overnight, so be sure to allow the dietary changes to have some time to work with your dog’s system. Once you begin a gluten free diet, do not rapidly change to find one your dog “likes.” Instead, allow for them to reduce food consumption while their system adjusts and heals. Processing foods takes a lot of the body’s energy. When your dog isn’t eating as much, it might be telling you it is directing energy to healing rather than eating. Listen to them! Enticing them to eat may be counterproductive. Dogs can, and should fast, just like humans, for optimal performance. So don’t be concerned if your dog is eating less for a while. Adding a high-quality probiotic can also aid in the process as well.

A food sensitivity test for dogs can also assist in finding the best fit for feeding your furry friend. I have found that changing the diet for two weeks before

doing a sensitivity test will give a more accurate reading. This is because the system is not as inflamed and rejecting everything. Also, you don’t even need a veterinarian to do this test, you can pick it up at one of our stores. If you administer the test at home, we can help by reviewing the results with you to find the best food for your individual dog. We also offer a private nutrition consultation from beginning to end to help keep your dog at a healthy weight and, we can monitor body type for you, if you are trying to reach specific goals. So, Let’s get your dog feeling better, together!

Steve Kotowske is Senior Trainer of What’s Up Dog in Santa Rosa Beach and MIramar Beach,offering Professional Dog Grooming, Dog Training, Boarding, and Doggie Daycare.  “What’s up Dog” is the area’s largest independent pet retailer with a focus on holistic food products. 

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