Wheat Gluten-free diets have become more well known recently, thanks to celebrities such as Lady Gaga and Zooey Deschanel, praising it so. While some do have a genuine allergy to wheat (Coeliac disease), many others apply themselves to the diet for the positive change it has made to their lives;it has been known to promote healthy eating (since you’re no longer eating processed food), and promote healthy weight-loss. For dogs however, a wheat gluten-free diet lowers the chance of an allergic reaction to their food as it removes the allergens from their everyday meals.
What is Wheat Gluten Intolerance?
Wheat gluten is the composite of proteins found in some common cereal grains, such as wheat, rye and barley.
People who are allergic to the protein, such as those with coeliac disease and those with a wheat gluten sensitivity, are unable to digest it without very real physical symptoms. To have a wheat gluten-free diet is essential for them to improve their quality of life, and it acts as a detox for their bodies because it relieves their system of an irritant.
Coeliac disease is caused by damaged villi - tiny finger-like tissues in your intestines that aid digestion - because of chronic inflammation caused by wheat gluten. Around 1 in 133 people have coeliac disease, and it can only be diagnosed by a blood test and a small bowel biopsy.
Wheat Gluten Intolerance is the inability to digest wheat gluten. Unlike coeliac disease, those intolerant to wheat gluten don’t have any damage to their intestinal lining, yet still get the unfortunate symptoms after eating food with wheat gluten present.
In dogs however, coeliac disease is rare and so far has only been found in Irish Setters. The most common symptoms that show your dog may have a food allergy are:
- Excessive scratching and an appearance of being itchy
- A large amount of dandruff or very oily skin and fur
- Ear infections and ears that seem constantly full of debris on a regular basis
- Excessive irritation and signs of discomfort, normally with their paws or tail - check for signs for redness and scabs
- Gastrointestinal problems (diarrhoea, vomiting, wind, bloating) - if your dog is attempting to eat grass to make themself sick, it can also be sign
- Abnormal behaviour, such as lethargy and the loss of interest in food, exercise and things they previously enjoyed
Dogs affected with coeliac disease will also become malnourished, regardless of the amount of food they eat. This is down to the disease affecting the way nutrients are absorbed in a dog’s intestines. It attacks the villi, which helps with the absorption of nutrients into the bloodstream, causing it to be damaged as stated above.
If you think your dog is showing any of these signs, talk to your local vet as soon as you can.
Benefits of a Wheat Gluten-Free Dog Diet
The main benefit of feeding your dog a wheat gluten-free diet is that it’s extremely unlikely that they will be allergic to any food you give them. There is also a wide range of health benefits to this diet type, as it can help reduce the risk of arthritis, blocked anal glands, obesity, periodontal (gum) disease, heart disease, digestive problems and even some kidney ailments.
Your pooch is also likely to be happier since the intestinal discomfort would have severely lessened.
On the other hand, it must be said that a wheat gluten-free diet is not an instant cure-all for your pet. Around 10% of dogs’ allergies can be improved with a wheat gluten-free or grain-free diet, which just shows the importance of looking at other factors, too. It will also take time to get your dog used to their new food and have their system cleansed of the irritant. So be patient!
Grain-free vs Wheat Gluten-free
There’s not much difference between Grain-free dog food and Wheatgluten-free dog food. They both lack wheatgluten, but on the other hand, Wheatgluten-free dog food may still contain grains. This is because wheatgluten is only found in specific grains, such as barley, rye and, obviously, wheat, so it would not be suitable for dogs with a grain allergy.
Lovejoys’ range of hypoallergenic dog food does not contain the normal ingredients of typical dog food brands, but is much healthier for poorly pooches with sensitive stomachs. Visit your local vet if you have any major concerns or questions about what kind of food you should be feeding your dog.
How Much Should You Feed Your Dog?
The amount of food you feed your dog depends on how much they weigh. There are often feeding guides on packages of dog food, but we also have feeding guides for French Bulldog’s, Labradors and Pugs here on the Lovejoys Blog too.
For example, a Doberman - which weighs on average 30 - 40kg - should be fed 365 - 445g of dry food each day, which can be done over two meals. But if you are still unsure, it’s always best to ask your local vet.
If you are introducing Lovejoys Grain-free or Wheatgluten-free food to your pet for the first time, it is recommended that you mix it in with their regular food a little at a time, in order for your pet to get used to the new food.
At Lovejoys we cater for most dogs to meet their dietary needs. If you are thinking of introducing grain free or hypoallergenic dog food to your pet, why not try our Pure & Simple Dry Grain Free Grass-Fed Lamb or the amazing Original Dry Turkey & Rice for Adults for delicious yet hypoallergenic diets for dogs with sensitive tummies.
Your dog deserves the best quality food for a happy and healthy lifestyle, and here at Lovejoys, we promise top quality and taste for your four-legged family members.