Gluten-free is all the rage. Fortunately, for people with a gluten allergy, celiac disease or gluten intolerance, it's almost impossible to find a grocery that doesn't carry gluten-free bread or pasta. And though a gluten-free diet appeals to many people without allergies, the compromise isn't always worth the reward.
Gluten is a protein found in wheat and many grain-derived foods and is not necessarily bad for everyone's body. People with celiac disease are affected by ingesting even the tiniest morsel of gluten, and it can cause long-term irreparable damage to the intestines. Others who suffer from an allergy or intolerance can experience severe pain, lethargy, headaches, bloating and major problems digesting and absorbing nutrients.
Doctors are also working to get more accurate methods of testing for gluten allergies, as the tests themselves are not always accurate. Therefore, if you're experiencing discomfort, it can be worth it to go without gluten. However, if you feel fine, then don't make a major shift in your lifestyle.
The same logic applies to dogs and their diet. Many people treat their pets as human family members. They want to take care of their precious pooches in every way. Dog owners can have their pets tested in the same manner as humans, through blood testing and intestinal biopsies. However, if you notice any of the following behaviors in your dog, you can choose to skip the testing, put your dog on a gluten-diet and see whether there are any changes in his or her behavior within six to eight weeks:
1) Chronic diarrhea.
2) Consistent constipation.
3) A combination of the above two.
4) Weight loss.
6) Itchy, dry skin (evident when there is lots of scratching).
Petco and Amazon.com are great places to start browsing different brands. Not only are you provided with almost endless options but also there are reviews and ratings from other pet lovers describing the benefits (if there are any) of their dog going gluten-free. Another great tool to help navigate through the gluten-free pet nutrition world is on Celiac.com. There is a forum where pet owners discuss (in great detail) their pets’ experience with diet change.
All of this gluten-free stuff can seem daunting, but it can be fun. Maybe you have wanted to try a gluten-free lifestyle but need that extra push. Well, now you've got it! You can make your dog your partner in accountability. He or she goes on the diet with you, and you can document the way both of you have been feeling. Of course, you may have to speculate as to how your furry friend feels, but dogs are easy to read. Start to observe their energy level, bowel movements and patterns, and overall attitude. Are they jumping up a little more quickly to catch the ball? Are they suddenly back to their puppy playfulness and boundless energy? And are you keeping up with them with a new ease?
Again, don't just jump on board if you and your pup are already feeling great. But if you know in your gut (pun intended) that something isn't feeling right with either of you, go ahead and give this gluten-free thing a try.