Should Your Dog Go Gluten Free? July 09 2014
Gluten free, you’re seeing it on labels everywhere these days. Now, it’s not just on human food but on dog food labels too. So how do you know if your dog needs to be on a gluten free diet?
Research has found that “dogs that are sensitive to gluten develop a chronic small intestinal inflammatory disease if they eat gluten. They have intermittent or persistent diarrhea, lose weight, develop a poor hair coat, lose body condition and just generally fail to thrive”(Petwave.com). If unsure, we recommend that your vet administer a test to see if your dog is gluten intolerant.
Fortunately, research has also found that gluten sensitivity is not the most common food issue found but for pups that are intolerant, it’s imperative to find food and treats that they can enjoy and digest easily. So how do you avoid it if you don’t know what gluten is?
According to Dog Food Advisor, “Basically, gluten is what’s left over from certain grains — like wheat, barley, rye and other wheat-type cereal grains — that’s had all its starchy carbohydrate (the good stuff) washed out of it. The rubbery protein residue, that’s left is the gluten. Think of gluten as a sort of plant-based protein concentrate and meat substitute.”
Sounds tasty right? Upon knowing what it is, you have to wonder why it’s in dog food at all. One doesn’t have to look too far into the matter to understand why. Again from Dog Food Advisor:
- Less nutritionally complete than meat based proteins. They’re low in some of the ten essential amino acids dogs need to sustain life.
- Raise the protein reported on a food label. So, manufacturers frequently add them to a recipe to make a product look better than it really is.
Apparently, not all proteins are created equal. It turns out that the percentage of protein content is NOT the main consideration when choosing your dog food and treats. The reason? That information may not factor in the nutritional value of that protein.
Biological value scientifically measures the nutritional worth of different protein ingredients. The key is to supply the 10 essential amino acids in the appropriate proportions. The higher the protein’s biological value, the more your dog can use that protein to build muscle, strengthen teeth and function like a healthy dog should.
Great! So what do you feed your dogs right? First, pay closest attention to the first 5 ingredients listed on the bag as those are the predominant ingredients in the food. Animal meats (not meat meals), eggs and beans like garbanzo beans (chickpeas) are examples of excellent sources of usable proteins that are gluten free and should be in the top 3 of the listed ingredients. Avoid the following ingredients:
• Wheat Flour
• Soy products
• Oats (oats are naturally gluten free but are often milled on the same machines as wheat).
Avoiding these ingredients is even easier then ever thanks to the increase in awareness of these issues, responsible companies responding the demand for gluten free products and the invention of the internet! Just make sure to check with your vet to make sure you fur friend is getting the right nutrition for his/her needs.