Can dogs eat gluten? Here’s how protein can affect your dog

As more and more gluten-free food options appear in grocery stores and on menus, some people are still wondering what gluten is. In short, it is a protein found in wheat that holds food in shape. It is also found in rye, barley, and a cross between rye and wheat called triticale.

The increase in gluten-free options is a good thing, especially for people with gluten allergies or celiac disease. Celiac people cannot eat gluten because they have an immune reaction when eating gluten, which can lead to serious complications.

As people have become more aware of gluten in their own diets, some may wonder, can my dog ​​eat gluten?

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Can dogs eat gluten?

Gluten is generally harmless to dogs, but just like humans, some dogs may experience discomfort from eating gluten, according to The Honest Kitchen.

Claudio Salem, veterinary consultant for organic dog food company Paw Foods, said some dogs can suffer from celiac disease.

“Similar to humans, there will be dogs that are gluten sensitive, they will develop what is called celiac disease. And for those dogs, the benefit does not outweigh the cost,” Salem told USA TODAY.

Gluten can be found in dog food through the presence of grains, which is a popular ingredient in many pet foods as it is an inexpensive way to get more protein in pet foods. pet food. According to, cereals are any food made from wheat, rice, cornmeal, oats, barley, and other grains.

People with celiac disease only react to the gluten found in rye, barley and wheat.

According to the American Kennel Club, grains do not cause food allergies, but they can be “the target of allergies, and some foods are more allergenic than others. These foods are specific, like wheat, not general categories, like grains.

Like humans, it’s unclear what causes celiac disease in humans and dogs, says The Honest Kitchen, but the good news is that most dogs don’t have it.

However, Salem said that over time dogs with gluten sensitivity may be unable to absorb important nutrients due to the way their bodies react to gluten.

“The digestive system will sense an ailment and produce immunoglobulins, which are (a) kind of antibody against that ailment, and that will cause inflammation in the gut. So in the long run what can happen is that you’re not taking in the nutrients you actually need and not just the gluten itself,” Salem said.

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How do I know if my dog ​​has gluten sensitivity?

It can be difficult for pet owners to know if their dog is gluten sensitive. While humans can easily identify if they’re feeling discomfort from the food they eat, they’re not always so quick to identify it in their pets, Salem said.

“You can go to your doctor or you will tell others about it and if you do this continuously you will definitely seek help, so it is difficult for the most empathetic owner to perceive that their dog is suffering from a slight discomfort. . , doesn’t digest well,” Salem said.

Salem said dogs with gluten sensitivity can also inhibit symptoms that their owners may not associate with gluten, including loose stools that become more persistent, diarrhea with mucus, and lethargy in their pets.

Also, unlike humans, since dogs typically eat the same food every day if they have gluten sensitivity, they’ll be forced to continue eating foods that make them sick, Salem said.

“Because we feed our dogs the same food every day, they don’t have time to recover, so if they have gluten, they’ll get gluten every day, twice a day, and the inflammation in the intestine will only grow, and never.” recover.” Salem said.

Are certain dog breeds more likely to be gluten sensitive?

Salem said while some believe Irish Settlers are more likely than other races to suffer from gluten sensitivity, there is not enough data to know which races are more susceptible.

“We have some statistics on humans and it’s thought that about 1 in 133 humans will have celiac disease…but for dogs we don’t have data,” Salem said.

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What if my dog ​​is gluten sensitive?

If you suspect your dog is gluten sensitive, you may want to change their diet to a gluten-free diet. Salem said that since grains are a cheap source of protein for dogs, they are often found in dog food.

“Gluten is found in grains, which are a cheaper source of protein for the dog food industry, every dog ​​food will contain grains, and if it doesn’t, the price will go up.”

However, since the benefits of grains for gluten-sensitive dogs don’t outweigh the harms, choosing a gluten-free diet for these dogs may be beneficial, Salem said.

“I wouldn’t blame grains for gluten, but for dogs with celiac disease, you know, again, the benefits of eating grains aren’t enough to overcome the harms of eating gluten,” said Salem said.

Some gluten-free dog food options include All Foods from Paw Foods, Blue Buffalo Basics Dry Goods, and Taste of the Wild Dry Goods.