The gluten free diet has definitely become very popular, and everywhere you turn in your local supermarket you will find gluten free alternatives to foods that you would normally eat. This is because gluten has been shown to cause negative effects on your health. If this is true for humans, could it also possibly be the case for pets? Let’s take a look at how gluten can affect your dog, and whether or not you should invest in gluten free dog food.
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What is Gluten?
First, let’s see what gluten is really all about.
Most people have heard of gluten, but they don’t really know what it is. It is a protein that is found in wheat, but it can also be found in other types of grains. This is why you often see ‘grain free’ on certain dog foods. Don’t get grain free confused with gluten free though, because it isn’t always the case. There are Gluten Free Grains, however, that don’t contain gluten. These include corn, quinoa, amaranth, millet and rice.
Gluten intolerance typically causes your pet’s immune system to attack their digestive system when they eat gluten. This causes damage to the villi that line the small intestine. This prevents them from being able to absorb the nutrients, proteins, carbs, vitamins and minerals in their diet. Sometimes, it can even prevent water absorption. This can lead to malnourishment, among other issues.
What if Your Dog Has a Gluten Intolerance?
If your dog has a gluten intolerance, gluten can cause a variety of different health problems. Most dogs actually have no issue when it comes to eating wheat or gluten, but some of them may actually have a harder time. Gluten intolerance, also known as gluten-induced enteropathy, can lead to small intestine inflammation in dogs.
Symptoms of gluten intolerance include:
- Weight loss
- Poor coat
- Failure to thrive
If you notice any of these symptoms, then you may want to call your veterinarian. They may recommend that you give gluten free dog food a try!
Take a look at a few of the top gluten free dog foods on the market. Here are a few of our favorites:
9 Best Gluten Free Dog Food Picks
#1 Rachael Ray Nutrish Zero Grain Dry Dog Food
Rachael Ray Nutrish Zero Grain Dry Dog Food Turkey & Potato Recipe is made with U.S. farm raised turkey as the first ingredient.
It doesn’t contain any grains, fillers or gluten. There are no poultry by-products, or any artificial colors, flavors or preservatives found in this formula. Rachael Ray’s take on dog food is that it should closely mimic simple, natural foods that we humans eat. This is why her recipes are inspired by her favorite meals. Aside from fresh turkey, there are also wholesome veggies found in this recipe that are sure to offer your pet the nutrients they need- without the glutens and other harsh added ingredients found in so many other dog foods.
Essential amino acids, B vitamins, easy to digest carbohydrates, beet pulp for fiber, and Omega 3 and 6 ensure complete and total nutrition in this recipe.
#2 Victor Dog Food Select Multi-Pro Maintenance Pet Food
Another great gluten free choice is Victor Dog Food Select Multi-Pro Maintenance Pet Food. It is 100% gluten free, and has USA sourced chicken meal, pork meal and beef meal.
Aside from complete and balanced nutrition, you will also find that it contains prebiotics that help to support a healthy digestive system. Aside from no glutens, you will also find that it is free of corn, soy, and wheat. The only grains in this formula are wholesome grains. Just remember, this is a maintenance formula, so it isn’t suitable for all life stages.
If you have a puppy, or a senior dog, then you may need to choose another option.
#3 Wells Earthborn Holistic Primitive Natural Grain-Free Dog Food
Earthborn Holistic Primitive Natural Grain-Free Dog Food is formulated without any grains or glutens. Their approach is to come up with a completely natural formula.
It is made up of turkey meal, whitefish meal and chicken meal, which offer a lot of protein in your dog’s diet. Each ingredient is thoughtfully chosen, with your dog’s optimal nutrition in mind. It includes Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, which help to liven up their skin and coat. It is also enriched with added minerals, vitamins, amino acids and taurine.
An added perk- the company is highly eco-friendly. You can join their UPC’s for Trees campaign to help show your support for the environment! For those eco-friendly pet owners, this may be a great choice. Choose between various bag sizes, including small 6 pound bags, or larger 14 pound bags.
#4 Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free Adult Dry Dog Food
Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free Chicken Adult Dry Dog Food is formulated with deboned chicken as the number one ingredient.
It includes whole carrots, peas and sweet potatoes, for added nutritional value. There are no poultry by-product meals, nor are there any corn, soy or wheat additives. It is gluten free, with no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives. Grain based foods are just simply not for all dogs, because they can lead to upset stomach and other digestive issues. This is why gluten and grain free formulas work best for some pups. They offer this food in various different sized bags, including 4 pounds, 11 pounds and 24 pounds.
They also have some canned formulas available, for those that want to supplement their pet’s kibble with wet food on occasion. Other flavor alternatives include duck and beef, both of which are still made with either duck or beef as their primary ingredient.
#5 Instinct Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
Nature’s Variety Instinct has an extensive line of premium quality dog foods. Their limited ingredient, grain free formulas are specifically formulated for dogs that have sensitive stomachs.
It is made up of a single protein with a simple starch, which helps to cut back on the risk of food allergies in your pet. It doesn’t contain any dairy products, eggs, fish, beef, chicken, grains or gluten. The ingredients are all easy to digest. Other ingredients include canola and coconut oils, which help to boost skin and coat health. Added vitamins and minerals also boost your pet’s overall health and wellness.
If you think a limited ingredient, gluten free diet is best for your pet, then Instinct may be a great option for you to consider. Look into all of the different varieties that they have to offer, and you are sure to find something suitable for your pup!
#6 Castor & Pollux Organix Adult Dry Dog Food
Castor & Pollux has been in the business of making pet food for 20 years now.
They offer their Organix Adult Dry Dog Food, which is made with organic chicken and brown rice, as well as fruits and veggies for added vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It also has Quinoa, which is rich in nutrients, without the gluten! That’s right, this is another gluten free recipe that still offers your pet the nutrients that they need to be healthy. It is made in the USA, and is free of all artificial colors and preservatives, without corn, soy or wheat fillers.
They also offer canned formulas that make a great supplement to the dry kibble. Choose from small sized bags, or go all out and get a large 25 pound bag so that you don’t run out!
#7 Halo Vigor Pork Salmon & Venison Dog Food
If you want to feed your pet something a little different, then take a look at Halo Vigor Pork Salmon & Venison Dog Food.
It is a gluten free formula that offers special enzymes that help to promote digestive health. It also has high quality protein sources, and complex carbohydrates that help to boost energy and endurance. Instead of being made of a single protein source, it is made up of pork, salmon and venison- all of which are easy to digest and wholesome. Omega 3 and & 6 fatty acids help to promote a healthy skin and coat. While many foods do contain animal based meals and by-products, this one does not! They also have great canned varieties available for you to choose from as well.
Just remember, kibble should make up the majority of their diet, and you don’t want to overfeed. This one is packed with nutrients, so they don’t need to eat too much to get the calories they need for the day.
#8 Flint River Ranch
Flint River Ranch dog food is available in several different varieties. Each of their formulas is 100% fresh and oven baked, offering your dog an all-natural healthy diet.
It is 100% complete and balanced for healthy nutrition, and is even safe for puppies because it is compatible with all life stages. It is made up of no animal by-products, and only human grade proteins. If quality is what you are looking for, then Flint River Ranch has got it! They make their foods in small batches, without chemical preservatives to ensure that it is palatable for your pup.
It is made without any wheat, soy, corn, eggs, or chicken, which are often allergens that are found in other types of dog food. It will help your pet to have strong bones, healthy digestion, and a shiny coat.
#9 Sojos Grain Free Dog Food Mix
Sojos isn’t your average dog food. It is actually a raw based alternative to dry dog food.
While it isn’t recommended to feed them this food for each and every meal unless you plan to take excellent care of their teeth and gums, it is a great gluten free treat every once in a while. Sojos Grain Free Dog Food Mix is great for dogs that have allergies or stomach sensitivities. It is 100% natural, and you just add the meat and water. This gives you the option to choose your own meat flavor, which will come as a pleasant treat to your dog.
This makes a raw diet very easy for your pet, and one bag will make up to 48 pounds of homemade food. It is even veterinarian recommended.
Is Gluten Intolerance Common for Certain Breeds?
Believe it or not, there are certain breeds of dogs that are more prone to gluten intolerance.
They include Irish Setters, Soft Coat Wheaten Terriers, and Samoyeds. Generally, if your dog is going to have issues with gluten you will start to notice it when they are around 6 months old, but that doesn’t mean that they may not grow to become intolerant as they get older. It is just less common for it to happen that way.
Diagnosis and Treatment Options (Including Gluten Free Dog Food)
Diagnosing gluten intolerance is usually pretty easy. The veterinarian will run a few tests, including blood tests and urine tests. Sometimes they will even do x-rays to rule out underlying conditions. After these tests, they may recommend a gluten free diet just to make sure that is the issue.
If the condition gets better with a gluten free diet, then it is evident that gluten intolerance was the problem from the start. Through these series of tests and a test diet, the vet will be able to diagnose the condition so that they can enact the best treatment option.
The good news is that gluten intolerance is not difficult to treat. Typically, giving your dog a gluten free diet will completely eliminate any issues. Just remember, you can’t just switch them to gluten free dog food. You also have to make sure that any treats that you feed them contain no gluten. Cutting out all sources of gluten is important, and that will also mean keeping them away from table food (which can lead to a variety of health concerns and should always be avoided anyway). So, if the temporary gluten free diet helped, keep it going and your pet will be healthy and happy!